I wonder if the Vriners are making their candy canes anywhere this year? The boys are getting to be just the right age to watch them. My heart still hurts a little at the thought of Vriner’s being gone. I remember finding Vriner’s Confectionary in downtown Champaign when I was a freshman. Downtown was at a low point then but walking into that place was magic. One of the most intact interiors I’d ever seen. I remember Mr. Vriner telling us that he was out of malt for malteds, to buy some if we saw it, that if we brought our own banana he’d make a banana split, and if they were closed in the afternoon when we came by, just to knock on the door and he’d open up. Later his children got involved and there were regular hours and malt for the malteds again but of course I remember that first introduction and that feeling of having discovered something incredibly special…
Ernie and I were first going out then and would sometimes go there for breakfast. I remember going in the back room to see them make the candy canes and feeling so special that we got to go watch them roll them on the big marble table and savor the smells. I remember their wonderful tin ceiling and how cool it was with the ceiling fans even in the summer. I remember Ernie and I walking by late at night once and seeing that they’d left their old classic jukebox on and it glowing there on the tile floor, right in front of where it said Vriner’s set into the little tiles. I have so, so many memories of that place…in all of various phases I knew it. I remember being told I could get my own coffee refills and feeling honored. I remember having particular booths that where my favorites because of what was painted on the mirrors above them (the names of various specials liked malteds, milkshakes, green rivers, etc). I remember the counters and display cases—-even the one with the REO album in it—the one where they had posed in front of the place. And of course I remember their amazing homemade candycanes.
I wish it were around for my boys but suppose they’ll find their own special places. I’m a preservationist but I also respect the passage and changes of time. If my boys find someplace like that it might have a false patina of preservation and of course it can’t have the same meaning for them—their ideas of the past will be so differant than mine. I’m something of a failed preservationist I guess in that I often prefer places before they are preserved, so of course the era that you find will be constantly changing….
well I’m rambling. I actually meant to post something entirely different but I guess I’ll save that for later. I need to venture downstairs into the madness…..