Tuesday, January 23, 2018
AN EVENING AT THE DAVENPORT ROADHOUSE AND INN
Everything thing in life
relates in one way or another
to a scene from what movie?
A great saloon and dinner house fills the bottom floor of the Davenport Roadhouse and Inn. Check-in for a night’s stay occurs next to a very tempting display of in-house baked pastries. Reservations for dinner would not be required this off-season Friday. After my customary mid-afternoon nap – these having become customary when I quit having to answer the bell about ten years ago – I engaged in my customary stroll through the back streets of whatever town I’m visiting. Coastal Davenport had about two of ‘em. I strolled twice.
Darkness had fallen about an hour before and wandering by the second time, the light from the Roadhouse’s windows, the commotion seen through them and the tinkling of a tinny piano stirred thoughts of Rick’s Café Americain. I wondered if, somewhere in a backroom or upstairs, the proprietor was going over his books while wearing a white dinner jacket. I also wondered about gambling.
I settled at a table at the elbow of the L-shaped room. At the end of the portion of the room stretching to my right flamed a fireplace amid a fine brick hearth. Tables, some placed individually and some pushed together into a row, filled the room. From the long configuration darted a swarm of little children like bees from a hive. A few families, locals, I assumed, had gathered to celebrate some tyke’s sixth or seventh birthday with brick oven pizza and enough soda to keep the kids rockin’ deep into the night.
To my left – straight ahead, the way I’d positioned myself – stood a handsome, full-service bar and a handful of cocktail tables. A grayed woman, more elderly than myself, enjoyed something, I couldn’t see what, alternately putting it to her lips and then moving her hands in punctuated rhythm with tunes a talented jazz-man was playing on a tiny cruise ship sized piano. The piano hadn’t eighty-eight keys. I knew this because I’d seen two of these before – one in Hal B. Wallace’s classic Casablanca and one in my mother-in-law’s parlor, which we would inherit. The gentleman in command of the piano rolled out one standard after another as the children danced in front of him and in front of the pastry display and the old woman across the room mouthed lyrics. I’d spent much of the drive down listening to the Sinatra satellite radio station on the Harmon/Kardon in the Subaru. I could have mouthed them, too.
I was hoping for a steak and they had a New York on the menu, but the catch of the day – locally sourced seafood on a bed of pasta with sautéed local mushrooms bathed in something creamy – sounded good. As did a chilled bottle of Husch Sauvignon Blanc.
Thus, two-and-a-half hours of my solo Friday evening would be spent enjoying fresh and fine coastal fare in a bar in a coastal village while a cluster of first- second- and third-graders danced and frolicked to tunes from the Great American Songbook. Two-thirds of the way through the bottle of Sauv Blanc, I found myself mouthing those words along with that senior citizen from across the crowded room. Some Enchanted Evening.
Returning to my room, I checked the news on my iPhone only to discover that the boys in Congress – unable to compromise or find common ground about some pretty basic and pretty American ideals – had shut down the government.
As time went by, however, my thoughts returned to the old woman singing and to those tots dancing to the lyrical tunes of Gershwin, Porter and Rogers and Hart – the music of the times when, as a people, we got along better.
And as I retired for the evening, I was warmed by glimmers of hope. Enchanted evening indeed.
Next up: A Morning at the Davenport Roadhouse and Inn
Church of the Open Road Press