We will rebuild in spite of irreplaceable losses
Soon the machines designed for such work will begin chewing and tearing at the walls that once contained Friar Tuck’s Restaurant & Bar, Herb Shop, Herb Shop Records, the county Probation Department and Victim/Witness Program and Off Broadstreet theater. And provided the architects, planners and city officials can agree on what should next occupy that space of prime Nevada City real estate (let’s hope there is better cooperation than seen in recent projects), the four former occupants seemed poised to return.
Unfortunately, those planners, architects and city officials cannot replace the memories or the personal losses suffered by those touched by that devastating fire. No more than they can replace the memories of those thousands and thousands of guests who were touched in one way or another by the various venues offered through that historic structure. We have heard from people around the world who read of the disaster and wanted to share their sorrow.
To start with, nearly 100 people lost their homes that night. Most of us spend a third of our lives at work, and our desks and workplaces become an extension of our homes, just as our coworkers become an extension of our families.
When I leave my office for the night, I shut off the lights and close the door, fully expecting things to be exactly as I left them when I return in the morning with my cup of coffee.
That’s what those many county, shop, restaurant and theater employees assumed when they left work for the day. They assumed that the photographs of their loved ones, the cards, the crazy coffee cups, the old typewriter and that certificate or diploma or award on the wall would be there in the morning when they returned.
As I write this on my company-issued iMac computer, I can see my wife and children in a frame across from me. My children were babies when that photo was taken, and I smile and my heart skips a beat when I look at them inside that frame.
A foot away is a memento I brought back from Vietnam. Most wouldn’t give it a second glance, but it means something very special to me.
As does the Model Seven Remington typewriter off to my right. It’s older than I am and was given to me by my great, great Aunt Clara. I use it to hang my running medals from. If you’re going to run 26 miles, you ought to keep something to remember it by. Especially if it almost killed you.
It’s no different with the hundred or so people who work with me. Most of them don’t have an office, so they use what little space they have to remind themselves (and their boss) of who they are and to make some small statement that they are unique and human. Unfortunately, bosses often need such reminders.
For some, sorrow was compounded by the economic reality of losing a job in a tight employment market. While the county employees will be inconvenienced by temporary quarters, the cooks, dishwashers, clerks, bartenders, waiters, waitresses, musicians and others who worked in the private businesses were left jobless by the fire. It is good to see the city and county rally to their support. That’s what makes this community so special.
The memories live on. Marine Staff Sgt. Douglass Setting sent an e-mail last week with his own. “I had a lot of memories at Friar Tucks,” he wrote. “That was the first place I ate when I returned from the Gulf War.”
James Bettencourt sent a note from Southern California, recalling his high school days when he worked at the restaurant. “The Cooks were great people to work for and I am saddened to see that a fire destroyed what they had spent so many years building. I live in San Diego now, but my wife and I took many trips up to Nevada City to eat at our favorite restaurant. All I can say is please rebuild and I hope the community is there to support you along the way. We all have great memories of Friar Tuck’s, and I’m sure we will never forget the great times we spent there.”
They will rebuild. The community has rallied. We won’t forget.
Jeff Ackerman is the publisher of The Union.
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