Hanging Out in Rockford: Remembering what is important

Saturday night, I am standing at the end of the bar talking to some friends when a tall (very tall), slim (very slim) young man walks up and stands looking at me. It is Danny Paske, the son of my old friend, Brad. I say to him he must have read my article about his Dad, and he nods. We make plans to go for a ride the next day at noon.

The following morning, I sleep later than usual. I do the money, but I don’t write a column; I don’t have anything I really want to write about. I take a shower just before noon, and about 10 minutes to the hour, I get a phone call from Danny—he is on his way. I am waiting outside on my bike when he pulls up on his Triumph triple crotch rocket. We decide to repeat my trip of the week before, and see if we can find the elusive highway along the creek that his father taught me.

We set off to Durand, and stop at the little bar that used to be Bunger’s. I have a beer, and Danny has just water. A man behind the bar talks to Danny about his motorcycle. I say we are taking a ride that his father and I would have gone on. The man tells Danny they have a big motorcycle party on the 15th. Danny says that perhaps we should come to it. We go on to Baumgartner’s, and sit there having lunch while Brett Favre almost sets the new record, but we leave before it happens. On the way back, we try again to find the creek road, the road his father taught me when he worked for Ideal Uniform and bought his 900 BMW from Ed Maitsen, the owner, the 900 BMW he talked about on his death bed and wished he had never sold.

We go farther on 11 before we turn off south, and I have the feeling this might be the right way. There is a turn-off to the right, but I don’t take it. Later, when the way we have taken isn’t right, I am sure that must have been the way. Next time! We come back through Rock City and Durand. It is getting close to opening time at the Rose, and I tell Danny I have to be getting back. He rides back to the Rose with me, and then goes off on his own.

I do the little things I have to do to ensure the bar can open, and then I take my van over to Swilligan’s for a drink. I am sitting at the bar when Reggie says he is going to take some of his staff out for a dinner in celebration of having completed a full year in business. He asks me if I can get some lobster. I talk him into trying some big scampi from India. I tell him they are delicious, and a much better value. We make a plan for Tuesday. Just before I leave, he asks me if he should call for a reservation. I am cocky and say this is what I do for a living and that it will be all right.

Tuesday morning, I get up at 4:30 a.m. to go to the market. I have to get up so early because Katy and I are working on a project, and we have an appointment at 1 in the afternoon. I completely forget about Reggie’s scampi, until I see him standing at the door waiting to be seated. I walk over, and immediately admit to my mistake. He takes it graciously, but I can tell he isn’t happy. I don’t blame him; it is very unprofessional. I buy some appetizers and desserts, but I am feeling very ashamed. I decide to make it up to him by buying some scampi and delivering them to him for his one-year in business party Thursday, Oct. 4.

I call Wabash Seafood and order the scampi ahead so I will be sure not to forget. On Thursday, I do my usual shopping. When I get back to Rockford, I go straight to Swilligan’s and pull up in front. I open the hatch of the van and the box from Wabash. The scampi are not there! I call Tim at Wabash. He says one entire box of my order didn’t get loaded. Oh, well, I think, at least this time I haven’t promised anything.

That evening, a Wabash Seafood truck pulls into the Irish Rose. Joe, one of the brothers, has sent James, a driver, all the way to Rockford with my order. He is with his wife and daughter. I insist on buying them dinner. I take the scampi, about 20 of them weighing a quarter pound each, to Swilligan’s and sit at the bar to have a drink with Mike. I leave before the crowd gets too intense. I am getting to be an old guy. Congratulations to Reggie on his first year in business.

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. 10, 2007, issue

Enjoy The Rock River Times? Help spread the word!