This week's list of new and returning products follows a few words about Up North memories
Preamble by Steve Siciliano
It was Sunday afternoon and Barb and I had been at it for hours. "I'm beat," I said. "That's enough fun for one day. How about we break for lunch?"
"Sounds good to me," Barb said. "My whole body hurts."
"Yeah, my back is screaming at me. Let's go out. NA-TAH-KA or Oak Grove?"
"NA-TAH-KA is fine."
After cleaning the paint off my hands (Barb never drips or splatters) and changing out of our work clothes we hopped in the truck and made the short drive to the old eating and drinking establishment located halfway between and a stone's throw from Big Bass and Loon Lakes. "Uh-oh," Barb said. "Looks busy."
"Yeah, there's probably a wait. Let's try the Oak."
On the way to Irons I told Barb about the time my dad went to NA-TAH-KA with my two younger brothers in tow. "So the old man wants to go to the bar for a few beers and for some reason he takes the boys. Probably because they bugged him to go along and my mother made him. NA-TAH-KA was kind of a dive back then. They had one of those bowling machines and dad gave them a bunch of dimes to keep them occupied while he sat at the bar and slaked his thirst. Well he got to talking with a few guys and when he finally got up to leave he totally forgot that Mark and Matt were with him. He was halfway to the cabin when he remembered. He high tailed it back and collected the boys and made them promise never to tell mom."
"Mark and Matt must have been terrified."
"According to dad they didn't even know he was gone."
"Then why did he even tell them?" Barb asked.
"Beats the hell out of me."
We had no problem snagging a table at the Oak. When the waitress walked up we ordered tall Tanqueray and tonics and a chicken wrap for me and an order of chips and cheese for Barb. "Did I ever tell you about the time my dad hauled me and Ken out of here?" I asked my wife.
"Yup. Uncle Flavio talked Ken and I into volunteering to cook chicken at a festival that the church down the road used to put on every Labor Day. It was a hot day and the heat from the barbecue pit made it even hotter. I don't know how many volunteers started out in the morning but by the afternoon it was just Ken and me doing the cooking. Flavio helped for about a half hour then spent the day under the beer tent. There was a case of beer in the reefer box truck where the chicken was being stored and by the time we were done cooking I think Ken and I drank most of it. We found Flavio and then all three of us walked down to the Oak. Boy were we shit faced. The place was rocking and I was dancing with some chick from Manistee when I see the old man storming onto the dance floor. He grabbed me with one hand and Ken with the other and threw us into the car."
"Why did he do that?" my wife asked.
'Well, for one thing neither one of us was twenty-one. For another thing we were at a bar with Flavio. Before he quit drinking he had a bad habit of getting into bar fights."
"Oh," Barb said. "What about Uncle Flavio? Didn't your dad make him leave too?"