Saturday, May 27, 2006

God. Dammit. (Bucks County Edition)

Goodbye, Goodnoe's

After more than 30 years in the restaurant industry, Raymond “Skip” Goodnoe is calling it quits and closing the historic restaurant and dairy bar that has carried the family name for five decades.

The Sycamore Street property in Newtown Township where the restaurant stands — formerly the family's dairy farm — will be sold, Goodnoe said Friday. But the company name, its ice cream recipes and other proprietary rights will remain in the family should anyone decide to resurrect the business.

“It's a difficult decision,” Goodnoe said. “I'm proud of what we've done over the years. It was tough to make a decision to stop, but it's been something that's been working on my mind for a few months.”

The restaurant will close on Labor Day, Sept. 4.

“We're going to have a summer-long celebration,” Goodnoe said. “We'd like to celebrate with the people who have come to us all these years and have one more summer. Come Labor Day, that's going to be it.”

Since 1955, when Goodnoe's father opened a dairy bar on the family farm, Goodnoe's has been synonymous with homemade food and, more importantly, homemade ice cream. Most of the farm was sold in the 1970s and is now the Village at Newtown shopping center.

The restaurant celebrated its 50th anniversary in the fall, and at the time, Goodnoe said he had no intention of giving up the family business.

But Goodnoe, 54, said he's gotten tired of the daily grind.

“It's a tough business,” he said. “It's seven days a week. It's constant. It's a way of life, not a job. I've been doing it 33 years, and it's time for me to stop doing it.”

Goodnoe, a former Newtown Township supervisor, said no one in his family wants to take over the ice-cream business. But he'll keep the rights to the ice cream plant, in case his children or grandchildren want to resurrect Goodnoe's in the future.

“If they wanted to open up a store, they can do that and sell ice cream,” he said. “I'm not saying that is what's going to happen.”

Goodnoe said if he were to continue running the restaurant, he would have had to consider purchasing a liquor license to be profitable. “I'm happy with the 50 years we've had, and it's time to move on because I'd rather not go that route,” he said.

To celebrate the restaurant's history, Goodnoe's will feature a retro menu of burgers, shakes, fries and other specialties. That menu will remain until the restaurant closes.

Customers said Friday that they'd miss the family eatery.

“When I think about ice cream, I come here,” said Angela Wagner of Penndel. “It's original. I love the ice cream.”

Wagner, who was treating herself to an ice cream sundae Friday, recalled visiting Goodnoe's after hayrides with her children. She's also gone with her girlfriends to get ice cream after taking walks in nearby Tyler State Park.

“We figured the walk and the ice cream balanced out,” she said.

Alan and Roberta Rim often travel from East Windsor, N.J., to take their grandchildren, 4-year-old twins Hope and Brett, to Goodnoe's.

“We like it. Please keep it just the way it is. It's a nice family place,” Roberta Rim said as she and her grandkids dug into bowls of mint chocolate chip ice cream — one of Goodnoe's most popular flavors.

Council Rock North juniors Julie Ierubino, Amanda McLane, Dean Chalela and Steve Maseda mulled the restaurant's impending closure as they waited for an “Atomic Sundae” to be delivered to their table Friday afternoon.

“It's upsetting,” said Julie, whose father used to work at Goodnoe's. “It's a symbol of Newtown.”
The restaurant was the first local restaurant Steve's family visited when they moved to the area eight years ago.

“You can't really replace it,” he said. “But it's kind of hard to ask him not to retire.”

Goodnoe said he's reached a tentative agreement with Middletown developer Joe McGrath to purchase the property, which is almost 4 acres. McGrath confirmed that Friday. He said his company specializes in commercial development.

He's working on the redevelopment of the former Grove Supply Inc. property on South Main Street in Doylestown into a village-style strip center.

“We're excited about (the Goodnoe tract),” he said.

Goodnoe said he doesn't know what retirement will bring.

“I'm too young to stop doing things,” he said. “So I will look for new opportunities, probably do a little traveling and a little enjoying and find something else constructive to do that is not as demanding.”

