Showing posts with label Lancaster. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Lancaster. Show all posts

A Quick Story

I feel like telling a story. I'm not sure which one yet. I assumed that as soon as I began to type, it would come to me, but it hasn't yet and now I am just stalling for time.

While I am waiting for my mind to catch up with my fingers, I'll tell you about the roads in Lancaster.

The roads in Lancaster are the same as most others. Especially in the city. Curbs. Asphalt. Sometimes there will be a random street that is poured concrete or one that is all brick. These are not special.

The special roads in Lancaster are the ones that lead out of town. The ones that now lead back in. They are not fun in the winter. But in the spring...

In the spring you roll your windows down. If you are lucky you can pop the sun roof. If you are Jeff W., you take the T-tops out of the Trans-Am. And if you are Keegan you ride your motorcycle.

Turn off of Rte.33 or Rte.22 or Rte. 37 or 188. Take a road with tilted road sign or no road sign at all. It will more than likely immediately start to go up or go down. There is likely to be a field and then a thick wooded area. Watch for the arrows that tell you to prepare for a turn. Most have a few bullet holes in them.

The smell of spring permeates the car. You cannot help but stick your arm out the window and hold the door with the flat of your palm. The ones with no regrets make their hand fly like Superman.

If you time it just right, you'll pass a field full of fireflies as they begin to flicker. When your car drops down into where the road goes deep in a small valley, you can feel the temperature drop. And the the cold is chased away as you pop back up again where the heat of the road fights off the chill.

There is curve after curve and straight aways that will take you on to bridges that they say can only take one car at a time. Sometimes the signs that tell you to slow down are suggestions. Other times those sign have been run over by people who don't take suggestions well. Just be careful. Of course, there is nothing like the feeling of making it though a curve that you thought for a split second you weren't.

When you see another car, wave.

You've probably had your radio on. Turn it off. Take in the sound of the wind. Of the trees passing you by as you pass by them. The hills and twists are short lived as you can't drive too far without bumping back into civilization.

Spring is a time for renewal, but it also can't help but remind us of the past.

Go ahead a take a lap through Rising Park. And another through the McDonald's. Drive past where Thomas' Fair Play used to be. Loop back around and head down Main Street and down where The Family Restaurant once stood. And then cut over and drive past Fisher Catholic and finally past Lancaster High School and the football field.

Spring will be here soon.

Bear and the BJ

Time was moving very slowly. I was very uncomfortable. I had another thirty minutes of this. After that there would be explosive violence. Time was moving very slowly.


The roofing company I worked for had a couple of trucks that we took on roofing jobs. A large truck with removable, fenced sides for carrying materials. A large pick up truck for tools. And a little son-of-a-bitch Subaru diesel flatbed. The Subaru had more of a wooden back seat than a truck bed. The trucks all used to be white. The guys who did plumbing jobs had newer trucks with newer paint jobs. The roofers got the shit trucks. Well, perhaps we got good trucks and just treated them like shit. Bear was driving the Subaru and I was in the only other seat.

Bear was just passing though town. He was a trucker without a truck. He had been in Lancaster for a few months and with the roofing company for about a month. I’m sure they called him Bear because he was huge and because he was furry. He was one of those guys that told you what his nickname was without mentioning his real one. I'm sure he had something to hide. He was a talker or a sawbitch as Miss Sally would have called him. He had big plans. Driving munitions for the Army. Carrying hazardous cargo for the government. Each “job” was exciting, dangerous and paid a shitload of money. I don’t know why then he was driving my ass to a roofing job in a Subaru for $8.50 an hour.

About $4.25 into the morning, Bear and I were heading down to Logan, OH to the GE plant to continue a roofing job. We had all met at the shop, loaded the trucks and divided up for the trip down. I got stuck with Bear. As we headed out of town, he pulled off the highway into a residential neighborhood I was unfamiliar with. I asked where we were going. “My girlfriend’s house.” We pulled up to a little green house in the neighborhood and he got out with his coffee mug. “Be right back.” I waited. Be right back turned out to be fifteen minutes. Just enough time to fill his coffee cup and get a BJ. He got back in all smiles and laughs. I pretended to be asleep. We headed south to the jobsite.

