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Updated on April 2, 2013

Flash to the Past "Cuisine"


Traveling through Time in my Mind


Looking back, looking forward


As a younger woman, barely out of my teens; I traveled these United States extensively. Having all the necessary ingredients; youth, curiosity, no commitments, and nothing to hold me down; I’d take off at the mere mention or suggestion that “we should go to Colorado,” or “I wonder how Gail is doing in Oregon?” I had no fear, no worries and, fortunately; there had been no bad experiences in my traveling adventures previously.

These flights of fantasy were so easy to do. Just grab a few things and jump into the Van or, in more daring times; stand by the side of the road with my thumb out, hoping a kind soul would pull over and take us to (many times) destinations unknown. During these traveling escapades; it wasn’t unusual that wherever the driver was going was also where we were headed. With no absolute itinerary and no time constraints; with little money during a time when it was possible to see the world on a dime; we’d hit the road with great expectations and wearing rose colored glasses. Everything was possible! Nothing could or would get in our way! We were completely confident that every thing would be just fine! Thank God and with great good fortune; this is exactly how those years unfolded.


One of my favorite things about traveling, then, was the awe inspiring freedom; the ‘newness’ of every breaking day; the delight and surprise in the discovery of new landscapes, exciting cities and small towns ‘out of the way and off the beaten path;‘ places which were a large part an unchanged aspect of the recent history of my country. I was deeply moved by the discovery of large cities, too; exuding rushes of anticipation and enchantment that stirred my imagination! Such a mystery! What would it have been like to grow up in such places?

Drifting down towards the large expanse of lights just as dawn was about to break brought tears to my eyes. What wonder lie just a few miles away? I would try to imagine what life was like for all those people who lived in such a large city. Lights, sparkling and twinkling in the distance were everywhere! My mind conjured up fantastic tales of young lovers, excitedly living day to day in a thriving environment full of music, art; so many things to see, touch, feel and experience! Just as we were descending from the mountainous pass, before most would be awaking to a new day; I felt the magical sense of a city coming alive just as we entered. Tired, exhausted from traveling for hours still, the event of driving into the heart of an early morning beginning held mythical allure for me.


I’ve always been drawn to remnants of our past. I love old buildings and interesting architecture. I am thrilled walking down the street of ‘any town,’ U.S.A….specially when that small community harkens back to the earlier, romantic, era of our collective pasts. The roadside cafes, truck stops, “mom & pop” corner stores and more. Driving off the highway into a little traveled enclave caused my heart to skip a beat and an almost palpable yet subtle excitement….I can’t explain this and I don’t know why; it just was…and is.

I love the old style ‘truck stops.’ Those individually owned and operated shops which were not franchises and you’d be hard pressed to find another one just like it….anywhere! The waitress calling the order to the fry cook, while she is so familiar with her ‘regulars.’ Diners were addressed as “honey,“ and “darlin’ “ in a friendly, familiar acknowledgement as they swung the door wide open on their way to the counter. Everyone who sat at that counter was given an opportunity to spy the goings on through the large, open pass through where orders were written on small 4 x 5” pieces of paper that were hung on round carousels which the cook would grab so that he could begin that order; and huge, steaming plates of freshly made fare was passed back through the opening to the waitress, who would rush it out to the waiting customer. Voices were loud, music always playing, smoke drifting about waist high along the aisle (because, smoking had not yet been banned from eating establishments), and light shone through the large, room length windows which were partially covered w/louvered shades. Truckers lined the curved counter, greeting and nodding to one another; hungry as bears and edgy, too, for reasons which I won’t mention, here!


Reliving the past this way; visiting areas of our country which were not touched by time and change; set my heart aflutter and raised a level of anticipation the likes of which nothing else could stir.!


