18 March 2009

A tribute to Fred

Hayley and I go way back. So far back, actually, that I think Hayley has spent about 12 hours of her life not knowing me. She was born two years and 10 days after I was, and, as my parents were best friends with her parents, I met her before she even turned one-day-old. Hayley and I grew up next door to each other and were best friends from the moment we met. And when her mother and my mother gave birth to boys only six weeks apart, Tyler is Hayley’s little bro and Brett is mine, we were thrilled to add them to our ever growing mob of upper-High Bridge children.

In the 1980's, Hayley’s Nana and Papa (High Bridgeans Jackie and Steve) opened an ice cream parlor, which was later expanded into a diner-like restaurant, in our tiny town about two miles from our homes. I can’t remember NOT eating ice cream from Gronsky’s Milkhouse. As soon as we each turned 14, Hayley and I began working at the Milkhouse. As official Gronsky Girls, we scooped hundreds of ice cream cones for little league ball-players from the ball parks down the street, families of four and families of 10, local teenage hooligans and even a Madonna-look-alike.

Additionally, when we entered high school, we waitressed in the restaurant every Sunday morning. Each week, we alternated being “head waitress,” who would have to come in at 6:00 a.m., and “assistant waitress,” who arrived an hour and half later. Every Sunday morning, she or I would arrive at the Milkhouse at 6:00 a.m. to find her Nana and Papa already there, warming up the grill, making the first batches of coffee, organizing newspapers and cooking the famous Gronsky home fries. And Every Sunday morning, when we pushed the squeaky door open, Hayley and I would see Fred the truck driver/meat man/bus driver sitting at the end of the counter with baseball cap on his head and a mug of hot coffee in between his hands. Fred was an awesome guy and was one of the few older men we actually liked. He would chat with us all morning as we put out milk for coffee, refilled the sugar packets and helped Jackie cook before the cook, her son Todd, took his place behind the griddle. Fred always remembered what you talked about the week before and would follow up on our stories and tales of being high schoolers and, later on, college students. He was an early morning fixture in the Milkhouse and both Hayley and I found comfort in his presence and the easy conversations we held. Fred was also one of the only Gronsky’s Milkhouse patrons to never mix up me and Hayley (apparently, we look like twins) so he got extra respect from us.

Fred died early this morning. He had a heart attack while driving a dump truck and crashed into the side of a building in Flemington, N.J. Needless to say, Gronsky patrons are mourning his death, as are Hayley and I. Actually, we are more than a little upset. He will be missed, especially by his fellow Gronsky customers and employees. Rest in peace, Fred.

1 comment:

Hayley Anne said...

wow we can read each other's thoughts