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Wednesday, February 12, 2014
Memories, "As a kid, what was your favorite eatery?"
A group I'm in, has "Question of the Day" and one of the recent questions was "As a kid, what was your favorite eatery?" Well I can never pick just one, and almost always have to explain why.
Oh my. I have three that come to mind. No, make that four.
When we first got to Palisade Colorado, our car broke down and we ended up stopping at a motel. Right across the street was a small, home town, cafe. I know you have read the story of the Mom with three kids and she gets a job at a truck stop. That could have been my Mom's story. We went in, Mom ordered two French Fries orders for us kids to eat. (with that magic red sauce aka Ketchup) while she accessed our situation. The car was beyond her ability to repair and more than what bit of cash she still had. She could not, would not, call her own mother for help. She didn't want to hear all the "I told you so's... and the snicker in my Grandmother's voice or hear about how she was wrong for leaving her husband (who had beat her yet again) and now gotten herself in a jam. A couple of Farmer's came in and Mom, seeing as how there was only the cook inside at the time, got up and poured them each a cup of coffee (Mom was taught that's what a woman is suppose to do) The waitress came in. saw the cups had been filled and took their orders. She smiled at Mom but must have noticed the worried look on her face. She asked if everything was okay and Mom, at her ropes end said "no". The waitress asked if Mom could use a job for a few weeks. Of course Mom said yes, but we also needed a place to stay. The waitress said she would call across the street and see if there were any rooms open. There were, and within our budget. I was too young for school, as was Andy but Thom was in 2nd grade. But this was still in summer time so no one was in school yet. Mom was told since she was just across the street it would be okay to leave "The kids" in the room while she worked. She could check on us as often as she had to. What I remember most are two things. We had French fries for breakfast often, because the cook "overcooked" a batch but didn't want to toss them out so would pack them up for mom to take to us kids. And a time I lip read an argument between a young couple. I had just learned the meaning of "bitch". They were not "Loud" but everyone knew they were fighting. I think it was close to my birthday, I do recall I was wearing a coat. any way. . he called her that name and I laughed and since no one at our table had said something funny Mom wanted to know what I thought was funny. I said, loud enough everyone in the cafe could hear, "He just called his girlfriend a bitch and, Momma, She's not a female dog, she's a pretty girl". Everyone laughed except him. His face turned bright red. He then apologized to her and everyone in the place. I did notice that, when he went outside for something a couple of the Farmers went out with him and they had a "talk" for a few minutes. I can only guess what was said because their backs were to me and I was told not to read lips any more. I think someone paid for our meals that day. I know from time to time, someone would pay for our meals when we ate there. I remember they had the best burgers and fries, with lots of tomatoes and onions on them. This was our first place we ate at.
The second place, was called "Hole in the Wall". it was a true burger joint. We could get 5 burgers for a dollar. Just a plain ol burger on a bun. No cheese, lettuce tomato or ketchup. But we ate there often. Mom would pick up 10 burgers, and pay for the extras. We ate there once a month, Mom got paid twice a month. We would use the table side selector for music. We would play... Boy named Sue, The Battle of New Orleans, Turn turn turn, Ring of Fire, Purple People Eater, Where have all the Flowers Gone, and more that I can't recall the names of any more. It had a pin ball machine as well. The kids would come in after school and dance in the middle of the floor. It was a lively, fun place and we always got there in the late afternoon, before dark. I would say that we ate here twice a month while I was in the 1 through 3rd grades.
Next is Cafe Caravan. Oh my... My love of food started with this place.It was a German Smorgasbord . I first went here after mom got her job with the Goverment. Talk about a high dollar job. We thought we were rolling in it. We moved to Grand Junction, then the car broke down but that was okay since everything we needed was within walking distance. School, store, post office, theater, and Mom's job. 5 blocks south, 3 blocks east and we were at Mom's job. Sometimes she would leave me a note that, after school, I was to change my clothes but not into play clothes but another clean dress and meet her at work. I loved that time with her. Of course most of those times was because she needed help in carrying something home and both my brothers had someplace else to be (boy's club, two blocks from our house) but I didn't mind (too much) But we would go to the Caravan for special events as well as once a month for our "eating out" meal of the month. Our "we are doing well enough to eat out at a nice place" place.
We had so many choices to make, from a salad to , cottage cheese, potato salad all year round. (We only had potato salad two times a year, Easter and July 4th.) Macaroni Salad. (never had it before) bean salad, Mushrooms (first time I had "real" mushrooms, Mom didn't like them so wouldn't get them) Pickled beets, Deviled Eggs (again we only had those for holidays) Mashed potatoes with cheese, bread, rolls, biscuits, clover rolls, Corned beef, roast, ham, turkey (all at the same time) and the choices of desserts.... I never could make up my mind and would end up sticking with something Chocolate. We were never allowed to leave anything on our plate before we got dessert unless it was something new and we had tried at least two bites of it and was leaving only a little bit of it.
But Birthday's were extra special. Mom would call ahead to let them know we were celebrating a birthday. Instead of going to the dessert table, a cake would be brought to the table, with sparklers light on top. I was the only one in the family that never got that cake. Mom promised I would for my birthday, but we never made it there for mine. Mom got to be great friends with the owners and when we got there early, I would roll silverware, or fold napkins. My brothers would take the chairs down off the tables. Mom would help put table clothes on the tables. We enjoyed helping and they never got tired of us talking while we worked. They had this huge, huge picture that looked like a large creek flowing into a small lake that moved and the moving made the water look like it was flowing into the lake. I have seen a couple of these types of pictures at the flea market but never had enough money to pick one up. Funny. We could get a plastic sword or a card that showed the tag number codes for each county of the state as we were leaving.
And the last place that stands out in my memory, is Thompson's Corral. As you come out of the mountains into "The Valley" is a truck stop, corral, tourist stop and Restaurant. I swear this could be the original Cracker Barrel of the west. Again, for us, it was a "dress up" place. This was another "Birthday" place for us and I did get at least 3 birthday dinners here. I always ordered the Fried Chicken, (dark meat please) with mashed potatoes, Green beans and Salad with Ice Cream in a fancy silver dish. I didn't know it, but one of my boyfriends from second grade owned this place. Larry was Native American and Irish. We just hung out together but at the time. That was a No no for almost all the races. (mid 1960's) (Hard to think we were like that, back then) His folks were the best though. Mom would order a steak, Thom would order a Steak or Chicken and Andy would order Spaghetti. They got a big kick out of my first time I got that ice cream. Made there with fresh cream and real vanilla. I just loved that dish it was served it.
I remember that, the second time we lived in Palisade, Thom would ride his bicycle there and work as a bus boy, even when he had a wart on his foot that was agony. When the owner discovered he was doing that, He drove Thom home in his truck with the bike in the back and made sure Thom went to the doctor to have that taken care of. It was one of Thom's first jobs. That and picking peaches.
Now, when we eat out I try to follow something Rachael Ray said on one of her shows. Eat something that you don't already make at home.