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From the Collinsville Faith in Action Director’s Chair

Traveling for Pizza
By Lori Fry

A past episode of the popular sitcom “How I Met Your Mother” featured two main characters traveling a good distance to purchase pizza on a whim. When my hometown pizza restaurant closed due to retirement of the owner, I believe the show’s antics gave me the start I needed to embark on my own pizza journey. I can’t say I traveled as far as the main characters, but I did make a memorable trip to Southern Illinois.

My pizza place was one of those single owner with a dream kind of places. Every small town has one or maybe two. I am sure everyone in town was related to someone who worked there, the owner, or had some other direct connection to the restaurant. My connection was the owner was a friend’s uncle and we all heard about the place daily at school. My real reason for visiting the place so regularly was much more direct. I am sorry to say my mother was a terrible cook and we had a standing order for two large pizzas every Friday night to avoid the kitchen.

As in many small towns, any member of my family could walk in and pick up the pizza with or without cash. They knew us by sight. Record keeping was informal. The owner knew someone would come in eventually and pay the bill – or bills. A bad week found me there two or three times for comfort food. I could say it was my second home, but that would be stretching the truth. It was certainly my hideout from the world.

When I heard the place was closing, I spent a good deal of time on Facebook with high school friends determining the final day and who was available to meet me for dinner. I anguished for a week to make time for the “road trip”. The thought of missing out on one last pizza was pretty daunting. I am embarrassed to say I lost a little sleep mentally moving my schedule to fit this dinner in.

In the end, I made it there for one last pepperoni, mushroom and onions. My husband, mother and brother were with me for this milestone. I took pictures to paste online for my many friends too far away to make the trip. The longtime waitress, Ruthie, remembered me vaguely and was shocked that we had driven “from St. Louis” to eat pizza. Hometown folks were coming and going with their carry outs and I saw several customers that I knew. All in all it was a good day.

I can’t help but wonder why I put so much effort into some pizza. We have pizza of some sort at many restaurants in Collinsville. The pizza wasn’t nearly as good as I remembered it. The folks I ended up eating with I see regularly. I visit my hometown and friends there fairly often – so that’s not it.

Maybe it was just the memory of something good – happy times. I wonder how often simply getting out and about can bring up memories long forgotten. I’ve said for the last year that the Elder Connection “just ate at restaurants this year”. After this trip, I can’t help but remember all the stories Elder Connection members were telling over dinner -all the happy times. I guess I shouldn’t say the Elder Connection “just ate out”. I should say they made memories in the midst of old ones. I finally get why eating out together is so important. Let’s get some pie together. I bet one of us has a story to go with it.

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