Hanging Out in Rockford: The last dance—part two

The week leading up to the big day, the day of Rock City and the day of the Wristers’ last dance is a busy one. We are going to plant the planters outside the Irish Rose and in front of the parking lot next to 5 Spa. The neighborhood is doing it together with the help and cooperation of the city. I ask my old friend, Tricia Davey ,a landscaper, to design the space. Everyone in the neighborhood chips in. Tricia buys the plants for us wholesale at Beaver Creek, a nursery in Boone County. She comes downtown to collect the checks from everyone.

We arrange to meet Thursday, the night of the River District mixer at Bacchus and the Grand Opening of the new Mexican restaurant, Los Portales (where Ross’s used to be). I tell her to meet me at Bacchus at 7 as I am going to Los Portales at the behest of Rudy Campos at 6, and I should be through by then. But she shows up early and has Ryan, my bartender, call me on my cell phone. Point her at the new Mexican restaurant, I say. Ryan says she will.

The new restaurant is full of dignitaries from both the Mexican community and local government. Pat Curran is there, so is Doug Mark. Tricia arrives, and we slide into a booth. We order tacos; liver, tripe, barbacoa (the face meat of the cow) and tongue. Tricia orders Guacamole. Sally Mark sits down with us (Sally Mark for Mayor). I introduce her to Trisha and let them know that they are both Republicans. This pretty much cuts me out of the conversation. Then they start talking plants and that definitely leaves me completely out of the picture. Sally says that she would marry George Bush. Strange, I like her in so many other ways.

Tricia and I go to the mixer at Bacchus and pick up the checks for the plants. Then we hang out together the rest of the evening. She says that she has read my column about the big day. She also says I have to go to Beaver Creek to pick up the plants on Friday. She wondered if I knew this when I made my plans. She says something about horticulture and horsing around not being compatible. I just let it slide. Friday, it takes most of my day just getting the plants. Our lunch waitress doesn’t show up. Between the two things, I never get to work on the window by the door, the window that was peeling, the window that disintegrated when I put the wire brush to it. The window that is now greatly in need of repair.

The big day arrives, the day of the day in Rock City, the day of the last dance. But there is still work to do. There is the matter of the planters getting planted, and planted they must be before the Block Five Festival, which is only a week away. There is also the matter of the rotten window that needs to be repaired, the window that is the first thing you see when you enter the Irish Rose. So much to do. I awake early and set right to work. First, the things must be done that allow the business to open. The settlements for both restaurants, buying change, etc. Then it is pretty much all afternoon of spreading bondo, sanding and smoothing and finally painting. But when I am done my window looks great. I take a short nap.

Then I jump on the big Yamaha and head for Rock City. Instead of driving out Kilburn which I am usually wont to do, I head up North Main to Riverside Boulevard. Then I turn right on Route 70. I pass the back road to Pecatonica, and I remember how Lynn Soper’s parents used to live on Fish Hatchery Road and all the fun we had at parties there. I pass Curran’s Apple Orchard, and I think about the big mixer I gave Pat to make donuts, the Cornelius mixer that was the same mixer they had on the Nautilus, the first nuclear submarine. The mixer that would not and still will not die. It starts to rain, and I hunker down behind the fairing for cover. Luckily, it is just a shower. The new pavement is a motorcyclist’s delight. The distance to Durand just flies by.

At Durand, I turn left and head for Rock City. But I make a mistake and instead of Rock City, I turn into Davis, one town too soon. I decide to ride around in Davis to take a quick look. There are two bars in Davis. I almost stop for a drink but then think better of it. There is the big celebration in Rock City to look forward to. I push on. Back on the highway I see the sign “Rock City 3 miles, Freeport 15.” When I arrive at Rock City there is a sign by the road, “July 17 a day in Rock City.”

The first time I came to Rock City, it was with my friend Elmer. We came to Boo’s Bar to sell him imported beer. We had Boo Burgers. The first time I talked to Sarah about Rock City, I told her that I had been to Boo’s and had eaten a Boo Burger. She was very impressed. More next week.

Owner of the Irish Rose (Rockford) and Irish Rose North (Rockton) restaurants, Mike Leifheit’s “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 WNTA talk radio AM 1330.

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