Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The Melrose Café:  The Legacy of a Quiet American Hero-Dale Bassett [1939-2014]!
On Florida State Road 21,  spanning the wooded, water-logged acres between the Metropolis of Gainesville, Florida [home to the Univ. Of Florida] and Keystone Heights, there is an unobtrusive building with an obtrusive sign announcing the day’s menu of “Pork Chops”,  the Melrose Café resides as the center meeting place for the denizens of an unincorporated town of Melrose.
Nothing really distinguishes the town from any other place in Central Florida,  other than the fact that it has no official body of governance; no police station; and no fire department.  In many ways,  one could consider Melrose a Libertarian paradigm of excellence; or equally valid, the Liberals’ dream of complete freedom and social acquiescence. In either case,  the Melrose Café was the de rigeur meeting place for those who held all types of political views,  as long as they expressed them civilly; and those  hard-core Red Necks who valued their suped-up Ford Pick-up-trucks with their fanciful gun-racks.  In other words,  Melrose Café was a representation of America.
The only requirement to order the meal of the day was the ability to understand that grits would accompany any meal and that the waitresses could be very polite until you might have thought for a slight moment that you could cop an ‘attitude’.  Then all-hell would break out.
The man who created this oasis of Americana was Dale Bassett,  along with his charming wife of fifty years, Carol.  Both had ventured into the American entrepreneurial world many decades before when Dale, a Jacksonville, Florida native,  decided to sell his successful insurance brokerage house and present his wife Carol with the realization of her long- time dream: a café that both could run in their senior years.  The dream came true.
Yet like all American dreams,  first uttered in a moment of passion,  it took years of hard work, sweat, and tears to make this forty person café an established institution to which the cynical,  Libertarian/Liberal denizens of Melrose would frequent on a daily basis.  Let it be known up front that Dale understood that with limited resources,  he could  at best,  serve only breakfast and lunch.  On special occasions,  he might venture to offer another meal, but that was infrequent.
From my narrow perspective of acquaintance,  I met Dale and his wife, Carol, about one year ago when I first moved into Melrose.  I discovered the town thanks to the misadventures of a pig, named Francis, whom my wife transported to Rooterville,  a pig sanctuary.
I came to know Dale,  as best as one could know the “Quiet American”,  as he and Carol were perusing their daily accounts over a table near the front of the café.  I suggested in a half-sarcastic way that ‘numbers lie and liars use numbers’.  Dale agreed.  He assured me that he understood the nature of numbers and what they truly represented as he assured me that in his former life he had been an insurance underwriter for all types of businesses,  especially medical practices.  Whether his comment was fortuitous or calculated,  to this day I have no idea why,  but I immediately engaged in a discussion where I explained my previous travail with medical insurance when I had practiced psychiatry.  And before you could annunciate the DSM IV criteria for  sanity and sobriety,  Dale expounded on his experience with one of his clients, a practicing psychiatrist who had garnered over three million dollars a year in revenues.  I was astounded.  I had explained to Dale that at 45 minutes a therapeutic session,  it was hard for me to conceive of how anyone could make that kind of money on what he and I agreed was essentially ‘bullshit’.
From that day onward,  we would engage in sporadic conversations ranging from world events to the problems of running a small business, replete with personnel, taxes, and cash flow issues.  For the most part,  the conversations to an outsider listening in to what we had to say to each other,  may have appeared ‘mundane’.  But to me, a serial entrepreneur,  Dale had exemplified the best and brightest of America---the small business owner.
Dale had taken a risk to make a dream come true.  He earned his way in the business of food and service, not through going to the Cornell School Of Hotel Management, but through ‘trial and error’.  I would see him and Carol bent over the end-of-the-days’ receipts discussing where he could or could not save a penny here or there.  He was the epitome of what I considered the best of America –the small business owner – who on a regular basis persevered through the trials and tribulations of daily problems of running any type of business: inadequate, inappropriate staffing; change in menus; maintaining consistent quality control so that the customers would come back, again and again.  He did not run a ‘fast-food franchise’.  He didn’t use gimmicks,  his food was consistent.  He created what on the surface appeared to be the most of all mundane creations—a cafe,  really a ersatz diner , serving only breakfast and lunch.
In a time when the cauldron of history is boiling over with wars and conflagrations all over the world, the Melrose Café, on Route 21,  is a  sanctuary of sanity and reality.
I go there every day with my two dogs, Bonnie and Basel, my wife, not to eat my three hard boiled eggs with ketchup, but to talk to the “Quiet American”, my hero.  He died last week. But his wife, Carol, and his younger son, Michael will continue the traditions of maintaining a small business in Melrose, Florida. 
I salute you,  Dale,  on behalf of all we Americans who have to fight the inglorious battles of quotidian life, day in and day out.
My Quiet American Hero,  Dale Bassett!


  1. A glowing testimonial! It reinforces my belief that if people at the so called top listened to the man off the street the world would be a safer place! It just reminded me of my social club where I go to enjoy a pint of Guinness and try to put the world to rights with my friends unfortunately the more Guinness the more people overhear our discussion!! Mans ability to think never fails to impress me when we are sat relaxed in a very ordinary but familiar place! Perhaps that's where it goes wrong so called statecraft or politics not enough Guinness or for that matter pork chops!!!!

  2. I wish I could say something good about this. There's nothing wrong with Mr.Bassett or his tratoria, however this whole melieu is the last place I would recommend to anyone.

