This is a blog featuring my personal stories of food, gardening, yachting, photography, travel and life.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

On a Lighter Note

So much negative. So much bad news. So little civil discourse anymore. It seems. So I thought maybe a posting on my childhood might be in order. Especially after seeing this first bit re-posted on my Facebook page this morning.

Have you noticed how the Facebook gods occasionally re-post postings you uploaded a year or two or three ago? Ah, memory lane! Well, this one really does bring back very fond memories for me.

A chili dog joint back in my home town of Merced, California called Rose's Chili Dog was a wonderful place to stop and pick up dinner back in the day. Merced was a small farming town, also home to Castle Air Force Base. Its located in central California. There were literally no fast food joints in Merced back then. We're talking the late 50's and the 60's. The McDonalds and Taco Bells hadn't been invented yet. The only places in Merced that approximated these kinds of places were Rose's Hot Dog stand down on 17th Street; a small shack snuggled into a vacant spot next door to the old Merced Sun-Star building and A and W over on 16th street. 

Roses's didn't have much seating. In fact I don't recall their being any at all. There was no indoors at all. You stepped up to the window and placed your order. Most folks lined up for the chili dogs. The chili was amazing!

Yeah, they were greasy as you can see by the waxed paper in the photo above, but it was the best chili I have ever tasted. You had to sit with your legs apart and try not to let the bits of grease and chopped onion get all over you. Dad gum good! 

A few years later the stand moved over on "J" Street (now MLK, Jr. Blvd.) near the fairgrounds, then the stand disappeared altogether. I left town, moving to attend college, marrying, starting a family and careers took over. With our family all passed on or moved on, there is no real reason to even go back.

Rose, too, is long gone but it turns out Rose's grandson has taken over and still makes those greasy torpedoes using Rose's traditional recipe. You have to watch on their Facebook page to find out where they will be open on a particular weekend, kind of like a lunch wagon. If I ever find myself down that way again, I know I will plan ahead and try to hit town when Rose's is serving up those great dogs.

And then there was the old A and W root beer stand over on 16th Street. Open only from spring through early autumn, we always new spring was around the corner, as was summer vacation, when we'd see the family who ran the joint inside the building cleaning up the place. 

I don't know why the weren't open throughout the year, that is just the way it was. That ice cold root beer was only served in ice cold glass mugs. It was a drive up joint. Pull up in your car, turn on your head lights and out of a swinging door would come a car hop on roller skates. When she returned with your order, our dad would roll his window part way down so the tray of food could be hung, cantilever-style, outside the window. Dad would pass around the food each of us had ordered for us and we'd sit in the car munching on our burgers, nibbling the salty fries and sipping our root beer through paper straws. Dad would turn his headlights back on when we were ready to pay the bill and have the tray removed from the window.

Sometimes we would get out of the car and sit at one of the picnic tables sitting under the enormous tree that stood in the patio.  A and W eventually closed, became something else, eventually a Mexican restaurant the last I knew. As the town slowly grew out nearer the new mall that went in in the early 70's, as 16th Street, which had been the highway 99 route through town was replaced by the high-speed freeway by-passing downtown entirely, there wasn't much reason to keep the place open. And so went another part of our childhood. That, as they say, is progress.