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MARIN COUNTY'S NEWS MONTHLY - FREE PRESS
(415)868-1600 - (415)868-0502(fax) - P.O. Box 31, Bolinas, CA, 94924

February, 2007

 

Moo Town News
Those Were the Days, My Friend...
By Judy Borello

"Those were the days, my friend, I thought they'd never end, we could laugh and dance the night away," was a song that I sing silently quite often. If anyone knows who wrote that song, let me know!
Hearing that song conjures up a lot of past experiences which will never happen again. One of my fondest memories is that of "Manka's Inn" which was in Inverness and burned down just before New Year.
In the early 60s and into the mid 70s, we lived real close to this bastion of old world charm. Nothing compared to it. I was raised in San Francisco, where my family would go every Sunday to partake of the finest food and restaurants the "City" would offer: Grissons, Paoli's, Ernie's, San Remo's, the Normandy, etc., etc.

The most impressive to me, for exquisite dining, was at Manka's. The ambiance was exceptional. As you crossed the threshold into the quaint lodge, you smelled the old wooden walls, the warmth and coziness of the large stone fireplace - then you'd wait while sitting on an antique couch facing a cocktail table with this humongous drip candle that looked as though it had dripped for a century or more. It was right out of Dr. Zhivago with the expectation of seeing a royal crowned prince and his escort. Quite prophetic, I'd say, as 2005 brought Prince Charles and his lady, Camilla to dine and stay there.

After warming yourself by the fire, you were escorted to your table, which was dressed in clean, crisp linen and very nice silverware. Then you went up to the round smorgasbord table, which was laden with assorted fruits, picked herring, head cheeses, assorted meats and a variety of cheeses, home-made potato salad and salads of various other components and an array of assorted crackers. You could get your value of the dinner just from the smorgasbord!

After you finished your first turn at those scrumptious smorgasbord delights, you could go back as many times as you wanted to "do it again." I'm sure Manka's lost money between my husband's love of pickled herring and my son Thor's extremely hearty appetite.

Then came the dinner! Oh what a dinner it was! It started with homemade soup, my favorite: carrot and mushrooms. Then, I always ordered their veal smothered in mushrooms, potatoes and veggies. I have never tasted the like of it again!

Then out rolled the dessert trays and I would stare at it for a while, sucking in the beauty and artwork that Manka, herself, created! Sometimes, when I could not make up my mind between the lemon tart, the Black Forest cake, raspberry strudel-like cake, chocolate Bavarian cake, chocolate mousse, I'd end up going home with an extra dessert. Upon leaving the lodge after dinner, Milan Prokupec would bid you're a personal goodnight. He always offered you these delicious, round, small, pink and white chocolate balls as you left.

And what a small world it really is because I found out later that the uncle of an old friend of my family - Roy Olson - manufactured those candies in Sweden. I ultimately brought Roy to meet Milan, and I remember Milan kidding Roy, wondering if Roy could put in a good word for Manka's so as to get a discount on the candies!

The smiling faces that waited on you were all familiar. Many a young person, local kids, cut their teeth working at Manka's. Some of those locals are now in their 40s and 50s. What I recall most is Rob Prokupec, Milan and Manka's grandson. As a young man - a kid - he had so much class, and a real professionalism, even at a young age. He later worked for me at the Old Western Saloon and he never lost his panache and style as he grew up in our community. I'm sure his parents and grandparents taught him well because it certainly shows.

I'm sure Rob's heart was broken, as was his mother's, when Manka' s was destroyed by fire, because as a family they had all created the masterpiece that was Manka's. In my own heart and memories, old Manka's remains the finest restaurant in which I ever had the honor of dining.


Those were the days my friend
We thought they'd never end
We'd sing and dance forever and a day
We'd live the life we choose
We'd fight and never lose
For we were young and sure to have our way.

La la la la...
Those were the days, oh yes those were the days


Then the busy years went rushing by us
We lost our starry notions on the way
If by chance I'd see you in the tavern
We'd smile at one another and we'd say

Those were the days my friend
We thought they'd never end
We'd sing and dance forever and a day
We'd live the life we choose
We'd fight and never lose
For we were young and sure to have our way.

La la la la...
Those were the days, oh yes those were the days


Just tonight I stood before the tavern
Nothing seemed the way it used to be
In the glass I saw a strange reflection
Was that lonely woman really me

Those were the days my friend
We thought they'd never end
We'd sing and dance forever and a day
We'd live the life we choose
We'd fight and never lose
For we were young and sure to have our way.

La la la la...
Those were the days, oh yes those were the days


Through the door there came familiar laughter

I saw your face and heard you call my name

Oh my friend we're older but no wiser
For in our hearts the dreams are still the same


Those were the days my friend
We thought they'd never end
We'd sing and dance forever and a day
We'd live the life we choose
We'd fight and never lose
For we were young and sure to have our way.

La la la la...
Those were the days.

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