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Veteran Owen Law sits at his reserved table at Wienerschnitzel. Law eats dinner every Saturday at 4 p.m. He rarely misses.

Photo by Danny Palomino

Every Saturday at 4 p.m. for the last three years, Owen Law has driven his 2005 Saturn from his house near Old Farm Road and Olive Drive to the Wienerschnitzel on Coffee Road for dinner. The menu does not change. Law orders a chili dog, French fries and a small Pepsi.

Law may not be a young man (95 this July) but he is a hungry one and Wienerschnitzel hits the spot. Law is the customer wearing the U.S. Army Veteran cap, having served in the infantry during World War II, both in Germany and stateside.

“I was in Germany when the Russians came through Berlin,” said Law, who is a man of few words, and like many men who have served, a man of fewer words when it comes to his military career.

Law is not in the habit of bragging. He is proud of his service (37 months and five days) but he wears the cap because he likes the hat. However, good deeds do not go unnoticed at this Wienerschnitzel.

Less than three years ago, Brandi Watkins, one of the restaurant’s managers, noticed Law. Noticed that he always came in on Saturday. Noticed that he always ordered the same thing: a chili dog, fries and small Pepsi.

Watkins started talking to him and before long looked forward to Law’s Saturday visits. She, along with the other employees, became fond of him. They reserved a table for Law near the counter by making a table tent that read, “Reserved @ 4 p.m. vet. Owen Law.”

Law was using a coupon at the time that allowed him to order the combo for $1.99 but eventually Watkins and the crew changed that.

“I use my employee discount and pay for him,” Watkins said. “We start his fries at 3:55 so they will be fresh and hot. We know he’s going to be there like clockwork.”

Law was born in Jasper, Mo. After coming to California, he worked in lumber mills in Big Sur and Pacific Grove. He moved to Bakersfield in 2002 to be close to family.

Law has always been good with his hands and since moving to Bakersfield has helped neighbors build sheds and a couple of family rooms.

“He made some of our furniture growing up,” said his daughter, Dianne Duppman, who lives in Bakersfield. “He built a deck on my house. He built our house in Pacific Grove.”

After retiring 20 years ago, Law became a locksmith. A bout of cancer made locksmithing difficult by taking away Law’s use of his left arm. These days, he listens to country music and watches old movies.

“Halloween is one of his favorite days,” said his daughter. “He loves to see the kids and hand out Snickers, Butterfingers and Milky Ways.”

Law has been married twice. He has two kids, five grandkids and six great-grandkids. Law has that family and his Wienerschnitzel family.

“We have one of the employees take his meal to his table because of his arm,” Watkins said, indicating that normally table service is not part of Wienerschnitzel’s offering. “We make sure he has everything he needs when he eats his supper.”

Danny Palomino is one of those employees. Palomino brings Law one ketchup, three napkins and a medium amount of ice in his Pepsi. Then, they catch up.

When Law doesn’t show for dinner, his friends at the restaurant worry. He usually phones to tell them he won’t be there. This doesn’t happen often because Saturday is his day and Law doesn’t like to miss.

“They treat me good,” said Law. “They make me feel like a king.”

It’s a small thing, but a good thing and a kind thing. Saturday dinner. Saturday thanks.

Herb Benham is a columnist for the Bakersfield Californian and can be reached at hbenham@bakersfield.com or (661) 395-7279.

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