The Subaru did have one good attribute. It had a choke. And when you were going down the highway, pulling on the choke would emit copious amounts of smoke out the tailpipe. Because the top speed of the Subaru was 58 MPH, many people would ride our ass. I’d yell, “Give um the smoke!” and the driver would pull the choke and bury the unlucky bastard behind us.

A week later, I found myself in the Subaru again. This time with Mark. Mark was a plumber who was working as a roofer until a plumbing job opened up. He felt like the owner of the company was keeping him back and not promoting him. Especially when they hired another plumber without offering him the job. I think he spent his entire life picking himself up and dusting off after some bully pushed him down.

We loaded up the trucks with roofing materials and divided up to drive down to Logan. Mark and I got in the Subaru and headed south. Mark swore. He had forgotten his lunch bucket. He apologized and soon pulled off the highway into a little residential neighborhood that I was now familiar with. I remarked, “Hey, this is the same neighborhood where Bear’s girlfriend lives.”

“Really?” He said “really” in a way that implied that his brain plumbing was springing a small leak. Mark never really got along with Bear. Bear had been picking on guys like Mark since the first grade.

We pulled up to a little green house in the neighborhood.

“Hey, this is where Bear’s girlfriend lives.”

“No, this is where I live.” Mark has a wife and two kids. He mentioned them often.

“Does Bear’s girlfriend live with you?” At that moment, we both realized that yes, Bear’s girlfriend did live in Mark’s house.

Mark got out of the truck and walked into the house. He was only in there for four or five minutes. He didn’t have his lunch bucket when he walked out. He didn’t say anything as he got in the truck. He pulled out and we headed south.

Time was moving very slowly. I was very uncomfortable. I had another thirty minutes of this. After that there would be explosive violence. Time was moving very slowly.

Bear had ridden down in one of the other trucks and I wondered if he would sense Mark walking up behind him with a shovel and bashing his brains in. Or Mark dumping a bucket of hot, liquid asphalt on him. There was also an axe in the tool truck…

We arrived at the jobsite in silence. Mark got out of the truck and put on his gloves and boots. He then went to work. I did the same.

Throughout the day, Mark was silent. At lunch he drove down with the foreman to buy stale sandwiches from the gas station. He ate them alone in the truck.

“What’s wrong with Mark?” others would ask.

“I don’t know,” I lied.

At the end of the day, I made sure I wasn’t in the same truck as Mark or Bear. So I rode in the back of the fenced truck with roofing debris and fiberglass swirling about. Permanent eye damage seemed more desirable than half an hour of silence with Mark or half an hour of bullshit with The-guy-who-is-sleeping-with-Mark’s-wife. We got back to the shop and everyone went home.

I’m sorry to tell you that is how this story ends. There was no confrontation. There was no bashing of the skull or death by black tar. Everything went back to normal the next day. It turns out Mark was still the little kid getting pushed down by a bully or a boss or a guy fucking his wife. And he wasn’t fighting back. The story doesn’t always end with a montage of the little kid leaning karate and kicking the bully’s ass. Sometimes we just keep getting pushed over.

Why do I feel like I’m leaving something out…

Oh! Did I mention that Bear did give his real name to Mark’s wife?

I think I also forgot that Bear had several warrants out for his arrest.

And then there was the part about Bear being arrested as few days later when someone left an anonymous message with the Lancaster police.

In about a month, a plumber position did open up. Mark got one of the newer trucks.


I was in Lancaster this weekend to catch up with some friends. We went to a bar that a high school friend owns. While we were hanging out at the bar, a group of kids came in. I assumed that they were of age, because I can't tell anymore.

One of the dudes was a complete douchbag. How do I know this? For one, he looked like a douchebag... askew hat, stupid necklace, ironic shirt, fucking rich kid. Secondly, he acted like a douchbag... mistreating the bartender, running into people, aloof to the point of nausea.

Sadly, I wanted to punch the guy in the mouth.

