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.