Friday, May 26, 2006

Rainy Days and Baby Mice Always Get Me Down

After a mid-week high due to my rocking the house at the Jeopardy! tryouts (I don't know exactly how I did or when they'll call, but I feel very good about it), I've had a bit of a sink. I've been slammed at work because a bunch of people flaked on their assignments, which is annoying. A very good friend at work who I trusted with a confidence went off and shared some private information with some very gossipy people, which is fairly infuriating. I pinched a nerve in my neck while I slept, which is painful. My damn phone won't work for no good reason and I have to stay home tomorrow for the phone guy, which is maddening. And, if you haven't guessed, I'm having big time female issues that make be hyper-emotional at everything. I bawled my damn eyes out over the stupid Friends finale rerun last night. And I don't even like Friends.

So in this terribly self-pitying state I tried to buck up and go to happy hour, and flirted with a nicely built young man who late in the evening decided to mention he had a girlfriend, which got me terribly cranky. Revelry finsihed for the evening, I was walking home in defeat with my eyes cast on the ground when something caught my eye.

In the middle of the sidewalk was a tiny, shaking, almost unrecognizable baby mouse, drenched from a recent rain. It wasn't a newborn -- it had fur and its eyes were open -- but it was very tiny and very scared. People were walking all around it and disaster was imminent. I stood over it and waited for people to pass before I crouched down for a better look. He was uninjured, but barely moving. Even when I prodded him with a stick he only took a few little baby steps. I ushered him to the side of the sidewalk, and into some landscaping mulch. He seemed to like that, and kind of stood up to sniff the air, but he was a little too wobbly and fell back. He didn't try to run away, but just sat there.

So there I was with nothing to carry him in if I wanted to, and there he was, shivering in the mulch. I didn't know what to do. I felt bad leaving him there, but I couldn't take him with me. Where would I keep him? How would I feed him? Wouldn't Tippy eat him? I must have looked absolutely stricken, because a nice lady came up and asked me what was wrong. I blubbered something about a baby mouse and not knowing what to do, and she looked at me a little bit sideways, and told me the best thing to do was leave it, and then she walked away. After a bit more hemming and hawing, I realized there wasn't much I could do, so I covered him with a big leaf and went home.

A normal person would have made her dinner, put on VH1 and forgotten about it. But I'm me. And I'm crazy hormonal. So I started bloody weeping about the stupid mouse. What if he needed medical assistance? Mice don't just sit there like that. Oh God, it's supposed to storm tonight! I didn't put him undercover -- just a stupid leaf in the middle of the mulch. He'll be drowned! At this point I even started looking up caring for baby mice. How hard could it be? It turns out, hard enough to merit veterinary attention. But that would be crazy. No sane person calls a 24-hour vet about a damn wild city mouse.

I asked the nice man who answered at the vet's office if they treated mice. He said no, and I was about to give up when he pressed me for what I needed. I told him, hoping he'd call me a nutjob and let that be the end of it. But no, dammit, he was helpful, and told me a vet in Alexandria kept late hours, treated mice, and was Metro accessible. He even gave me the number. I hung up.

So now, my dilemma is that I realize I have totally crossed over into Looneyville, and yet I feel obligated to a goddam mouse four blocks away in the mulch. It's still relatively early for a Friday night. It has now been two hours since I left the mouse. I sigh. Okay, I say to no one in particular, I'll take a shoebox, go take a walk, and if the fucking mouse is still there, I'll do what needs to be done. If not, it was never meant to be.

Off I go like a freak into the muggy night with a dadgum shoebox. At the halfway point, I remember the imminent storm and that I have forgotten an umbrella. I resolve to just get the damn thing overwith. It can't possibly still be there. It's dark now anyway, I think, I'll never find -- sonofabitch.

There's Baby, sitting by the big leaf, right where I left him. I scoop him into the box. Okay. Now I've got me a mouse. Time to call the vet.

"Emergency vet services..."

"Yeah. I've just found a baby mouse..."


"Can I bring him in and have him looked at?"

"Well, you can, but if he's wild, his mother's probably nearby. The mothers sometimes leave them for up to twelve hours."


"You serious?"


"I can just put him back?"


"That's okay?"

Pause. "Yes."