Well, I must not have been the only one, because about twenty minutes later, there was a ruckus in the back of the bar and an employee yelled, "Call the cops!"

Word worked its way to the front of the bar that someone had got punched in the mouth. I said, "It was probably the douchebag." And it was. His friends started walking him out of the bar, but he went back to the back.

Cops showed up and went to the back of the bar. We assume they interviewed some people and low and behold, they came walking to the front of the bar with the douchebag. They weren't forcing him to move, but were telling him to get a move on outside. He was stalling and saying that he didn't want to leave. The cops had enough and dragged his ass out. The cuffed him and placed him in the cop car.

Cop came back in to show the bartender his fake ID. She said the front was a very good forgery, but that the bartender should look at the back of the license for some other telltale marks.

In the end, I felt bad for the kid... just kidding. We laughed our asses off.

Quart Percentage

I worked at a Baskin-Robbins store in Lancaster back in the late 80’s. The folks at Baskin-Robbins corporate thought that it would be interesting to have a contest to see which store could sell the most pre-pack quarts of ice cream and tied in monetary incentive to ensure that everyone was excited to participate. Our store manager Mike took the bait and set up an in-store contest with all the workers to see who could sell the most quarts.

At the time, I was working about 30-40 hours per week at the store. I would open at 9:00am and work until 5:00pm. I sold a shit load of quarts. Mike kept track of quart sales on a grid and updated it every few days. The entire staff went absolutely out of their way to suggest our customers purchase quarts instead of dipping. It was quite obnoxious.

It was easy to see on the chart that I was way in the lead on quart sales, but Mike had a final column which divided the number of quarts sold by the number of hours worked. When that percentage was factored in, I was in third place. I tried to argue that I worked the slow hours and that quantity should reign, but Mike would have none of that. So I redoubled my efforts and tried to outsell my hours.

In the end, I failed. One of the chicks who worked an average of five hours a week won. There was no prize for second place. Mike said to me, “Sorry, Doug. It’s all about percentages.”

But there was a caramel chocolate crunch lining to the cloud. Mike suggested that if our store won in the region, he would share the wealth. As Mike tallied up the numbers, he saw that we were way ahead in the region. Baskin-Robbins corporate was basing the winner on percentage increase in sales from the previous quarter. By Mike's math, our store was in the lead ahead of all the other stores due to the frenzied sales staff. There was no way we could lose.

Except that we did.

One other Baskin-Robbins store in the region had not sold any pre-packed quarts in the previous quarter. When they finally did sell a few quarts, the fine folks at Baskin-Robbins accounting set their calculators on fire trying to divide by zero. So instead they set the store’s previous quart sales at “1” and you can see that even if they only sold one other quart, their sales would have increased 100%. While our store's sales increased 65% over the quarter, the other store’s sales went up some ungodly percentage because they sold more than one quart. That store was awarded the win and our store was in a distant second place, but there was no prize for second place.

Sorry, Mike. It’s all about percentages.

{Author’s note: Damn right I made up most those numbers. I can’t remember those kind of details from that long ago. The numerical intent is solid. We did get fucked and I did have the most quart sales.}

HolyJuan's Steno Pad

Al got me hooked on steno pads back in the studio days. Nothing says task list like a bunch of line items in a steno.

I lost a steno pad once and hated myself for weeks. Tasks. Phone numbers. Cartoons. Gone.

So I started to tape a business card on the front of the steno pad in case I left it somewhere.

Steno pad (circa Allstate days) waiting to be left behind at a bar.

So, of course, I did. Six months ago.

Fast forward to now. I got this e-mail on facebook:

Hey Doug, I think we have a notebook you left at Buffalo Wild Wings in Lancaster (or at least I remember seeing your name on it.) It has some pictures of some tape measures being tortured and held for ransom. Sound familiar? Anyway, stop by Buffalo Wild Wings and I'll get them back to you. We all had a big laugh at them.

Take care,

The photos she mentions are here: I can see why they might have waited six months to contact me.

Thank you Becky at BW-3 in Lancaster!!

