June 12, 2014


My parents were frugal. I see that now, but I didn't know it then. I never had any sense that we were poor, because we weren't. But neither did I know that my parents had a dream: to move up and out of our neighborhood and out into the country into a brand-new house, which we eventually did. They're gone now and I can't ask, but I think they saved so carefully for what they wanted. In the turbulent sixties and early seventies, the city schools were a train wreck. Moving us out of the fray to rural schools (my high school was and is actually called Washburn Rural) meant the best for us all.

But back to childhood: eating out was not a very frequent thing for us. I know that Mom must've been tired some days when she worked all day and then came home and made supper, but she did it. And there were times when she didn't. That's when we got to go to McDonald's or the drive-in.

I note too that my folks weren't stupid enough to try to take us kids to "real" restaurants before we were ready. We might've driven them nuts when we went out to eat, but we weren't bothering anyone else.
 photo McDonaldsRetroMenu.jpg
 photo OnTheWindow.jpg I love the image at the left because it shows the food and the full condiment bottles that everyone got and it also affords a look inside a car from back then. That dashboard brings back memories. At any rate, those baskets for your greasy hamburger and fries were so awesome. I know they've come back into fashion somewhat; they should never have gone out of style.

The main drive-in in Topeka, which still exists at one location, was Bobo's.

Everybody knew Bobo's! You pulled in, placed your order over the speaker and like magic a pretty girl brought it all on a tray to hang on the car window. When you were done, you gave a short blast on your car horn for the pretty girl to come back and get the tray and the money. The car horn thing feels a little crude to me now, but it was what you did.

The only thing I ever ate at Bobo's was a hamburger and fries with onion rings and a Coke. It's not that I was picky, it's that they didn't offer thirty choices. And they didn't offer to keep the pickles off your burger or to put extra ice in your Coke.

Bobo's is actually most famous for their apple pie, previously made (each and every one!) by the late Mrs. Bobo. You have a choice of a slice of cheese or a scoop of ice cream on top.

Bobo's is where I first had onion rings. For that alone, I'm in their debt. Everything else is just icing on th...ketchup on the fries!
 photo BobosSign.jpg  photo BobosSignAtNight.jpg