Tuesday, September 13, 2016

The Drive-In


The summer of 1974 I turned six years old, and at that point remained, blissfully, an only child. But within my mother grew my soon-to-be baby brother. This would be my last summer of blissful delight.

My mother worked second shift at the local hospital as a medical transcriptionist. Our mornings started slow, but our special time of day together was lunchtime. Most often those lunches were spent at home, sharing bowls of Campbell's Chicken and Stars soup, or grilled cheese sandwiches made with Kraft American cheese on square slices of Wonder white bread, and grape Cool-aid to drink in plastic Tupperware cups.


Once a week we would get groceries and have lunch out. In 1974 there were mostly local diners and greasy spoons in our town. We had one fast food chain restaurant, Burger King, located downtown next to the movie theatre. I loved to sit on the orange, vinyl topped, chrome swivel stool at the window counter eating my Whopper Junior, and crispy, heavily salted french fries, watching the people come and go from the theatre.


But my favorite place to eat lunch was the Dog n Suds drive in. The concept of a drive in restaurant fascinated me. You couldn't go inside - Car Hops Only, you ate in your car. The menu was on a stand next to your car, you pressed a button and spoke into a silver metal speaker to place your order.


I would sit in excited anticipation in the passenger bucket seat of my mom's metallic blue, 1973 Ford Mustang, while we decided what to have for lunch. Shortly after placing our order, the car hop would come out bearing a red rubberized tray laden with Charco Cheeseburgers and "World Famous" Coney dogs, heavily salted french fries, and frosty mugs filled with Dog N Suds root beer, and hook the tray onto my mom's partially rolled down car window. I would carefully unfold two large paper napkins and spread them over my lap, praying no ketchup or mustard from my cheeseburger would spill onto my perfectly matched Garanimals outfit.


Our town no longer has a Dog n Suds drive in, and hasn't in many, many years. A few of them still exist. On a recent adventure day I happened to be near one, and thought it would be fun, for old times sake, to drive in and have lunch. Unfortunately my adventure day was on a Tuesday.

At first I was extremely disappointed, but as I stood in the empty parking lot, I realized what I wanted wasn't the food, but the opportunity to photograph a piece of my history and to tell the story.


I never liked root beer anyway, except with ice cream in it.

17 comments:

  1. So lovely to read about your memories of childhood and all the images that fit the story so well. I was six when my young brother was born also! I remember giving him his bottle and burping him!

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  2. Sweet memories. The older you get the more important they are. Nice story telling with you photos.

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  3. Fun post, Sarah! This drive-in has such a nostalgic feel to it. Love how you captured the details and told the story. We have drive-in Sonics here. Years ago, the car hops brought the food out whizzing around on roller skates. No so, anymore. Kind of miss them!

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  4. Wow a bit of Americana it's what I always imagined small town America would be like.

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  5. How exciting to be able shoot such a favorite childhood place...and I bet the food would have disappointed you and then the photos wouldn't have meant as much as the memory. Love all the chrome details...and no people!

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  6. I was surprised to see that the drive-in was still in operation. It looks like you time traveled. :) What great memories...you reminded me of a few from my childhood too. :)

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  7. What a beautiful memory. My goal raising my kids is to store enough of those types of memories to last them when I am gone. Beautiful photo essay. Glad I stopped in today. xo

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  8. What special memories of your childhood, Sarah.
    Our big treat, growing up, was a trip to McDonald's for dinner. :-)

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  9. Drive-Ups, the only time eating in the car is really fun.

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  10. That is the funny party about childhood memories, as a child thing seem much larger. I went to visit my childhood home and I was so surprised to see how it looked now...

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  11. We had a drive-in movie theater and a walk-up Dairy Queen - the simple times, small things bigger than life. Great memories with wonderful detail.

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  12. Sarah, Thank you for sharing these memories. Wonderful post! Bonnie

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  13. You're making my mouth water for a float. I just saw an old drive in that we would rarely get to eat at in a town 45 miles from our home town. Mostly because we didn't go to that town much. I really meant to take a photo of the original sign before leaving but I'll have to wait till next year. It was hard to tell if they were still in business or not.

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  14. Enjoyed this . . .
    I know of a few Dog-n-Suds near me . . .
    Were you close by?

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  15. I loved reading your story and what beautiful pictures. Much of what you say sparked memories in me (but based in UK). Thank you .

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  16. I love your reminiscences, Sarah. It's fun to "go back." I wish I had taken more pictures, but it never occurred to me that the things of my childhood would disappear. Skates with keys, Swinger Polaroid cameras, dial telephones, drive-in movies, bank pass books, and much, much more. Thanks for sharing.

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  17. This takes me back, too, to when I was a little girl and my stepmom worked as a carhop at a drive-in. When I was a teen, kids drove their cars up and down the main drag in town, often stopping at the drive-in at one end of the street for refreshments and meeting up with friends. You made me laugh with your remark about "my last summer of blissful delight" -- ah, sweet innocence of childhood! And that last line was wonderful, a surprise that made me laugh out loud again. Great post, Sarah!

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Thank you so much for visiting today and taking the time to read my thoughts on life. :)