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Cliff’s Dream

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Scott Sines, ©The Green Rocket News
She was working at the Yum Burger
in Kramer’s Junction, California. He was a long-haul truck driver from Arkansas. The Yum Burger became a regular stop for him and one thing led to another.

Jeanine and Cliff married and moved closer to Cliff’s roots on the Arkansas Delta about thirty-five years ago. Cliff drove the big rigs and Jeanine worked at different factory jobs during Osceola’s salad days. “After 30 years of driving a truck, Cliff got sick and that took him off the road,” Jeanine explained.

That’s when the couple committed to Cliff’s dream. “He thought about a farm but what he really liked doing was interacting with people,” she recalls. “He wanted to open a neighborhood bar where people could come and talk and socialize. He really just enjoyed talking to people.”

They found a small spot, one cracked sidewalk block from Osceola’s town square. It’s an unlikely place to start a new business. With so many vacant storefronts, it seems more suited to memories of yesterday, than dreams of tomorrow.

They started anyway. In a space not much bigger than a one-car garage — just enough room for a small bar and a couple of tables — they opened the Hole in the Wall bar. But Cliff had waited too long. He passed away after just a few months of holding court at the end of the bar.

Still, his vision of building a small community around his little bar came true. At his passing, customers rallied around Jeanine. They worked for free in the Hole in the Wall and kept the place going. Jeanine is eternally grateful because it was the type of neighborliness that Cliff so wanted. They kept his dream alive until Jeanine could take care of all his details and return to work. The Hole in the Wall wasn’t her idea but Jeanine is determined to make it work. She’ll live his dream for him.

Today, she sits on Cliff’s stool at the end of the bar. She’s known for her hospitality and good humor as much as the bacon cheeseburgers she cooks on a small electric flat grill. Behind the bar are three crockpots with dishes she makes at home and brings in. She cashes checks and lends cigarettes to her regulars. “My part of Cliff’s dream is being my own boss.”

That’s why Jeanine will continue cooking and chatting up the locals. “I want it to be success”, she says. “I’m not going anywhere. It don’t matter how many times you fall down, it’s how many times you get up.”

Jeanine and regular George Harriman during lunch hour.

Jeanine and regular George Harriman during lunch hour.