All Things Great and Small

Looking around Waterloo’s Harmony Lunch, if I were reading a 1930 edition of The Record, instead of today’s, it would have fit right in: not much has changed.

Oh, sure, the clothing styles of the patrons and their cars parked outside would have looked much different from today – but not in almost any other way that counts around here.

The old hardwood floors would have looked a little newer, and later, the ‘40s classic jukebox would have pumped out different tunes. And, although, the current price of three plays for a quarter is a great bargain, you’d be hard pressed to find any tunes beyond the ‘70’s.

“Just take those old records off the shelf
I’ll sit and listen to ’em by myself
Today’s music ain’t got the same soul
I like that old time rock ‘n’ roll”
– Old Time Rock And Roll by Bob Seger

Except that here, ‘old time rock ‘n’ roll’ isn’t considered… well, “old”.

Of course, the old counters, the milkshake maker and old promotional tin signs still adorn the restaurant’s walls – one reaffirms all pies are “homemade”. And, like most things around this place, it’s been that way for 85 years: as of June 18, 2015.

However, the real spirit emanates from a 4th generation family ownership that still runs it… and the loyal customers that have flocked here all this time. Terms like “customer service” isn’t what they do here; it’s who they are… along with good food at fair prices. Plus, lots of good-nature “abuse” that, 2nd generation, Bruce, likes to dish out to “special” customers. Not that they mind much – as I found out when I asked how long a customer, sitting at the next table, had been coming here. “Well”, said Jim, a retired engineer, “I guess it’s been about 37 years, now.”

And yet, as 4th generation Jamie (Her mom,Cheryl, handles the bookkeeping.) congenially pours us another complimentary refill, it would be a mistake to think that the family isn’t serious about running a tight ship. As Jim explains, during the funeral service for Bruce’s father, the restaurant stayed open. “It’s what Harry would have wanted.” he says respectfully.  

Later, as I was putting in another quarter to play some more “golden oldies” jukebox tunes, I asked Jamie why a certain ‘Wings’ hit (from back in the ’70’s) wasn’t there anymore. “We like mixing the old with the new” she says matter-of-factually, “but, they’re all saved out back.”

So, even though these days I watch my intake of fried eggs, pork burgers and homemade pies, I know I’ll be back, soon, for another trip back in time… to where every sight, sound and aroma makes you feel welcome. And, just like family, you’re home. Sometimes, it’s the small things that make life so great.                                                         

“We’re so sorry Uncle Albert
But we haven’t done a bloody thing all day
We’re so sorry Uncle Albert
But the kettle’s on the boil, and we’re so easily called away”

– Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey, by Paul McCartney


Fred Parry                            The Music In Me       April 2015

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