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Tears at the A&W Drive-In

Posted on October 15th, 2019

Dave!I'm an adult and I get to do adult stuff whenever I want... like having a hamburger for breakfast!

Back when I was very young, my family lived within a short distance to the local A&W hamburger drive-in. We didn't eat out a lot... eating out is expensive... but this just made the burgers all the more special. And boy were this burgers special. Sometimes, especially after we moved to a neighboring town and had to drive there, we'd eat in the car. I vividly remember sitting in the backseat with my brother... waiting for the car-hop to attach that big metal tray with the webbed orange liner to the driver-side window... then waiting for my parents to pass back that magical foil bag which had my burger in it... and a big frosty mug of A&W root beer, of course.

A&W had PapaBurger, MamaBurger, TeenBurger, and BabyBurger... and the foil bags used to have a cartoon printed on the front to tell you what was inside. You can still find them floating around eBay for sale...

Two vintage foil hamburger bags from A&W... a Momma.
Photo taken from WorthPoint whom I'm guessing took it from eBay?

I started with the BabyBurger, which had a smaller burger patty on it. Then one day I felt I was grown up enough to graduate to the TeenBurger, so I ordered that. It came with cheese and bacon on it and it was the best thing I had ever eaten. And even though I use a veggie burger patty with soy "bacon" now, I still love cheese and bacon on my burger and I owe it all to the A&W.

Sometimes we wouldn't eat in the car... especially when we lived close-by and could walk there. We'd sit inside the restaurant on a big orange booth seat at one of those wooden-looking laminate tables with the metal edges on it. On those occasions when I was still very young, I wouldn't be handed over a magical foil bag... mom would instead take the BabyBurger out of the bag, cut it in half for me, set it on the bag, then slide it across the table.

I don't know why.

If I could handle a whole burger when eating in the backseat of the car, then why couldn't I handle it when dining in the restaurant? Why cut it in half for me then? Just one of many, many things which will remain forever a mystery.

Isn't it terrible how many things you think of to ask somebody after they're gone and you're no longer able to ask?

This morning when I was an adult and having a hamburger for breakfast, I looked at it sitting there on the plate... took out a knife... and cut it in half, almost without thinking about it. Something I don't think I've ever done before in my entire life...

My morning breakfast hamburger sitting on a plate, cut in half.

And suddenly I'm not an adult any more.

I'm just a little kid sitting in the A&W restaurant with my burger wanting his mom.

   
I don't know why some memories are so vivid in my mind where others have faded. I don't know how it is that I am able to remember something that happened when I was so young. I don't know what it is about eating at the A&W that makes it so unforgettable. I guess how our minds choose what to archive is just another mystery.

As is what happened to my old battered A&W mug that was bought for a quarter and sat in my cupboard for... like... forever. Did it break? Did I lose it? Did I throw it out? Did mom throw it out? I dunno. But I do know that A&W has an online merchandise shop where I can probably buy another one.

And, holy crap, did you know that it's their 100th anniversary this year?!?

A mug of frosty A&W root beer with a 1919-2019 logo on it, showing a giant '100' that's cut into an outline of an A&W drive-in.

Boy, I could sure go for a frosty mug of A&W root beer right about now.

   
UPDATE: While I was trying to fall asleep, I Googled for an image of the old A&W that I used to eat at when I was a kid. One photo came up, but it was from an expired Panoramio account and Panoramio has shut down... so I have no idea if this is actually the restaurant, who to credit the photo to, or whom to ask about it. This would be the view looking away from the restaurant towards the drive-in stalls and the parking lot. It certainly looks like it could be my old A&W...

A photo of an old A&W drive-in at dusk showing parking spots with the car-hop menu boards sticking out and a sign saying ALL YOU CAN EAT SHRIMP DINNER $849 FRIDAY ONLY on an illuminated billboard attached to the road-sign.

The awning over the stalls... the menu-boards... it all looks much like I remember. What gives me pause is the price on the billboard of $849 (assumably $8.49) for an all you can eat shrimp dinner. That seems high for the era that my A&W existed. The cars also look too modern. I think the local drive-in A&W was torn down before this was taken? Maybe not. Another thing I question is the entrance here... from this direction, I think the entrance would have been on the right side of the photo. And I want to say that our stalls were straight instead of at an angle like this? In any event, this is definitely the kind of experience I so vividly remember, even if it's not the actual restaurant.

   

Memorex

Posted on July 11th, 2009

Dave!Today I was supposed to work, but couldn't make it because I awoke with a splitting headache which made me so ill that I was fighting the urge to vomit all morning. I'm not sure what the problem is, but I had to make severe changes in my diet at the request of my doctor, and it's been wrecking havoc with my system.

So, in-between dry-heaves, I set about sorting through twenty years of memories that have been stacked up in boxes. It mostly photos, post cards, travel souvenirs, and maps... but occasionally I run into other cool stuff. Like money. I found $46 in US bills scattered amongst the crap I've collected. Not to mention what probably amounts to hundreds of dollars in expired foreign currency.

My main goal is to track down any loose negatives that might be hiding so I can get them scanned. Otherwise, I'll miss the opportunity to see such gems as these (which were scanned in my last batch)...

Dave Traveler

Clockwise... That's me in a tux at my good friend's wedding. Me in Hawaii circa 1986. Me at the top of Petronas Towers (Kuala Lumpur) circa 2000. And me being all business-casual in Tokyo circa 1990.

Rummaging through crap for hours wasn't doing my headache any good, but it's all worth it because every once in a while, I run across something like this...

Alcoholics Not-Anonymous Here We Come!

That's me and my sister, circa 1987. If I remember correctly, we had finished off all the alcohol in the apartment except Yukon Jack Whiskey and some kind of Bailey's Irish Cream knock-off. Not knowing what else to do, we mixed them together and did shots.

Googling this horrific concoction, I now know this drink actually has a name... it's called a "Yukon Jackoff."

That sounds about right.

And so I made it half-way through my memories today and was very happy to learn that most of them are actually worth remembering.

That's kind of a nice thing to have happen on a Saturday, isn't it?

   

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