Old Home Café: The Next Generation

By Edward Floden, based on characters and situations created by William D. Fries, Jr.


(Originally published in The Legend-News of 2003 January 6.)

A Note to the Reader: the article that follows this explanation is a summary of the action in “Old Home Café”, so far. If you’ve read the preceding six episodes, then you’re probably up-to-speed on the story. Read on, if you want a refresher course; otherwise, you may skip ahead to the real Episode VII.

A few readers have encountered these tales of the Old Home Café, and they’ve asked me “What the $#@!* is going on?”, or something like that. For their benefit, and the benefit of anyone who may be reading The Legend-News for the first time, here is what is happening.

In the mid-1970s, a series of television commercials were written by Bill Fries, an advertising executive with Bozell Jacobs of Omaha. These commercials chronicled the adventures of a truck driver, C.W. McCall, who delivered the “Old Home” products of the Metz Baking Company. In each commercial, C.W.’s eventual destination was the Old Home Café in Pisgah, Iowa. C.W.’s girlfriend, Mavis Davis, was a waitress at the Café.

Pisgah, Iowa is a real town, northeast of Omaha, Nebraska, 123 miles west of Des Moines, Iowa, in the Loess Hills area of western Iowa. Many of the “Old Home“ commercials were filmed in and around the area of Pisgah. Hinkel’s Café, a real restaurant in Pisgah, played the part of the “Old Home Filler-Up An’ Keep On A-Truckin' Café” in many of the commercials. To honor the fictitious “Old Home Café” of the commercials, Hinkel’s changed its name, and the “Old Home Café” became a real place.

The Old Home Café changed owners is the 1980s, and it closed its doors in early 2002, the victim of a declining economy. [The Café reopened, under new management, in the summer of 2005. — Ed.] The population of Pisgah is approximately 260 people, and its major industry is farming. Tourism is not a major business in Pisgah, although the town is often visited by the fans of C.W. McCall who are looking for the Old Home Café.

Those are the facts. Now, about those “Old Home Café” stories…

Jonathan “Jon” Bach was a web site designer who had quit his job after the failure of a project upon which he had worked for several years. Just prior to his resignation, he had visited Pisgah during a vacation, and he had noticed that the Old Home Café was for sale. Looking for an occupation that was, he hoped, less stressful that his old job, Jon purchased the Old Home Café, refurbished it, and reopened the Café in mid-July. Jon has never before worked in the food service industry, not even in a “would-you-like-fries-with-that?” capacity. He’s hoping for the best.

Avis Granelli is an accountant who has lost her job at a large New York firm. She has travelled to Pisgah to live with her parents while she finds a new direction in life. Her current job is a part-time position at the local bank in Pisgah. Avis is divorced. Jon and Avis are aware of each other’s existence, but they haven’t yet met.

Larry and Jerry Berry are brothers. They’re college students, one year apart (Larry is the older of the two), and they’re home for the summer. So far, they’ve hung out with a friend, and worked odd jobs around town. Larry and Jerry Berry have a sister, Merry. We haven’t yet met Merry, but Larry has told Jon that Merry and Avis are friends.

Jerry Two is a friend of Larry and Jerry Berry. His last name isn't really “Two”, but we’re not sure what it is because Jerry doesn’t talk much. He’s an auto mechanic, and he was working at the local repair shop until he got laid off a few weeks back.

So far, those are the major characters is the story. There are a few minor ones, like Bob the carpenter and the mystery biker that Jon saw on the day that he bought the Café, but they’re not important to the story. Yet. Or maybe. Pick one.

A fact to remember: the Pisgah, Iowa that I’ve described in these stories is not the real Pisgah. Sure, it may seem to be a lot like the real Pisgah, but it’s not. The characters and situations which I’ve presented do not exist, and any similarity is coincidental. (That’s lawyer-speak for “it’s all a lie, although you are welcome to believe that it's true.”)

Got all that? Good. And now, let's continue.

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