Monday, August 16, 2010

Cruisin' for a Stomach Bruisin'

We're doing all the wrong things in our cars nowadays.

We're texting, talking on the phone, shaving, putting on makeup. Driving falls somewhere in the middle of the pack.

I like what we used to do in our cars---like eating (when the car is parked) and watching movies with speakers hanging on the windows.

The Woodward Dream Cruise is this weekend, so it's impossible not to turn on the wayback machine.

They ran rampant in the 1950s and '60s---drive-ins of both food and cinema.

Woodward was one of the main providers of the greasy spoons at which you'd park and a gum-chewing, sassy girl would take your order. Maybe she was on roller skates.

But other main thoroughfares were drive-in havens: Gratiot, Groesbeck, Jefferson.

Now, all you can muster for a drive-in food fix is the occasional A&W or the newish Sonic locations.

If you wanted dinner AND a movie, you could do that in your car as well; but the drive-in theaters are pretty much gone, too.

I missed the cruising by a hair; I grew up in the '70s, and didn't start driving until 1979. By then, cruising was fading fast. But it sounds like fun: zooming up and down a busy pike, windows rolled down, flirting and having a good old time.

Then, when your stomach growled, you pulled in to any one of many joints where you could eat in your buggy.




I was able to enjoy a couple drive-in eateries as a child: the Big Boy at the southwest corner of Plymouth and Farmington Roads in Livonia, and Daly's at Merriman and Plymouth. They're both still there, but the Big Boy hasn't been a drive-in for years. You can still eat in your car at Daly's---home of the foot long Daly Dog coney.

"Get the Daly Habit!," it still screams on all their bags and containers.

I remember eating fish and chips from Big Boy in the car, back when they served it in a basket lined with faux newsprint from the U.K. to give it that "genuine" British fish and chips feel.

Menus on stands with speakers at every parking space, under a large awning; what a cool concept.

I still go to Daly's, by the way---usually when we visit my mother in Livonia. She likes it, too. Always has.

It's good food at a low price, and it's filling and hearty.

Another cool concept.

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