Have you ever spent time in a vintage ‘soda fountain,’ where old fashioned malts, shakes and big, home made greasy fries are served up as regular fare? Sidling up to swivel stools at a long counter running the length of the shop, with the little caddies holding salt and pepper; mustard in squeeze bottles beside catsup containers of the same design and the always present sugar and cream service? What a treat! What great fun it was to play with the music jukebox selector kiosks placed in such a way that every patron could access the magical musical devices! Such artists as Frank Sinatra, Bobby Vee, James Darin, Brenda Lee, Elvis Presley and more graced page after page of these eclectic, music players offering what we now consider vintage tunes. During my early traveling days, these had already become ‘Oldies but Goodies!’ Funny thing, though, is that in the roadside cafes and Main Street restaurants of the ‘50’s which still were going strong and “business as usual” several decades later, such places were what the locals experienced as every day reality. That was it! Nothing out of the ordinary! The interior of diners and road side restaurants were taken for granted; not something out of the dreams of a young woman traveling her way through life.

The service dishware in these establishments of yore consisted of thick, off white, worn and heavy china. Sometimes, these industrial strength plates and cups were gaced with a single stripe of color to embellish the design. Coffee cups probably held about 4 to 6 ounces of liquid but the refills came without asking. Plates were piled high and filled with home cooked goodies…all the ‘bad stuff’ we avoid at all costs, today.

Having lived in a quickly growing and rapidly changing little town striving to be a destination spot which meant everything ‘old’ must GO!~seeing areas of this country where such businesses were main stream was a delight and discovery.


When I walked the streets of such places, than as now, it as if I have been transported in time. There was and is a strong sense of having been here before; déjà vu…a familiar memory. I like to feel transported in time; as if the year is not the present but, somewhere in the not so distant past. When strolling along, looking at the surroundings for the first time; being moved by first impressions; is wonderment exemplified!

I feel as if I belong .

Have you ever felt this way? The attraction of the past….the romance of history, the yearning for simpler times? And, just around the corner….just out of sight, you just know you’ll see that old, familiar friend……


Recently, we drove from SE Kansas back to California in the first of several adventures in moving. We were in a hurry so we were not able to drive Route 66, the fabled highway so notorious as the icon of highways in its day; turned into a "must see" part of travel plans. Made notorious by the inimitable series “Route 66” with George Maharis and Martin Milner as Buz and Tod, whose stories were told while traversing middle America in their two tone Corvette! “Get Your Kicks on Route 66” the theme song written by Bobby Troup (and repeated by many famous artists such as Nat King Cole, Chuck Berry and, even, the Rolling Stones in 1964) made the series even more widely viewed and popular for the 4 seasons it ran.

Always looking for that Americana of the past to rise up from the ashes of destruction caused by the government’s mad rush to “upgrade and update” our aging towns and cities known as Urban Renewal. I have found this experience harder and harder to find. Each time we drive Hy 70 to the north or Hy 40, lower towards the south, I keep a keen eye out for vestiges of our past. Perusing the landscape, checking to see if ‘that old structure’ has been abandoned or, cross my fingers; still houses an active peek into the past; “could it be?”, a café or diner.

Sadly, as each year passes, and we find ourselves ‘on the road again,’ I have seen fewer and fewer of these fabulous road side havens. They are being replaced with cookie cutter, one and the same, carbon copy plastic fantastic “wanna be” restaurant franchises doing their darndest to mimic the natural ambiance of the past.

No can do!

They fail, miserably!

Now, in place of what actually was; we have all out efforts to replicate it…embellish it, “add to.” I say, you cannot improve upon perfection; and perfect were these fine places because they were just what they were…and NOT trying to be anything else.


I shall continue my search for the Real Dealio!

Hello my friends! I’m jumping around with this ‘series.’ I seem to have reached a roadblock regarding many of the earlier childhood and adolescent experiences…I trust they will return! In the meantime, I’m going to fast forward to early adulthood. Here is the first effort.

Thanks for reading!!





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    • Lucky Cats profile image

      Kathy 6 years ago from The beautiful Napa Valley, California

      Hi Mar! i'm so happy that you like this...for some reason, I'm 'stuck' in this little fantasy of "used to be." Really had such fun on all the roadtrips and spontaneous travel. Such delightful fun. So glad to see you here. and, what a compliment!!! even equating my efforts w/Alastar who is such a fine amazing detail and who spurs enthusiastic readership w/his detailed retelling of our history..and sharing his childhood experiences. THANK YOU for that!!!! Nostalgic and Optimistic! Yea!!!! Love ya. Kathy

    • marcoujor profile image

      Maria Jordan 6 years ago from Jeffersonville PA


      I LOVE this... like Sharyn, I think it is quite beautifully written and I remember these times! It is glorious to read about them as if you are smack in the middle of them again!

