Friday, May 02, 2008

17 Cent Cheeseburgers & Fantastic Fries



This is the "new" McDonalds, maybe eight blocks south of the "old" one which is now long gone, but had been the first one that I'd ever seen. That was back in 1958, maybe '59, and my friend and fishing buddy Charlie Beck was all excited when he first saw it being built. He recognized the yellow arches from when he lived in California. He couldn't wait for the place to open!

Those original McDonalds had a pair of huge yellow arches soaring above the building, with the take-out restaurant set between them, framed by them actually. There was no inside seating. You bought your burger and fries and sat outside, hoping that there'd be enough breeze to keep the mosquitos at bay.

Florida let you get a restricted license at 14 back then. You could drive a car with a licensed driver with you, but you could drive a motor scooter alone. Charlie lived about five miles from the high school in a newly developed area with spotty bus service at best. His dad bought him a Lambretta motor scooter and we used to ride that thing the hundred miles or so to the Keys and back with our fishing rods, and hopefully some fish on the return trip. A dollar's worth of gas would cover the round trip. We made a lot of short runs from the high school to McDonalds too!

Within a couple of years of that McDonalds arrival in town there was a brand new Burger King a mile away. Burger King was a Miami based company but patterned itself very much after McDonalds, with a walk-up window and no inside seating. In the beginning they had these little fried patties of shredded potatos to compete with McDonalds' fries, but soon just went with the plain old fries. I prefered Burger King's burgers though. They broil them rather than fry them, so they're not as greasy.

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