Sunday, August 03, 2008

Damrow's Restaurant

Damrow's was the greasiest spoon there ever was. I always said that if I ever wrote a book, I would devote a chapter to Damrow's.

It always reminded me of an old train car, the way the tall, wooden booths lined the walls of the long, narrow restaurant. On the wall next to each booth was a large black and white photograph of Appleton in the old days and all around them were mirrors. (I always remember mirrors because I'm SO VAIN.)

The lamps hanging above the booths were crazy looking gourd shaped things full of holes, and the way the light shined through highlighting the thick smoke was just one of the many things I loved about the place. I used to blow my smoke in the direction of the gourd just to see the magic happen.

The table tops were mustard yellow Formica and were always covered with tobacco and ashes, and depending on who was sitting there, even saliva. (Ewww!)

A bottomless cup of coffee was fifty-eight cents and, depending on the mood of the wait staff, you could “get it yourself”.

Most of the Damrow's characters sat one to a booth and they all had some remarkable tragic story to tell. I remember a few, and as each year passes I remember less and less. I remember LaVerne, Janice & Jerry, Charles the Florist and his pals, Pearl, Joey, and probably a handful more if I think a while.

I felt safe and content at Damrow's, people watching and chain-smoking. It was warm and sort of festive in a nursing home party way. I spent hours there every day, chatting with friends, writing and reading. I filled a few notebooks sitting there. I believe I even met my husband there.

It's gone now. It's been gone for more than ten years. Many of the patrons are dead. Google searches come up empty. I loved it and it's in danger of being forgotten.

Anyway, I just wanted to write this and put it out there, in case anyone else out there was googling "Damrow's Appleton WI"... instead of nothing may they see that someone else remembers.


Anonymous said...

Bill had his breakfast there every morning and sat in a booth second from the back to read his mornings paper. They just automatically brought him his coffee and cream and an English Muffin dripping in brushed on butter..!!! Yuk ! Then across the street to work....


david mcmahon said...

I can just picture it. You've painted a great word picture.

(I came here from Woman In A Window)

womaninawindow said...

I think it's so great that David came here. And speaking of great, this post is your best! I love the pictures you draw. It would be wonderful if you'd write more about this, bring these people back to life. Wonderful.

Aside, you shouldn't smoke. I can't help myself but to put in my two father-in-law died from brain/lung/et all cancer because of smoking and my mother just (temporarily) beat colon cancer. Tell me it isn't so...I'll shut up now.

Hilary said...

Don't worry... I don't smoke. :D Used to though.

Hilary said...

I could see every detail and smell the smoke. Well written. I'm glad you've kept this wonderful place alive in text. Congrats on making David's Post of the Day. Well-earned.
And I'm glad you've quit smoking! ;)

Anonymous said...

Oh, those golden days. Fried egg sandwiches that came on butter soaked, white bread with a side of chips.
Did I tell you that when I worked at Bananas, they were gutting the place and I scored one of those light fixtures? I was really excited about it, until I saw it in the daylight. The unglazed ceramic finish had taken in all those cigs we smoked and it was brown.
Also, my lack of understanding in how to wire things electrically drove me to eventually give it to a thrift shoppe.
It always took me 16 minutes to walk home from there, across the Peabody bridge.

Anonymous said...

Been to Damrow's, I had pt time sales clk job 2 doors down,
when I could afford pie, went to Damrow's. I do believe I made $1.25/hr. My friend worked across the Avenue at Grace's, she too would go to Damrow's when budget allowed. Much older now, hope to
visit Appleton again.