On this Memorial Day I could do a reflection about taking flowers to the graves with my grandma, but I think I will save that one for another day, since I just spent the weekend burying my uncle. I will change pace entirely and do a piece about hamburgers. Admit it, in these tough economic times you are probably planning to grill brats and hamburgers instead of steaks at your Memorial Day cook-out. Hamburgers are the All-American food, after all.
When I was a child in the 50s and 60s we didn't eat out often. We didn't eat many hamburgers either unless we grilled them at a picnic. My earliest memories of eating out at a restaurant was that it was usually a treat and the meal was something special. Somewhere in the 60s we started traveling more and my mom went back to work so we had just a little more disposable income. On a trip out of town to my grandparents house my mom would usually pack sandwiches, fruit, cookies and potato chips. But coming home after a weekend more than 200 miles away at Grandma's house, we would usually have to stop to eat somewhere. Feeding a family of 6 on the road could be both expensive and time wasting, so we began to look for "sandwich shops." Today we call them "fast food" places. MacDonalds was starting to be around in the 60s and sometimes we stopped there. As kids we rooted for stopping a Dairy Queen, but many Dairy Queens didn't do much in the way of food back then and my parents weren't big on a dinner of ice cream with 4 kids in the car for some reason. Kentucky Fried Chicken stores were around but I thought only rich people ate there, because we never did. The place we most often stopped was Mr. Quicks.
Do you remember Mr. Quicks? They had 6 hamburgers for a dollar. We got hamburgers, milkshakes and fries. Each of us got one of each. The only choice was the flavor of milkshake, and that could be tough--strawberry, chocolate, or vanilla. Mostly we all got chocolate. My mom always said that Mr. Quicks had the thickest milkshakes. We usually ate in the car when we stopped at Mr. Quicks. I don't remember that Mr. Quicks was especially good, but it was cheap and "quick." I think I liked Mr. Quick hamburgers better than MacDonalds hamburgers in those days. The logo for Mr. Quick was a hamburger as a head and body with arms and legs coming out. He looked like he was running. Mr. Quick was kind of cute.
Later when I was in college, there was a Mr. Quicks down the street from my dorm and several people I lived with worked there. I even got to know the assistant manager of Mr. Quicks and his family. But during my college years Mr. Quicks in Normal, IL closed forever. I think they tore it down and built an Arbys. Mr. Quick was just not able to keep up in the restaurant row that included MacDonalds, Burger King, KY Fried, several Italian restaurants, and Mr. Donut. It was only a few years after that when all the Mr. Quicks went bankrupt, I think. Of course, by that time hamburgers cost more than 6 for a dollar, but not a whole lot more. I didn't really miss Mr. Quicks with all the fast food choices out there.
Driving back from Indiana this weekend my husband and I stopped at KY Fried Chicken for lunch. I felt like one of the "rich people" although stopping a KY Fried is not a new experience for me these days. I reflected that if Mr. Quicks had been across the street from the chicken joint, we wouldn't even have considered it. But, if gasoline keeps going up, I think I might be more in favor of a no frills place that offers cheap hamburgers. Mr. Quick, your day may be coming back. Will you come back for us?
Do you remember your favorite fast food stop? Did your family pack food for the road, or did you always eat fast food? Keep an eye on those grilling hamburgers today, everyone. Happy Memorial Day!