Elementary School Teaching American Children English… With a British Accent!

LANCASTER, OH - Tallmadge Elementary in Lancaster, Ohio is a very normal Midwestern grade school: there's a flag pole, kids running around on the playground, a cafeteria that smells a little like Johnny-Marzetti and a whole generation of children learning the Queen's English. And when I say Queen's English, I mean with the British accent, right-o!

Harken Stackmore is the 3rd grade English teacher and teaches the children Received Pronunciation or as you and I might call it, British Accent English. (Read Mr. Stackmore's quotes with a British accent for full effect.) "The children are marvelous pupils and have accepted learning proper English not only in a grammatical sense, but with a British flair as well." When asked why teach and enforce a British accent, Mr. Stackmore was very clear, "A British accent sounds more intelligent that the standard American accent. These Midwesterns run their e's and o's together and add extra syllables where none should exist. I'm not only making them smarter… I'm making them sound smarter."

Principal Harvey Rogers agrees with Harken Stackmore, "When I watch an infomercial on the T.V., I tend to think the British people sound smarter. I'm more likely to buy from one or vote on American Idol for whoever the British person says to." When the program started, Principal Rogers was a bit doubtful, "I didn't think it was gonna work, but when I heard a nine year old girl talking in an accent about her 'pleats and whatnot' I was sold."

Local parents are still a little unsure. Marion Rents' son, Bill, is in the fourth grade and into his second year of British English, "Bill says stuff and I can't understand him sometimes. Of course, before the class, he said a lot of stuff I didn't understand much neither." Her husband was a little less critical, "He sounds like a military officer from the movies. I think it's cool." Bill did not have much to say except, "I like it. I like it a lot."

Mr. Stackmore teaches his style of Queen's English in three parts. He explained, "Part one involves re-learning pronunciation of the alphabet. This is accomplished by watching the film 'Mary Poppins' over and again. Part two is sub-divided into common British phrases and learning how to be embarrassed easily. Part three is comprised of slang, cockney insults and talking about how much better we British are than the rest of the world."

While Mr. Stackmore continues his classes and guiding the other teachers on British pronunciation and gestures, he hopes that someday his methods will spread throughout Ohio and the United States, "The colonies could use a good verbal scrubbing. And I've got the oratory brush to do it. Look, I have no choice but to acknowledge Britain's diminished status in the world. But, I'm trying to do my part for Queen and country. While we Brits can no longer say 'The Sun Never Sets on the British Empire,' I'm hoping that we can at least say that 'The Sun Never Sets on the British Accent.' Cheerio, Governor."

Darwin Robinette

Darwin Lee Robinette, 82, a longtime Rushville resident, died at 6:30 a.m. Thursday, May 10, 2007, at his home.

Darwin was the son of the late Orville and Gladys (Roebuck) Robinette.

He served in the U.S. Army during World War II and graduated from The Ohio State University with a bachelor's degree in aeronautical engineering.

He was recruited by North American Aviation as a flight test engineer working on the Vigilante, OV10A Bronco and the B1 Bomber.

Darwin was very involved with the Boy Scouts of America and was Troop Master of Troop 278 for 10 years.

He and his wife, Thelma, were the owners and operators of the Baskin Robbins Ice Cream Store in Lancaster for 30 years.

Surviving are his wife of 59 years, Thelma (Bliss) Robinette; three sons, Michael, Paul and Jon (Lauren) Robinette; three daughters, Peggy (James) DeJarnatt, Nan (Ralph) VanGundy and Jill (Kelly) Adams; 14 grandchildren; four great-grandchildren; a brother, Nolan Robinette; and a sister, Margaret (Richard) Hamilton.

In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by his brother, Howard Dale Robinette.

A celebration of life will be from 3 to 5 p.m. Saturday at the residence of Jill and Kelly Adams, 758 Schadel Drive N.W., Lancaster, OH 43130.

In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the Alzheimer's Research in honor of Darwin Robinette, The Ohio State Medical Center of Develop-Ment, Fund 305835, P.O. Box 183112, Columbus, OH 43218-3112.

