Have you seen the milkman?

Does anyone remember a time when you didn’t have to go to the grocery store to get your milk? The milkman never brought milk jugs to my house, but I do remember the milk truck stopping at my grandparents’ farm when I was little. I liked to run to the end of the road to watch him unload his delicious cargo – cheese, butter, the frothy milk that helped wash down my grandma’s pancakes.

I better stop before I start licking my keyboard …

Anyway, while combing the News Tribune archives last week I came across a little feature about this dying breed of working man. It made me wish the milkman still was around. I could have used him this morning when I had to run to Cub and pay $2.39 for a half-gallon before I could eat my cereal.

Below is the 1988 story of Duluth’s favorite dairyman Joel Marien. Enjoy.


Joel Marien works his route in the rural Duluth/Pike Lake area and has a small office in the cab of his truck. (1988 File / News Tribune)

 


Eric Chillberg, Brandon Karasek and Ricky Lennartson eagerly wait, with check in hand, for milkman Joel Marien to deliver his goods. (1988 file / News Tribune)

 


Joel Marien prepares to deliver milk to his customers. (1988 file / News Tribune)

 


As part of his route routine, milkman Joel Marien stops for lunch at the home of Saima and Wayne Hekkinen on Hermantown Road. (1988 file / News Tribune)

Edgewater before the Waterpark


The Edgewater East in 1971 looks quite different from the Edgewater Resort & Waterpark today. At this time, the Edgewater had about 80 rooms – before the 100-room south tower addition was added in 1990. (File  / News Tribune)

There were some things missing from the Edgewater Resort and Waterpark about 40 years ago. First of all, it didn’t have a water park or its polynesian island-themed decor.

And the Edgewater’s second hotel across London Road — which is now the Edgewater Express — also didn’t exist until June 1969. The 62-room second hotel was built for $900,000 — scaled back from an initial $1.3 million, 89-room plan — and was called the Edgewater West (below), with the original hotel, the Edgewater East (above), about a block farther east, of course.


(1971 file / News Tribune)

A 1969 News Tribune article published just months before the Edgewater West was completed said the building would be the first all-electric motel in Duluth, with "wood-paneled rooms, ceramic tile baths, individual dressing rooms and air conditioning."

The original Edgewater on the east side of London Road was built in 1952-53, starting with eight rooms, then 15. It was expanded to 40 rooms by 1957. The first 15-unit building (below) was torn down in 1965 to make way for a 41-unit addition, including 12 family rooms “of a new dividable type that are arranged to accommodate families with separate sleeping areas for parents and children,” according to a February 1965 News Tribune article.


The original east wing of the Edgewater was built in 1952 and torn down in 1965 to make way for a new $350,000 41-unit wing, adding to the 40 existing rooms. (1965 file / News Tribune)

The Edgewater East began to look more like it does today when a $5 million expansion with 102 rooms and a four-story recreation atrium housing a pool, sauna and exercise area was opened in 1990. It gave the Edgewater a grand total of 280 rooms, including the east and west hotels. A News Tribune article at the time said it was Duluth’s largest motel complex. Before the Edgewater’s addition, the Radisson topped the list with 268 rooms, followed by the Holiday Inn with 240.


The Edgewater’s south tower, completed in 1990, is connected to the main building of the eastern hotel by a covered walkway. (File / News Tribune)

In January 2006, the Edgewater opened its water park, featuring two four-story slides, an activity pool and a lazy river that circles an exploding volcano. Below, construction workers assemble the new water park.


Carpenters Tim McDade and Bill Salminen prepare skirting to use around the aqua play area in the new Edge waterpark at the Edgewater.
(2005 file / News Tribune)

Hotel visitors enjoy the completed water park below:


Kirk Olson and his daughter Frankianne, 3, enjoy a ride on the lazy river at the Edgewater Resort and Waterpark duing its grand opening ceremony. The water park’s main features are a 400-foot Lazy River, two water slides, an activity pool with cargo-net crossing and water basketball court, hot springs hot tub, an Oasis and Grill and a multi-levelplay structure with three child-sized slides called the Paradise Playground. (2006 file / News Tribune)

I also found this photo of the Edgewater hiding among the other pictures in our archives. There is no indication of when the photo was taken, all that is written on the back of the photo is "Motel Row on east London Road." Does anyone remember Motel Row and what hotels it included? The motel in the back left of this photo is the Lake Aire Motel.

