Please note this blog is a work of fiction.
In the story Rip Van Winkle, our hero Rip likes to spend his time doing almost anything but that which will bring money into his household. He goes roaming in the woods with his dog, shoots squirrels, and hangs out with other not-productively inclined townsmen on a bench in front of a “small inn” by which Irving means “pub” I assume. There the assembled “sages, philosophers, and other idle personages” would sit commenting on the events of the day or the events of the several months earlier—since news did not travel fast.
Assuming that Rip Van Winkle’s village was at least partially drawn from real life, I can assure you that not much has changed in the small towns of New York state. News may come at us thick and fast but the digestion of it still requires time, careful consideration, and the company of fellow thinkers. All of which can be found at Lloyd’s.
Stepping into Lloyd’s Diner is like stepping back in time. Yes, everyone has a smartphone, there’s a television in the corner, and the waitresses can give you a cappuccino made with soymilk if you’re so inclined. But Lloyd’s is a classic diner in that it is an old boxcar with chrome fittings; red leather stools, and worn Formica counters. You can see traces of the refittings of yesteryear for example, those early sixties jukeboxes at each booth. The ones where you turn a knob and flip through the offerings. None of them work and they obviously stopped working in the mid-seventies because there are songs by the Doobies Brothers and Cher among others in there.
At least once a week I have breakfast at Lloyds. I get there around 7:30, order my coffee (filter, black, no sugar), a cheese omelet with home fries and I read a book. Usually though, I’m half tuned into the television which is showing the news, and half-listening to the other diners. After a few months of doing this people have started to nod to me when I come in and the waitresses actually do say “the usual, hon?”
This morning I was approached by one of the stalwarts, Norm Shipton, who owns the local timber yard. I know, from listening to Norm for several months, that you wouldn’t call him the most progressive thinker in town—in fact he can be downright offensive. But I greeted him politely and we chatted briefly about my property. He knew, of course, exactly where I live–probably looked up how much I paid for it. Everyone in town does know everyone else’s business.
“When I was a kid” he said “we used to go up there for July 4th. The Vedders used to invite the whole town. There’d be hot dogs, hamburgers, fireworks, bonfires you name it.”
“Must have been a great time,” I said “A few people have told me how much they liked those events.”
Maybe I’m a suspicious person but it seemed to me his eyes narrowed ever so slightly and he said a shade to intently “Now who’s been talking to you about all that stuff?”