Lunch Drawing: Who Killed Cock Robin?

Who Killed Cock RobinWho killed Cock Robin?
I, said the Sparrow,
with my bow and arrow,
I killed Cock Robin.
Who saw him die?
I, said the Fly,
with my little eye,
I saw him die.
Who caught his blood?
I, said the Fish,
with my little dish,
I caught his blood.
Who’ll make the shroud?
I, said the Beetle,
with my thread and needle,
I’ll make the shroud.
Who’ll dig his grave?
I, said the Owl,
with my pick and shovel,
I’ll dig his grave.
Who’ll be the parson?
I, said the Rook,
with my little book,
I’ll be the parson.
Who’ll be the clerk?
I, said the Lark,
if it’s not in the dark,
I’ll be the clerk.
Who’ll carry the link?
I, said the Linnet,
I’ll fetch it in a minute,
I’ll carry the link.
Who’ll be chief mourner?
I, said the Dove,
I mourn for my love,
I’ll be chief mourner.
Who’ll carry the coffin?
I, said the Kite,
if it’s not through the night,
I’ll carry the coffin.
Who’ll bear the pall?
We, said the Wren,
both the cock and the hen,
We’ll bear the pall.
Who’ll sing a psalm?
I, said the Thrush,
as she sat on a bush,
I’ll sing a psalm.
Who’ll toll the bell?
I said the Bull,
because I can pull,
I’ll toll the bell.
All the birds of the air
fell a-sighing and a-sobbing,
when they heard the bell toll
for poor Cock Robin.

— English Rhyme

The name Cock Robin has its origin in this morose little poem written around 1744, for children. Leave it to the English to imbue a perfectly lovely bird with a a truly horrid fate. A million laughs in “Jolly Olde.”

The Cock Robin I am familiar with was the name of a chain of hamburger and ice cream fast food joints that were all over the western suburbs when I was growing up. The two I remember the best were in Lombard and Villa Park.

As a kid, I preferred their burgers to McDonalds or Burger King, which is not to say that they were good; they were gut-bombs of the rankest order. When you are a kid though, they seem to taste good because you are a walking garbage disposal with a monster metabolism. Today? I wouldn’t eat one. They were kind of like bigger versions of Sliders–the kind of burger you should just take home and throw in the toilet. Me and my brother got a huge charge out of the fact that a restaurant had the word ‘Cock’ in it and, like every other 11 year old, we’d look for excuses to say it in front of teachers, especially nuns.

“Excuse me Sister, can we go to CAAAHHHHHCCCKKKK Robin for lunch?” They’d go mental. They knew we were getting over on them, but they didn’t know quite what to do about it. “This is great, Sister. My mom brought me lunch from CCCAAAAHHHHCCCCKKKK Robin.”

The thing that was special about Cock Robin was the ice cream. hey served it in squares instead of scoops and it was good. They had a sherbet rainbow cone that was magical. Between the square shapes and the colors, these were a treat. They were also really good.

Every week, the Villa Park Argus or the Lombard Spectator would have a coupon for their “Big Buy,” a double cheeseburger–buy one, get one for a penny. Me and my pothead friends would raid the papers at the drug store and Al’s Smoke Shop for all of the coupons and have a stoner feast on winter afternoons. The ones we didn’t eat, we threw at cars. Our crowning achievement being that we once nailed a squad car with 5 Big Buys. This victory was somewhat dimmed by the vendetta the local cops carried out against us for years after. The Villa Park cops were pricks and once they knew your name, they would go WAY out of their way to fuck up your day at every opportunity.

One of my first crushes worked at the Lombard Cock Robin and she was always surrounded by a posse of Greaser shitheads who didn’t much like me and my crowd. They were a retarded collection of monosyllabic asswipes who could often be seen with a string of drool connecting their lower lip to a milkshake.

There were also some cool rockabilly guys who hung there, who were distinctly different than the Greasers. These guys were cool. They liked Elvis and Carl Perkins and the nascent Rockabilly acts like Robert Gordon. One of the guys was Eric, who later fronted Hi-Fi and the Road Burners. These guys were good guys who loved motorcycles and rock and roll. A couple of years ago, Eric died in a motorcycle accident, which made me sad. I can remember talking to him back then and both of us agreeing that nothing would happen for us until we got the hell out of that town.

The girl that worked at Cock Robin’s name was Susan and I never knew how to talk to her, so I would just sit in there and draw and chill out and smoke cigarettes. Once in a while she’d ask me what I was up to and tell me her boyfriend was stupid but had a good job as a mechanic. I mostly just listened and made little sketches of her. I felt like she was out of my league and her boyfriend was a shaved ape who could kick the shit out of me if he had a mind to. Eventually he got her pregnant and abandoned her. She raised that kid all by herself and never bowed her head or felt ashamed despite the disapproving glances she’d get at the Jewel or the mall. I always thought she was heroic.

The Cock Robin isn’t there anymore. . .replaced by something faceless and invisible in a way that just happens in plain sight, if that makes any sense. I killed a lot of time there. I learned some lessons about how people go on through life doing their best with what they have, and how when things are tough, a square cube of sherbet can seem like a revelation, while you’re waiting for your shift to end.

Published in: on September 25, 2013 at 12:01 am  Comments (2)  

The URI to TrackBack this entry is: https://tonyfitzpatrick.wordpress.com/2013/09/25/lunch-drawing-who-killed-cock-robin/trackback/

RSS feed for comments on this post.

2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Tony, an apt and nostalgically ironic post. Just after our St. Pius reunion, we got evicted from our house by an old lady landlord who, as it turns out, smilingly invites folks to rent her spare house only to deviously enjoy their shock when she kicks them out a few months later. But we ended up in Villa Park off Villa (alas, behind a 24-hr. McDonald’s across from the ol’ “Cock”) and while the town still has a few cool places–my wife loves that garden store, which STILL uses a pad of paper (no scanning!) to check out your purchase–the thing I miss most when I walk down that street is The Edge. If you ever get the itch to reopen it, I’d love to join our farcical forces and manage the joint.
    Think about it…

    Tom O’Toole (aka the “Tommy” in Tommy and Tony)

    P.S. A few years back, the VP police threw me up against my car, handcuffed me and took my fingerprints and mugshot NOT for driving without insurance, but for driving with the wrong TYPE of auto coverage!

  2. Tony, any memories of the Villa Oaks Movie Theater? I spent a good portion of my early teens on the R Rated side. For a blink of time, it was the best theater in Chicago, hands down!


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: