Most young boys would be resentful of working after school and on weekends mopping floors, flipping burgers and washing dishes for the family business. But, Bobby Ray Bueller, Jr.'s, most cherished memories of his childhood were those spent with his father, Bobby Ray Bueller, Sr, doing just that, at Bobby Ray's Uptown Café in Nashville, Tennessee. Bobby Ray and his dad made every moment in life and work, fun. Bobby Ray, Jr. idolized his dad and wanted to grow up to be just like him; respected, well-liked, honest, hardworking and a faithful, loving husband to his wife. Practically all of Nashville knew and admired Bobby Ray, Sr. Bobby Ray, Jr. knew being like his dad, was a mighty big order to fill.
Bobby Ray Jr.'s mom, Florence Bueller (referred to as “Flo”, by her friends), was another story. She married Bobby Ray, Sr. much too young, most say before she was done growing up herself. Flo adored her husband early on in their marriage and before their first anniversary, she became pregnant with their son, Bobby Ray, Jr. At first, Flo was excited by the changes in her life, but soon became scared as the pregnancy progressed. She wrote a letter to her sister in Ohio, lamenting she didn't like becoming “fat” from her pregnancy and that her husband, Bobby Ray, Sr. now frowned on her going out at night with her girlfriends, while he worked at the café. It was time for Flo to grow up and accept the responsibility of parenthood, something that was not exactly on Flo's wish list. Known in her single days for instigating her fast crowd to gallivant around Nashville, no longer did her friends use the expression “Go with the Flo” because Flo's social life came to a halt. Tired of Bobby Ray, Sr.'s grueling work schedule at the café, she felt trapped and abandoned in a boring routine.
The day before Bobby Ray's 10th birthday, upon returning home from the typical long day at working at Bobby Ray's Uptown Café, his mom, Flo, was no where to be found. Taped to the refrigerator was a note which read:
Dear Bobby Ray and Jr.,
Inside the fridge is an angel food cake, Bobby Ray, Jr.'s favorite, for his birthday. You'll have to celebrate his birthday without me, cause I'm gone for good. I love you both, but my life is not what I expected. At least you'll have each other, maybe that's what you wanted all along. You have provided a secure life for me, Bobby Ray and for that, I thank you. But, I need more. Be good, Bobby Ray, Jr. and take a bite out of life, don't settle. Love Always, Flo
One afternoon, as Bobby Ray, Sr. served up some of his famous pot roast, he was served divorce papers from Flo. It was rumored that Flo ran off with a truck driver to “re-capture her youth”, lost somewhere in between saying “I do” to Bobby Ray, Sr. and “I better not” to her wild friends who dared her to stay out all night partying, even after Bobby Ray, Jr. was born. Bobby Ray, Jr. knew that when he married, he wanted a wife, very different from his mom. Bobby Ray's dad, was shocked when Flo actually left him. He and Bobby Ray, Jr. tore themselves up, wondering how Flo could be so ungrateful and betray them. The long hours working at Bobby Ray's Café, finally took a hard toil on Bobby Ray, Sr.'s health. He died of a massive heart attack. Bobby Ray, Jr. was deeply saddened, but was glad hisdDad didn't suffer long. Grief stricken, Bobby Ray found solace from a friend of the family and food server at Bobby Ray's Uptown Café, Loretta Sweetwater.
Bobby Ray, Jr., (now the sole owner of Bobby Ray's Café), was no longer just Loretta Sweetwater's co-worker. Bobby Ray had to assume the role of Loretta's boss, a strange transition for both of them. Unspoken, yet obvious, they both wanted to make Bobby Ray, Sr. proud. Loretta Sweetwater and Bobby Ray were inseparable, working long hours, in to the night. Most felt Loretta and Bobby Ray made excuses to stay at the restaurant, just to see each other.
Everyone at Bobby Ray's Uptown Café missed Bobby Ray's dad. The kitchen staff swore at night they could hear the late Bobby Ray, Sr. joyfully whistling, as strolled through the restaurant, carefully adjusting the salt and pepper shakers and menus on the dinning tables before closing.