"Can I at least move him in case it rains?"

Pause. Pause. "Sure."

I hang up. I am a tool.

I open the box and Baby's chillin' in the corner. I have to admit, he's wicked cute. "'Kay Baby," I say, because at this point, talking to the mouse is perfectly reasonable. "Don't say no one ever cared." I place him under some hedges, out of the rain, and just for good measure, hide him behind the big leaf.

I start home. A lot of fucking good that did, I think. It was fine all the time. It probably won't even rain. I bet it's not even a baby mouse. It's probably a baby rat. I just wasted three good hours fretting about vermin-to-be. I am awesome.

Just as I get to my block, a big fat raindrop hits my glasses. Then another. Then it pours down in a torrential downpour. I am drenched. Baby, I'm sure, is fine. Good deed done. To think on it further, like, I dunno, go back tomorrow and make sure he's not still there, would be completely and utterly cuckoo.

I'll let you know if I find him.


Sunday, May 21, 2006

Stealth Bombers and Tiny Dogs: A Lovely Weekend in DC

We've had lovely weather in DC this weekend, and I'm happy to say that I made the most of it. I saw many an amazing sight, including:

A space-age animal shelter kennel with soothing lights, music, and rushing water throughout to provide the dogs with a serene environment.

Seven fire trucks outside my apartment building providing me with a less-than-serene environment.

A "Buddhist vegetarian lobster" cooking away on a grill (funny, most vegetarian lobsters I know are Jehovah's Witness).

A penguin with projectile poo.

Hundreds of cap-and-gown clad GWU graduates.

A touristy lady falling down in the middle of the street trying to beat the "Don't Walk" sign (she was okay).

The Watergate Hotel!

People in canoes that look like dragons racing down the Potomac.

The most fearsome Dragon Boat team in all the world -- clad in red, possessing extremely intimidating militaristic chants, and coming all the way from Thailand to kick your amateur American ass.

A stealth bomber in flight for no particular reason.

A Great Blue Heron!

A Metro bus driver who leapt out of the bus at every stop along Connecticut Avenue and Dupont Circle to check the map and timetable.

Three dead sheep roasting on spits.

A miniature dachshund with a cast on his leg.

An enthusiastic Greek lad happily chopping the heads off the dead sheep on the spits and treating us all to a lovely anatomy lesson.

A cat in a stroller. I could give you context for all of these things, but really, doesn't the pastiche speak for itself? I think so.


Monday, May 15, 2006

Mother's Day in Vegas

Despite the fact that I have been taking more vacation time than usual this year, I really felt I had little option when last month I was presented with an invitation to attend a wedding in Las Vegas. I had never been, and hadn't really thought about going myself until I was given a valid excuse. So off to Sin City I went this weekend. Of course, I was touring Sin City in the company of dear old Mom and Dadoo, but happily, we're a twisted little brood.

Considering that Las Vegas represents many things that I am stereotypically not, I kept my expectations low. It is rather an outrageous place. The real depraved heart of the place is all squeezed into a few bright shiny miles on the Strip, and it's so garish it becomes strangely endearing. Everything is fake -- fake New York, fake Venice, fake Paris -- it's like Epcot on steroids. We ourselves were staying in fake Egypt at the Luxor. If you do not willfully abandon your sense of tact and elegance, you will be sure to have a rotten time. If, however, you get in the spirit of things, you can have quite a bit of fun.

I quickly declared that as long as I was here, I wanted to get tipsy, lose money and see a show with nekkid people, consarn it. So the family Shepherd (minus brother Bob, whose birthday weekend drinking schedule could not be interrupted by any kind of travel) took in a lovely night at the theater at Cirque du Soleil's Zumanity. Fair warning: Do not look at that site at work.

Las Vegas is hot as hell (it was 100 degrees and dry dry dry), the whole place is designed to part you with your money, getting around can be so confusing and exhausting as to induce apocalyptic arguments, and Mom and Dad swore they would never pass that way again. By all rights, I should have been apalled. But I kinda dug it. I don't think I need to go every year, and three days was plenty. But I may go back someday. Next time I might try it without the parents. I bet it's a bit different.