Tuesday, August 4, 2015

R.I.P., Rob...No, Not That Rob! The Other One!

Here's an odd coincidence: two men with similar names, whose obituaries appeared just one day apart.

Rob Lukens died Saturday of cancer, at the young age of 42.

Bob Lucas died last Friday, also of cancer, at the age of 75.

I knew the first one. Rob Lukens worked his way up from intern to president of the Chester County Historical Society in Pennsylvania.

He worked at other jobs over the years, from head of collections at Philadelphia's Chemical Heritage Foundation to the U.S. Capitol Visitor's Center in Washington, D.C. But he always came back to the Historical Society here in West Chester, PA.

I was one of those weird teenagers who did research in the Historical Society. Back in my youth, it was a dusty, underfunded mess. A lot of historical societies are like that.

Rob Lukens took that Historical Society and turned it into a vital, modern museum. He had an infectious energy that made you want to like him. He gave public lectures and wrote columns on history. He even hosted a weekly radio show on history on the local radio station.

And he left us much too soon.

Now, the OTHER Bob Lucas -- full name Robert A. Lucas -- I did not know. He ran a bar in Camden, NJ, called Donkey's Place.

They served a limited menu as well as drinks, specializing in cheesesteak sandwiches. The television show Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown featured Donkey's, and claimed that their cheesesteak might be the best in the area.

Which is interesting. But I didn't know Mr. Lucas, or ever eat at his Camden restaurant. His family also owns a restaurant, Donkey's Too, in Medford, NJ. I might have eaten there -- I've eaten at a lot of places in my time, some of which friends brought me to -- but I don't think so.

While I've forgotten the names of dozens of the places I've dined at, if your name is memorable, I recall it. Chink's. Chubby's. Donkey's. These I'd probably recall.

By the way, Chink's Steaks in North Philadelphia finally changed its controversial name this spring. It's now Joe's Steaks. Which is a name I could certainly forget.