The Wonderful Smell Of Roses

No I don't mean the flower, I mean Rose's Diner. A quaint little place that was centered in the heart of my Midwestern hometown.

I grew up going to Rose's. My mom and 2 sisters would treat ourselves to a "home cooked meal", prepared by Rose herself after church on Sundays. Rose knew us all by our first name, and well, everyone knew Rose. Her business started up in the late 50's as a way to make ends meet while her husband served our country in the U.S. Military. Sadly he never came home, but Rose persevered for 4 more decades serving our little town with her culinary delights.

Her diner was just that - a diner. Nothing fancy, no grand decor or gaudy wall dressings, or padded brown binders encasing the menu. It was a family place and her customers were her family. The walls were covered with news articles that were significant only to Rose. In fact, i learned more hometown history reading the framed newspaper articles while sitting in a torn booth seat than in did in all my years in grade school. Even more, I think every little league team was represented in a picture as she was a proud sponsor of the sport, and even more - the parents and kids who played, and even the parents of the parents of the kids who played.

Rose's menu was dependable. Not a whole lot changed on the menu, and when she did add or delete something, she'd type up a new one a old typewriter, and "run off" the new menus using an old ink-paper machine called a "mimeograph" that she kept in the back office. I asked her once why she didn't get a printer and use a computer. She scoffed at such nonsense. "Child, I don't fix what works," she scolded.

Mom loved Roses because it was affordable. She could feed a family of 4 for under $20. And Rose fed us well. Her portions were typical for a small diner, but she always added a little extra for the charge. 50 cent muffins were often discounted to .35 cents, .42 with tax, But only if we could spell a random word that Rose would choose.

Rose was a a stickler for fresh, wholesome ingredients. She was definitely old-school in this respect. Her pancakes were made with real flour, and (gasp!) real buttermilk. Her eggs and veggies were from a local producer, and her pies, cakes, muffins and rolls were made in-house. If you didn't arrive early enough, you were out of luck. And if a patron complained about it, she would educate them in her own charming way, and often offered them the opportunity to come in at 3AM to help her make more pasties - just for him.

In 2005, Rose passed away at 88. She worked her diner (with help) the entire time. A new owner, a Greek family as I recall, promptly purchased Rose's Diner and within a few months, converted into a "Family Restaurant". The transformation failed miserably. Roses diner was a legacy, not just narrow hall shaped room with an open kitchen and a counter. And adding a "banquet hall" only mocked her memory.

The location later became a post office. Which is fitting I think. A place that community could gather, get informed, and the most common thing purchased was only .42 cents. The cost of a Rose made muffin, with a correctly spelled word.

kellysimon kellysimon
22-25, F
2 Responses Jan 7, 2013

It's sad when a place like that closes....but they live on in our memories.

Triple D is one of my favorite shows ever. My dream is to take a cross-country trip and hit as many diners as I can. I've found that the worse a place looks on the outside, the better the food is inside. They focus on the food and not the decor. Thanks for posting this. I really enjoyed reading it. I think everyone should grow up with a special place to eat like Rose's.