Friday, July 3, 2009

"The Kiamichi Kitchen"

I've been eating at the Kiamichi Kitchen for, well forever it seems. My parents took me there when I was very small, because I remember eating pancakes in a highchair, over at that booth on the southwest corner of the restaurant.

The original owners, Pat and Edna treated me like family. I cannot count the number of free meals I've eaten there. My father was a pallbearer at Edna's funeral in 1981, Pat was a pallbearer at my dad's, in 1986.

Later on in life, I would call up the Kitchen and order two cheeseburgers, mayo and NO lettuce, two orders of Fries. and a Giant Root Beer, only to get home and find either an extra cheeseburger or additional fries in the sack.

In the days when I managed the casino in McAlester, I was a fixture in there each Wednesday, for their all-you-can-eat Fried Catfish, for a whooping $6.95.
Likewise, after worship services ended on Sundays at our various denominations, it was always a friendly battle to see who could get to The Kitchen afterwards, first to fill their galley, attending another different kind of worship.

I am probably the reason that Pat sold the Kitchen to new and wonderful friends, Terri and Steve, around three years ago; I was likely putting Pat outta business on Wednesdays....
The Kitchen's phone number, for calling in a 'to - go' order, is embedded in my brain, is a familiar, muscular exercise for my dialing finger. "2-7-7-2".
Usually all I needed to say on the call was, "Hi, this is Ron...." and my usual order was instantly recited to me.

A trueTalihina landmark, "the Kitchen" was always considered the gathering place of the local dignitaries, the Chamber of Commerce, the Lions Club, as well as the billions of Bikers who infest this area every fall when the foliage begins to change color.
God love 'em, they're just looking for some local flavor;
and they could always sample exactly that at the Kitchen.

The Kitchen burned to the ground early this morning.

A friend who saw me up and outside the house earlier this morning, told me the news.
Shocked, disbelieving, I came in and woke Leticia, telling her I was going into town for a little while.
Driving through Buffalo Valley, I remembered so many very fond memories inside that place--
even the few bad memories there became suddenly golden ones to me.

Dillon and I ate lunch there just last Saturday, after his birthday....
that bill hasn't even cleared our checking account yet.

As I drove past the Choctaw hospital, preparing to top the hill going into the valley, I saw the sunrise, brilliant red and orange along the far horizon; then as I looked, I saw the smoke in the valley, a low haze not unlike smog.
The grey smoke, below and against the blue mountains and the orange/red sky, in the valley before me.
I sped up.

The town of Talihina was clouded in smoke which smelled like a good Cedar fire.
But really was a bad Cedar fire.
The 'only stoplight' caught me: Red. I inched forward into the intersection to look to my left, to see what I could. Flashing lights on some rescue or fire truck.
The news was true.

Everyone could tell anyone asking, the directions to the best restaurant in Talihina...
"go to the only stoplight in town, and turn (East) on Hwy. 271, three blocks, go past St. Catherine's Catholic church, and it's right there, the big red restaurant...
If you see the high school, you've passed it-- turn around

I saw the Kitchen's smouldering husk, the firemen still pouring water onto its' gaping roof, the jet black windows behind which I once sat in a highchair and eaten a ton of beef and fish, then I turned into the highschool parking lot, where many other Kiamichi Kitchen devotees gathered.
Remembering, in their own turn.
Then suddenly, last summer....


Jeffro said...


Subvet said...

Hopefully they'll be able to rebuild, quickly!

Most Rev. Gregori said...

I "ditto" Subvet, but even if they do, it will never be the same as the original. What a shame.

TERI MEGGE said...

FROM TERI MEGGE (owner of The Kiamichi Kitchen)...

As I sit here 11-21-2014 with tears still in my eyes from the story that Ron wrote above.... my heart is happy and sad at the same time.

There is not a day that has gone by since 7-3-2009, that I don't miss 'MY Kitchen' and all of the wonderful "Rons" that I had the honor of knowing and servicing at The Kiamichi Kitchen.

'The Kitchen' was a place where warmth, love, laughter & friendship consistently grew. I so miss that time and place in history. I cherish it with my entire soul.

I am proud to have been the owner of The Kiamichi Kitchen. I mourn her death everyday of my life. However, when I read storys such as this.... the healing continues within me.