I am a social guy and like to eat out so I am going to talk about local restaurants and my introduction into the "Coffee Club."
First, let's talk about some now defunct restaurants I would venture to say many of you have either never heard of or have forgotten.
The Rompalla family were our next-door neighbors in Indian Springs. They built and operated a Tastee Freez where the Owen family later operated their barber and beauty shop (across the street from the former Forest City Foods store). They were not in business very long, but Joan and I were frequent customers. On one such trip we were "babysitting" the DeBoest children for Joe and Jean and we took them to Tastee Freez for some ice cream. I recall we were in our Firebird convertible and when we went to leave, I closed the car door on Dan DeBoest's hand (he was around five years old at the time) resulting in minor cuts and bruises and a lot of crying. Now, years later Dan and I still joke about trying to reach an out-of-court settlement for his injuries.
Then there was the Riverside Café, operated by Jerry Thompson and located in the area where we now find the VIP. They had an all you can eat fish fry on Friday evenings for $1.25 per person. I can remember sitting there with her infant son Blane (who stayed very content with a constant supply of soda crackers) and devouring as much delicious fish as we could.
Another short-lived restaurant was the Villager, which was located in the current Coloff Digital Building. They had an extensive menu and good food, but I am guessing Forest City just wasn't large enough to adequately support them.
I am a bit cloudy on when I joined the 8:30 "Coffee Club.” We have met at several places over the years including Sally's for the last several years.
But my most vivid memories go back to the Bungalow (located somewhere in the area now occupied by TSB/Bomgaars). There may have been an earlier operator, but my memory focuses on Dick and Dolores Larson who would also end up managing the restaurant at the Forest City Golf Club for a number of years.
I think the Coffee Club likely went back to the 1940s or even 1930s. The club met six days a week but I was a Saturday only member because this did not fit into my work schedule. On a busy Saturday there would be 25 or more in attendance. Through most of the years we played the "numbers game," which I will not attempt to explain, but the end result was the "winner" got to buy coffee for everyone. I also recall the roof leaked so when it rained they brought out buckets and sometimes we had to move tables.
John K. Hansen loved Saturday mornings as he made his rounds to the Bungalow, MBT and sometimes other places. When he entered, everyone became quiet as they wondered what John would have to say. Some would base decisions on whether to buy or sell Winnebago stock on what John said or what they read into what he said.
As I think back to those days and try to recall everyone sitting around those tables at the Bungalow, I quickly conclude they were a great cross section of the Forest City community and sadly, most have passed on.
It's a slim crowd that now meets at Sally's, with probably the only "veterans" being myself, Russ Schnebly, Jack Soderling, Dick Hynes and Steve Bakke.
My family would learn Saturday coffee became very important to me and nothing should be scheduled on Saturday morning until I was home from the Coffee Club. One morning there was a blizzard, but I was determined to make it to coffee. I started out of our driveway, turned right toward Forest City and got hung up on a snowdrift only to find out later the restaurant was closed.
Until next time.