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This is the first in a series of places I've visited with family or friends or students over the years. It was my task back in the day (for a paltry sum of course) to drive to the East Orange Library during the summer months and screen films (literal 16mm films--not videotape or DVDs) and determine which would be interesting or provocative enough to show student groups during the next school year. I would write synopses and create questions for discussion and think up projects for students in grades 9-12. Often I checked the Academy Award nominees from the previous few years, and one day I came across a film with an unwieldy title: Fine Food, Fine Pastries: Open 6 to 9. Released in 1989, this unusual film was nominated for Best Documentary Short Subject and competed for a 1990 Oscar. It didn't win, but my students got a big kick out of the eccentric characters who populated the film.

Later that year I was making plans to take my AP class to Washington for an overnight visit. We would check out the Folger Library and see a production at the Shakespeare Theatre. Where should we eat, I asked one day--and they all shouted "Sherrill's"! The restaurant wasn't far from the Folger and the Capitol. We got there at lunch time and sat in the well-worn wooden booths. As I recall, there was a statuette of an Oscar in the display cases alongside the pies and cakes in the bakery section.

Above: Where Sherill's used to be. We all had a wonderful repast, waited on by the aging, gruff, "seen-it-all" wait staff. They all seemed to have been there for decades and they all had whiskey/cigarette voices. And they didn't take any crap from anyone! It was exactly what we had hoped for! Director David Petersen captured the importance of this eatery to the extended family that had sought its comforts since the days of the Great Depression. Sadly, like so many wonderful food joints, it closed its doors some time ago. Here is the Academy Award-nominated short (it takes about 15 seconds to begin) made in tribute to one of my most memorable trips. Just copy and paste the link below!

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