Thursday, March 16, 2017

Ode to a Golden Arch

I have always loved McDonalds. I remember the first time I ever had their food.

Back in the day my Mom wanted to move out of Brooklyn. Or at least out of  Carroll Gardens to buy a house. To give you some idea the house went for about $10,000 at the time. It was the early sixties. So on a Sunday my Uncle V would pack us all in his giant Chrysler Newport with the big bench seat.

Seat belts? We don't need no stinking Seat Belts.

My Dad would never come with us. He would have a cherished Sunday home to sleep have a couple of beers and watch the dog ass Mets. So it was me Ma, me, my sister, Uncle V and Grandma. We would ride out to Bensonhurst or over to Staten Island. Sometimes even all the way out to Long Island. Now I know we would never move to Long Island. My old man would never ride for an hour or two on the LIRR when it took him ten minutes to get to Wall Street from the neighborhood. So this particular time he stayed home.

Grandma always had a vinyl shopping bag that held an inexhaustible number of snacks. Peaches. Plums. Those small bottles of Manhattan Special. And sandwiches. Sausage and peppers. Potato and eggs. Meatballs. Veal Cutlets. The works.

This time Uncle V told her to leave the sandwiches home. We were going to eat out! YEAH!!

It was this new style restaurant. A drive through that sold hamburgers. I think it was in Westbury. Or maybe East Northport. I forget. Anyway we went and looked at a couple of houses. No great shakes. I couldn't wait to get to the burgers.

We get there and everyone puts in their orders. Big Mac. Fries. Apple Pie. Milk Shake. Man it was delicious.  I had a cast iron stomach in those days. I gobbled that down like I was going to the chair. Everybody really enjoyed it you know? It was Americana food. Not Italian. Not what we were used too. So it was a treat.

Finally everybody was finished. We all went to bathroom. Piled in the car. Pulled out onto Sunrise Highway. I puked all over the place.

I was a little pussy and always got car sick. So shoving that stuff down my gullet so fast wasn't such a great idea. But I didn't care. I loved it.

Later on I would eat at the Arches all the time. When I was a teenager working a summer job in Flushing (Heh) I would have ritual. I would get six cheese burgers, fries, an apple pie and a strawberry milkshake. I would sit with a copy of the Sporting News and go over the box scores while I chowed down. It was heaven.

Later on I would pop in here and there for a burger when I had a chance. Not as much as I used to because I started to really prefer places where they had beer and girls showed you their tits. So I didn't do lunch at McDonalds all the often. But I don't denigrate  them. The breakfast menu is great. I still pop in for a coffee when I am close by instead of a freaking Starbucks.

I am not allowed to eat that stuff anymore but I know many people who eat there all the time. Who can afford to take their kids there and let them eat all they want and not worry about the bill. My cousin took her sister-in-law and two kids to a fancy restaurant in the City. She told them that they could order anything they wanted. Little Caroline looked at the menu and piped up "Twenty dollars for a hamburger Aunt Stephanie...that's crazy.....we can go to McDonalds and we can all eat for that!"

She is the same age I was when I puked in the parking lot. Kids know.

I really hope that McDonalds can find their way back to America. To avoid the politically correct social warrior corporate culture that is the death of the dream for so many all American companies. McDonalds is for families. For working stiffs who need a quick tasty cheap meal. For teenagers to grab a bite. For that matter the place where a teenager can get his first job. Where a special needs kid can get a job flipping burgers and feel independent. McDonalds was the salt of the earth. It was the cholesterol clogging the arteries of America.

Please don't let them take that away from us.

It's enough to make you puke.


ampersand said...

First time at a MacDonalds, early 60s, out in the far suburbs on Route 66, Choice was hamburger,cheeseburger or fish sandwich. I don't think they even sold double sandwiches then. I think the hamburger was a dime and the sign said over a million served. There were no MacDonalds in the city yet, they started opening around 1967.

Sixty Grit said...

Rockville Pike, sometime before '65, hamburgers were 12 cents or so, the fries were good and I think there was milk in the milkshake.

Took my children to the same Mickey-D's in the '80s, prices had gone up.

I have never had a Big Mac.

However, at the McDonalds in Glasgow I had an Irn-Bru, in Tokyo one could get potato soup, which I skipped, in Paris I had just French Fries, in Sydney, burger, fries and a coke, in Rome, the same, and as I look back over my lifetime of travels I must say that McDonalds provided me with reliable sustenance in many foreign countries.

I haven't been to one in this country since back in the '90s. There you have it.

Amartel said...

Trooper and other Lem Commenters-You might enjoy the movie "The Founder" about Ray Kroc. He was a visionary and a capitalist. The McDonald brothers did not have his franchising vision. He took their fast food vision and bought them out and took the whole thing bigger than big. The movie doesn't pull it's punches about the guy-not a saint-but it's objective. There's no judgey cinematographic trickses and nudging to irritate people who just want the story straight up. Also, great period details. I enjoyed it.

Leland said...

