Thursday, November 10, 2011


Descending the cement staircase, I push open the heavy metal door. The voices echo throughout the large auditorium that also serve as the school's gymnasium and cafeteria. Rectangular tables are pushed together as a sea of bodies fill the space. Eagerly, I begin searching for a familiar face.
Waving his arm high, I spy my father. Dressed in his khaki pants and polo, he leisurely sips a mug of coffee. Holding the red ticket in his hand, I rush over.
Having survived another hour of catechism class, this breakfast is most appreciated. Once a month, the reward for my Catholic duty, breakfast in the basement of our church's school.
Tossing the yellow folder onto the table, I throw pleasantries at the adults at the table.
Our church is small, and many of the families have been parishioners for decades. Those faces are so familiar, as I grew up amongst them. The kisses I offer on cheeks has been dolled out many times before, and serves as another obstacle to procuring my brunch.
Returning to the doorway, I hand my red ticket to the matronly ladies working the door. Nodding, they permit me to walk past, and find my place in the line.
Within minutes, I am at the metal food stand. The blue plastic tray in hand, I grab the utensils from their plastic containers. Fork, spoon, and knife placed on the tray as I grab a few extra napkins.  I spy my great Uncle Mickey behind the glass divide. Seeing me, he offers me a smile and asks if I want some extra pancakes.
Declining, instead I ask for a glass of milk. Taking the plastic cup, he fills it three quarters of the way. I could choose one of the small plastic glasses of orange juice or tomato, but milk works best for this feast.
Handing the plate to the next man in the line, I move down a bit. Wearing his white hat, I ask for more of the potatoes. His home fries are legendary, and I never can seem to have enough on my plate. Placing the metal spoon into the container, he dollops a heavy heaping onto my plate.
My own smile widens as I decide in that moment my mom and sis will be jealous and no, they can't have that extra bite.
It is only a few years later I will meet his granddaughter in homeroom during our freshmen year of high school, and become her best friend. We are given his recipe, but never successfully can recreate those potatoes. On this day, the man in the white hat is simply the potato guy.
My plate is handed off to the next elderly gentlemen. Another great uncle, I suppose, as I simply categorize them all as relatives.The men, the older members of our church, have this system mastered.  Scrambled eggs and pieces of bacon find their way onto the plate, and then a piece of ham steak and one plump sausage.
Carefully he extends the overfilled plate to me across the counter. I grab a dinner roll and pat of butter. Placing it all on my tray, I am ready.
The trek to the table is harrowing, as I navigate amongst the crowd of those in their Sunday bests while balancing a plate of food, utensils and a glass of milk. Dodging winter coats and cups of coffee, I find my family.
Placing the plate before me, I settle into the metal chair. I place the sausage on my father's plate, as he adds ketchup  and offers me thanks.
I take my fork and begin.
My most favorite place to eat as a child: Sunday brunch in our Church's basement.

This post comes at a difficult point in my life, as only this week we have discovered the Archdiocese is closing our Church. My memories of our small, neighborhood Church fill my childhood, as both sides of my family were members. Initially a parish for those of Slovak decent, the parish was like family, filled with piergoies, haluski, & stuffed cabbages.  While I no longer live in the area, I still considered it "My Church"

This post was inspired by Mama Kat's Pretty Much World Famous Writer's Workshop
3.) Write about your favorite place to eat when you were a child.


  1. What a special memory and such great writing!

  2. Aw, Jackie, so sorry they are closing your church. What a wonderful picture you painted. It sounds like somewhere I'd like to share a brunch with you.

  3. So sorry about your bad news - it sounds like it was a wonderful place to eat.

  4. I am so sorry they decided to close it down. You write so beautifully my friend. I hope one day, soon, I get to read a book you write.

  5. oh this brings tears to my eyes....i sure do miss "that man in the white hat" and his potatoes. uncle mickey and pop-pop are up there having their own brunch every morning i am sure of it!

  6. This is SUCH a beautiful post. :) I'm sad to hear you're losing your church, for those that are lucky enough to find one, losing a church can be like losing a family member. I hope you can find a replacement church that your children can one day call their own. Can't wait to read what you've got for us next week.

  7. That's a lovely tribute to your childhood church -- I'm sorry that they're closing it. There's nothing quite like those childhood mainstays, is there?

  8. I'm so sorry you're losing one of the places you called "home". The first sentence about echoing gymnasium noise really appealed to me. Instantly, I could hear my elementary school's lunchroom babble. (Our lunchroom was in the gym).

  9. What a great place to eat! And great memories to have! You wrote about it beautifully... made me want to join the homey scene. So sorry about the church closing, though. What a hole that will leave.

  10. Beautifully written, I felt I was there, and I wish I were because I'm starving!

    This reminds me of eating in my (Catholic) school's cafeteria, many church events were held there too.

    Sorry about the closing of your church.

  11. This was so sweet-I'm so sorry they are closing your church. It sounds like a very special place with some very cherished memories.

  12. You have captured the essence of those breakfasts for perfectly, Jack, this is great. I miss those days desperately, and am sad the church no longer does it, sadder still over the closing of the church, where my parents got married. Where am I supposed to get married- if i ever do (!!) thank you for writing about this. And ashley- I am sure those great men, including my pop-pop (uncle mickey), uncle steve, uncle paul, and the man in the white hat :) are cooking breakfast every sunday..then going to the casino in the sky!


Let me know what you think.