The Patriarch Rolls On

A very happy birthday to Uncle Mack today. He’s the patriarch–defined as the “male head of a family or tribe”–of our branch of the Webner family, and he celebrates a special birthday today. Of course, when you reach such an advanced age, pretty much every birthday is a special one.

Patriarchs have two crucial functions. The first is to live as long as possible, and thereby relieve younger people from the burdens of patriarch designation. Uncle Mack has fulfilled that function admirably: he’s been the family patriarch for nearly 25 years and seems pretty darned comfortable in that role. In the Webner clan where, historically, the men unfortunately have not lived to a ripe old age, Uncle Mack’s longevity is especially noteworthy. It opens new vistas of retirement opportunity for the rest of us guys.

The second patriarchal function is to pass your wisdom down to younger generations. Uncle Mack has done a good job in that category as well. He’s not only shared the lessons learned from a lifetime of experience–as well as his candid opinions on just about anything–he’s also been an invaluable source of family lore. And his willingness to always try new things, whether it’s acting, playing in a jazz combo, or taking on a legal writing job well into his 70s, is itself a valuable bit of teaching.

Happy birthday to the Patriarch! May you have many, many more.

End Of An Era

After more than 75 years, the Diamond Grille in Akron is changing hands.  Since 1941, the restaurant with the great name and the classic, cool neon sign has been owned by the Thomas family and has held down the same spot at 77 West Market Street.

12024588-largeThis week the Thomas family announced that it has sold the restaurant to a long-time waitress who promises to keep things pretty much the same they always have been — with the exception of renovating the bathrooms and adding some fresh vegetables to the menu.  I guess that long-time fans of the restaurant, and I am one of many, will be willing to accept those slight modifications so long as you can still go to the Diamond to get the same great steaks and seafood, drink the same great drinks, and enjoy an atmosphere that makes you feel like it’s 1958 and Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and Sammy Davis, Jr. might just be found in the booth next to yours.  It’s one of those joints that is unforgettable and timeless.

The Diamond Grille has been an important part of Webner family lore and was a place that my mother and father used to socialize with their friends.  Uncle Mack worked there when he was a callow youth, and Kish and I had had a memorable dinner there with Mom, Aunt Bebe, and Uncle Mack and Aunt Corinne a few years ago.  The last time I chowed down at the Diamond I took a colleague there for lunch.  She’d never been there before, and as we were eating she looking around with a sense of wonder and said:  “This place is great!”

Of course, she was right.  The Webner family wishes the Thomas family the very best as they move on to other things, and wants to thank them for a lifetime of wonderful memories.  If you’re interested, you can read about some of our experiences at the Diamond here, here, here, and here.

Condo For Sale

Mom and Dad bought their condo in suburban Columbus more than 20 years ago.  They enjoyed the place, and after Dad’s death Mom has lived there very happily.  Now, however, she has decided that the condo is more house than she really needs or wants, so it is being put up for sale.

IMG_1197The process of getting the condo ready to sell has been a chance for our family to work together on a single project for the first time in a long time.  Children and grandchildren alike have spent hours cleaning and scrubbing, sweeping and vacuuming, boxing things up and moving things out.  It’s been a good chance for us all to reconnect, and with five kids and spouses and grandkids pitching in to share the workload, it made the cleanup and clean out process manageable . . . and fun, too.  The experience also has been another illustration of how much stuff Americans tend to accumulate — and for what purpose?  Our work at Mom’s condo has caused Kish and me to recommit ourselves to thinning out our collection of boxes and those random, long-unused items stored in closets, the basement, and the garage.

We’ve hired a realtor, and he has guided us through the process of getting the place ready to be shown.  We’ve weighed his comparables information, set a price, and tried to avoid too much second-guessing about it, and this past weekend the condo went on the market.  I stopped over on Saturday to make sure the realtor had everything he needs, and I bumped into some empty nesters being shown through the condo by a different realtor.  They said the condo was lovely, which I appreciated, and I was happy that there was traffic — but seeing them there gave me an odd feeling.  I’m not sure I’ll stop by again.