Now Entering the Terrible 2’s
Earlier this week, my son Sullivan turned 2. We’re having a birthday party this weekend at the local regional airport’s restaurant. Though this restaurant has changed owners and names over the past 30 odd years, it still holds a special place in my heart. Growing up in the surrounding rural areas of Quincy, Illinois, a common weekend event included my dad taking either me, my sister…or the two of us…out to breakfast at one of the “local joints”. One of these places was the airport. I have fond memories of sitting across from my dad as the sweet smell of the danishes we were eating mixed with the fragrance of freshly made coffee. The weekend breakfast with Dad was needless to say, a much anticipated event.
The restaurant itself is special due in part to the fact that the architecture of the airport is special. It’s a beautiful example of modern design by architect John Benya. The entire exterior and interior of the building is s series of intersecting circular patterns and shapes. Even as a kid, something stood out to me about the design of the building. It was much different than any other building I had ever seen. I’m still fascinated by the design today; it seems I’m always noticing something new and exciting every time I’m there.
For probably ten years, the airport saw some hard times with record lows in passengers. I’d assume this is a big reason the restaurant shut down and remained dormant for such a long time. In the past five years, a new airline has made it’s home in the airport and ridership has been off the charts. With this resurgence in passengers, the restaurant found a new breath of life. Roughly two months ago my wife and I decided to go there for breakfast with our son, Sullivan, just to check out the place. Though I’m sure there’s been quite a few changes here and there, the place looked almost identical as to when I was a kid. It really brought back memories.
Sullivan was ecstatic to see a plane land and take off and all the hustle and bustle of people and luggage that accompanies such an event. Not only did this provide entertainment to Sullivan, but it also provided time for my wife and I to actually enjoy our meal. We’ve been back several times since, with each time being consistently good with a small but attentive staff. They even offer a free fruit roll up to Sullivan every time we’re there. That personal touch does not go unnoticed. By going there, I feel like somehow I’m carrying on a tradition from my childhood.
Sullivan is really into trains, big trucks, airplanes, and pretty much anything related to transportation, so we thought it was only fitting to celebrate at the airport. We’re having a small get together of probably around 15-20 people. My wife, per usual, has done most of the heavy lifting in regards to the planning, which I love her for. I think everything is in place for the celebration and the restaurant staff has been super to work with in planning such an event.
The fact that my son will never get to meet my dad, who passed away from cancer when I was 9, always makes me a bit emotional. To be able to celebrate Sullivan’s second birthday in a place that holds such fond memories for me of times with my own dad, is comforting and bittersweet at the same time. I know in my heart that my dad will be there in spirit. He was a great man; loved and respected by almost everyone. He left some big shoes to fill and I hope with each day I’m getting closer to doing just that.
Wow…got kind of heavy there, huh? That’s alright, just a part of life I guess. At any rate, my wife and I decided that it was only appropriate to do a little photo shoot where we reenacted the famous promotional shot of the Steve Martin and John Candy comedy classic Planes, Trains and Automobiles. The fact that Sullivan has mastered and can produce his “mean face” on command really served as the icing on the proverbial cake. We used this photo on our Facebook group party invite and it remains a favorite pic of mine. We’re looking forward to celebrating with friends and family tomorrow. Time sure does fly by fast doesn’t it?
Do you have a memorable birthday party from your past? Perhaps you have a funny story about a birthday party you helped to plan or attended. I’d love to hear about it in the comments below!