Dear Editor:

I am shocked and horrified the Oneida Village Inn burned. And sad — I’ll miss it a lot.

I’ll miss the Friday fish fry with potato pancakes and applesauce. I’ll miss the Sunday morning brunch buffet.

I’ll miss the hospitality, like when we arrived exhausted, almost at closing time this last December, and they still served us.

I’ll miss the fantasy Christmas lighting. I’ll miss the friendly faces at the bar.

I’ll miss seeing civic clubs meeting in their own special place. I’ll miss fundraisers Jackie Walker hosted there for decades, like for our church in the mid-1980s.

I’ll miss the catering, like for our 50th wedding anni¬≠versary in 2016.

I admire the heroics of Jackie and her staff the night of the fire. They raced to rescue guests in the hotel.

I’ll miss friends reminiscing about special family occasions there.

I’ll miss the flexibility and community spirit, as when Merle Patnode let me organize teen spot Flip Side in the basement for a few glorious weeks in the mid-1980s.

I miss Skip Wagner, hope his statue lives on forever, like his memory.

I’ll miss the generosity, like when the parking lot became a pig roast for the whole town. 

I’ll even miss driving by, what with all the memories triggered, all good.

And a whole lot more.

To be fair, much of what I’ll miss also applies to the other restaurants in town. 

In Three Lakes we are fortunate to have a small but excellent set of restaurants. They have to be very good to survive. And they all have that combination of two environments to succeed — physical environment and social environment — both managed at the Oneida Village Inn for four decades by Jackie Walker and for a while by Merle Patnode.

I’m also sad about the Three Lakes Diner burning. Owner Mark McCain told me he will rebuild, which is great! Hopefully Jackie can do the same.

Jim Flanders

Three Lakes

P.S. Jeff Bruss started a GoFundMe page for Oneida Village Inn relief and assistance. As of late morning on March 7, it had raised $9,160 of the $10,000 goal by 122 people in two days.