I am revisiting this post in memory of Bill Skenteris, the owner of Palmetto Fine Foods; he was an especially dear man. He came to the United States in 1956 at the age of sixteen. He never knew a stranger; all who entered his restaurant felt they’d found a friend. Bill passed away on the evening of June 18, 2017, Father’s Day. I find this appropriate, as I am sure more people than me felt Bill was a second Dad or Granddad. For two months he lingered with pancreatic cancer; he will be missed for years by his family, friends, customers, employees, and anyone who has ever been greeted by this sweet soul who was committed to serving good food quickly and offering warm sincere care and concern for all.
May 3, 2017
I’m sitting at a drive-thru and I am overcome. Drifting out the open window I can smell hamburgers and hot dogs, fries, mustard, hot grease, not too overpowering, and the hint of southern sweet ice tea with lemon wedges. This is not a chain; it’s an independently run establishment, started in 1959, and now passed down to the son to run. Successful, yes, but hard work. Everybody in the family does their part to keep the business up and running. I’ve never seen Palmetto Foods advertised; it’s a good burger or dog for a reasonable price; Bill’s advertisement is through word-of-mouth, that mouth having just finished a chili dog, and washed down with sweet iced tea. The parking lot will be filled, if not already. This is the South; sweet iced tea, chili dogs all-the-way, fries, onion rings, or half and half, is spoken here. It’s the language of the mid-day meal for anyone who has worked hard and needs a shot of carbs to keep going til the end of the work day. For the health conscious, meat and 3, fresh vegetables, a choice of meat, and sweet tea and sweet cornbread make a meal no Southerner can resist. No one comes in without engaging in conversation with the patriarch of the family; no one leaves without a blessing; the locals joke around; the atmosphere is homey, loving, and well, just right. I was in there one day, during the hard times of watching three of my family members suffer from cancer. I couldn’t help it, tears leaked out of my eyes. One of the young men who take orders and serve, passed by, he squeezed my shoulder; our eyes met; that was all that was needed; my pain was recognized and reassurance received. It just occurred to me that many times we don’t get that much unconditional love, care, and concern from our own churches today. Something to ponder!
Dear Lord, thank You for the many ways You show me Your love, a drive-thru / eat in diner serving hot dogs along with unconditional love. I thank You, Heavenly Father, for allowing me the extreme honor of saying Bill was my friend. His son Nick went to school with my step-son, so there are other connections. Nick will be able to carry on the tradition at the Palmetto. Nick is his father’s son in so many ways. Their business will continue and double cheeseburgers half and half orders will still be called out loud and clear … that’s half fries, half onion rings for those who’ve had the misfortune to have never experienced the Palmetto, a Southern Tradition.
I will miss you, Bill. You prayed for me when my own family members lost their battles with cancer. I prayed for you by your side in your home. I will forever be glad I visited you there. On the walls I saw family pictures through the years. I see the pride in your eyes as you sat with your family, preserved in time. Just being there by your side, you in your easy chair, fingering your worry beads, as you called them, brought me joy. I am glad you were able to tell some of your stories to me as I sat there holding your hand. Our Heavenly Father took you home, Bill, on Father’s Day. How appropriate, as you were a father figure to so many of God’s children. There surely was a welcome home party when you were received into God’s Heavenly Kingdom. I look forward to seeing you again, Mr. Bill. My spot of heaven will have a good burger and hot dog diner. I’ll see you there … May God bless you, until we meet again.
In Memory of Bill Skenteris (1940-2017)
Blest Be The Tie That Binds
Author: John Fawcett (1782)
Blest be the tie that binds
our hearts in Christian love;
the fellowship of kindred minds
is like to that above.
Before our Father’s throne
we pour our ardent prayers;
our fears, our hopes, our aims are one,
our comforts and our cares.
We share our mutual woes,
our mutual burdens bear,
and often for each other flows
the sympathizing tear.
When we are called to part,
it gives us inward pain;
but we shall still be joined in heart,
and hope to meet again.
This glorious hope revives
our courage by the way;
while each in expectation lives
and waits to see the day.
From sorrow, toil, and pain,
and sin, we shall be free;
and perfect love and friendship reign
through all eternity.
Psalm 23 God’s Word Translation
The Lord is my shepherd.
I am never in need.
He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside peaceful waters.
He renews my soul.
He guides me along the paths of righteousness
for the sake of his name.
Even though I walk through the dark valley of death,
because you are with me, I fear no harm.
Your rod and your staff give me courage.
You prepare a banquet for me while my enemies watch.
You anoint my head with oil.
My cup overflows.
Certainly, goodness and mercy will stay close to me all the days of my life,
and I will remain in the Lord’s house for days without end.