When I was a kid - any age - we never went out to eat. Being inside a restaurant was somewhat foreign to we brothers. College was such a change, living in the dorm we had to eat out on Sunday night - and, later, we had to eat out every meal as we moved into rentals near the campus. But, prior to that, we never ate out. Never...Not ever.
One Saturday we drove 30 miles south from Levelland to Brownfield. I couldn't tell you why we went to Brownfield. I am sure it must have been for business of some type - but a family outing it became. About 2 or 3 in the afternoon my father finally gave in and took us to a cafe for lunch. I seem to remember it as a prime example of the traditional greasy spoon cafe located on a bad road ... It was on the outskirts of Brownfield ( a hated school rival ) and they were the cubs - We probably went to the Cub Cafe. I had to be in the junior high age group at the time.
Menus were distributed and we had choices to make. Some took a hamburger (cheese and fries probably would have been an extravagance). I selected a bowl of chili. For folks who really know me, this should not be a surprise. That bowl of chili was terrible. I am sure it was made from dead cats and bundles of caked grease. Lard was cheap to buy in those days. Ate it though. Later as I burped and complained, my mom gave me some great advice that I still refer to even today - "You can never go wrong with a hamburger. It is hard to mess up." She was a wise lady.
I believe that may still be true in the greasy spoon cafe world. All over I try the chicken fried steaks and am always displeased. Cooks (not chefs) believe that if you can put an inch of crust around a 3 inch piece of meat which has been beaten down to a thin wafer, all will be forgiven. Forgiven, maybe, forgotten ? I don't think so. When we ran our joint in Amarillo, RAGTIME, we served canned chili with a little home grown hamburger meat to beef it up. Functional, but not art chili.
Eating out was rare.
When we traveled to Oklahoma to see relatives. My father would not stop. He drove and drove and drove. As we entered a town, all would start pointing out places to eat. It was always too late to turn in - not time, but the driveway had passed and we certainly couldn't turn around to eat. This attitude was by a man that loved to feast - just don't feed on my dollar.
Times were different; costs were different. He might stop if he found a place to buy five burgers for a dollar. 5 for $1. Small drinks (ordered with very little ice) and no fries. It's a wonder we didn't starve to death on long trips.
One of my favorite things was visiting Uncle Percy. He had a car lot and always drove a convertible - usually a Lincoln. It was beee-uuuu-ti-full. Uncle Percy would always take us out to eat lunch one day. Normally it would be a cafeteria somewhere. That was one of our great times.
There was the time that Jim and I drove by ourselves to Ok City to visit Marshall. Jim (playing string bass) and Marshall were playing a New Year's dance. We visited for a couple of days. On one of those days Marshall took us to a spaghetti restaurant (Pizza too) in the City. We had never had spaghetti - and pizza was quite rare in those days. Marshall made us both wear bibs - as he did with his friends. We were instructed on the proper way to eat spaghetti. I still don't have this skill down.
One more: We had to drive to Oklahoma once for the funeral of one of my grandparents...I think it was my grandmother. This was a very sad time for all of us. The trip home went through Amarillo. I have not the slightest idea why our father chose this route instead of the traditional one through Wichita Falls. But, he did. We stopped in Amarillo at Underwoods Cafeteria - good BBQ and fab rolls. My father ordered ribs.
He was not one to do things funny. But on that day he made a big deal about eating the ribs and getting stuff all over his face. It tears me up now to remember how he worked at making the mood lighter that day. Food has memories. I hope all of you can remember your memories.
A "STONE" is a family word for a personal story or thought, not quite an essay or short story. We moved to central Texas to be near a daughter. We are down to only one wirehair dachshund - Sadie. (Goodbye in 2021 to Oscar the ball boy and Bruno the larger twin) & my wife -- penned by a retired Texas H.S. band director - just nonsense thoughts unrelated to each other or anything other than what's happening and comments.
Tuesday, October 7, 2014
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