Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Wm. Penn Inn

Sunday morning, a brunch had been scheduled by my sister at the Wm. Penn Inn in honor of both Irv and Fran Small's birthdays. This friendship goes back many years. Irv had been a childhood friend of my brother-in-law Larry. When he finished his tour of duty in Viet Nam, we were introduced for the first time. Saul was doing his service at the time in the Naval Air Reserve and I was spending a lot of time at home doing nothing. Irv and I began joining Adele and Larry and their friends to go out on occasion, although I let him and everyone else know that it was to be a platonic relationship. Irv would have liked it to be more than that at the time, but I wanted to marry Saul, and though we had a great time flirting with each other, nothing ever happened that either of us regretted.

Eventually, when Saul was home on leave, he fixed Irv up with Jardena, an Israeli girl he had met at Gratz College while taking classes there. It was a blind date and I remember Irv asking me to describe her. As I began describing her physical characteristics, I remember suddenly realizing how similar they were and eventually telling Irv that she could have been his sister. At that moment, I realized how terrific a match it would become. They married the following year and eventually moved to Walnut Creek, California. They have raised a son, Ron, who is an independent film maker.

Irv's mom, Fran, still lives here in Philadelphia, and once a year around his birthday, he comes to stay with her for two weeks. She is in her late eighties now, but up until the last few years, she would go to California to visit him as well for a few weeks every year. When he comes in, Adele and Larry usually spend a lot of time with them, and we try to see him a few times also. When Ari lived in California, we would also get together and spent a few New Year's Eves socializing.

The girls were very excited about brunch at the Wm. Penn Inn. Sami had been there last year for a family celebration while Izzy and been visiting with her other grandparents, and remembered it fondly. Izzy knows it as the place with the pineapple flags hanging outside which we use as a landmark for when we are almost home. When people ask where we live and are a little familiar with the area, we always describe our location in relation to the Wm. Penn Inn. It has been here for many more years than we have and holds many fond memories for us.

Saul began working there as a waiter when he was 19 years old and technically too young to serve drinks. He got the job through Jerry Weiss with whom we also have maintained a friendship over the years. Jerry trained him in how to do French service holding two forks in one hand which was all the rage at the time and how to prepare certain dishes, like steak Diane and caesar salad, tableside. I understand tableside service has been making a comeback recently. Saul worked his way through college waiting tables. When I was in college as a Business Education major, the owners hired me part time to do bookkeeping. On Saturday nights, Saul would be waiting on tables and I would be sitting in a back room totaling columns of figures and jiving them with receipts. Afterwards, we would have a late night date at Perkins Pancake House or Feraco's Pizza, both places which didn't mind customers coming in at midnight.

It was at the Wm. Penn Inn that we met three British brothers, Alex, Ian, and Alistair. The oldest, Alex, was one of the chefs. They all used to play terrible pranks on each other while they were working. One that I remember involved tapping someone who was carrying a tray on the elbow with the edge of a plate--the waiter's equivalent of hazing. Ian has been working at various places in the area all his life and for the last several years has been back at the Wm. Penn Inn along with his son, who is now older than all of us were when we met. I gave him a big hug on Sunday.

We had a lovely brunch, as we always do, and Izzy was suitably impressed. The girls spent part of the time standing behind velvet ropes watching the staff make omelets, eggs Benedict, and waffles to order.

Mom, who used to take great pride in looking just so, was having a difficult time getting herself together for this outing and we didn't want to fuss over her too much for fear she would demur and miss out on this occasion. Once we got her to the table and situated, she really seemed to enjoy herself. We all came back to the house afterwards, the girls took a short nap, and Mom, Mrs. Small, and Larry dozed off in their chairs while Saul, Irv, Adele and I socialized for a couple of hours. I finally was able to show Adele a bit of my blog and encourage her to use her computer more often to check it out.

When they left, we spent the afternoon at the swim club and all went to bed early.

The girls took our warning seriously and have been letting us sleep until 7:30 a.m. for the last few days. Yesterday morning was spent doing laundry and doing what the girls have called dumping day. Evidently when the toys, games, and art supplies begin to turn into an unholy mess at home, they dump everything out on the floor and reorganize it to put it all back in its proper place. When we began the same process with their toy closet here, Sami explained to Izzy that it was just like dumping day, only at Bubbie and Saba's house. We had lunch and went to the swim club for the afternoon. Sami has been managing to find someone new to play with every time we go. She enters the pool as soon as she is done with her art session and doesn't come out again until we tell her it is time to leave. Both girls went off the diving board multiple times and are loving it.

After showers, I made Mom some eggs for dinner and we took the girls to a nearby pizzeria, Franconi's, for dinner. We stopped and picked up some groceries at Redner's a few stores down and then tucked the girls into bed for the evening. We went to bed early.

Tomorrow, we are planning to take the girls home to Baltimore for a couple of days. Alex is returning from Israel on Thursday and the four of them are going to the other grandparents in Cranberry, NJ, for the weekend. This is the weekend of the Caribbean Carnival in DC which goes right by Ari's condo and which we really enjoyed last year, so that is how we are planning to spend our weekend off from the kids--listening to steel drum bands, admiring the costumed dancers marching with their clubs, and having mud slung at us by the mud jumbies. Today looks like another good day for swimming!

1 comment:

Ari said...

We're so cultured here in DC that mud-slinging has TWO meanings... :)