Thursday, February 18, 2016

The Taste of Childhood

I bought our 16-year-old daughter some Uncrustables.  I had a coupon, they were on sale, and she got this dreamy look about her as she described in fantastic detail how good they were as elementary school cafeteria fare.

I think they look pretty awful:

She, on the other hand seems totally transported.

I can identify with her, though.  I also had a coupon for the corn dogs that were on sale.  They probably look pretty awful too:

I can remember being young, under 8, anyway.  We lived out on the east side of Flagstaff, Arizona, out in the country.  As an aside, it's not out in the country anymore. Judging by the last time I drove through, in 2001, it's a regular neighbourhood with real addresses that don't start with Rural Route 1. I imagine the inhabitants aren't on 8-party phone lines like we were either.

I always loved days on which we had to run errands in town because my mother could often be talked into a trip to Der Wienerschnitzel, a drive-through hot dog joint on the corner (a famous corner, I learned later, but I'll get to that in due time) of Switzer Canyon Drive and US-66.

It's still there.  The name has been changed to Dog Haus − a welcome change, really, since as far as I can recall one could never get anything approaching Wienerschnitzel anywhere on or near the premises. But one could get corn dogs, and this one got quite a few of them in mid-1970s.  Each with a packet of yellow mustard.  I remember it with the same kind of fondness my daughter has for Uncrustables.

Oh yeah − famous corner.  Back in '71 or '72 it is said that Jackson Browne was on that very corner of Route 66 in East Flagstaff, when he saw a girl driving a Toyota pickup pull out of Der Wienerschnitzel, and, just maybe, she slowed down to take a look at him.  Though the song he was writing along with Glenn Frey (who passed from this life last month) ultimately named a smaller town some 60 miles east, it was that very corner I recall so vividly from my own boyhood that became an image in the lyrics of a song I'd sung along with hundreds of times before I ever knew the story.

So take it easy, maybe have a corn dog or an Uncrustable, or better yet, search your remembrance for the taste of childhood.

Here's the song.
Here's the Arizona Daily Sun article.
Here's an LA Times article on the song and its setting(s).

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