      I also was reminded that you and your first commenter, our friend Alastar, would make a beautiful "writer duet" of the good times! You both have such a wonderful way of making me feel nostalgic and optimistic at once, mar!

    • Lucky Cats profile image

      Kathy 6 years ago from The beautiful Napa Valley, California

      Thank you so much, sweet Eiddwen...we share a love for this site, don't we? It has give you such a great chance to share yourself, your thoughts and feelings, and to create imaginative, colorful, thought provoking and sensitive hubs for others to read. I am so loving your new series..can't wait for #5... you are really writing such a delightful story line....keeps us "tuned in" to see the next 'installment!' Thank you so much for your very kind comment and positive votes, my sweet friend, Eiddwen!!!

    • Eiddwen profile image

      Eiddwen 6 years ago from Wales

      Absolutely beautiful kathy. I often wonder how I filled my days before hubpages now.

      This one is indeed one of my very favourites

      I am bookmarking plus voting up.

      Take care


    • Lucky Cats profile image

      Kathy 6 years ago from The beautiful Napa Valley, California

      prektjr.dc...isn't it funny how truly small the world is? Yes, I am still here in this part of the country..and not far from your famed gas station turned restaurant! I will most definitely try my best to stroll down Rt 66 in my next roadtrip! Thank you for visiting and your comment! DO write that hub..I'll be looking out for it.

      Sharyn...well, thank you my dear...I wrote it in haste...wanting to share those 'feelings' of yore and yesterday. Thanks for the compliment, too...there are so many crazy tales I could tell from a life lived a little on the edge....always, wishing you the best and good "vibes" COMING YOUR WAY!! (ala Mr. Zavala)

      Hi Augustine.."happy hippy chic?" (And, "ahem, would you like a gun to go w/your bullets?)'re right..I jumped right into the middle of it all..Haight Ashbury, all the musical venues...traveling on a whim, on and off education that took too long to finish...being swept up and whooshed away on an emotional roller coaster...

      You mention Portland, Oregon. I have always had a secret love affair with the entire West Coast...and Oregon, Washington State and Northern California are most beautiful...shorelines so rugged, mountainous and beautiful sandy beaches. Weather perfect; sometimes chilly/cold but that's ok with me. Flying over and driving through the Rocky Mtns. as well as the Sierras is always a thrill!

      Love Lake Tahoe..a childhood and adolescent stomping ground. Walking at dusk or dawn, smelling the smoke from cedar and pine burning the spring, snow on the ground...crisp, clean air, tall tall pines...just beautiful. The lake...still pristine even after being a tourist destination for so long.

      The Great Salt Lake...Utah, and then, New Mexico and Arizona..all have such incredible rock and strata formations..colors of different minerals which light up in an array of colors depending on the direction and

      slant of the sun..morning or evening..spectacular.

      So glad you like this hub...I like to walk through this life spending `1/2 of my awareness in fantasy and imagination mixed with what my senses tell me is there. are right, "using your thumb for a ride nowadays is almost like a suicide wish." Yes, it is true and, even if not, I'm not quite that "free" a spirit anymore...and, there is something about being able to 'get away with' so much more as a younger person..just wouldn't be quite the same fact, it would be rather strange and weird to try hitching at my age...yikes!!! Times have changed. Once, there was so much trust and a feeling of positivity (? is that a word?), so much fear, and rightfully and sadly, so.

      Thank you for your thoughts and visit

      Fashion..THANK YOU!!!

    • profile image

      fashion 6 years ago

      WOW ! what a great hub.

    • kennynext profile image

      kennynext 6 years ago from Everywhere

      I too did a lot of traveling, a lot of it unplanned. And using your thumb for a ride nowadays is almost like a suicide wish. How times have changed.

    • A.A. Zavala profile image

      Augustine A Zavala 6 years ago from Texas

      Speaking of wanderlust! I had no choice when I was younger, but we did travel to some wonderful places. I remember when I was little we visited Vienna. Even as a child, I thought it was beautiful.

