The Edmond Sun

Features

February 15, 2013

Fulfilling the American Dream a step at a time

EDMOND — I knew the Blake family in a different time and place and by a different name, but the story of how they twice realized their American Dream is based on first-hand observation.

I was there. I saw it happen.

Bruce had been a cook in the Navy before he opened Blake’s Dinette, and the industrious spit-fire Fran was his perfect helpmate.

The couple raised their four children in the dinette itself, Fran nursing, diapering and bedding down their babies in the storeroom until they were steady enough on their feet to help out.

It was all hands on deck when the doors of Blakes’ Dinette swung open at 6 a.m. releasing the aroma of Bruce’s popular cinnamon rolls. But it wasn’t just sweets that enticed customers inside.

Whether breakfast, lunch or dinner, the Blakes turned out a fine product and the service was good.

Eventually the last of their children progressed from bussing tables to taking a hand in the business including Bruce’s signature cinnamon rolls, though theirs never reached his perfection.

From dawn until long after dark seven days a week, the tiny dinette served more diners than the place could hold and they were turning the overflow away. So when the big white church building down the street became available, they bought it, gutted it and renamed it The Blake House. Except for the location, everything else stayed the same and business was better than ever.

For years thereafter the Blakes worked on, reveling in the hard-fought achievement of their American Dream. But then the children grew up and struck out on their own and, with dependable, affordable help hard to find, they shut the doors and retired.

Long before then they had bought a house in a golfing neighborhood more in keeping with their acquired status.

It was surrounded by a large lawn requiring constant care, which hadn’t been a problem while the Blakes’ big strapping boys lived at home. Now there were just the two of them and the grass was knee high.

They consulted each other and came to an agreement, and it wasn’t long before a concrete truck showed up to pave every foot of land surrounding their house.

Then came the man with his glue gun to secure Astroturf to the slab. When he was through, the yard looked like a cemetery prepped for mass burial.

The neighbors who had earlier applauded Bruce’s cinnamon roles and more recently his golf swing were furious.

They might have taken legal action when strips of bile-green Astroturf eventually flapped in the Oklahoma wind and bright red coxcomb mingled with unsightly weeds sprouting up through broken concrete, but the Blakes weren’t available.

By the time the street out in front had become a favorite of gawkers and scoffers out for a Sunday drive — congesting traffic and inciting violence — the Blakes were making the RV campground circuits in their shiny new Winnebago, enjoying their retirement, fulfilling yet another American Dream.

MARJORIE ANDERSON is an Edmond resident.

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