Monday, June 9, 2014

Those Were the Days

I can remember times in my childhood when cars didn’t have seatbelts and nobody had heard of a child’s safety seat. There were still one room school houses and outhouse bathrooms. They weren’t called restrooms then, because no one wanted to rest inside. The outhouse was a place to visit only when necessary and not a place to linger. It was an unsavory, smelly, unpleasant place.
Drive-in was the thing; movies and restaurants. The movies were a rare treat and only when my dad didn’t have to get up for work early the next day. If we were good, Mom would pick up some drinks and popcorn at the concession stand. We could listen to the movie through a metal speaker that would hang on the window of the car.
The drive in restaurants either had speakers affixed to a division between parking areas and orders placed like Sonic Restaurants still do. The food would be brought to the car carried on trays by a waitress. Other drive in restaurants had waitresses that would come to the car and take your order returning later when the food was ready. One unusual aspect to some of the drive-ins was that the waitresses wore roller skates.
Another drive-in restaurant was the type that the customer went to the order widow, put in their order, and retrieved it when the food was ready. One of these was Cubby’s. It was located just outside of Mt. Pleasant, Pennsylvania. Mom would often stop there and wait to pick up Dad when he worked the afternoon shift. We had only one car and when she needed it, she would drop dad off to ride with one of his co-workers and then pick him up after.
The one item that Cubby sold was the foot long hot dog. I imagine that he sold other items, but sometimes Mom would buy a foot long and share it with me while we waited. It depended on who Dad rode with. Other times we would wait at a gas station parking lot. Mom would bring a large bag of Snyder’s potato chips in their silver and navy blue bag. She would open it and share. Teasingly, when she’d find one of the chips that were made from a potato green with chlorophyll, she would pull it out and say, “These are poisoned,” and pop it into her mouth. After chewing it, she would loll her head to the side and close her eyes, pretending that she had died. I imagine the first time she did it, my brother Ken and I were afraid that it was true, but after a few times, it became a game. We would shake her, pat her face, and say, “Mom. Mom. Wake up. Wake up,” and she would shake herself awake and would “live” until the next green potato chip. It was hard to keep two kids occupied in a car, late at night, waiting for Dad to arrive.

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