Friday, August 19, 2011

“Craver Synchronicity”

c. 2011 Rod Ice
All rights reserved

Synchronicity - the experience of two or more events, that are apparently causally unrelated or unlikely to occur together by chance, that are observed to occur together in a meaningful manner. The concept of synchronicity was first described by Swiss psychologist Carl Gustav Jung in the 1920s.

- From Wikipedia

For this writer, one persistent desire has echoed quietly throughout the passage of summer – a need for White Castle hamburgers. Not the frozen, store-marketed variety, of course. But genuine, greasy, off-the-grill sliders.

When I lived in New York, friends would routinely drive hundreds of miles to enjoy this fast-food treat. I found that habit somewhat amusing, when considering the neo-hippie, dietary correctness that usually prevailed around Cornell University.
After moving back to Ohio, my own relationship with these square delights was renewed, with vigor.

Typically, I would pause at the Brookpark & Pearl Road location, when heading back to Geauga from events at the I-X Center. Each order grew bigger than the last, until I graduated to a ‘Crave Case’ of thirty sliders with cheese.

Yet changing traditions in the household eventually produced a lull in my road-food activity. Two years elapsed without a trip to the Castle.

The arrival of warmer weather stirred whispering voices in my head, however. “Feed the craving,” they said. “Feed it now!”

I endured this burger-delic siren call until the time arrived for our annual Ice reunion.

The event is held every summer in Gallia County, which is located about five hours away, on the Ohio River. Attending the family fest is a recent phenomenon – for many years, getting a Saturday off from work was simply impossible. But now, I look forward to sharing stories about my grandparents’ farm in Columbus, and the wandering trek of our forebears from Europe to the wild territory that would become America.

While driving south on I-77, a White Castle sign around Akron reminded me that the nation’s oldest fast-food establishment had an outpost in that region. Each mile afterward had the voices returning, with gusto. “Saved by the crave!” they shouted. “Crave! Crave! Crave!”

Synchronicity appeared, shining brightly like a star in the sky. Family… and food.
Our reunion stilled these slider spirits, for a few hours. I talked about Civil War reenacting, with relatives from Brunswick. And about a trip to Israel with other family members who live in Indiana. I even considered the subject of guitar collecting with one of my cousin’s sons.

Then, long after the day began, I was on the highway again. Rain splattered the road intermittently, making the northward drive through Canton a chore. Every flicker of light was reflected a hundred times over. I peered through the weeping wetness with tired eyes. It was about 1:30 in the morning.

Suddenly, the White Castle sign reappeared.

The voices in my head were deafening. “Crave! Crave! Feed the crave!” I turned off at Arlington Road. When I reached their drive-thru window, the clerk on duty seemed half-awake. Her fatigue appropriately matched my own. I struggled to read the menu board, finally ordering a sack of bacon-and-cheddar sliders, and a Coke.

The meal revived my stamina. At last, there were no voices to be heard. Only a rowdy, urban preacher from the dashboard radio. The remaining drive to Thompson passed blissfully as I savored each bite.

The journey ended just before three o’clock. My neighborhood was quiet. I sat in front of the computer for a moment, and drifted off into a steamed-onion dream state, while checking out White Castle online:

“How do you sustain successful growth since 1921? Being family-run, when others franchise, doesn’t hurt. It helps maintain the trailblazing attitude which made us the first fast-food hamburger chain. The first to sell a million hamburgers. The first to sell a billion hamburgers. And the first to sell frozen fast food. But that would just be a part of the answer. In truth, our power comes from the undying loyalty of the Cravers across the nation. It is because of them and through them that we go on. The more you crave, the more we serve. And that is why we continue to grow. More on the menu, more locations on the map and more Cravers enjoying both. White Castle is more than a company. It’s an experience that transcends time, space and sometimes, rational thought. For almost a century our unique approach has made our food the answer to what you crave. And we’re planning on that continuing long past 100 years.”


13201 Superior Ave.
Intersection of Superior Rd. & Emily St.
East Cleveland OH, 44112
(216) 451-8805

5095 Northfield Rd.
Intersection of Northfield Rd. & Norton
Bedford Hts. OH, 44146
(216) 587-1949

5151 Pearl Rd.
Intersection of Pearl (Rt. 42) & Brookpark
Cleveland OH, 44129
(216) 398-5155

3255 W. 117th St.
Intersection of West 117th St. & Triskett Rd.
Cleveland OH, 44111
(216) 251-5150

2900 S. Arlington Rd.
Intersection of I77 & Arlington Rd.
Akron OH, 44312
(330) 644-0091

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