Ronnie Crawford is a busy guy. He doesn’t read our blog but we like him anyway. When we landed at Falcon Central in Denver, we commenced to catching up and he would ask us stuff about our travels or Jim’s wrist. Stuff that we had written about, partly because sometimes you don’t want to have to tell the same story a million times. So, of course I teased him mercilessly whenever a topic would come up. My answer: “It’s on the blog.” His: “I don’t have time for that.”
He arranged bus parking right in front of his house in Denver and we fell right back into good conversation with a longtime friend. We met in 1995 at a Falcon (car) show in Springfield, Missouri. We had become members of the Falcon Club of America and Jim was restoring his 1963 Sprint convertible.
This is it after he finished it and we drove it up Pikes Peak.
We decided to see what this car show thing was all about. And to buy parts, naturally. Knowing he was in full restoration mode, the vendors loved seeing Jim approach.
Ronnie had his 1964 Falcon wagon loaded up with parts and we chatted briefly. Car people love to talk and he was no exception. It became clear we were like-minded folks and got to know each other better over the years. He wrote lots of knowledgeable articles about Falcon Racing history and evolved from sending them handwritten with a pencil to shooting off long and well-tooled emails for his stories. Gotta love progress.
At the first banquet we attended, I didn’t know what to expect. To me, “banquet” meant dressy. I soon found that the car show dress code is more relaxed. That night, Ronnie appeared in standout sartorial splendor in a vintage suit, light green, I believe. Everything from hair to shoes was rockin’ retro and it all worked. I don’t remember what anybody else wore, including myself. He stood out in the crowd.
I soon found that he was the proprietor and driving force behind All American Vogue, a sprawling vintage wonderland with everything from furniture, lamps, accessories and clothes. All beautifully and artfully arranged and presented. A photographer’s dream. And a shopper’s too.
We became good friends and visited back and forth. He drove a 1957 Fairlane wagon that he brought to our house once in Kansas. He still has it.
He met us in Colorado the very first day we drove the bus on our own and brought flowers from his garden. He was driving a 1963 Sprint then. He still has that too. He now drives a ’63 hardtop. He still has the ’64 wagon too. We parked behind it. He has several others too.
The beat goes on. The store closed but Ronnie is an avid urban fisherman with the South Platte River right behind his house. He gardens and keeps bees. He is a kitty lover and captures feral cats, gets them fixed and released back. He is the longtime bartender at the Skylark Lounge where they always have dance bands. He is involved in his neighborhood association and rightfully proud of his house, neighborhood and city of Denver. It’s always Halloween at Ronnie’s house.
Not only is the South Platte River right behind his house, so is an extensive bike trail system. I took off one day on the trail. It was smooth and beautiful as long as it lasted but they are doing a lot of work on the river and it’s flow so large sections were detoured. The streets all have bike lanes but the trucks and traffic in the industrial area it routed through were not like the scenic South Platte. I got in about 15 miles before heading back.
We had a great visit. The last day we headed to the light rail and went to eat at the Mercury Cafe.
Having watched Kansas City go through a ludicrous series of maneuvers over the years to derail light rail, it was great to see a city that totally embraces it and has over 47 miles of track. You can put your bike on the train. Kansas City is so proud of themselves for having a much-delayed, over-budget TWO miles of track, not yet in use. Two. There is a station right near Ronnie’s house and we hopped on.
The Mercury Cafe is an example of sustainability and re-use, everything from solar panels to recycled grey water. Pretty cool inside and out. The chef, Gypsy, came to our table. He is a friend of Ronnie’s and a fellow fisherman. He sent us out some delicious goodies and the omelet I ordered lasted me three meals. It was rich and delicious and so were the Bloody Marys. Thanks Chef!
More Mercury Cafe:
Denver had a hard frost that night and we said our goodbyes the next morning. It is bittersweet to say goodbye but we are always grateful for the opportunity to get together. Good friends are hard to find. Let yours know that you care about them.
More photos on Flickr.