Saturday, November 06, 2010

Hamburger Stands - The Clover Drive-in - Poly

While thinking about the Hawthorne "A" a few posts back, it struck me that I left EH right after graduation and never really spent much social time in the local drive-in stands.  Dates were usually to something else, somewhere else, so except for the early trips to a stand with my family, I missed the East Side hamburger stand experience.

If I recall correctly, there was a Lone Star, a Char-Bar, and a couple more I recalled from the Riverside area on Belknap.  The picture above is probably a rare one of the Clover Drive-In in the Poly area, taken sometime in the early sixties (credit and thanks to a Poly reunion site).

Kids with cameras were fairly rare in those days.  Even if you could buy a camera, there wasn't often enough money to pay for the processing and taking a night picture like this one requires a bit of special know-how...all contributing to a scarcity of pictures taken of drive-ins at night, which is how we would all remember them best.

However, as I was doing some searching for representative pictures of hamburger stands sometime back, I found those pictures to be scarce.  Not surprisingly, what pictures did exist were taken in large population areas where there were lots of professional news photographers, like Los Angeles...and Ft. Worth in the 1950s and 1960s was still a pretty backwater place.  Seems that the West Side tended to have most of the neat eateries--all 2 or 3 of them.  Of course, the West Side was only a 15-minute trip from the East Side in those days--especially after the Toll Road opened in 1957.

Even though the drive-in experience occupied most of our youth, in a larger sense, they were fairly short-lived...done in by McDonalds and the fast-food genre as they came on line in the 1960s.  Too bad, the variety was amazing and for some, the social experience was also memorable.  I saw a slight resurgence in the 1980s when some of our peers started opening retro hamburger stands...often using the same names as the original oldies.

But things had changed.  We visited the new retro stand near our home, backed the car in, called the car-hop, got the food, turned on the radio, and settled in for a pleasant automotive retro dining experience--which we accomplished.  It happened that our retro hamburger stand lacked the open acreage of the originals, so they painted a row of parking spots right against a two-story building on the adjoining property.

You had a choice--back in so you could see what was going on, or head-in and stare at the blank wall.  We, a card carrying boomer family, backed in of course and there were no other cars in the row.  All too soon we had another car containing a young FBG family pull in right next to us (don't they always?) only they parked facing the wall.  They were oblivious to the fact that their lights would not be available to signal the carhop, nor could they see the carhop, and their horn might not be very effective either.  We were delighted--watching members of the FBG squirm has always been entertaining for us.  Dumb bastards.

Drive-in hamburger stands were mostly warm climate establishments for obvious reasons.  So, northerners you encounter from time to time simply didn't have the same experience.  Most of the pictures accompanying this piece were in California.



Anonymous said...

Hey forgot the three most popular drive inn hangouts of our 1962/63 era. The NE28th street Clover drive inn....the Poly Clover drive inn on East Lancaster and our own Chuck Wagon at Meadowbrook Dr. and Handley Drive. Most, if not all of our event planning and drag racing originated from the Chuck Wagon, even years after we left...James G.

Gus said...

The Chuck Wagon jogs a memory, but I don't recall the other two. I do recall eating at Pat Daniel's dad's place and we liked the Italian Inn, but I rarely went East of EH except to the hardware store at Buddies and out to Lake Arlington. I didn't have a car at HS so that limited my mobility.

Anonymous said...

For a small fry, I hold a fond appreciation for the kindness found at that small grill on the end of the petite strip center at the top of the hill, south of the school. Those were nice fellows...wising I had kept up with how their lives went along.

Ashburns Ice Cream in Meadowbrook: Hawaian Pineapple flavor...yumm, this was close to a twenty mile trip or more, from my EHHS girl friends house. A date site, passing by one of the first McDonalds(right or wrong?) of my unattentitive notice.

And Pal's Drive-in on Parkrow of Arlington. A few years later girls there did therapy (without a license) on me no doctor could have...laugh notice. 20 years later I built a building for the fellow who owned the Pal's Drive-ins. I apologized a dozen times to him for burning off so many threads of my Dodges' tires on his lots. We were friends, and the job went well.

3 wows and a hooray for the fun at Pal's, the Bull Pen, Pizza Inn on Cooper of Arlington, and Calson's of Ft Worth...or at least originated there. Though some of these times begin 3 and more years after the era you and James mention, it is in the drive-in hayday...Beach Boys on the tape deck, breathers off the carbs...'pos-i-tracked' girls and boys looking for a lifes partner -- unbeknownst to them. Still have my continuous treasure 40 years later..."Dancing our life away." A find from Pal's...thanks Mr. Cockran.

Gus said...

That petite strip center you mention was, I think, owned by Johnny Norman's (a 1965 Highlander) father, or at least the neighborhood 7-11-type store occupying the east end of the strip was his. At the west end was a small greasy spoon type eatery that you might be recalling.

We used to go there after the morning session of August 2-a-day workouts at the start of each football season and have a huge 15-cent glass of iced tea. Free refills, of course.

It was there that I recall the first application of the newly adopted 2% Texas state sales tax. My 15-cent tea went to 16-cents...I wasn't happy about that. It wasn't the penny so much as it was the rounding up. 2% of 15-cents is only .003-cents, yet here was my government's hand in my pocket for a whole penny! What an outrage...the first of many, as it turned out lol.

I recall very little about the guys running the eatery other than as you said, they were good guys.