Hanging out in Rockford: Super Bowl Sunday
By Mike Leifheit, Columnist
Its Sunday, Super Bowl Sunday. I try to arrange some company for this day but it is in vain. Saturday night, I ask Angela Weeks, one of my waitresses, if she wants to do something, but she seems noncommittal. I call my friend Izzy and leave a message. She calls back, but her phone is undergoing changes, and all I can do is leave messages. I consider calling Jenny Geiger, but I know she was too sick to work Saturday night, and I put that out of my mind. I am totally alone. I have nothing to do and nowhere to go. I have nothing to write about for a column. I consider skipping a week.
I get up very early and make myself scrambled eggs and coffee. I use the morning to do work for my businesses. I usually work about half a day on Sunday. Then, before I even take note, it is after 1 p.m., and I am hungry again. I want to stick to my diet. I think about the alternatives and drive my van slowly around downtown.
I decide to be good and head for the Parthenios to have baked chicken and Greek salad, but when I try to order, they dont have baked chicken. They always have baked chicken on Sunday; it is one of those things in life you can count on. (I remember when my mother and I used to go to St. James Church and then the Boston diner for baked chicken. On the alternate Sunday, we would go to Irwins, where Little Italy is located now, for the Italian beef sandwich.) I tell the waitress that it was my whole reason for coming here and excuse myself.
Instead, I head for south Rockford. I havent been to the Guadalajara for some time, and I park across the street in front of the Graham-Ginestra House. Inside, I order a Carta Blanca, and the waitress brings me chips and salsa. There goes the idea of being good. Oh, well, it is Sunday. I order the beef soup with flour tortillas and start to read the Rockford Register Star.
Barely inside the Star, I discover an article about an event at the Tebala Shrine Temple on Newburg Rd. Jazz Legends of Rockford III: The Ladies of Jazz. I immediately want to go. I am late for the event, but it is only $10, and I am bound to see some good stuff, even going late. I hurriedly finish my soup and set sail for the east side. This necessitates taking the beautiful new Charles Street. I like the new Charles St. so much that I take it even when another route would do better.
When I arrive at the Shrine, the lady in the foyer is reluctant to take my $10. Its OK, I tell her, its for a good cause. I hate people who try to cheat on cover charges. How do they expect to have music if they are not willing to pay? Musicians eat, too. I push my way through the closed doors to the auditorium, and the place is filled to capacity. There must be more than 500 people here on Super Bowl Sunday.
Doris LaMarca is singing, You Make Me Feel So Young. Later she sings, You Made Me Love You. Bill Howard is walking around the perimeter schmoozing just like in the old days at the Web. Bill hasnt changed a bit. Up on stage during the change of bands, I see Bruce Hammond. The sound is excellent; you can hear every word with crystal clarity. What a pleasure. The crowd makes me feel young.
I decide to get a beer and ask the table in front of me where the bar is. I dont recognize them, but they call me by name. They point me to the extreme opposite corner of the room, and I go there by way of the outside corridor, but to no avail; they have already closed the bar. I bump into Joyce Serranos cousin Angelo. He is with his brother and introduces us as if we dont know each other. We both laughingly tell him that we have met before. They are looking for a beer also. We look into a charming little bar that unfortunately isnt open. As he walks away, Angelo says that maybe it is good that it isnt open. I am learning to think that way, too. God has his reasons.
Back around front, I run into Karen Howard and Lawrence Smith. We chat briefly. Bruce Hammond shows up, and I compliment him on the sound. It is so nice to be at this type of event and be able to hear the words. This kind of show is particularly hard to mike and mix. I start for my van to get some paper and a pen. Karen thinks I am leaving and tells me about the closing set where all the women are taking part. I assure her that I am not leaving and that I only went to be able to take some notes.
Back in the hall, I watch Maxine and the Maximillians, and then the finale with Jodi Beach centerstage, and there is a reason: she has a beautiful voice. Then I make my way quickly for the door. On the way out, I mention to Karen that the Rose is now open on Sunday nights. I arrive back at the Rose circuitously. Karen is already there. She must have been one of our only customers. Most people stayed home for the Super Bowl. I head up to my little loft apartment. I dont find out the outcome of the game until coffee the next morning at Octane.
Owner of the Irish Rose (Rockford) and Irish Rose North (Rockton) restaurants, Mike Leifheits Hanging Out In Rockford reviews locally-owned restaurants, businesses and Rockford life. These columns are also available on his Web site: IrishRoseRockford.com and featured on the Chris Bowman Show, WNTA talk radio AM 1330.