Friday, January 16, 2009
The Tastee Freeze
We've had some really incredible sunsets lately. The skies absolutely glow with color. I took this in the front yard looking towards my parents' walnut trees. Speaking of glowing bright red, that reminds me of the hot dogs we used to get from the Tastee Freeze.
Once upon a time, there was no such thing as a fast food restaurant in either Mathews or Gloucester, and the closest McDonald's was in Newport News, an hour away. (Children! It's OK. Calm down. Things turn out just fine in this story.)
Surprisingly, the world continued to spin on its axis, life was sustainable, and nobody perished from Big Mac Attacks or a dearth of saturated fats or mealy, frozen potatoes deep-fried in Lord Knows What.
We didn’t have special names for our burgers—like the Whopper, or the Big-n-Tasty (the Big-n-Nasty as Chesapeake Bay Daughter calls it)-- and "supersizing" was something addressed by Jack LaLanne or Richard Simmons. Or, in some instances a girdle.
Kids did not suffer mental anguish from the lack of Happy Meal toys, and parents were oblivious to the hazards of the drive-through window, which include high-blood pressure; missing teeth due to gnashing, and lively exchanges with human beings who have the IQ of a small kitchen appliance. For instance.
No, everybody made out just fine around these parts, but every now and then we did crave a pizza burger or a root beer or a delectable bright red, artificially-colored hot dog served on a steamed pillow of bun.
In such times as these, we went to a prehistoric place known as the Tastee Freeze.
Archaeologists have discovered the remains of two Tastee Freezes in Mathews County, although there were others. Payne’s Frosty Freeze and Emory’s served the county’s “fast” food needs admirably for many years. They were both located at Ward’s Corner but coexisted peacefully because they were distinct enough in their offerings, ambiance (if you want to call it that) and service to avoid heavy competition with each other.
The Chesapeake Bay Family preferred Payne’s Frosty Freeze for a couple of reasons. First, we went to school and were friends with the Payne children. Second, after a long day of being left stranded at the Islander swimming pool with no adult supervision, no money, and no food, there was nothing quite so heavenly as a Payne’s cheeseburger or hot dog on perfectly steamed buns. We ate like savages thanks to being left with no money or food all day long in the hot, sweltering, humid days of summer, but we’re not talking about child abandonment. Not this time, anyway.
Back to the Tastee Freeze story.
While not “fast,” Payne’s was fast enough. You had just enough time to play a game of pinball, or put a quarter in the jukebox, or sit and stare at the other people waiting inside.
Over at Emory’s, which was more of a drive-in, you sat and watched the owner and his wife slowly, methodically, slowly and—last but not least—slowly write down the orders and assemble each one. Slowly. Moving in super slow-motion. The Chesapeake Bay Children were not patient enough to wait over at Emory’s, they needed food quickly because they were left with no food and no money all day at the Islander. (Have I mentioned that yet?)
Alas, Emory’s has been torn down, and Payne’s is now a sit-down, family style restaurant. But the memory of those pizza burgers, those delectable cheeseburgers and those Red Dye #2 Cancer-Enhancing Hot Dogs lives on.
McDonald's and Hardees can’t hold a candle. Or a chocolate, soft-serve ice cream cone.