 

 

Sculptor created visions of Duluth in ice


Austrian sculptor Engelbert Hattenberger with one of his ice creations in front of Duluth City Hall
in January 1986. (File / News Tribune)

The News Tribune received word recently that an old friend of Duluth has died.
Engelbert Hattenberger, an Austrian ice carver who did work in Duluth and around the world, died July 17 in East Tirol, Austria, said Dave Sherek of Biwabik. Hattenberger was 89.
Sherek said he met Hattenberger in 1989, when the sculptor carved a replica of the Aerial Lift Bridge in front of Duluth City Hall.


Engelbert Hattenberger created this ice sculpture of an ore carrier passing under the Aerial Lift Bridge in January 1989. At the time, he had been making ice sculptures here for four years. (File / News Tribune)

According to News Tribune archives, Hattenberger had been doing ice sculptures around the Northland since about 1980. An article from February of that year talks about his work for the American Birkebeiner ski marathon in Cable, Wis., where he crafted a sculpture in front of the Telemark Lodge.


Engelbert Hattenberger’s 30-foot sculpture in front of the Telemark Lodge in Cable, Wis, includes an Olympic torch-bearer, a female ski racer holding a trophy cup and wreath, two more skiers and a symbol for the 1980 Winter Olympics and the 1980 American Birkebeiner race. (File / News Tribune)

Hattenberger turned to sculpting when he returned to Austria after World War II. A 1988 News Tribune article said he was left broke and unemployed. Hattenberger had been a sculptor of wood and metal before the war, but those materials became too expensive. So, he started using ice. 

As for his reasons, Hattenberger said, "Snow was very cheap. It’s simple: God sent the snow; I made something of it."

Below are images of Hattenberger in action.


Engelbert Hattenberger makes a cut in his sculpture in front of the Duluth Civic Center
so he can fit in another block. (1987 file / News Tribune)


Ice sculptor Engelbert Hattenberger and his son, Hannes, finish their work
on the Coporate Seal of the city of Duluth in front of the Civic Center. (1986 file / News Tribune)

Another sculpture in 1988 featured the continents of North America and Europe, with markers indicating Duluth and Hattenberger’s hometown of Lienz, Austria.


(1988 file / News Tribune)

Does anyone remember seeing Hattenberger’s ice sculptures? Read more about his Aerial Lift Bridge creation below.

Duluth’s Snow White sold groceries


The Snow White Food Center, at 2305 Woodland Ave., had been a grocery store for more than 100 years, opening as McGhie’s Grocery in 1887. In 1989, the market was owned and operated by Don and Mary Ellen Miller and their family. (1989 file / News Tribune)

Chain supermarkets and 24-hour convenience stores seem to be the culprits pushing mom-and-pop grocery stores to the wayside. Just look what has happened to Park Point’s Bayside Market and Central Hillside’s Fourth Street Market, both of which have closed in the past year. (Romano’s Grocery in downtown Duluth also is looking for a buyer.)

But in the late 1980s, there was a little-grocer-that-could in Duluth’s Hunters Park neighborhood. Snow White Food Center, at 2305 Woodland Ave., seemed to be thriving in 1989, according to a News Tribune story written in November of that year. The building that housed Snow White had been a food market for more than 100 years, opening as McGhie’s Grocery in 1887.


LaDonna Bergum and John Fawcett chat while shopping an aisle at Snow White Food Center.
The pair said they were regular customers. (1989 file / News Tribune)

The grocery store also had been family-owned since then. As of the 1980s, the Miller family had owned and operated it for four generations. Snow White’s patrons could attest to the benefits of a grocer kept all in the family. They said it was a place where every worker knew your name. The Miller family — owners Don and Mary Ellen; Don’s brother, Richard, and Don’s nephew, Mark, who all worked at the market in the ’80s — also knew their regular customers’ hobbies and grocery preferences.


Many of Snow White’s regular customers say it is the friendliness of
the people that keeps them coming back to the grocery store, and the
warmth and smile of owner Don Miller sets the tone. (1989 file / News Tribune)

And unlike its super-chain counterparts, Snow White also offered home delivery and took its customers’ orders over the phone, charging the bill to a running tab. The Millers also were known to loan customers cash from the register, if they suddenly found themselves without money when checking out.


