Growing up in the fifties, it was a much simpler life that we endured. It wasn't exactly like Happy Days for sure, but we did have drive-in diners. Some of them had colorful and unique names, such as "Toot and Tellem" and "Chat and Chew." It was a special treat when Mom and Dad loaded the four of us kids into the back of that '49 Packard Clipper. The whole family going for a ride always meant there would be a stop at some wonderful place. Especially rewarding was those times we pulled into one of those happy havens of hamburgers and hot dogs. Now, we didn't worry or care about calories and cholesterol back then.
~ The four of us, my brother and two sisters, would be wide-eyed and out mouths would be watering as the girl on roller skates stopped at Dad's window. They large tray attached to the door held a veritable feast. Those golden onion rings and french fries gleamed like Blackbeard's treasure. That smorgasbord of gastronomical delights was unlike anything we had ever seen in our entire lives. That Schwynn bicycle and Red Ryder BB gun that Santa never left, were insignificant when compared to that mother lode on the tray before us.
~ What banquet would be complete without something to wash it down? There was an array of drinks running the gamut from NeHi grape and Royal Crown Cola to chocolate and vanilla milk shakes. Waiting in the wings, was the manna of all that was upon that massive tray. Of course, I'm referring to the desserts! As much as we relished the main course, in the end our goal was to be the first one to grab a piece of that apple pie or the strawberries and cream.
~ There was no rabbit food! We didn't eat salads in those days. Why would anyone want to take up valuable stomach space with lettuce? That prime real estate war reserved for seconds, which sometimes was a dilemma. Should you have another hot dog or hamburger, or go for another helping of the sweets? I often solved that perplexing problem by having both, one of each! After all, it was the survival of the fittest.
~ Satiated like a pride of lions at the carcass of a wildebeest, we would soon be in a purgatorial state of rest, not fully awake and not quite asleep. Mom had learned from past experience of this, that we had been dressed in our pajamas before we left the house. Back home, Mom happy that there was no mess in the kitchen to clean up, and Dad taking up residence in the only bathroom in the house, the four of us would settle in front of the television set.
~ We didn't have cable in those days, and as such there was not a lot of variety on the airwaves. In fact, in those days of its infancy, television had limited programming and was only on during the evening hours that we know as prime time today. The rest of the day, the only thing to be seen was a black and white target with an Indian head in front of it.
~ At the time, we were one of only a few families who actually owned a TV set. Many evenings we would host neighbors who wanted to see that modern miracle. A TV set was literally a piece of furniture in those days, ours about the size of a small chest-of-drawers. By today's standards, the viewing screen would be comparable to one of those 9-inch portable sets.
~ Waxing nostalgic, I can still remember Uncle Miltie entertaining us. Although I'm not sure we knew why at the time, but we laughed right along with our parents at his antics and those of his guests. That final image of the Texaco star signaled that it was time for bed.
~ And... That's the way it was!