These are memories to savor

Published 11:59 pm Friday, May 22, 2009

A few days ago I found a menu from the Gulf State Park Resort Restaurant in Gulf Shores. Back when I picked it up from a lobby display at the resort, I never realized that I’d look upon it so fondly years later.

As you know, that facility was destroyed by a hurricane some time ago. There are only the memories to savor. Many a time, my husband and I walked down the hall from the lobby to the cafeteria, sometimes stopping to admire paintings by local artists. When the hostess greeted us at the restaurant entrance, we always asked for a table close to the windows. Enjoying the view of the beautiful white sand with sea oats flapping in the breeze, and the green waters of the Gulf of Mexico enhanced our dining pleasure. Sea gulls flew overhead. We often saw pelicans sweep down to dive for their seafood feasts. It was so serene and relaxing. I felt blessed and contented there.

As I reflected upon those days, I thought about other dining establishments I once enjoyed that exist no more. During my growing-up years, it was always such a treat to eat at one of the Britlings Cafeterias in downtown Birmingham with my mother or school friends. I once took an evening swimming class for several weeks with a friend, supposedly to get ourselves a little needed exercise. Once the class ended, we headed to Britlings. When we got in line, our mouths watered and temptation ruled, as we selected from the variety of vegetables, meats, salads and, of course, luscious desserts. I’m afraid that weekly rich fare completely cancelled out our exercise efforts. Sadly Britlings Cafeterias closed in the late 60s.

After Britlings came Morrison’s, a restaurant my husband I always looked for when we traveled. I also enjoyed their food. It was rare when I passed over their egg custard for some other sweet. Morrison’s Cafeterias were bought out by another chain.

Then there was the Furnace Masters Restaurant on the grounds at Tannehill Historic State Park. The food served in the rustic building was good and the atmosphere was inviting. I loved sitting in a big wooden rocker on the porch, watching the water tumble over rocks in a creek that ran in front of it. On weekends, I liked to take my turn with others on the porch at a side door to order a double-dip chocolate ice cream cone. I remember an evening when dulcimer festival people filled four or five long tables in the restaurant. The presence of such a large group was unexpected. We had a long wait, laughing and chattering, as the staff rushed around preparing our orders.

Furnace Masters burned down several years ago. I miss the rustic building that fitted so perfectly in its location. I miss the convenience of a restaurant a few steps from the campground. Again, I can only fall back on sweet memories of days gone by.