Tupper Lake, November 6, 2012 by Jeff Boucher

Saturday, March 20, 2010


I was just in the kitchen, sitting at the table, listening to Willie Nelson singing "Blue Eyes Cryin' in the rain" on the radio.

Great song for reflecting.

That song itself was the first Willie tune I ever heard. I started bussing tables at my Uncle's restaurant, Bob's Steak House in the mid-70's.  

The place was busy. On a good Friday night in the summer we'd do 200 dinners. There was a good size dining room and a separate bar/lounge.  The upstairs which had formerly housed a bowling alley and department store had been converted into a giant banquet hall for weddings and big private functions.

I remember one night where we served 300 prime rib dinners for a group of insurance guys. 

Now, the kitchen was downstairs and the only way to get the food up was out the back door and up the iron fire escape. We'd carry these big serving trays loaded with plates of Prime Rib up and then afterwards, everything had to come back down. Every plate, fork, spoon and knife.  

Needless to say I sweat a lot that night and lord knows I was a few pounds lighter.

Like any neighborhood bar of that era it had it's regulars, kind of like Cheers.  They'd roll in every afternoon and stumble out in the early evening. People like Karen and Orville, a  couple who would drop anchor every afternoon. Bob and Mary Dagget. Bob worked for the railroad and man, he could talk. My Cousin Danroy was there, he liked to have a beer or two and was a great storyteller.

Then there was Homer Brooks, who was a taxi driver. Brooks Taxi.  In between calls he'd stop in and have a few pops, and I'm not talking soda.  He had to be almost 80 years old at the time. Once I saw him leave on a call driving up the sidewalk in his big green Chrysler New Yorker with the white top. Missed Destefino's Liquor Store by a foot.
Nowadays that kind of behavior gets frowned upon, but then it was funny, and as I think about it today it's still funny.

Uncle Bob himself was quite a character. Legend has it he was a tank driver in France in WW II, and it was rumored he'd returned to the states with diamonds from France. After the war he was a Union Ironworker along with my Uncle Maurice.  Like skyscraper iron, walking on beams 30 stories up. These were some tough dudes.

The Steakhouse was Bob's  business and carried his name but he stayed out of the kitchen for the most part.

He liked the bar.

His wife, my Aunt Cecile ran the kitchen along with my father. Bob was smart enough to stay away from those two.
He liked playing cards-poker. This was in the days way before the World Series of Poker and a bunch of statistical genius kids taking over the poker world. He was good. Once, he needed to make a payment to the Tupper Lake National Bank for the mortgage on the restaurant. He didn't have the money, so he went to Lake Placid, got into a game and after 30 hours or so, he came back with $12,000.

He made the payment.

In the bar there was a juke box, which played 45's.

The regulars had there favorite songs as did the bartenders. One of the bartenders at the time was Boonie Carmichael.  He liked Willie and "Blue Eyes Cryin' in the Rain" got a lot of play.  The song is imprinted in my mind. It's mellow,almost melancholy and easy to sing along to, and 30 some years later sounds as good or better than when I heard it then.

I love that song.

And then someone would play Luckenbach, Texas....

"Let's go to Luckenbach Texas with Waylon and Willie and the boys
This successful life we're livin' got us feuding
like the Hatfield and McCoy's
Between Hank Williams pain songs, Newberry's train songs
and blue eyes cryin' in the rain out in Luckenbach Texas
ain't nobody feelin' no pain...."

And that my friends is another story for another day...

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