Saturday, June 16, 2007

My Dad

This photo is very reminiscent of my childhood. It is the Grand Haven Michigan harbor entrance from Lake Michigan. Just a short distance from here is where my family owned a restaurant. My dad purchased the greasy spoon diner know simply as "The Dee-Lite" in the mid 60's. It became a rather famous landmark with patrons coming from miles away to have a Sunday breakfast where they could sit at the counter and watch my dad cook eggs and bacon or choose to sit at tables or booths that my dad built in our basement at home and there was also an outdoor patio later on.
One of the menu items is a concoction my dad came up with...
The Original Farmer's Breakfast
American fries, ham, onions, green peppers, and eggs, all fried together with melted American cheese on top. Full order 7.95 Half order 7.25 Mushrooms add 1.10
These are today's prices but the thing is still on the menu and my dad sold the place 15 years ago. Only someone like a Sumo wrestler can eat a full order!!


This is todays DEE-LITE

The Grand Theater stands today just to the right of The Dee-Lite. At one time we owned the Dee-Lite to the left and the building on the right, which was also a restaurant in the 60's and 70's. As you can see the theater is now a nightclub and The Dee-Lite is far removed from it's original charm. The new owners took that away and built this new modern structure. But the menu remains almost as my dad had designed it.

I worked weekends as a dishwasher/busboy from about the age of 8 well into my teens, as did my younger siblings. My dad was so good about teaching us how to run the place and part of the charm was the fact that "John's" kid's worked there. On any given summer Sunday morning there would be a line of people out the door and down the sidewalk waiting to eat. He could get them in and out fast but the doors were in constant swing. His dedication to The Dee-Lite was unwavering, open 364 days a year, only closing on Christmas day, up at 4:00 am 7 days a week to be open for breakfast by 5:00 am. This dedication paid off as this little charmer became a pure gold mine and provided our family of 7 with a lake front home with many amenities. My mother did not have to work and our home life was awesome. My dad was later the subject of a media story written about him and the success of this old diner.

He is now 83 and very much alive and well living in Grand Haven with my mother. He is a musician and is active in a Michigan based traveling band called the Scottsville Clownband that has also developed a bit of fame.

He is one of the kindest, honest and compassionate men you could ever meet. He was born and raised in The Netherlands and worked is way into the U.S. as a steward/drummer on the Holland American Lines luxury cruise ship "Queen Mary". He survived World War II and was part of the Holland Underground spy system during the war. He also had a story written on him about this.

Happy Father's Day Dad... You're the best!!!!

3 comments:

TSRFan-John said...

What a nice tribute to your Dad. And he's part of the Scottsville Clown Band! That is so cool. My wife and I love to see them in parades.

Racefan57 said...

Thanks John.

Yes...it is an awesome band. He has been with them for many years..he'll be one of the drummer's when you see them again and he'd be pleaesed if you got a chance to introduce yourself. His name is John too.

I did not realize you were a Michigander!!

TSRFan-John said...

Yup. Born and raised near Cadillac. Although I'm getting ready to move to Southern Indiana/Northern Kentucky.