Innocence Lost in a Time of Joy

A week ago Sunday, Julie and I were on our way back to Massachusetts after spending a holiday weekend with the kids in NYC.

About midway on the Sunday ride home through a cold, rainy night, we pulled off the Connecticut highway to get some hot coffee, eats and fuel.

Off the exit, we searched around a bit through unknown territory, settling in the parking lot of a diner.

But it was a diner in name only; it was actually a fairly large restaurant that was absolutely jammed with people waiting to be seated. Now, out in the middle of nowhere, on a cold, rainy Sunday night, this was a big surprise.

So we were seated and quickly figured out the draw – we took in the warmest, friendliest atmosphere I’ve  seen in a roadside diner. We sat next to a large party of what appeared to be young mothers and daughters, celebrating something, maybe a holiday party. But the loud laughter and cheeriness was unmistakable – that of innocent glee and unbridled merriment.

In fact, the entire restaurant was that way. It seemed every patron knew the staff, knew the owner, knew others seated at the counter and tables. Smiles and pleasantries all around.

It sort of reminded me of the Vin Bin, in that way in which everyone who comes is immediately a part of the family.

Oh, the food was good, big portions, inexpensive. We asked our waiter about the joint, and she knew the entire history although she didn’t look much older than 18. Apparently, her mother – who still worked there, was among the first staffers in 1973.

Julie and I lingered around a bit because the vibe was so warm and friendly, and we picked up a couple of the largest apple turnovers I have ever seen. While we were heading back to the car, we talked about how this place was to become our new half way point on our trips to NYC – going and coming, we wanted to start and end our trip at this place. When we got home, we told everyone of this fantastic restaurant we found.

The place? Blue Colony Diner in Newtown, CT.

A few days later, when news hit of the unspeakable slaughter we knew exactly where it was. And I began to think back to the smiling, laughing parties in the diner – especially the group of young Newtownian women and children.  It made me profoundly sad as the horror unfolded; watching the end of innocence for  a town and good people who, like us, only wish for happiness and camaraderie in what should be a time of joy.


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