Snow White owner Don Miller catches up with customer Alyce Flaherty as he rings up her groceries. Miller often spends a few moments chatting with patrons, most of whom he knows by name. (1989 file / News Tribune)

By July 1990, the Miller family was planning a remodling project for the store. They wanted to change Snow White into a deli and gourmet specialty store, but were having some trouble securing financing, according to a July 24, 1990, News Tribune article. The Millers said they would be forced to close if they couldn’t get a loan. The story didn’t say whether that happened, but a chiropractic office had opened at that location by 1996. And in 2003, a News Tribune story indicated the former Snow White Food Center had been reincarnated, again, into an ice cream and coffee shop.

Now, the former Snow White building is home to a photography business, the Flower Cart floral shop and the Hair Company salon.
 

 

Dreamland and the Shish Ka Bar

Taking a walk through downtown Duluth, you get the feeling that many of its buildings would have long stories to tell. One of those historic tales might come from the old brick structure on the corner of Lake Avenue and First Street, which once housed the Dreamland Ballroom on its upper level.

The ballroom sat dormant for a decade after a fire nearly destroyed it in 1972. But in 1982, the owner of the Corner Lounge - the ballroom’s downstairs neighbor – restored and reopend the upper level.


Ray Johnson sits in the Dreamland Ballroom, a portion of the building he owns and is trying to restore to its appearance in the 1940s. (1982 file / News Tribune)

The building was constructed in 1911 as the Coffin Dance Studio and Boston Music Center, a musical instrument business. It was also home to the fraternal organization the Odd Fellows. As the Dreamland Ballroom, the venue had its heyday in the 1940s, when it was used as a dance hall.

Johnson hosted similar events as owner of the venue – a Halloween dance and a New Year’s bash to ring in 1982 – but somewhere between that year and 1989 the ballroom was sold to Patty Jo Olsen. She also worked on renovating the space and brought bands such as the Gear Daddies and Minneapolis punk rockers Babes in Toyland to the venue.


In this 1989 file photo, Patty Jo Olsen, owner of the Dreamland Ballroom, sits in the space she’s working to remodel as a live music venue. In a 1992 News Tribune article, Olsen said, "We’re trying to build a live music venue like no one else in town is offering."

In the 1990s, the Shish Ka Bar had set up shop below the ballroom, which still was hosting events – concerts, fashion expos, Super Bowl parties. But its rowdy downstairs neighbor was giving the building a reputation that invited trouble.

The Shish Ka Bar at the corner of Lake Avenue and First Street is often referred to as one of Duluth’s roughest taverns. (1997 file / News Tribune)

A January 1998 article about signs of urban decay along First Street, "The Shish" was referred to as the place where the down-and-out went to drink and was called one of Duluth’s roughest taverns. The article also said it’s "the kind of place that doesn’t take checks and hires bartenders strong enought to throw rowdy patrons out the front door."

The Shish Ka Bar closed in May 1998 after its owner said he grew tired of dealing with the establishment’s unruly clientele. In January 1999, a fire that officials labeled as arson caused $100,000 worth of damage to the vacant bar and the ballroom upstairs, closing the venue for good.

A Duluth firefighter climbs onto the roof of the vacant Shish Ka Bar and Dreamland Ballroom under the moon during a fire at the corner of Lake Avenue and First Street. (1999 file / News Tribune)

But this story does have a happy ending. In July 1999, an architectural firm – Damberg, Scott, Gerzina and Wagner - invested $1.3 million into the building to renovate it into offices that it would later move into. And in a 2002 News Tribune article about efforts to improve Duluth’s Old Downtown, the building’s renovation was called "the brightest success so far on First Street."

 Read more about the Shish Ka Bar fire below:

Janury 24, 1999
News Tribune

FIRE DAMAGES SHISH KA BAR BUILDING

Fire and smoke swept through a vacant downtown Duluth landmark Saturday evening but firefighters quickly contained the damage.
The building that housed the now-closed Shish Ka Bar and the upstairs Dreamland Ballroom was spotted to have smoke billowing from a rear window shortly before 6 p.m. Saturday.
The two-story brick building at the corner of Lake Avenue and First Street has been vacant since spring. Fire crews had the fire extinguished within minutes of receiving the call, but put out hot spots in walls and floors for an hour or so after.
Fire investigators said early indications are that the fire started on the first floor in the rear of the building.