The family would like to express their heartfelt thanks to the AlternaCare and FairHoPe Hospice and Palliative Care, Inc. of Lancaster.

Bope-Thomas Funeral Home in Somerset is in charge of arrangements.

{Author's note: I worked at Baskin Robbins in Lancaster, OH in 1988 through 1991. Darwin (“D”) and his wife Thelma (“T”) were the owners of the store. Because I was 17 and didn’t know any better, I just thought he was just an old guy.

Looking back, I remember a very kind man with a terrific sense of humor. He was very patient with his hormone infused staff. He’d raise his voice when we did stupid stuff, but most the time he’d just roll his eyes.

One of Darwin's well known sayings was, "You've got time to lean, you've time to clean.}

Fake Identity Theft

When I was 18, I had one of the greatest fake IDs of all time. It was my older brother Steve’s license. It was so good that I didn't have to memorize the SS# or even the birth date because everyone thought it was real (it was) and mine (it wasn’t.)

The first time I used the ID was at a gas station on the outskirts of town. I was pretty nervous, but my friends were all giddy to get their hands on some beer. I went in, grabbed a six pack and put it on the counter. The girl behind the counter asked for ID. I handed it over. She looked at it for a second and said, “This isn't you. I went to school with Steve. You are not Steve.”

I wasn’t expecting that kind of shutdown. So I quickly came up with a brilliant excuse.

Not-Steve: “Steve is sick.”

Girl Behind Counter: “Why does he need beer if he is sick?”

Not-Steve: “I don’t know.”

Fortunately, she handed the ID back. My friends drove me to a quik-e mart (laughing all the way about the “Steve’s sick” line) and I bought a 12 pack without any problem. It was all downhill from there.

I used the ID in Lancaster, Columbus and at Ohio University. I was never turned down.

Being that I am a generous and kind friend, I decided to loan it to my friend Nick when he asked for it. Nick and some others were heading up to The Newport on the Ohio State campus. Nick is a handsome devil and looked enough like me and my brother to use the ID. I gave it to him and said, “Don’t lose it!”

He lost it.

As it turned out, Nick was buying beers for everyone. Instead of buying three or four at a time, he was buying one, giving it to an underager and going back for more, trying to hit up a different bartender each time. One of the bartenders caught on and asked Nick to show him the ID. With the ID in hand, the bartender said, “You can either let me confiscate this or we can find a cop and find out if this is really you.” Nick walked away.

No more ID. No more Doug drinky drinky.

I never saw it again.

Several months later, Steve called. He had been down from Toledo in Columbus visiting his girlfriend. They had gone on a double date with his girlfriend's sorority sister. All four were queued in line at a bar and pulling out their IDs. The other couple, a younger couple, had their fake IDs.

And dude had my brother’s ID. My fake ID.

I’m not good at math, but those odds are f’ing unbelievable. The bartender must had kept the ID and sold it. Asshole. A great scam I must admit.

So I said to Steve, did you take it back? No? Shit.

As an apology, Nick let me have his older brother’s Ohio University ID. Way back when, the OU IDs had your birthdate on them. It worked in one or two bars in Athens. But it wasn’t the same.

I turned 21 before Steve ever made it back to the DMV.

The roll to clean-up ratio

It seems pretty late in the season for toilet papering, but that has not stopped the roaming gangs of teenagers in my neighborhood from raining down their hormone infused, single ply streams of terror.

The neighbor behind me got it two weeks ago and another down the street got it this weekend. It was probably a revenge papering. I’d imagine a teen could wake up one morning with a single sheet of TP in their bed from the neighborhood teen Don as a message to cut it out. Of course, the teenage guys would all ready have hundreds of crusty, crumpled sheets of tissue paper in their beds and wouldn’t notice.

I have three siblings, so our house got nailed a couple of times while we were in high school. I wasn’t exactly popular so the blame usually went to my sisters or older brother. I still had to help clean up. Our house would probably have been hit more often, but we lived way out in the middle of nowhere. Good for clandestine raids. Bad for the time and effort it took to get there.

