An article in the Robinson Argus "I Remember When" series by Don Catt.

I remember very well the first meal I ever ate in a restaurant. It was in the summer of 1935 and I was eleven years old. The George Rodgers Clark Memorial was still a new attraction so when my Uncle Homer Catt came down from Oak Park, IL, he wanted to visit it. Uncle Homer invited Dad and me to go along. I had never seen the Memorial, so I jumped at the chance to go for a car ride with them to Vincennes.

They were in no hurry, so Homer didn't drive very fast. He and Dad looked at all the corn fields along the road and assessed the damage the hot weather was doing to the crops. Homer grew up in Jasper County, so he was an old farm boy too. Now he was an engineer for the State of Illinois.

We visited the George Rodgers Clark Memorial and listened to the history of the Memorial. When Dad and Uncle Homer got tired, it was about noon, so Uncle Homer suggested we find a place to eat dinner. Well, I'd never been in a restaurant before, and I wasn't sure I wanted to be in one, but it seemed I had little choice. We sat at a little table with a real table cloth and napkins. I didn't know what the napkins were for, so I watched Uncle Homer. When he unfolded his and spread it on his lap, I did mine too. When the waitress came back to take our orders, she brought each of us a glass of water. Whatever Dad ordered, I ordered, except he and Homer wanted coffee and I didn't want any coffee. Homer suggested a glass of milk, but I was afraid that I was costing my uncle too much already, so I said water would be fine with me. My folks didn't go to town and eat in restaurants, so I had no idea of what things cost, or that the glass of milk was probably included with the lunch. I knew Uncle Homer was not as poor as we were, but I had no idea that our lunch was just pocket change for a State Engineer. Anyway, I had plenty of milk at home. I wish they had suggested orange pop or Pepsi, but dumb old me would probably have turned it down too.

The whole meal probably cost about 35 cents, drink included. I ate every bit of it, but I can't remember if I thought it was good. Probably not, since Mom's cooking is always better.

When I think back to what should have been a happy adventure in my life, the thing that I remember most was that I was sitting on pins and needles, afraid I would do something dumb -- like spilling my water or dropping food on the floor and embarrassing Dad and Uncle Homer. Now I could add, not ordering that glass of milk like Homer wanted me to.

It's odd that after all these years that a glass of milk would loom so big in my memory.