Friday, September 19, 2008

“McDonald’s Hall of Fame”

c. 2008 Rod Ice
All rights reserved

Note to Readers: A recent trip away from the Icehouse Home Office offered unintended benefits during our period of road-going travel. It was an episode that effectively demonstrated how random consequences often contribute more to life than actual planning…

It was late on a Sunday evening. Liz and I had been in the car for several hours, winding our way from the friendly hills of West Virginia, through southwestern Pennsylvania. At the enclave of Canonsburg, we spotted a local McDonald’s that would provide food and refreshments. Smiling through fatigue, I turned toward the exit ramp, off of Interstate 79.

As my wife investigated the menu selections inside, I took our Pomeranian co-passenger for a walk. Quigley bounced through the outdoor tree-lawn with doggy enthusiasm. He was a yapping fuzzball of brown and white, after lazy napping on the back seat of our car. Both of us were revived by the cool air.

Suddenly, there was a squawk from the restaurant doorway.

“Rodney! You won’t believe this!” my spouse exclaimed.

The Pom rocked on his heels. “Yip yip yip!”

“Calm down, Quig,” I said. “It’s just Mommy. She must have spied a new burger on the Mickey D’s menu.”

“Come here!” Liz pleaded. “And bring your camera!”

I raised an eyebrow. “What, is Ronald cooking the food himself, tonight?”

She glared with impatience. “Give the dog a bowl of water, and come here!”

Quigley returned to his spot on the back seat. “Yapp!”

Dancing across the parking lot, I mimicked the familiar McDonald’s jingle. “Ba-ba-ba-ba-ba… I’m lovin’ it!”

My wife wrinkled her nose. “If this was ‘America’s Got Talent’ you’d be buzzed off the show!”

“Thanks for the love, Sharon,” I groaned.

Inside, customer traffic was surprisingly brisk. But then, I caught sight of a framed row of vinyl records and old photographs. There were posters everywhere, and souvenirs. And in the dining room, bronze busts of Bobby Vinton, and Perry Como, both recording artists who were born in the Keystone State borough.

My jaw dropped open. Ronald Mac’s in-house display conjured up visions of The Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame. While studying a photo of ‘The Four Coins’ with Elvis Presley, I fumbled for the camera.

My skin tingled with electricity. “Now, I really am lovin’ it!”

Liz folded her arms with a look of satisfaction. “Go on. Get your pictures, Rodney. I’ll order our meal…”

The fast-food depot yielded a wealth of information on the music culture of Canonsburg. Yet as we exited with our McVittles, I felt a whisper in my ear. It was a hopeful message, spoken in the raspy voice of a hamburger angel:

“Ba ba ba ba ba…build it – and they will love it!”

My wife wrinkled her nose again. “Are you okay, Rodney?”

I leaned against a brown, diner-style chair. “Yes. Just having a flash of inspiration…”

Liz tilted her head. “Inspiration? About what?”

“Coming here was a happy coincidence,” I said. “Or, perhaps an event of divine guidance? Only Ronald knows for sure…”

She was puzzled by my observation. “Quit speaking in riddles! What do you mean?”
“They are building the new McDonald’s in Chardon, right now,” I replied. “What a great opportunity for our own local eatery and McMuseum…”

My wife snorted. “Come back to Earth, Rodney!”

“Not before this dream is fulfilled,” I said, defiantly. “Ba ba ba ba ba…”

While lingering over our meal, I folded an empty bag and began to write my own list of dignitaries to be considered for the new ‘Golden Arches’ location on Water Street:


10. Peter Chardon Brooks – Our most obvious choice, but worth being considered. Once upon a time, Godfrey’s Restaurant in Big Wheel Plaza had an inside mural that depicted the incredible life of this fellow from New England. Brooks made a fortune from the insurance business in Massachusetts, and donated land for the historic Chardon Square. His moniker lives on as the signature of Geauga’s Capitol City.

9. Sheriff George R. ‘Red’ Simmons – Known for strong leadership, savvy as a media figure, and persistent disagreements with the County Commissioners, Simmons was a unique character in local politics. Well-respected by those of both major parties, he brought candor and enthusiasm to the highest law enforcement office in Geauga.

8. Frank Tainer – As the owner of Kresse’s Bi-Rite #1 in Tanglewood, and #2 in Chardon, this entrepreneur brought jobs and genuine customer respect to the county. Tainer embodied the kind of old-fashioned business ethic that derived success from service. He earned respect from customers and friends through supermarkets that were well staffed and pleasant to navigate.

7. Mel ‘Chief’ Harder – Harder was a right-handed pitcher for the Cleveland Indians. A native of Beemer, Nebraska, his career as a player and coach with the team spanned thirty-six seasons. Harder was a frequent patron of area businesses and lived in Chardon until his death at age ninety-three.

6. Ron Hutter – Geauga’s own connection to the indomitable spirit of Dale Earnhardt. Hutter has long been a master builder of NASCAR racing engines. His creations have powered winning vehicles in NASCAR’s Truck Series, Busch Series, and cup racing, in addition to IHRA and NHRA drag racing competition.

5. Grace Butcher – This local author has long been an avid motorcyclist and athlete. She taught English at the Geauga Campus of Kent State University for twenty-five years. Still active as a mentor and wordsmith, she remains committed to promoting the craft of professional writing to future generations.

4. Milt Abrams – As the colorful owner of Lawson Ford & Mercury, Abrams helped put
many Geauga County residents on four wheels. He operated with respect for each
customer as a valued individual. His folksy style and personal integrity helped make
our region a place envied by those from other districts of Ohio.

3. Bev Carver – A longtime member of the Maple Festival Board, and officeholder
extraordinaire, Mrs. Carver was a durable figure in Geauga County. Her ability to
educate and inspire motivated generations of citizens across the area.

2. Mary Bramstedt – A local writer, teacher, tennis coach, councilperson, and volunteer. Bramstedt was a ‘maverick’ before any of our current crop of change-oriented political candidates. Her good-natured ability to cut through ‘doublespeak’ remains an asset worthy of praise.

After much consideration, I settled on the number one candidate for a place of honor in the new Water Street McDonald’s location. Though the choice was not easy, one individual seemed perfectly fit to occupy the top spot of notability in the new House of Ronald:

1. Midge – The Guinness Book of World Records certified her as the smallest drug-enforcement dog on Earth. But this tiny member of The Geauga County Sheriff’s Department is an authentic workhorse. She has become a useful ambassador for the region, and an example of excellence through determination.

The rest of our journey transpired without much excitement. Yet magic had touched us with great effect. It was a revelation of things to come…

In November, at 430 Water Street.

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