But I know for sure that on one occasion our house got TP’d by a few of my admirers.

I woke up that Saturday morning without a hangover. I remember this because I wasn’t smart enough or possibly dumb enough to start drinking until late in my senior year. Dad directed me to look outside. The trees by the road had a nice coating of paper. They had not taken the time to work inwards towards the house. There wasn’t any additional material like shaving cream or malicious plastic forks in the lawn. Looked like a drive by TP'ing. Stick to the road, unload for a few minutes and drive off. Not a 100 roll job, but decent work. You could tell there were girls involved because they wrapped one of the tree trunks. Only girls would spend the time wrapping a tree trunk. A trunk wrap takes a longer time to apply, but it has a visual appeal. To the homeowner, or homeowner’s son, it only takes ten seconds to clean up. Not worth the roll to clean-up ratio that TP connoisseurs expect.

I grabbed some garbage bags and headed outside. About 45 minutes later I was done. All I needed was a rake and a stick to get most of it down. There was a smattering of paper still stuck in the higher branches, but you can never get it all.

Inside dad asked me a particularly loaded question, “What did you do to those girls to make them want to TP the house?”

Knowing this was a trap, I answered back with a question, “What girls?”

“The four girls that were here last night.”

Did he watch them from the window? How’d he know it was four girls? Did he invite them in for late night coffee?

The answer, without going through too many quotation marks, was that he counted them when the Sheriff brought them to the door.

A few of my female admirers schemed to TP my house. They had just gotten started when a Sheriff drove by. They all scattered, but in the middle of nowhere, it’s hard to scatter far without having to jump a fence or fall in a drainage ditch. The sheriff gathered them together and brought them to the front door. I was asleep, but dad wasn’t. He answered the door and the Sheriff explained that he caught the girls white handed. He wondered if dad wanted him to stay and help supervise the girls cleaning up their mess.

“No. Doug probably deserves it. He can clean it up in the morning.”

The girls were allowed to leave with repeated promises of reform.

At school the next Monday, the girls laughed and laughed and laughed. They said that when my dad lofted the “deserves it” line, they all chimed in with stories about me TP'ing them and that I did deserve it.

When Greg turns 16, he and I are going to load up the 2012 Honda Goya with 1000 rolls of TP and travel the country tracking down those four girls. We’ll show them what for.


No tree wrapping for us.

I’m not scarred

Like many of you, I went through the fourth grade. That was when I had my traumatic childhood experience. Everyone has the traumatic childhood experience. If you don’t remember yours, it’s because it was REALLY traumatic and you should seek counseling. Mine wasn’t that traumatic, but it’s really my only one, so I have to pin the brown and black ribbon on it.

Ms. Rice was a fourth grade teacher at Tallmadge Elementary School. She was not my homeroom teacher, so I only saw her for one period a day. I think it was for science. Now I remember it was science, because she gave me a C for my report on the planets that was copied directly out of the encyclopedia. I hate to think that my parents paid thousands of dollars for a set of books that only got me a C.

One day in science class, Ms. Rice asked everyone to be quiet. Everyone got quite. Which made it a lot easier for Ms. Rice to hear me ask the kid next to me for their scissors. She had just about enough. Ms. Rice told me to come to the front of the room. She instructed the other students, “Get out a piece of paper and write something you hate about Doug.”

They did.

“Now stand up and form a line in front of Doug and read what you wrote.”

Doug stinks.
Doug is ugly.
Doug is stupid.
Doug talks in class. (You got me there.)
Doug is smelly.

I don’t remember a lot of what they wrote. I definitely remember the Doug stinks. At first I tried to laugh it off. And then I cried. Come on, I was in the 4th grade.

The last person read their paper. I was sent back to my seat and we finished what ever we were doing. Everyone was told to throw their papers away. I went home and didn’t say a word.

Andy Friesner was a friend of mine at the time and he felt bad about it. Bad enough that he took several notes out of the trash and took them home to his parents. His parents called mine. Mine questioned me and then called the school. There was a too do.