"We’re going to do a thorough investigation when the smoke clears," said Assistant Fire Chief John Strongitharm. He declined to comment on what may have caused the fire.
Mike Drozdek, the building’s owner for the past 10 years, stuffed his hands deep in his pockets as he stood on First Street, watching firefighters battle the blaze.
Drozdek said the fire was not the only time his building was damaged Saturday.
He said a taxi slammed into the wall earlier in the day on the First Street side, leaving a gaping, six-foot hole in the storefront. Drozdek nailed up some plywood to cover the hole and left that same afternoon.
"I thought it would be OK until tomorrow," he said.
Strongitharm said when his crews arrived, that portion of the building appeared to be secure.

Drozdek closed the Shish Ka Bar on May 15, saying he was tired of trying to control his tavern’s unruly clientele.
"A lot of people didn’t like that," he said of his decision to close.
Police long had regarded the Shish Ka Bar as a gathering place for some of the city’s toughest customers.

Drozdek said he worked with police to try to keep out that element, but nothing worked. And after a while, he just gave up.
Instead, he was going to open a carry-out ribs joint in the Shish Ka Bar storefront. That plan never materialized, he said Saturday.

The building at 2 W. First St. was mostly empty at the time of the fire, but Drozdek said he was setting up for an auction to sell the remaining contents and, eventually, the building.
That’s all changed now. He’s not even sure if he’s insured for this type of loss. He also doesn’t know what he’ll do next.
"I don’t know," he said. "I don’t know. Who knows?"

January 25, 1999
News Tribune

DULUTH POLICE SAY CAUSE OF FIRE AT SHISH KA BAR BUILDING SUSPICIOUS

Duluth fire officials have determined that the fire that damaged the Shish Ka Bar building in downtown Duluth on Saturday night is suspicious.
Investigators said an incendiary device was used to start the fire, indicating the cause likely was arson. They also say the fire caused $100,000 in damage.
But they are saying little more.

"All I know is that the fire marshal has determined it to be suspicious in nature,’ said Assistant Fire Chief Richard Mattson. Mattson also said reports indicate the fire started near a utility area. Crews on the scene said it appeared the fire started on the first floor toward the rear of the building.

The building, at the corner of Lake Avenue and West First Street, housed the now-closed Shish Ka Bar and, upstairs, the Dreamland Ballroom.
The bar closed May 15 following unsuccessful efforts by its owner and the Duluth Police Department to rid it of unruly clientele. A plan to reopen the bar as a take-out rib joint never came to fruition.

January 30, 1999
News Tribune

SKYWALK, BUILDING FIRE CLUES ELUSIVE

Duluth fire investigators probing two suspicious fires from last weekend say any solutions in the cases are still "a ways off.’"
Fire Marshal John Strongitharm said the Jan. 23 fire at the Shish Ka Bar, 2 W. First St., remains under investigation. Samples of burned materials from the bar fire were collected this week and sent to a lab for further study, he said.

Investigators also said they are making progress in an investigation into several fires set in the skywalk system last Sunday, pursuing "promising leads.’
Fire investigators suspect arson at the Shish Ka Bar because they could find no other explanation for how the fire began. The bar had been closed for building and fire-code violations for several months and was for sale at the time of the fire. The bar had also been struck by a cab earlier in the day.
Damages to the building were estimated at $80,000 for repairs and cleanup, Strongitharm said.

The Dreamland Ballroom upstairs also suffered water damage and firefighters cut several holes in the floor to locate fire that may have extended upward from the bar below. The building had been near to being sold just before the fire, Strongitharm said.
The bar could not reopen until the coffee shop next door can be brought up to code, as well as the sprinklers that must be installed in the basement, Strongitharm said.
"The building is in limbo,’ Strongitharm said. "I don’t think the fire is going to impact the sale.’
As for the once-grand Dreamland Ballroom, Strongitharm said, "the building needs some loving care.’

Investigators working on the skywalk fires, including the most severe blaze, over Peterson Anderson Flowers, are interviewing suspects.

Sept. 22, 1999
News Tribune

SUSPECT REPORTEDLY CONFESSES TO TORCHING SHISH KA BAR 

Duluth police and fire investigators are seeking charges against a Duluth man who apparently confessed to setting the Shish-Ka-Bar on fire in January.
Assistant Fire Marshal Forrest Williams said Tuesday that the suspect’s name would not be released until charges are filed.

Duluth police did not know when reports would be ready to send to the St. Louis County Attorney.
"The case is still pending. We have a confession and it will be handed to the county attorney’s office for prosecution,’ Williams said.

Fire investigators knew from the beginning that the fire was arson. There were no electrical or other mechanical sources for the fire that caused $100,000 in damage to the vacant building, Williams said.
Samples from the fire scene, as well as witness interviews and suspect interrogations led investigators to the suspect within a month of the Jan. 23 blaze, Williams said.