      I worked with a company that did shipping on the railroads. I travelled to some beautiful places. I worked in Portland Oregon at a place called Swan Island. I remember watching bald eagles knocking pigeons out of the sky!

      In a suburb of Chicago called Blue Island, I went into a liquer store at 9 in the morning. The guy behind the counter sold more than just beer and sodas. He also sold individual bullets. Yes, single bullets. He sold 45's for $1, 9mm for .75, 38 caliber for .50. I'm serious.

      I loved flying into Salt Lake City, because you fly over the Wasatch mountains. You have to corkscrew over the mountains, fly over the Great Salt lake to get to the airport. My all time favorite flight. Park City Utah is also beautiful. Stein Erikson Lodge is an alpine hotel nestled in Squaw Valley, and the views are spectacular!

      If I ever become a millionaire, I will move to Lake Tahoe. It's so beautiful; even the Mcdonalds there looks like a log cabin! I went there three times for managers meetings, and I miss it.

      Your such a free spirit, like a happy hippy chick! Loved your hub, and always enjoy your musings.

    • Sharyn's Slant profile image

      Sharon Smith 6 years ago from Northeast Ohio USA

      Hi Kathy,

      Now why would you think this was poorly written. No way! It was entertaining and intriguing and a great trip down memory lane. You have wonderful recollections of your younger years and I'm so glad you share your thoughts with all of us!


    • prektjr.dc profile image

      Debbie Carey 6 years ago from Riverton, KS, USA

      I should have read your profile!! Too funny! The gas station I referred to is in Galena, KS on the corner of old Rte. 66 and North Main. You can't miss it! It has the tow truck that was the inspiration for 'Mater in Cars out front. I think I will write a hub on it now that I think about it! Hmmm.....It is called 4 women on the Route. Great food and lots of "Cars" memorabilia!

    • Lucky Cats profile image

      Kathy 6 years ago from The beautiful Napa Valley, California

      Oh! Writer...we ARE ..OH, my goodness. we ARE..right now, about 110. tonight...87. For about 30 days's pretty bad. No relief..and I really do not like being housebound but, I just cannot tolerate this type of heat and the sun is searing. I have never experienced anything like this for so long. Thank you for noting our temps....truly icky!!

    • writer20 profile image

      Joyce Haragsim 6 years ago from Southern Nevada

      Here's hoping you're not melting in your hot weather

    • Lucky Cats profile image

      Kathy 6 years ago from The beautiful Napa Valley, California

      Hi Writer20! Travel is like opening a portal into another 'world;' another experience. Always educational, surprising, moving,! Glad you relate to this little bit of recollection. Europe! yes! that, too! thank you for your comment and visit.

    • writer20 profile image

      Joyce Haragsim 6 years ago from Southern Nevada

      You have bought back my 20-30's wonderful memories travelling all over europe. That was easy for me living on the other side of the ocean.

    • Lucky Cats profile image

      Kathy 6 years ago from The beautiful Napa Valley, California

      saddlerider, Thank you! I so appreciate that you could relate to this and enjoyed this beautiful country while you were "touring" in your semi. I have to tell you, one of the most fun adventures while hitchhiking was to be picked up by a trucker...always friendly, always protective of we young innocents (!) and the view from the cab was the best! Unparalleled! There is still a 'frontier spirit' here in our Heartland and Western/northwestern states. Big ranches, big expanses, western life style complete. Your name is a givaway!!

      I agree with you that technology, although a help in so many ways (like here, on HP' else could we do this?) but, the negative side is that we are so engrossed w/our tech toys and feelig that everything must be full speed ahead that we are lost to the subtlety in life....the beauty of landscapes, the romance of life (in the largest sense). I feel badly for younger people (uh oh! did I just say that?)..but, truly..they are inundated w/'gotta have it now' and immediate gratification via technology that the pleasure of getting to 'know' someone, all but considered archiac. A loss!

      Thank you so much for your comment; please, do sit back and relax and imagine the world when it was a little slower paced, a little more gentle and gentile..a little more graceful.


    • saddlerider1 profile image

      saddlerider1 6 years ago

      A wonderful waltz through earlier times in your beautiful country. I had the opportunity to take up 18 Wheelin for a few years between 2000-2008 and got the chance to tour all of your fine cities and towns and I must say the nostalgia in those places is immense.

