Wearing bowling shoes purloined from the long since torn down Pickwood Lanes across the street, Debbie and I went to the Apple Pan on our first date together. We found two empty seats on Gordon’s side of the counter and ordered cheeseburgers, fries and coffee. Gordon is gone, Manny is gone, Isaac is gone but Victor is still making burgers behind the grill. He’s been there for over forty years making burgers for Carlos Castaneda, Don Knotts, and Davey Lopes. With every kid we’ve had our frequency visiting the Apple Pan has diminished- our family would take up 1/4 of the restaurant. We tend to go there in batches with Debbie and I taking one or two of our boys, or a friend taking one of our kids as a birthday present. But every time we stop in Victor takes a break and we chat. It’s small talk for sure but there’s something more to it then just that. There is a comfort in the endurance of time that we all acknowledge and respect but know it can’t last forever.
One Sunday I stopped by with my camera and Victor was there early to start his shift. I asked him if I could shoot his portrait. He got a big smile on his face and said, “Really!” We talked about where the hell the time went, he even dropped the “F” bomb. We talked about Manny who passed away a few months after he retired from the Apple Pan, we talked about our kids growing up and how he gets a kick when Sam comes in with one of his friends and says, “Hi.”
After I was done I said to Victor, I’ve never seen you without your hat- would you mind?” And he did-