Hartville. Welcomed by the café’s official dress code–jeans and ball caps–I felt at home on Rolla Street next to Bullfrogs Pawn, bathed in the aroma of bean soup and the promise of blue plate specials. Betty always dreamed of owning a little home-cookin’ place like this. Her son opened the restaurant a year after she died. In the general category of tributes to loved ones, gravestones are most common, of course. And a yellowed newspaper obituary stuck in a Bible. A few folks become immortalized in song or verse. Lately, a legion of families remember their dearly departed on a 2×4 sign in the Adopt-A-Highway program. But to build a restaurant in honor of mom is a real commitment. Long hours, daily. Hot kitchens. A slew of unanticipated headaches. Forget flowers. This is something mothers can relate to. Betty would be proud. But dammit to Hell, nothing lasts forever, and crossing through Hartville a few months later, I noted with sadness that Mom’s is closed, with that small-business synonym for a Grim Reaper’s scythe–a real estate sign–sitting in the window.
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