.....................Above the ordering counter, you can see the original exterior
........................shed roof that used to surround the old gas station.
The tables, every last one of them, are covered in hand carvings: the traditional initials and sentimental "I heart Katies." But also state names such as MICHIGAN, first and last names in full. It's all sanctioned, encouraged in fact, by the owners. Each of my kids have their initials on a table, somewhere in the place. I can't remember which table, exactly.
We sat after our meal looking around while the kids played video games, digesting our lunch (thinking I could eat another burger!) and taking in the rustic details. SAM kept saying, "everytime I come here I see something different."
But when it comes to ordering, SAM and I always get the same thing: a burger and fries. Delivered in one of those cheap, colorful plastic baskets, lined with paper.
For my burger: mustard and pickles only. This time, however, I ordered mine a little different. Quite possibly a sign that I've finally and officially shed my northeast palate and exchanged it for true Texican: mustard, pickles and japs. Jalapeno peppers, that is. Lots of 'em. You're looking at SAM's burger, above, by the way. No lettuce and tomato on mine, thanks.
Here's a burger, below, (courtesy google) loaded with japs.
I wondered as I sat there looking around, why I like this beat up, dive of a burger joint so much. What is it about looking at all the old, in some cases forgotten memorabilia that I find so appealing? It shows that time is noone's friend, afterall. It shows us that in two generations, that which we know changes and disappears from the landscape. Not so pleasant to think about.
Maybe the answer has exactly to do with the rapidly changing times we live in. That it's comforting to be in the presence of familliar momentos, to surround ourselves with a roadmap of where we've been since we can't see the road to where we're going. Or maybe its the old memories these sights conjure up. Takes us back to simpler times. The Kendall motor oil sign, for example, reminds me of the auto parts store in my neighborhood when I was four years old. Big and round, it hung, suspended on a metal arch.
My older brother and I would walk down to the auto parts store, pennies in hand to put in the gumball machine. Nothing beat the clink of the coin, the turn of the metal dial, the anticipation, waiting to see which color would be delivered into our waiting hands, fingers curled just so to catch it, steady eye on that little trap door.
Or, maybe the answer has to do with the burgers. Plain and simple. Damn good burgers.