Shepherdstown, RFD

Betty’s Restaurant, February 5, 2012

lzBetty's923

I left the Potomoc River home of my still-sleeping hosts before seven in the morning and drove all the way through Shepherdstown, West Virginia, to the Food Lion on the other side of town. They were open but had only Sunday Washington Posts, stacks of them; no Sunday New York Times. Still searching for the Times, I stopped at the Sheetz gas station on the way back to the river house. Same deal, not a N.Y.T. logo in sight. Continuing on German Street, back toward Rt. 230 and my hosts’ home, I noticed a clean well-lighted place, the only business open on the town’s main drag. It was a restaurant called Betty’s, a down-home old-style main street-type diner; extreme chintz and hand-lettered everything. (Click attached picture to enlarge.)  Inside, there was a sign up front that said “Please Wait to be Seated.” Two older men and a single woman about the same age were seated all the way in back, each in individual booths.

The waitress, a very pleasant young woman, on the chubby side, called out to me “You can sit anyplace, sir.” I took a booth just in front of the other three residents—so close I could overhear the conservation between the two men and the waitress. They were discussing their various health issues, weight, high blood pressure, and their mutual love of chocolate. Two more men in our collective age group came in and selected individual booths just in front of me. The waitress greeted each one by name. I said, smiling up at the waitress, “Gee, I wish I was a regular!” “You can be one,” she said, laughing, “I’ll treat you right.” She took my order—two eggs over medium with sausage gravy and one biscuit. As she walked away, I noticed a newspaper rack up front and went to check it out. Bingo—a huge stack of Sunday New York Times off to one side!

As I settled back in my booth with my treasured newspaper, several more male customers came in and they, too, took individual booths. Again, the waitress greeted them by their first names and brought them coffee without waiting to be told to do so. Then she placed a cup of steaming black coffee exactly halfway down the empty counter and left it there. A minute or two later another older man came in, picked up a local paper from one of the racks and sat down at the coffee cup waiting for him on the counter. He and the waitress exchanged greetings and a bit of banter.

Shortly after that, she topped-off the coffee cup of the man in the booth directly in front of me, then scratched his back. Then she topped-off my cup and said, “Plus one for you, too,” and scratched my back. I laughed and said, “Now I really do feel at home!”

So, of course, on the way out, as I paid the waitress for my breakfast, I told her, “I will be back,” and gave her a very generous tip. She said, “Now you do that, hon—and soon, too, OK? You’re my new best buddy.”

“Mutual,” I said. “Very, very mutual.”

Advertisements

4 Responses to Shepherdstown, RFD

  1. Florence Newman says:

    You really capture the charm of that small town cafe, as well as the personality of the cheerful, bantering waitress. And you didn’t have to miss out on your fix of city culture, the New York Times! Now you’ve passed on that memorable encounter for us to remember. Thanks.

  2. Jim says:

    From you, Ms. Newman—a writer that I admire—that’s a huge complimment . . .

  3. Regina Pilardi says:

    Great story, Jim.

  4. Jim says:

    Thanks, Regina. I was just thinking of you when I opened my retro snail-mail this morning. Each time I do that, I remember that my retro snail-mail-opener was a Christmas gift from you many, many years ago. I love practical gifts. Also, one Christmas, you gave me a fancy green Williams Sonoma kitchen apron. Perhaps you got that brilliant gifting-habit from your mother’s example; every night I sill use the perfect little square clock-radio that she gave me one year . . .

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s