The Shish-Ka-Bar was a well-known downtown bar before it closed in 1998. For years, police regarded the Shish-Ka-Bar as a gathering place for some tough customers. Search warrants and police records show the bar was a focal point for drug dealers.

Its owner, Miko Drozdek, admitted he was fed up with the often troublesome clientele when he closed the bar in May 1998. He tried to keep the space active, inviting a recovery lounge to start up next door so people could have a have cup of coffee instead of another alcoholic beverage. And Drozdek tried to open a carryout ribs joint in the storefront at Lake Avenue and First Street.

Now the building is undergoing major renovations by its new owners, the Duluth architectural firm of Damberg, Scott, Gerzina and Wagner.
"The building is being renovated and restored for professional offices, our architectural firm will be moving over there when it is completed,’ said partner John Scott.
Built in 1911 as the home of the Coffin Dance Studio and Boston Music Center, a storefront musical instrument business, the building is rich in historic architectural value, say its new owners.
Scott said his firm admired the detailing that went into the building and wanted to retain that. The firm also wanted to be near the new Technology Village being built across Lake Avenue from their new offices.

Copperfield magically appears at the DECC

He didn’t make Duluth disappear, but David Copperfield did visit the Twin Ports twice in the 1980s. The showman who brought magic back to the mainstream masses performed at the Duluth Entertainment and Convention Center in 1986, and again in 1988.


David Copperfield entertains a crowd with his magic at the Duluth Auditorium. Here he’s loading a small cannon with a duck he calls Webster, who will be shot through the air and will land in a caged box covered by an assistant. (1986 file / News Tribune)

In his November 1986 show, a News Tribune review of the event said: "Copperfield’s illusions are like magical music videos. They are skillfully choreographed, keenly lit, well-paced performances that keep audiences asking the proverbial question: ‘How did he do that?’ "

About 1,800 people attended the 70-minute show in which Copperfield levitated an unsuspecting member of the audience, performed a vanishing act and employed a duck named Webster for various other magic tricks.

Anyone out there remember attending the show?

Copperfield’s vanishing act was one of his more popular feats. Throughout the ’80s and ’90s, Copperfield had several television specials devoted to his magic. One in 1983 featured Copperfield making the Statue of Liberty disappear. And KBJR news anchor Michelle Lee magically appeared in a promotional photo for the TV program. (OK, it’s not really Duluth’s Michelle Lee, but rather the "Knots Landing" actress of the same name. You might need to do a double-take, though.)


1983 file / News Tribune

Copperfield retuned to Duluth in December 1988, this time for two shows. His gimmick for these performances was escaping from padlocks and chains binding his arms and legs before the "Death Saw" cut him in half.

Below, Copperfield’s perfectly styled hair is about to get a taste of "THE SAW." He seems unconcerned that death is near.


1988 file / News Tribune

According to the review of his 1988 performance, Copperfield’s other feats included cracking a live canary out of a chicken egg; changing a $100 bill into a $1 bill; making a person vanish, then appear in a box the size of a portable TV; and getting some woman in the audience to give him her telephone number. (The guy was engaged to Claudia Schiffer, did he really need to put his magic spell on a … oh wait, I bet that’s how he got the supermodel.)

 
David Copperfield gave instructions to Michelle Lindberg of Duluth as he performed a trick of reading her mind and gaining her telephone numbers telepathically. (1988 file / News Tribune) 

Before making it big with supermodels and CBS specials, Copperfield was just a blip on the magic radar when this photo was taken in 1978. Does anyone think he bears a striking resemblance to Sascha Baron Cohen, particularly Cohen’s alter-ego "Bruno"?


1978 file / News Tribune

Gabby’s Place, a Lakeside hangout

Marilyn McNeil and Ambrose Welle of Duluth leave after a visit to
Gabby’s Place in Lakeside. (1988 file / News Tribune)

Gabby’s Place in Lakeside was the quintessential neighborhood diner — a place to catch up on local gossip and debate the day’s headlines over coffee with the cafe’s regulars.

The Lakeside restaurant was part of a News Tribune series in 1988-89 devoted to distinctive Northland eateries. Called the Corner Cafe before it became Gabby’s Place, the restaurant was named for its owners at the time, John and Marty Gaboury.

