The Ever Disappearing Childhood

A friend of mine posted an article about one of my favorite chains (Friendly’s) – but the article also touched on how the chain was linked to visits with his Dad, his parents breakup, and what his father hoped to get out of taking the kids there. Of course, being the child of divorce and having a difficult relationship with my Dad this article spoke to me on a few levels. It got me thinking about where Dad would take me after school, me struggling to connect with him (and him with me) the three days per week he would pick me up from school. And the big Lincoln Town Car with the bordello red leather interior that seemed to always be meat locker cold inside.

If we weren’t in a hurry after school, we would end up at the 59 Diner  – a favorite of mine since it was 50’s diner nostalgia with chrome everywhere, pictures of finned Cadillacs, and lots of Elvis & Marilyn Monroe pictures scattered about under the neon lights. It had the charm of my beloved Jersey diners with 50’s doo wop blaring from the big jukebox. They had amazing milkshakes, and I would always bug Dad for jukebox money – the three plays for a quarter were 3 for a $1 by then….he would usually say no but every now and again I would get a buck and get to torture him and the other patrons with my moldy oldies.

So when I read the article earlier today, a wave of nostalgia crashed down on me and I googled to see if the 59 Diner was still around – turns out all of the locations shut down a few weeks after I had visited Houston earlier this year due to horrible mismanagement.

Another childhood memory gone – time marches on as Tracy Lawrence sang, yet it still stings a bit. I know that Dad isn’t in the booth near the jukebox having a giant chicken salad with his Diet Pepsi – but it would have been nice to go there and try to relive a few memories. At least Speedy’s Go Kart Track is still around – another of my after school haunts with Dad where he showed me the trick to bypassing the governor by using the heel of my shoe to press down on the throttle linkage. Here’s my 12th birthday party at the track (I’m the one in the blue jacket):

Any childhood haunts you wish were still around?

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