David's Yellow Brick Toad Restaurant

Otherwise known as the "Road House"
(4126), this is among my favorite kits from the original Aurora building series, and I was glad I could include it on this layout as something of a memoriam: it's vaguely reminiscent of a wonderful restaurant near Lambertville called David's Yellow Brick Toad. Perched atop a hill, the restaurant—originally a big old playhouse—overlooked an endless vista of open farmland, where hot air balloon races, music festivals ("Toadstock") and other events were held regularly. Regrettably, it's now completely surrounded by a sea of houses; it's utterly heartbreaking to see what's happened to the area. Thankfully I have my memories. Seemingly a lifetime ago, I was friends with the owner, Dave Duthie, and also his bartender, John B. Sr., sadly now both deceased. We had some great times together, and I get a massive lump in my throat as I think about them, when Dave, my wife and I would ramble all over the Toad property in his jeep, helping to organize the hot air balloon races and other events. Not to mention the countless fantastic meals we shared. "All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain."

W. David "Dave" Duthie, II (1943-2003), a New Jersey native, was a first lieutenant in Vietnam, part of the First Air Cavalry Division. He was awarded a Bronze Star, Bronze Star with Valor, Air Medal, and Army Commendation Medal, among others. Discharged in 1972, Dave was as successful in civilian life as he was in the military: he owned and operated the Yellow Brick Toad for 22 years, until he closed the doors in 2000 to pursue his dream of sailing around the world. He and his wife sailed for about a year before he succumbed to bone cancer, most likely a consequence of exposure to Agent Orange.

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