      I stopped at the Route66 Diner and saw all those fine things you mention. I had their famous fare from the menu and a soda drink from their fountain.

      I to enjoy all the nostalgia from times gone by and they were great times at that. Less stress and pressure for sure. Technology has sped us all up so fast that we can't seem to sit still and enjoy all these beautiful sites.

      I especially loved the Western states of your country, being a cowboy at heart, I love those wide open spaces in Texas, Montana and Wyoming. What a great video you included. THE KING ELVIS the biggest ICON of them all and my favorite. Great choice of tunes Love Me Tender, aw I am so mellow right now, closing my eyes and picturing all that you have written here for us to savor and enjoy....

      Rated UP and Awesome and pressed all your buttons....UP

    • Lucky Cats profile image

      Kathy 6 years ago from The beautiful Napa Valley, California

      Hi there Always! I'm so glad you like this one. Yes, I am so pulled towards this particular part of our past...and, of course, I've romanticized it because this is how I see and saw it! SEESAW! Yikes! (sounds familiar...kind of like life!) thank you so much for commenting and relating...I think the 'group' (ever expanding) of hub friends all are within the same "boomer" population...and we all remember well. Lucky you..that you were able to work in that environment..with all the fun stuff that goes along w/that time!

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Fuller 6 years ago from Southern Illinois

      Aha, Kathy, I'm listening to Elvis as i comment. You've painted a picture that brings me back to the good ole days. I remember when i was thirteen, working in a 'Cafeteria' Elvis was my true love, still is. Enjoyed this adventure back in time. Lucky you, living free and happy.


    • Lucky Cats profile image

      Kathy 6 years ago from The beautiful Napa Valley, California

      jblais, I appreciate your visit and comment. I thought this might strike a chord with others who experienced the same wanderslust that I did (and do). The magical enthralling to me. I absolutely LOVE the state of Washington. So Beautiful, lush, weather just perfect for my preferences. I spent quite a lot of time there, exploring, visiting. Love Seattle as well as Bellingham, and the coastal areas. My first real travel trip occured between high school and college...two friends and I bought 1-way tickets via railroad to Seattle..and spent a month 1/2 being vagabonds. I love the rolling hills of our mid country but, am totally enamored w/the beach, the sea and seaside mountains. Thank you so much for your interesting comment!

      Peggy, what is the saying? "Half the fun is getting there..." or something like that...I AGREE! Discovery, new sights, sounds....all very enticing to me. I've been down RT66 several times, even decades ago..but, not recently due to our hurried travels back and forth. I'm moving back to Ca. from SE Kansas....and it taking several trips due to my beloved, I'll go down Rt. 66 again, soon. Thank you so much for the visit and comment..very much appreciated !!

      Jonathan...well, I'm not going to fill in the blanl!! LO! Thank you for stopping you can see, I love the past; even if it isn't one I actually dwelled in -- only in my imagination...but, for some reason; I am really drawn..Thank you Jonathan

      prektjr.dc...I am in SE Kansas right now and I will make a point to look for that restaurant..can you tell me about where on Rt. 66 it is? or juxtaposed to a nearby landmark? That restaurant sounds exactly like something I must see....thank you for the visit...yes, I think there are many who will like this little walk down memory lane because so many of us "out there" experienced very similar things.

      VNV68 - Steve - so good to see you my friend. Thank you for the comment...I knew there would be many among those I've grown to 'know' here who would relate; so many of us are of the same age range and era..with very similar experiences. Glad you related to this; a more romantic aspect of our lives during those times. Bless you, too.

    • profile image

      Vietnamvet68 6 years ago

      HI Kathy, beautiful story brings back memories of my travels in my younger days, you are so right the beauty of America has gone replaced by cookie cutter replacements.

      God Bless. I use to travel old 66 through Missouri back in the 60's everything is gone today.

      God Bless

    • prektjr.dc profile image

      Debbie Carey 6 years ago from Riverton, KS, USA

      Lucky Cats,

      A good hub reminiscent of good times from my childhood as well!! My family traveled the States over and I have a great love for it as well! If you are ever back in that corner of Kansas that Route 66 covers look for the diner located in an renovated gas station!! You'll love it!

