Il Fornaio


Beverly Hills can be one of the coziest places on earth. Sitting alone in Il Fornaio. Sipping a strong Italian coffee. Cocooned by beauty. Nibbling at a crunchy bran muffin. Outside a late afternoon chill coming off the Pacific that says November is very near.

I used to catch a bus right outside my house. It was almost dead silent whenever there was new snow. The bus would wind its way three miles through my hometown and finally take me into what was at one time the largest steel mill in the world. In the Seamless Tube Dept. a corrugated metal building probably ten football fields long in the middle of an eleven-mile sprawl along the Ohio River, I’d huddle around a coke jack for warmth, oblivious to the black soot I would later cough up or pull out of my nose, eat Chef Boyardee out of a vending machine, and wash it all down with the worst excuse for coffee I’d ever dare to swallow.

If my year-old blackened ear plugs were jammed far enough into my head and I had a warm place to sit for awhile, the steel mill could be cozy, too, I guess. Especially when I daydreamed of someplace far far away.





  1. When you think back to that time (which in reality was such a small bit of time) you can’t help but get the “what ifs”….. Life is full of new adventures that change us, some for better and unfortunately some worse. That hulk of a Steel Mill is but a memory that is kept alive by prior employees who retell the times spent there just as you have done…. Our generation is truthfully the last keepers of those Mill memories…. We have all moved on without J+L / LTV Steel and I can say that we have done ok but I often wonder how different our lives and the old home town would have turned out if we would all still be “Mill Hunky’s”…… Thanks for rekindling some memories Don……

    1. Yep, homegirl. I wonder a lot about what that town would be like and everyone’s lives back there had the mill continued manufacturing steel. The hometown that it was. We might all still be back there in that few square miles and happier and more prosperous for it.

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