We Lost a Lot, But Never Our Memories

     ED NOTE: After first appearing in the Wednesday Leader, then being relegated to the back of the Sunday News Press, then having about a third of each column cut by the editor before then ultimately being fired completely, I decided to bring back the column on a ‘when I feel like writing it’ basis.  Now that it is back here, maybe someone will actually be able to find it and read it.

     It has been a sad past couple of weeks. Some events are more important than others and some are more national than local, yet they all still leave an effect on those involved.
A few weeks ago, Burbank lost an adopted son in Charles Lombardo.
I will be honest; I did not know Charlie well.  We talked a few times with the last time being when we were both at Gary Bric’s Ramp where we watched President Obama’s motorcade pass.  We spent about 45 minutes talking about the City and especially the airport.  He wanted me to pick up the tower frequencies on my scanner so he could listen to the happenings with the airport and the planes.
Besides that, I would watch Charlie as he gave his airport reports to the council at their meetings.  Not only was he very thorough in his reports, but he was always ready with an answer when a question came up.  He knew the issues and was also a strong proponent for the City.
At his memorial service at the airport, there was a true sadness for the man’s passing present.  It was not just a service you went to and then went about your day, but a remembrance that left an impression and I had wished I actually known the man better.  He would light up a room and make people around him better.
Just after Lombardo’s death came the news of Papoo’s Hot Dog Show closing its doors.
Yes, it was a local landmark and people were up in arms that it was closing, but it was not on many people’s radar or had been for some time.
     For myself, it was different.  Between 1974 and about 1982 or so, The then Hot Dog Show was our hangout.  It was the place I came of age and learned about life.
There were about 10 of us in a very closed knit group and another 10 or so who would drift in occasionally.  It was a strange mix of people, with most of them actually a little older then myself, but everyone was always treated the same.
It was the place that you would drift to everyday and sit in our little section.  We played cards, made our plans for that evening where we would go (usually always as a group), and just watched the world go by at a nice slow pace.
When the Moore’s bought the place and added the name Papoo’s (which is a Greek word for ‘grandfather’, who they wanted to honor), we, the locals, were once again welcomed, given our space and respect, and always watched the owners back.  In fact, it was with the new ownership that my poker skills were born as we would stay after closing and have games that lasted to the wee hours of the morning on a weekly basis.
Soon after the Moore’s sold, the atmosphere changed and we all started to grow apart.  I still see some of those characters here and there and try to keep up on the ones that have spread their wings to other places.
With new ownership came new menu names, cheaper quality food and shorter hours.  People are up in arms that they have closed but let’s face it.  If all these people who are so concerned that they closed ate there at least once or twice a week, I bet they would have made the necessary repairs and stayed in business.
I ate there the last weekend they were open and even sat in our old section.  The emotions came back along with the memories.  Then the food came and I remember why I no longer went there – it was terrible.  Bottom line, no matter how colorful the location, a restaurant is still about the food.

     Finally, it was the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.  While the actual attacks did not affect myself or any of my friends directly, there was and still has been an emotional toll.
At first, I stayed away from all the specials on television, watching all of those poor people having their lives torn apart and the stories of the families who have been forever devastated by loss.
They say that it was important to go about your life afterward and ‘not let the terrorists win’ but I will admit that they did when it comes to my mental outlook at times.  The week after when baseball started again I was at Dodger Stadium and kept looking up, thinking that they could fly a plane into the stadium.  To this day, I still wonder where and when in L. A. they will strike and if we here in Burbank will truly be safe depending on the size.
Maybe I am no longer scared as concerned, but maybe in a good way it has opened our eyes and maybe we realize not to act as those Americans are just more superior and nothing can happen to us.  Hopefully we act a little more cautious and pay attention to our surroundings a little better like many more in the world do.  Instead of being a victim of terrorism, we are now part of activism.
My father was 30 years-old when Pearl Harbor was attached and he went into the Army soon after that, motivated by his patriotism.  He served in Guadalcanal and came home after victory to raise his family after his way of life had been protected.
Many have stepped up and served this country in the last 10 years.  Every night that I go to sleep I wake up to a safer world because of these brave men and women.
On the steps of Burbank’s City Hall Sunday morning during the 9/11 observance, the steps were full of both Burbank Police Officers and Firemen.
I want you to think about something you have any kind of a frustration with one of these safety officers. . . . . No matter what the situation is at the moment that has you stirred up, in the big picture it is actually small and not really that important.
That Policeman or Fireman, no matter how his feelings about you, will put his or her life on the line in seconds to do anything to save your life.  They are not concerned about politics, or race or religion, they just want to save lives and that was the only thing on the minds of those who rushed into the World Trade Center 10 years ago.
Our generations have now gone through their ‘Perl Harbor’ and while they is no definite end to our war, the actions of Seal Team 6 with the killing of that bastard Osama bin Laden sure went a long way toward some satisfaction.
Hopefully, our gift to future generations will be only that they remember Pearl Harbor and 9/11 and that they will never have to go through anything like that in their or their children’s lifetimes.
So, sad days behind and let’s hope for happy days ahead.  While people and places may be gone forever, our minds will always remember the better times, except maybe that last meal at Papoo’s Hot Dog Show.