Saturday, July 31, 2010

Band Box Diner

I meet Stefanie for breakfast at the Band Box Diner--built the first year of the Great Depression--one of the few box car-style greasy spoons left.
When Stef and I shared digs back in the '80s, her (former) lover Jeff grill-cooked at the Band Box.

It's closed. Stefanie reenacts the end of The Godfather, Part III to express her grief.

But a couple fluorescent bars are on in back. A woman is pouring water into a Bunn coffee brewer. I knock on the window and she holds up ten fingers.

That's only half an hour, so we hang around taking pictures. A woman traveling cross-country waits with us. She's going to check out San Francisco, she says, where her partner's been hired.

When the door opens, we invite her to sit with us, but she pulls a fat paperback out of her shoulder bag and says she wants to read. It's the Harry Potter with the black and blue cover, the one that starts with soul-sucking dementors breaching suburbia.

The place fills up. The cook lubes the grill with oil. He keeps telling people, "Yesterday I served just eighteen people all day. Now I've probably served that many already. And I'm out of onions."

Sitting at the counter, a guy tells the cook about someone getting shot.

After we eat, we sit for three hours, drinking coffee and ice water.
"I'm really an account executive," the waitress says, "but I got laid off." She's very efficient, but she forgets to charge Stefanie for her extra egg, until Stef reminds her.

We leave with the place in our hair.

For Clowncar.


Lill said...

Beautiful pics. I can almost smell the fried potatoes.

momo said...

I haven't been there in AGES! glad it's still open!

Margaret said...

American Diners of tilted picture frames and grease! Like carnivals, they always remind me of Ray Bradbury.

HP! Those books were fun!
And what a place to go to Hogwarts in - a muggle diner with food from Vulcan!

"And I'm out of onions" - very fond of this sentence. I'm attached to it. Someone please begin a book this way.

We leave with the place in our hair.
Very fond of that, too; seems translated from a foreign tongue in a good way.

The table color! Is it orange or red?!
It's one of those dangerously ambiguous colors people would fight about.
"It's definitely orange."
"No no. It's red."
"Are you looking at the same table?! Anyone can see this table is orange! Excuse me, m'aam . . . would you say this table is orange or red?"

And so on until somebody's dead tired or dead; people get very frustrated when they see the same thing but can't agree on a name.
How many have taken the stand and said, "Your Honor, I did it and I'd do it again; the table was ORANGE!!"?

I am digress.
Thx4 going places and bringing back pictures and words.

ArtSparker said...

Are you sure she's not acting out the famous scene from Streetcar? reference to that plate with its waterfall of starch and grease...that's legal where you people live?

Clowncar said...

You took a picture of the grill! You really are an urban anthropologist, getting that one necessary detail.

Every night after the bar rush, around 3, I'd turn that thing off, let it cool down, then clean it oh so carefully with a pumice stone and water (no soap!), back and forth in a perfectly straight line. A sacred duty, keeping the surface clean and smooth.

Around 5, I'd hear coughing like a car backfiring as one of the regulars cut through the Kenny's Market parking lot to steal a couple newspapers. She'd give me a paper, I'd give her a cupppa joe. She was the signal the morning rush was about to begin.

Thanks, Fresca! You too, Stefalala!

iloveyoumauralynch said...

Love the Vulcan photo in particular. Esecially the irony of the heart created by the inside serifs of the V!

Fresca said...

M'RET: I have often had such arguments about colors! Finally realized I don't see some reds and browns the same way most other people do.

SPARKER: Well, she said it was Godfather 3, so I had to accept that. Plus, she wasn't bellowing, "Stella!"

That starch + grease is our State Food!

CLOWN: I was a grill cook too, and remember pumicing the grill with affection.
Band Box is now only open 9 a.m. (theoretically)- 3 p.m. No more bar rushes.
And the Kenny's across the street is now run by African guys (not sure which nationality--seemed to share Middle Eastern culture--Somali?).

Emma J said...

I enjoyed these spare pictures. And succint storytelling. Well done.