The Last Breakfast Smile

I am a big fan of breakfast. I love a nice, hot breakfast. Eggs, hash browns, toast, bacon. Sadly, I seldom have time for a decent breakfast on a work day. (When I DO have time, you occasionally get to see a picture of it.)

However, this day was different. Our local Eat'n Park restaurant on North Atherton Street, which has been there for 24 years, will close on October 4. Local news stories have confirmed a drop-off in business there. The closure means that about 50 people who were on staff there will need to transfer to another location (Altoona and DuBois are the closest) or they will lose their jobs.

The only meal that my husband and I ever go to Eat'n Park for is breakfast. And so we decided that we wanted one last go at breakfast before the closure. I usually work at home on Mondays, but a 9 am work meeting meant I had to be in the office on this day.

So my husband and I decided we would go out for a nice hot breakfast, then he would drop me off at work and go run some errands before heading home with my car. This plan also meant I got to ride the bus home for the first time in ages. I have to admit that it feels weird riding the bus when it's not snowy or icy out!

We each ordered the classic Breakfast Smile, as they call it, which features exactly what you see here. My husband orders the sausages instead of the bacon strips. The usual price is $6.49 but it is $4.99 before 11 am on weekdays. In photographing the meal, I was seeing it as a face; and hoping the eggs would serve as the eyes and the bacon would look like a smile. However, I note now that it looks more like a bacon BEARD.

The meal was delicious, just as it always is, but the place was nearly deserted. There may have been a half-dozen people there. There was one waitress. It felt weird: we had the sense of a time that was getting ready to pass. And so I sat and ate my delicious breakfast, and I scrolled back through my memories.

It is May of 2004 and it is the morning that I will be closing on my house. (A house! A house! Hooray!) And my oldest sister who is a real estate agent has come to be there for me, and so she and my boyfriend and I go out to Eat'n Park before the closing. And I am so nervous I can barely eat! 

And after the closure, well fed and no longer quite so nervous, we all go and sit on the deck of my new house. However, we feel like the great pretenders, afraid that someone (perhaps the someone who really owns the place) will come and tell us we have to leave.

Flash forward, and it is later that same summer, and my husband and I are sitting at breakfast, remembering our big orange cat Gremlin who has just passed; and this time we are crying over our breakfasts. (The first of many breakfast tears. I think we wept over almost every single breakfast that year, remembering Gremlin. Mornings were always hardest without him.)

Eat'n Park has long been a part of our lives, or at least our breakfasts. We have celebrated there, we have cried there. (And no, we don't see ourselves driving all the way to Altoona or DuBois to get our next breakfast there; so is this my last Breakfast Smile ever?  Who knows!?) Fare thee well, Eat'n Park. Thank you for all of the smiles.

There is just one song that comes to mind as I contemplate this final Breakfast Smile. I remember hearing this song - and loving it - from the time I was a small child (at least one of whose older sisters absolutely adored the Bee Gees). It was released in January 1968, and the words go something like this; you are welcome to sing along if you like.

Smile an everlasting smile
A smile can bring you near to me
Don't ever let me find you gone
'Cause that would bring a tear to me

Having said all of that, here are the Bee Gees, with the song Words. I'm including two versions: one from February 1968, and the other from 1997. Enjoy.

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