I would have to call my mom to remind me of what happened after that. I’m sure she’d love to talk about it and get all fired up again. I seem to recall that the next day all the kids wrote nice things about me and I was to take the nice pieces of paper home and show them to my parents. Jamie Barnes (upon a proofread, I’m realizing that this might be a good point to preface that Jamie is a girl) asked me to be her square dance partner in Gym class. That might have all been worth it.

I’m not scarred. Thinking about it makes me sad. But mainly because I’m now remembering these people from my past. I haven’t talked to Andy in years. He is a great guy. And that my long lost love Jamie Barnes hasn’t thought about me in years.

Ms. Rice? My understanding is that she is now an educational administrator somewhere. I searched the internet for “Ms. Rice is a stinking filthy whore” but did not get any search results. I’m not scarred.

Fat Cats Pizza is dead to me

“The only way to hurt a man who has lost everything is to give him back something broken." – Thomas Covenant

There was a survey on FARK a few days ago about where readers thought the best pizza in the world was. Everyone had their hometown favorite. My hometown favorite was Fat Cat Pizza in Lancaster, OH. “Was” is the word that puts the anchovies in that sentence.

We started picking up Fat Cat Pizza around 1979. They wouldn’t deliver out to our house out in the country so we had to drive through the bad side of town, the West Side, to get it. They had the BEST freaking pizza. The crust was thin and crisp. The sauce…(Here’s where I realize I am not a food critic nor am I keen to taste adjectives. Let’s just say it was great pizza.)

There was a Fat Cat’s West and a Fat Cat’s East. Rumor had it that a happily married pizza business couple became unhappy and split the family business, as well as the town of Lancaster, in half. The wife took Fat Cat’s West and hubby, Fat Cat’s East. I can’t remember the woman’s name, but she had a dog named Bear.

My brother started working at Fat Cat around 1983. My sister in 1985. I started in 1986. It was a family affair. You’d go in at either 4 or 5 and work until midnight. The dough was made in the morning and allowed to rise in wheeled, Rubbermaid trash cans. You would grab a ball of it and throw it in the flattening machine. A toss here and there and then on to the pie pan. There was some hand held, mid-evil torture device made from plastic that put dents in the dough. Add sauce, cheese and toppings. Into the oven you witch! Ta da, magically a cooked pizza came out the other side. In the box and cut it into squares with the giant, stainless steel scythe. In between pizzas there was time to fold boxes and drink free pop out of flour coated mason jars. What a job.

Then three-a-days started with Coach Redmen in football and I pussied out. I couldn’t keep up with going from 6am practices through midnight making pizzas. So I quit Fat Cat Pizza.

I didn’t quit eating it though. In my opinion, nothing beats a pepperoni/mushroom. I dreamed of it in Alaska and wrote about it in my journal when Acton and I went to Europe. At family gatherings we would always get Fat Cat’s the night before turkey. If you were late, dad would heat up slices in the oven. If you were really late, the microwave.

Now I live in Columbus and Fat Cat’s is still within reach. If I drive down, I can order it from the car and pick it up right as it comes out of the oven. It would still be warm when I got it home, but half of it would get devoured in the car. Corners first and eat inward.

Greg had a party recently. We went out to the Lancaster bars. I left my credit card at one. The perfect excuse to go back to Lancaster and get Fat Cat’s. The following Monday I drove down. I ordered. Picked-up. I was eating a corner within three minutes on the way back to Columbus…

And something was horribly, horribly wrong. The crust was different. Some kind of French bread crap. It was slightly thicker and had a taste that was not Fat Cat’s. The sauce was the same as well as the pepperoni and the mushrooms, but the combination of flavors was not Fat Cat’s. I kept eating squares, hoping that something would change. Nothing did. Doug wept.

I immediately called a few friends. I finally tracked down one that corroborated my taste buds. He had it a few weeks ago and it tasted different to him too. It was true. And an era was over.

Farewell Fat Cat’s.

Author’s note: I haven’t done it yet, but please feel free to call Fat Cat’s at 740-687-1966 and voice my displeasure. Tell them HolyJuan is pissed.