“Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom stays …swift completion of appointed rounds…” 

Great Neck’s Andrew Hotel covers each of my primal needs: hot water, proximity to family and cable TV. It offers, also (I must add), daily continental fare. In the morning, though, I’ll forego free coffee, fruit and cereal, and trudge one block right then one block left just to order oatmeal and blueberries from the menu of my newest home away from home, “The Great Neck Diner.” ‘Tis the latest chapter in my life-long love affair with breakfast.
In six decades there’ve been stretches without love, money, sex, heat, lunch and dinner; but for Yom Kippur, though, I’ve never gone without breakfast. Bet on it. I’ve had school snowed out, games rained out and a marriage cancelled. But I’ve never missed breakfast.
It’s not the food, really. You can get that anywhere. It is, as much as anything, the feel of it all…the comradery, the comfort of familiar faces…and, like so many patterns in my life, it is, (for better or worse), one sewn at the feet of my father.
As a kid, breakfast was special when our dad made it. It was always fried eggs. Only fried eggs. He’d cut a glob of butter from the stick (no soft margarine for Bogarts), slide it on the pan, and let the grease fly. We learned what “sunny side up” meant in that small Bayard kitchen but, truth be known, the old man always turned his over…burnt. (It was the only venue I ever enjoyed home breakfast. Indeed, it may have been the only place I’d ever HAD a home breakfast).
At OSU, breakfast was with my father—always. Pre-Harriet years we’d meet at Johnny’s State Restaurant on High Street. Dad wanted to be in the office by 8, so it was 7AM daily, like clockwork. (Not that I didn’t whine from time to time, urging a later start.
“Look, little boy,” he’d say, “It would be different if you were actually going to class.”
Dad knew—it was no secret—-I was just heading back to bed. Still, the daily eggs and potatoes was our special time together, and one most college kids couldn’t enjoy with their dad. (Even with Harriet, the game continued. He was living east then, so our locale changed. Still, I’d rise each morning, schlep over to Northwest Blvd, and meet him at The Explorers). Different menu, different staff…same father.
It was a wonderful morning mandate, and over four years a piece of my life’s rhythm was written…in indelible ink.
School breaks, by the way, were no different. Whether it was before Sunday morning ball with Sol’s Boys, or meeting Ted Brooker pre-Boobus Bowl on Thanksgiving, I rose earlier than the rest and the eggs got scrambled and the coffee got poured…in a restaurant.
Nor did things change in law school. I was married then and we shared a car. Not to worry! Daily I’d drop her at work on 55th Street, then shoot back uptown to Corky’s (on Cedar) or, once in a while Solomon’s.
I did then—I do now—love not so much the food but the process of breakfast. It is, with the proper table-mates….orchestral. As such, to this day, I cling to my Wednesday mornings and prioritize my Saturdays.
Breakfast is the perfect jumpstart to even my most mundane days. And don’t let the doctors fool you: it’s not about nutrition—it’s much more. It is, for me at least, a needed spiritual revival.
Morning prayers done, the boys fed, by 7:30 I’m at Corky’s. Daily. First booth on the left…facing in. Daily. Oatmeal and blueberries, coffee and more coffee. Daily.
Some times it’s Burnside; often it’s others. But the beat goes on…daily. For better or worse.
My son says I’d save a bunch of money eating at home. He’s right of course, Still, I can’t do it. I won’t do it. And he’ll never “get” it. I wasn’t in Columbus, you see, when Michael went to school. We didn’t start our days together 24/7. At Johnny’s, at The Explorer or anywhere. And even if I had been in town, my kid had better things to do: he went to class.

             “Never bet against a man who’s had breakfast.”
                     (Slogan on a napkin at First Watch Restaurant)

One Response to “MORNING GLORY”

  1. alan says:

    This is a wonderful post and I do have comments. First and foremost, you are so the best of Al Bogart. Second, thanks for making me remember the State Restaurant. It wasn’t often that I was up, but I do remember sitting there on rare occasions with you and your dad. Three, I do wish I was a part of Wednesdays at Corkys and other days with you. And finally, another reason to come to Portland as breakfast places are on every block at every corner.

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