I’ve loved the idea of drive-in restaurants with car hops ever since childhood.
The ones we had in Hawai’i weren’t very close to home, so the few times I actually got to sit in a car and watch the car hop attach the silver tray with our burgers and fries to the driver’s side window were wildly exciting.
These days, shouting your order at a little speaker box and then driving to a window to collect your food just isn’t the same. Where are the cool roller skates? The feeling of being in a 50’s time warp? The high suspense of watching the car hop balance the food on the tray?
KC Waffle Dogs by charlieboy808.
I think my quintessential car hop experience was at KC Drive-In, the very first car hop restaurant in Hawai’i, whose specialty was waffle dogs. Hot dogs were encased in a sweet batter and cooked in a press. Ah, that crispy dough around the edges, and the steamy hot dog in the middle! Mmmmmmmm. Sadly, KC closed back in 2005.
I shall have to drown my sorrows in this tasty poem by Barbara Crooker, a poet I’ve just recently “discovered” and whom I absolutely love. A wonderful evocation of vintage cars, neon signs, endless summers and adolescence.
PATTY’S CHARCOAL DRIVE-IN
by Barbara Crooker
First job. In tight black shorts
and a white bowling shirt, red lipstick
and bouncing pony tail, I present
each overflowing tray as if it were a banquet.
I’m sixteen and college-bound,
this job’s temporary as the summer sun,
but right now, it’s the boundaries of my life.
After the first few nights of mixed orders
and missing cars, the work goes easily.
I take out the silver trays and hook them to the windows,
inhale the mingled smells of seared meat patties,
salty ketchup, rich sweet malteds.
The lure of grease drifts through the thick night air.
And it’s always summer at Patty’s Charcoal Drive-in—
carloads of blonde-and-tan girls
pull up next to red convertibles,
boys in black tee shirts and slick hair.
Everyone knows what they want.
(Rest is here.)
Okay, I’ve got my roller skates on and I’m coming out to you. What’ll it be?
Have fun cruisin’ this weekend!
*This post served up with a side of nostalgia.
Copyright © 2010 Jama Rattigan of jama rattigan’s alphabet soup. All rights reserved.