Hanging Out in Rockford: 'Car 54, where are you?'

I’ve written about her before. She was the girlfriend I met at Ken’s Hideaway the night I went there with George Pack and Dave Taylor. We just went for drinks and the loud music (honest, we never looked at the girls dancing on the bar, not even a little). I sat at the end of the bar on the corner. A young woman sent me a drink. Later that night, she came home with me. I lived upstairs next to the Hideaway in a building owned by Frank Marconi, the building that is now Runner’s Image. She stayed that night. She stayed three years.

I have reason to think of her. My friend Jon is sitting at a table at the Irish Rose with some friends of ours. He announces that he no longer has lupus. This never happens, but he has been to a specialist, and they have tested his blood three times, and miracle of miracles, it is gone. Just like that. Jon looks terrific. I can’t help but think of the old girlfriend, Reggie. She has lupus, too. I wonder if it is some treatment that Jon has undergone. I would want to pass that on to her.

A couple of days go by, and I call Jon. I didn’t want to ask him about it with everyone around. I want it to be a quiet time when we can talk. I don’t want to call her about something and not have done my homework. I call Jon on the cell phone from my car on the way to the market. Unfortunately, there is no miracle cure. It just went away. Sometimes, when you are lucky, life is like that. Jon has been a lot happier since he met Chrissie. Your attitude can affect your health. Maybe that had something to do with it. She has given him a reason to live. She is a really neat girl.

A couple of days later, I have reason to think of Reggie again. Greg DeCarlo is sitting at the bar having dinner with a woman friend. He knew Reggie in the old days, when he played in a rock and roll band (Ript), and I owned the biggest band bar in town. I remember one day especially, when we were all at the A Frame in the outside beer garden drinking beer and being generally goofy. Reggie liked to drink. She really knew how to have a good time. Sometimes she had a little too much of a good time. But then, in those days we all did.

I reminisce with Greg about her. I say that everyone liked her. He says that she was beautiful, and that leads me to tell a story about when a girlfriend of hers from Oregon said that you can tell if a woman is beautiful when she walks into the room because all the men look at her, but if she is really beautiful, all the women look. She was that young, and that beautiful.

I decide to call her. I don’t have anything to say regarding the lupus, but lately, every once in a while, I call her. We talk about old times or we just talk. I call the number stored in my phone. It is disconnected. The last time she changed her phone number, she called me to give me the new number, and I called her right back. I know the number is right. I don’t know how to reach her, but I know she keeps up with my column, even from southern Illinois, over the Net. Maybe she will read this and get in touch with me.

We are getting down to business concerning the Best of Rockford. Frank would like it to debut in January or February. We are going to hold an initial meeting at the Irish Rose at 5 p.m., Wednesday, Oct. 25. Those people whom I have corresponded with regarding participation are invited. The Irish Rose will supply some nice appetizers. You are on your own for drinks. We will be talking about our direction and ideas and making some assignments. I will also write about it in next week’s column. The newspaper comes out that same day. If you are interested in participating, try to make the meeting. That is how we are going to shake out the people who are serious.

Mike Leifheit’s “Hanging Out In Rockford” reviews locally-owned restaurants, businesses and Rockford life. Leifheit is owner of the Irish Rose restaurant in the downtown River District.

From the Oct. 18-24, 2006, issue

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