Since I no longer am a member of the younger sector any more I am not too certain as to just what the youth of America does for plain and simple fun. I am guessing that the kids of today still like to gather together and enjoy the plain and simple fun of each other. Although with all the electronic games and it coming in a condensed and portable size so it can go anywhere maybe that is what is cool now. I really can.t say and say it with a positively sure thought that it is.
I say these things as I think back when I go by our local dairy bar that just reopened. In the years when I was cruising around and looking for my friends a dairy bar would more times than not be the spot to find them. At that time there was the one I just mentioned at Bethel. There was also the one that is open still at Chilo and New Richmond and for a short time the one outside of Felicity. At that time they were a hot item to have in your community and also profitable. Today they are scarce and the owners are struggling to make a buck or two even with the turnout of good sized crowds.
The days when I had a car and had earned enough money from putting in hay for neighbors I would search out the dairy bars almost every evening. To a degree each dairy bar was similar in looks. Either shaped like a small barn or built out of concrete blocks and a roof that would tilt from the front to the back only. The glass windows were covered with the menu of what all could be bought and just how much or at what a bargain price it was. These picture menu posters covered the buildings to a point where you could hardly see into the building. There would be two service windows where you got in line and waited your turn to order that shrimp basket with French fries or a baroque sandwich or maybe a large chocolate cone or chocolate malt. The selections were endless.
Now as all the kids mingled around waiting to either get in a line or chat while waiting for their order to be called out as ready. Here was a big reason for going to the dairy bar in the first place. To mix and mingle. We were young kids and some of the guys were trying hard to get a certain girls attention and it was likewise for the girls. This was a testing area. A test to see if this girl liked this boy and did this boy like this girl. It went on most every night and really was expected to go on.
Along with the chaos of the ordering and the chatter of the mixing and matching going on there was one more element. There always seemed to be a guy or maybe even two who had stellar sound systems in their cars. So as we all were in the festive mood they would tune in WSAi the coolest channel of our time and crank the sound up so that we all enjoyed the music together. What can be any cooler than sitting or standing around as the music being the coolest was coming from hot cars and while eating some awesome dairy bar food while maybe a Beach Boys or Elvis song was rockin in the background.
I guess the thing I failed to see was that this was happening in any town with a dairy bar. This I guess was in a very small way our version of “American Graffiti”. One thing I do recall that was different at Bethels’ dairy bar was that you could drive your car through the parking lot that allowed you to parade your car around in front of the crowd there. If you felt or did have a hot car you would ease it onto the highway and pop the clutch and light up the tires and see how far you could lay a patch of rubber. I know I tried this in my 1963 Ford Galaxie but as I popped the clutch and floored the gas the fan belt began to squeal louder than the tires. I must admit that after his I didn’t come back there for a few months and then I didn’t try any shows of power. Nope low key became my new approach.
After a day in a field either working for someone putting in hay or on as tractor working in your own field it felt so good to be in a place that seemed to be a haven for the kids my age. Of course there would be a few older folks who had stopped for an ice cream cone or a milk shake. The funny thing here was that the people would be one of the kid’s parents and to that kid it would be oh so embarrassing. To the rest of us it was funny to watch our friend be embarrassed,
Many years have passed and it was quite a while before I stopped in a dairy bar. I don’t know why but I think maybe my taste buds had changed a little. But in the last decade or maybe longer I began to stop back in once in a while and get a large vanilla cone. In my opinion there is nothing that tastes better than a soft serve cone. Then my wife and I got to getting a foot long with some onions on them and chili sauce. I’m certain it isn’t very good for you but it does taste great. We only did this once in a while. I began to try a steak hoagie and some of the greasiest French fries you ever got your hands on. But to protect ourselves from this dairy bar food we would divide and order of deep fried pickles. Everyone knows that is the antidote for too much grease. Right? To me an evening at the dairy bar just about covered all one needed to get out of an evening. At least in those days I thought it did!
Rick Houser grew up on a farm near Moscow in Clermont County and loves to share stories about his youth and other topics. If you are interested in reading more of his stories they can be found in his books ‘There are Places to Remember” and’ Memories ARE from the Heart.” He may be reached at email@example.com.