My first job was at McDonald's. Worked their for about 6 months, until a shift manager tested my patients by refusing to cash out my register so I could go home... even 2 hours past my time to get off. As I was a student in school, this was a problem I didn't need, so I quit. By chance, my first job choice, a local grocery store chain, finally called me that weekend and gave me my second job. I found out 2 weeks later that the particular shift manager was arrested at the restaurant for embezzling money. Apparently he was hoping like other employees, I would have just left and let him cash out the register without me watching.

Anyway, in the time I was there; the smell of the place began to repulse me. I never have liked any of their burgers. So I can't boycott them, because I don't go there. Between Whataburger and Chick-Fil-A; my choices for fast food are more than fulfilled. Still; I have no ill will against the company that gave me, and millions of Americans, their first job. It's a good place to work, even with the occasional clowns that infest all large corporations.

edutcher said...

I remember when they made their big jump to go nationwide.

This was the mid-60s when they promised a Coke, burger, fries, and change back from your dollar.

The good old days really were.

chickelit said...

The first McDonalds I recall was the one on the 3300 block of University Ave in Madison. It's long-gone (there's a Whole Foods there now I think).

I hated hamburgers as a kid, so I would always get their filet-o-fish. Not only that, I hated tarter sauce. They tended to make these things ahead of time and slather them with the stuff. But I could tell if they just scraped it off. So I insisted on a freshly cooked "plain fish." Boy, did that slow things down for the family. Always loved the fries and shakes.

chickelit said...

... so I would always get their filet-o-fish.

Man, Wisconsin was the place to be for Friday fish fries. Marco's in Middleton (corner of University and Parmenter had the best ones. Amirite, Titus?

William said...

It's a safe bet. You're never disappointed, and they slop you down promptly if you're in a hurry. But if you've got the time and a few dollars extra, just about any bar will far surpass the Macdonald burger. Plus I think some bars still use beef tallow in the fryer, but they have to know you and you have to pay extra and go on certain days.

AllenS said...

My first McDonalds visit was to the newly opened one in Roseville, MN on Snelling Ave., just north of the fairgrounds. Probably around 1956-57. Mom drove. It was a big deal, but I cannot remember what I had, but it must have been a burger. For a lot of young kids, getting a job there was a major accomplishment.

ndspinelli said...

Wow, Allen. I now live just a few miles from there in Apple Valley.

Steg said...

When I was a little kid in the early 90s my dad used to take us all kinds of great places for outdoors exploration and fun. We would ride an hour or so south to Manasquan and hang out by the inlet- surf fishing and spelunking on the jetty rocks.

IT was always promised we could hit McDonald's for lunch when we got there, and I could have- as he would say, "a delicious plastic trashburger." Plus they had the fun zone and ball pit!

We never went out for food much so that was always a treat. My dad's first job was also at McDonald's in the 60s, and I think he grew sick of it during that time. Still, it was a great event for us back then.

AllenS said...

Nick, you are about 10-15 miles, at least from Roseville. You're not far from where I used to work -- Thomson Reuters (West Publishing) in Eagen. I also used to live in Farmington, and about 3 miles east of the oil refinery (Koch) which used to be the Pine Bend Oil Refinery.

Trooper York said...

It is amazing how McDonalds is part of the fabric of so many American lives. Maybe the first restaurant your parents took you too. The place you got your first job. The place you hung out with your first girl.

McDonalds is America. I hope it can preserve that.

ndspinelli said...

Chrissake, I get it! Trump eats McDonald's, you want to suck his dick, you love McDonald's. You are our working class hero.

ndspinelli said...

Allen, I fucked up. We moved to Apple Valley just before Thanksgiving and I drove to SoCal on New Years Day, so I'm still learning the area. I confuse Burnsville and bad. My daughter wants to get out of Minneapolis. She is conservative..voted for Trump, and wants to move to a small town. Farmington is up on her list. Right now she's straight north of us, about a 20 minute drive. Farmington would be straight south of us, about the same distance.

rcocean said...

When I was in Paris, I went to the MacD because it was the only place to get real coffee. Every French place would only get you "expresso" and I wanted a big cup of coffee.

That was almost 20 years ago, and i assume things have changed.

BTW, when I was growing up the big deal in my Rural western town was A&W. That was huge! The Root bear, the mama and papa burgers, the girls coming out on roller skates and giving you the food on tray.

rcocean said...

Leland - its amazing how many fast food workers will never work at the restaurant chain they were employed at.

I've heard the same story from 2 ex-KFC workers, an Ex-Burger King worker, Ex-Arby worker, and an ex-Jack-in-the-box worker.

I guess ignorance is bliss.

ndspinelli said...

rcocean, A&W was big and put some mom and pop places out of biz. My bride worked @ a mom and pop root beer stand in her mid sized Wisconsin hometown. There are many fast food corporate places I prefer to McDonald's. I can think of a half dozen right off the bat; Wendy's, Arby's, In and Out, Chick Fil-A to name a few.