I’m not a very religious guy, so the title seems a bit strange.
What is a church anyway? Merriam Webster says it’s a place for Christian worship. I think, and many will agree, that it’s more. A church is a place where people gather, share common beliefs and grow as members of society. A church is a place where we get answers to life’s questions, feel welcome, look forward to seeing friends and are accepted no matter who we are.
My church was the Roosevelt Market.
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The Roosevelt Market has been in Boise’s Foothills East neighborhood for more than 100 years, right next to the Roosevelt Elementary School. It’s always been a place where the locals could get a gallon of milk or loaf of bread. A place where elementary students would gather after school to get a treat while moms waited. It was a place that reminds you of a time long ago, when people counted on their neighborhoods to survive.
I moved into the neighborhood 10 years ago and was introduced to the Roosevelt Market and its owners, Nicki and Susan, soon after. It became a regular stop on the way to work for coffee, and soon I became one of the “regulars.” I would charge on a tab and never pull out my wallet — try to find a place like that today! I was always welcome and always accepted for who I was. On weekends I’d spend hours there before the family woke up, sharing stories and meeting neighbors. Monthly wine tastings and block parties would bring hundreds there from the ’hood, and pretty soon you could walk the sidewalks and say hi to market friends. Generally you knew the name of their dog before you learned theirs, because dogs were welcome with a dish of water and a treat inside.
When Susan’s son, Josh, and Nicki’s grandson, Steven, took over the kitchen, it became a great place to share wonderful food. The Market has changed hands dozens of times over the years, but for the last 14 years has been run by two of the sweetest women I’ve ever met. They were the magic of the Roosevelt Market. Caring, loving family women who understand what is important in life — people, friendships, laughter and love. After a long run they’ve finally decided to retire. The neighborhood is sullen with the news.
Although I moved 20 minutes away a year ago, my dog and I have still made the morning trip. Twenty minutes is a long drive for a cup of coffee. We left the Roosevelt Market this week for the last time under Susan and Nicki. I welcomed the long drive home as it gave me time to compose myself and reflect on the gift they gave me. Thank you, ladies, for making me a better neighbor, a better friend, a better dog owner and a better person. Thank you for the love you’ve shared. I’ll forever be in your debt.
Bill Iuliano has lived in Boise for 32 years and lived in the Foothills East neighborhood for 10 years. He is a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel and deployed to the Middle East 10 times.