May 13th……….“IN THE SUMMERTIME ON YOUR FARM, GRANDPA, WAS THERE A SPECIAL PLACE IN THE EVENINGS THAT YOU WOULD GO TO FOR A FAMILY TREAT”?
Mr. Summer’s sun, sitting on horizon’s edge of that magical Minnesota sunset, shot one last, intense beam of golden sunlight straight down Roberts Street in our town of Kiester. As if rehearsed, a handsome 1958 Oldsmobile Super 88, with Tri-Bar Fiesta hubcaps spinning, intersected with that amber spotlight of God and the merge lit up his sparkling hubcaps. A little boy, like me, couldn’t help but notice the spectacle as we saw yet another local, teenage farmer’s son roll off of Highway 22 and right into the expansive, graveled yard of “Moen’s Dairy Belle” Drive-In.
With our cows milked, and chores done for the evening, we, along with families and teens from miles around our farming community, looked forward to this fun opportunity, on summer nights, to cool off. We had completed another day of driving tractors, milking cows and loving the farming life. One had to love this agrarian lifestyle in order to carry on through agriculture’s daily challenges; for very few farmers ever got rich from tilling and tending that rich, black earth that surrounded our place we called home. Yet, we were so grateful for the daily provisions the good Lord gave us, especially when we could afford this treat time at the Drive-In.
It was easy to discern the difference between the teenager’s cars and the family cars at the “Dairy Belle” on those evenings. The cars of tired moms and dads, with a passel of kids in the back seat, were usually crusted over with layers of Midwest dust or mud, depending on the latest rainfall. To the other end of the vehicle spectrum, teenage young bucks, full of spit n shine, would have their automobile polished to the highest degree of luminous luster and often sported a set of foam dice hanging from the rearview mirror for that ultimate hormonal sense of panache.
In 1963, the only typical air-conditioning for cars, in those days, was 4/60 air…………four windows rolled down at 60 miles per hour!! 😉 It was a given, then, that all car windows were cranked down to the open position. This was not only for grasping any cooling evening breeze that might blow by, but to also open up the fellowship and chit chat time between all the other cars of buddies that parked in that tasty spot of town, as well.
Ohhhh and the music!!! If cars alongside you would sync to the same AM radio station as your rig, you could all enjoy Nat King Cole as he’d sing, “Roll out those lazy, hazy crazy days of summer”!!! Or, Little Peggy March proclaiming in her ballad…..“I will follow him. Follow him wherever he may go” One of my favorite songs, though, on those nights we frequented the Drive-In, seemed so appropriate to the happy Scandinavian hunt for sweetness. That song was the delightful Jimmy Gilmer and the Fireballs song called, “Sugar Shack”!!! 😉
On those few and special occasions, not only did we get a rise out of the joy of coming to this tasty place, but even the elevation of the parking lot had an incline that, as evening morphed into night, pointed your car’s headlights upwards towards the “Dairy Belle” building itself. Gals who “hopped” (walked quickly) out to your car for your food order were naturally called, “Carhops”. This upward angle of cars served the purpose of flashing your headlights to the carhops to let them know when you were finished with your meal and it was time for them to come pick up that window tray from your car. During daylight business hours, headlight flashing was replaced with a “beep, beep” of your horn for service.
Sweet Gloria Osheim was just one of those carhop cuties that would make happy steps towards our old Chevrolet and bend down to greet our family and ask what we’d like to enjoy for our super sweet supper servings that night. Our darling big sister, Rosemary, and Gloria were great buddies there at Kiester High School, so if big sis was along that night, those two pals would have a chat fest as we gave our food order to Gloria.
With Hamburgers at 25 cents and hotdogs at 20 cents, life was good to feed the family. To wash that good grub down, you’d add an ice-cold glass mug of Coke, Root Beer or even Lem-O-Lime or Grape-O to your culinary bliss and you had it made in the shade. And to conclude the evening, it would be almost sacrilegious to the dairy industry if you didn’t top off your meal without either a root beer float, vanilla ice cream cones or a chocolate ice cream sundae with nuts!!! 😉
While waiting for our food to come, Dad and Mom would enjoy visiting with the farm family parked next to us and we little Norskis, in the back seat, well, we just absorbed the fun evening around us of happy hi-jinks, some good-natured mayhem and even see a couple or two of lovebirds parked off by themselves for a bit more privacy. 😉
On that particular evening, Dad had actually drove our family to the “Dairy Belle” in town. But, our Norwegian daddy had a silly streak a mile long and on one summer’s evening, he pulled a fast one on all of us, including Mom. Little sister, Candi, had been begging and begging, “Daddy, PLEASE take us to the Drive-In tonight, please”? With a wink, Dad responds, “O.K., kids, you and Mom get in the car”! Ohhhh boy, we thought, we’re gonna go get some yummies, ya? NOT!!! That prankster father of ours pulled out of the south driveway entrance of our farm, turned and then he would DRIVE IN the north entrance of our U-shaped driveway. Again, he’d go out the south entrance of our farm’s exit lane, turn and DRIVE IN the north driveway. Well, it didn’t take too long to know we’d been HAD by this trickster and his incessant giggles!!! His response to our groanings was, “Look!, we’re doing a DRIVE IN”!!! No “Dairy Belle” THAT night. 😉
Now back to the story. In due time, out would come the carhop with our food tray loaded to the gills with every yummy food and drink that brought this farm boy to the point of salivating illusions of bellybutton bliss!! Dad rolled his driver’s window up about four inches, or so, for our carhop to lower the special tray hooks to engage and hold our grub while he began passing around the “vittles” to us hungry kiddos.
In my eyes, these were truly golden days in the life of our Noorlun family and also within the cherished village that made up the “family” of our hometown. The close-knit farm and town family spirit was very strong in those days. The ultra high technology of today has actually been the bane of all that made us “one” in those happy days. Days that so many of us took for granted at the time.
Sadly, groups of young folk and adults, in today’s culture are physically together, but in all essence they are miles apart as each person is lost in the glow of their individual cell phones and/or earbuds. I, for one, am SO happy I grew up when I did and, to this very day, relish the Kiester joys of being a Norwegian Farmer’s Son!!! 😉