    These inland parts of Florida are flat, hot and humid, devoid of anything of value. It's got to be the worst portion of the United States. In Florida when you get away from the ocean it's the dreariest, most unpleasant place on the planet. I just don't get it.

    If you want small town life but in a place that looks like something, and where not everyone is poor or broke, try the German towns in the hill country of Texas such as Fredericksburg, New Braunfels or Boerne. There's hills, trees and water and best lots of animals like deer in your backyard and around the golf courses, racoons, skunks, oppossums, armadillos, lots of birds of all kinds, and horned owls and barn owls.

    Everything here is clean, clean and clean the way you find in Germany. Everything is clean and well maintained and fixed up to perfection. It's like a bit of Europe in a part of Texas that's actually FURTHER SOUTH ON THE MAP THAN MELROSE, FLORIDA....but it's temperant and not tropical. We have live oak trees, laurel trees, and elms, etc....

    The poor whites of Florida, the "crackers" are like the toothless, impoverished parents of Janet Reno, who were so broke that they built their own house out of peices they found in garbage dumps, etc...and beat the shit out of Janet when they liked.

    The crackers of Florida are the worst white trash in the world...the worst.

  3. Sounds like a great place that should be painted in a Norman Rockwell style. It is funny how people in the later stages of life have a dream of some kind like a Cafe, as a total contrast to their other jobs. I intend in about three years to have a Cafe (lunch+cupcakes) and Animal Sanctuary near Canterbury as it has sea, countryside and tourists! I will look out for your friends place as I am coming over to Florida next week and will see where my Walmart Satnav might take me, although I suspect I will be theme parked out. It was interesting about the super wealthy Psychiatrist who probably had 'ghost' clients. Here in the UK although the NHS works very well, GP's work less and less for more and more with an average Dr getting £150K-£250/350K and they do not cover their own patients out of hours, seems more about business than medicine. I worked above a local surgery for twelve years, but because as a Psychotherapist my clients were a bit random they wanted the room for more Doctors. The conversations I overhear in local stores show the great majority of folk are good, philosophical and switched on to the Politicians and Mass media chaff, yet nostalgic as evidenced by the crowds for the last ever 'Monty Pythons' at O2 which sold out in 42 seconds.

    1. Actually I think this whole story is a fantasy in the mind of Dr.P after having fallen asleep watching "Green Acres" with the pet pig "Arnold."

      Green Acres is the place to be!

      Farm living is the life for me!

      Land spreading out so far and wide!

      Keep Manhattan just gimme that countryside!

    2. And like most Jews in his dream HE FORGOT THAT HE'S JEWISH...

      And that explains why he fantacized about...


  4. My youngest just informed me they play a game at school called `Get down Mr President` the idea is you are walking around with several other lads, then one puts his finger in his ear as a Secret Service earpiece, the last one to do so has no earpiece so is Mr President. So the others jump on him to take him down and `save` him! Nice one.

    1. That's awesome.

      Now on a more serious note.

      In 2006 when Israel invaded Lebanon their first move was to shoot at the UN observers on the border.

      Yesterday Israel shelled a UN refugee station killing and injuring scores of children and their mothers who had been told by the Israelis to go there from their homes for safety.

      Typical of Israel's constant and neverending lies about every matter under the sun they've been claiming that they are taking measures to limit casualties by making an occassional phone call now and then before bombing a families' house, or dropping leaflets over an entire city before bombing it to smitherines.

      Right now over 800 people have been slaughtered by the Israelis and God knows how many have been injured.

      Israelis protesting these actions are being attacked by other Israelis, something that's never happened before.

      I don't like to over-dramatize things, but I really think this is a "watershed moment" for Israel. I think fewer and fewer American Jews can still believe the claims that efforts are being taken to limit casualties. I think Israel is losing more and more credibility.

      As for the Palestinians Abbas and the Authority has worked tirelessly with the Israelis, working alongside Israeli police in their efforts against resistance...

      And Abbas and the Authority have been repaid by the Israelis by building more and more "settlements," and further carving the west bank up into smaller and smaller pieces. All the while that this colonization is happening the Israelis continue to claim that no colonization is happening and the the Jews never intended to colonize the west bank....absurd.

      In short Israeli credibility has been stretched and stretched so far that it's pretty much shattered. The Palestinians have been left with nothing, and the Americans have nothing to offer.

    2. All Israelis know that the Arab citizens of Israel are out-breeding the jews and that in the future Israel must cease to be a jewish state or cease to be a democracy.

      I've always considered that this simple fact will mean that an eventual peaceful solution to all issues will emerge.

      But now I'm not sure that we will ever get to that point.

      I think this fact, which has prevented Israel from letting the Arabs to return to their properties and kept them as refugee prisoners rather than citizens.....

      This fact is causing most Israelis to panic.

      I think this simple issue will cause most Israelis to continue their colonization, subjagtion, and even genocide to new levels and I think the Palestinians and their few supporters will have no choice but to reply.

      I think things might get worse rather than better and worse means a fight to the finish....something I really never contemplated before now.

    3. As such I call on Dr.P to join with me in establishing a reverse immigration foundation to re-settle peaceful Israelis in the United States.

      I think peaceful Israelis who desire to leave Israel and come to the United States and find careers here should be enabled and encouraged to do so.

      I think the majority of Israelis will prevent a peaceful solution from coming about.

      The time has come to realize that America is and will always be a peaceful and safe republic for jews to live in. I encourage this effort and will join with anyone, jew or gentile, to form this organization.