    • Johnathan L Groom profile image

      Johnathan L Groom 6 years ago from Bristol, CT

      Kathy, if I could meet you in person, I would... you just sound cute! Thank you for writing an excellent article for the Hubber in all of us lol! Nicejob!


    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 6 years ago from Houston, Texas

      I was fortunate enough to have traveled parts of the old Route 66. When traveling I always look for mom and pop restaurants instead of chain operations. That is half the fun of traveling to see new and different things...not the same things as can be seen everywhere.

    • jblais1122@aol profile image

      jblais1122@aol 6 years ago from Kansas City, Missouri, USA

      Great look back. I too traveled around by thumb for a bit. I grew up in a big city, but on the very edge, so open sky and unpaved desert were close. My parent's families lived in small towns and we spent summers in Creston Washington or Paducah Kentucky, or both. I remember all the greatness of the small towns, the truck stops, the tourist traps, and all the rest.

    • Lucky Cats profile image

      Kathy 6 years ago from The beautiful Napa Valley, California

      ahorseback...I am with you 100% about the love and (in my mind) romance of foghorns..during my teen and early adult years, I'd go to San Francisco often (I lived in Napa..only 40 miles away) and my friends and I would spend the night on the beach, listening to the waves lap the shore and the mythical sound of the fog horn(s) in the distance..such a moving experience for me. Remember Steve Miller Band and the song (I just cannot recall then name) that started out w/foghorns in the distance and the music sounded like waves on the fact, I think this was actually recorded.? And, ELO had a 'city' sounding track that 'felt' like the movement, activity of sounds of the city, and then, there is Pet shop boys and their entro to West Side Girls..all these stir up some kind of magical thing for me. just wish i could recall the names....and You Tube isn't helping..Anyone out there have a better memory than I do?

      I have always felt that I belong in the past..100+ years or so ago...

      Tnank you for the kind comment and visit.

    • ahorseback profile image

      ahorseback 6 years ago

      Lucky Cats, sometimes I wonder where the wonder went ! Being a bit old fasion I am more apt to find my place in life 100 ~ 150 years ago , many have said I belonged in another era. Especially my daughter. I love , love to walk or ride through the old sea port towns of New England .Blame my ancestry of Irish and Scottish I suppose. I can sit on the fishing piers and listen to fog horns and marker bouys as they sound off their low low sounding horns, watch the fishing and work boats come and go in the dawn or at sunset. I too though have traveled the US highways and dirt roads alot and finally after reaching middle age I seem to have grown a new appreciation of "home", there I go ....rambling...:-} Awesome piece of writing ! Be well....

    • Lucky Cats profile image

      Kathy 6 years ago from The beautiful Napa Valley, California

      Oh, thank you, dear Alastar! You know, in my rush to publish this, I fear I've tripped all over myself and words...just wanted to share these glimpses into our past. Esoteric! This is one word I just could not call to mind in order to describe instances in this hub. I'm very happy that you enjoyed this, poorly written as it is. But, hopefully, that gentle chord will resonate with readers. I yearn for such places...if only momentarily..there is a strong pull. Since my teen years, I have felt this tugging...yes, and have considered the many explanations that might apply. Driving into cities I had not ever visited, particularly as day is breaking, still conjures up all kinds of feelings and is always going to be so, I suspect.

      Thank you, again, Alastar, for your visit and comment. Much appreciated.

    • Alastar Packer profile image

      Alastar Packer 6 years ago from North Carolina

      Thanks for writing this Kathy, your experiences with the way things used to be will strike a hopefully gentle cord with all of us. You've got that old pioneer spirit in you big time and without going into anything esoteric or scientific we should just enjoy the pure feel and comforting thoughts we've been blessed with. There will never be anything like the old country store, diner or the Esso dinosaur sign hanging out front the full service gas stations with clean bathrooms, usually clean that A lot of us had adventuresome souls like you and thank goodness we came out alright. When you describe what you saw and felt as you came through the mountain passes and gazed upon the city, well, it's written so fine and from the heart that one is right there with you. Could go on and on but Kathy this is a most wonderful direction for you- and your readers and friends to explore and relive those sometimes aching but beautiful memories within us.:}