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October 14, 2012

Sharing Memories (Week 42): Local Diners & Jukeboxes

1950s Drugstore Lunch Counter
Welcome to Week 42 of our 52 weeks of Sharing Memories - A Genealogy Journey for 2012.   I hope you'll join in writing your memoirs and childhood memories for your descendants.

If you are just joining us, please take a peek at over 150 prompts by clicking on the Sharing Memories tab at the top of Olive Tree Genealogy blog. You can jump in at any time and you can skip topics that you don't like. There are no rules, it's all about getting your memories down on paper. The prompts are here as a guide to help if you are stuck for ideas.

I don't remember ever going to a restaurant or diner as a child. When we visited family in Guelph Ontario we ate our meals with them. There were no McDonalds, no Tim Hortons and I don't recall other coffee shops. I remember having to use gas station restrooms for my bathroom breaks!

It was pretty exciting when our local drugstore had a lunch counter added. You could go there and sit on stools that swung around, and order a coke float or an ice cream sundae. I think the first time I went there was with my best friend when I was 11. It felt so grownup to walk in without an adult, sit down and order and pay for something.

There were also a few booths in the drugstore and we teenagers hung out there a lot on the weekends. We'd mostly order fries with gravy and of course drown them in vinegar (white, not cider) when they arrived. If we had enough money we got hot roast beef sandwiches.

The fun part was choosing music you wanted to hear played, which you did by selecting your song right at your table.

Pop in your money (wish I could remember the cost but it was probably a dime) and press the number you wanted. The jukebox would then play the song for everyone to hear.


Once I went alone to the counter when I was about 11. I ordered a coke but as I was drinking it, a large cube of ice slipped down my throat and lodged there. I was panic-stricken, but couldn't call out or cry for help as I had no voice.

I couldn't get my breath and was leaning over the counter frantically trying to cough or cry out. Luckily for me the warmth of my throat melted the ice cube enough that it allowed me to breathe before I passed out, and soon slipped down my throat (albeit painfully!) What a scare that was!

What were your first time diner or restaurant experiences like? How old were you? Where was it? Were you alone or with parents or friends? Was it a ritual, did you go out every week or was it once in awhile?

1 comment:

  1. I have very similar memories of the 50s! Our local drugstore had cherry cokes with crushed ice, not to mention the milkshakes chocolate Sundaes with whipped cream, and we wanted to go there every day but couldn't afford it. When we traveled, there were no restaurants (unless we ate in a city hotel, which cost a lot), and there was no air conditioning anywhere -- this was NC and South from there. We made ham sandwiches for the trip and got Nehi grape sodas from the cooler at the "filling station." When a hamburger joint finally opened downtown next to the movie theater, we had those little "juke boxes" at each booth, too. They were the best!

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