A group of older gentlemen I talked to recently who used to frequent the cafe at 431 N. 45th Ave. E., and who have since moved their informal coffee club to the Lakeside Bakery, said Gabby’s Place closed shortly after Marty Gaboury died. They said the building then became a gift shop, and it’s now home to Edward Jones Investments.

I got the impression that the restaurant was not open very long as Gabby’s Place, because the group remembered the eatery better as the Corner Cafe. But there is nothing in the News Tribune’s archives to tell me when Gabby’s closed. Does anyone remember the Lakeside cafe and, if so, when it ceased to exist?

Refer to the 1988 article below for more about the establishment.

Martha Gaboury serves coffee to a full counter at Gabby’s Place. (1988 file / News Tribune)

Gabby’s crowd covers Lakeside news and more

By J.P Furst
Staff Writer

"How you doin’ Jer?"

"Threw my back out carrying Christmas presents," Jerry answered, reaching back to crack his vertebrae.

That introduced the subject of old age and mortality to the men gathered last week at the counter in Gabby’s Place, a culinary landmark in Duluth’s Lakeside neighborhood. Like most great cafes, Gabby’s has a breakfast club of regulars who chew over the day’s headlines.

"Father Time," muttered one older man. "The Grim Reaper."

That’s all he said.

It was enough.

"This is where we solve all the problems of the world," cracked waitress Louise Hounsell. "Isn’t it, Sig?" Sig Einbu is the older guy mumbling about the Reaper. He nodded with some certainty.

Gabby’s Place, at 431 N. 45th Ave. E., is one of few cafes east of 27th Avenue East in Duluth. It’s been a neighborhood hangout, under one name or another, since 1939. 

"This is the gathering place for the Lakeside community to get together and catch up on what going on," Hounsell said. She should know. She’s been serving up meals at the cafe for 12 years.

"When we bought the cafe, the previous owner told me that Louise came with it," said Marty Gaboury, owner of the shop with her husband since last February. "They said if I ever sold it, you have to leave her here when you go."

Louise laughed and said, "I got passed on with the restaurant. I’m not sure how legal it all is." But she comes in only once a week now. "I just can’t stay away. I miss these guys," she said, gesturing with her thumb toward the men at the counter.

The green Formica counter is the L-shaped centerpiece of Gabby’s. Its edges worn smooth by generations of elbows at rest. The big windows look out on East Superior Streer and on the North Shore beyond.

The place feels like it’s on the edge of the woods, not at all in the city. "It’s a small town out here in Lakeside," Marty said. "The people here are just great people."

The previous owner had the place for about 13 years, Louise noted as she pulled out her red leather cigarette pouch. But he also worked on the lake boats, and he eventually returned to the boats full-time when he sold the East End eatery.

"He stops in whenever he’s in town," Marty said. "All six of the previous owners have stopped by now, including the woman who opened it in 1939." And some of the original customers still come by.

Marty Gaboury runs the cafe while her husband, John, a Navy man, is stationed in Norfolk, Va. Last week he was home for the holidays. They came to Duluth in 1985 when he was assigned to the Naval Reserve Center here. Marty waited tables and cooked in a couple of restaurants and was an assistant manager at Woolworth’s cafeteria before they bought the Lakeside cafe, remodeled it and changed the name from the Corner Cafe to Gabby’s, short for Gaboury.

The daily cast of characters at Gabby’s includes the owner of Loop Super Valu, Virgil Dock, who comes in wearing his white grocer’s apron and carries dice in his pocket. "He and his friends shake dice to see who pays for the coffee," Marty said.

The cast also includes Sig, a vital-looking man in his late 70s, dressed in a red-plaid wool jacket and a baseball-style cap with earflaps. He eats his breakfast at Gabby’s every morning, occasionally stops back at lunch and sometimes makes a third visit at the end of the day.

Next on the morning’s agenda of problems to be discussed: The weather. The cold winter coming. Everybody has both a gripe and a word of respect for the change of seasons.

"I don’t like that below-zero stuff," Sig said, digging into his steaming breakfast.

"I don’t mind 20-below," remarked his neighbor at the counter, a younger man in a navy-blue cardigan. "If it gets much colder than that, I know the difference." He glancecd out the large windows at the dark but temperate morning outside. "This is something we can live with, today."

Marty’s husband expects to retire in three years. Then she’ll have a little more help in keeping the place going.

"If I can build it up, we’ll keep going," said Marty, 54. "They’re a pretty nice bunch that hangs around here."