KOZY KITCHEN: An American Tradition
As a "Boomer," I grew up with television. In the 1960's during my development years, like so many others of my generation. I was exposed to a plethora of sit-com's that helped influence my views of life. My personal favorite then and even today, as it has been archived and re-distributed through the marvels of technology, was the Andy Griffin Show. There has always been something about Andy, Opie, Aunt Bee and Mayberry that intrigued me and made me wish we could live out a simple life in such care-free place as the fictional town of Mayberry, North Carolina. In many ways, Waverly, like so many crossroad communities of the time was once very similar to Mayberry.
I have fond memories of the year 1965, and the Sesquicentennial that brought everyone in Pike County together in Waverly for a celebration. I was nine years old at the time and I recall my mother making period costumes for herself, my sister Sandy, brother Don and me to wear for the event. Mom worked "downtown" in Waverly at Smith's Shoes next door to Brown's Pharmacy, both long gone and subsequently demolished for First National Bank expansion project. Going downtown in the summer of 1965 required donning a white shirt with vest, string tie and hat to look the part. Eating lunch there meant a walk up the street past the bank, Way's Shop and Go Market and Ashland Finance Company to the Kozy Kitchen. You could always get a delicious plate lunch and my personal favorite, the open-faced roast beef platter. Memories of the Kozy are always good; the same little ladies cooking behind the counter, the breeze passing through the front and back screen doors, the conversations that everyone even strangers, were drawn into. The atmosphere was as good as the food and visitors always felt welcome.
Over the past 41 years so much in Waverly has changed. Gone are Smith's Shoes, Brown's Pharmacy, Way's Market, Stiffler's Department Store and the traffic light at the corner of Market and 2nd Street. The hustle and bustle of Vallery Hardware, Ashland Finance, the downtown barbershops on Market and the courthouse has since fallen silent. However, the Kozy Kitchen remains much like it did in 1965.
One day recently, I took a vacation day away from my job. It was a day with no family or work obligations, no agenda or schedule. I like to call it a "stress-relief' day where I just chill out and do things my way. Once the kids and my wife were off to school and work, I decided to treat myself to a breakfast out. It had been a long time since I'd been to the Kozy Kitchen due to my schedule, their operating hours and quite frankly, oversight. So this day, instead of going to a nationally known franchise, I went to the Kozy.
As I entered and staked claim to a padded stool at the counter, it was déjà vu; 1 definitely had been there before. The day after a primary election, politics was the big topic being discussed by a couple of elders sitting-to my left. A debate ensued regarding the name `Strickland" and if it was a Pike County name or not. The two gentlemen began reciting names each knew and could concur were native to the county before they mutually agreed that Strickland was "Pike County" and definitely a Democrat. The recent conversion from punch ballot cards to new electronic voting machines was also a hot topic. Computer technology, although a way a life in my world, was new and fascinating to these two. They appeared the age of my late parents and I suspect they are Pike County natives and have been Kozy regulars most of their lives,
The crisis of the day at the Kozy was not escalating gas prices or the Iranian threat over enriching uranium but the paperboy's left hook as he had summarily destroyed the skylight window above the entry door with the morning paper. As I sat looking around, I realized little had changed since the days of lunch with my Mon in 1965. The sound on the screen door crashing closed announcing each new patron, the high back booths with occupants straining their necks to see who entered, and the yellow laminated counter that was the same as my family's kitchen table in 1962 were still there. A waitress still poured milk from a jug she removed from a refrigerator too big for the kitchen yet strategically out of her way near the countertop. The breakfast menu was posted on the wall just as I remembered with little change other than prices that had moved with time.
I'm not going to say the food was good or bad because it doesn't really matter what I think. As a 300 pound man, I consider all food good. The fact that I savored every bite has little to do with the flavor or portion but more to do with the atmosphere. This is true, Americana. This is what the. Chinese have been trying to copy from America only to sell back to us as a cheap imitation. The Kozy Kitchen is a classic. Like an heirloom or wine, it keeps getting better with time. It, like few other that remain, is truly an American treasure. I, like many others in our community, am very grateful we still have the Kozy Kitchen as a link to our past.
By Dan Fosson, Waverly
Pike County News Watchman
May 31, 2006
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Pike Co. Genealogy & Historical Society
P. O. Box 224, Waverly, Ohio 45690