As time passes and technology takes over I find that there are many things we have let go to the wayside, disappear, and forgotten; simple things, fun things, and the not so fun elements of our daily lives. I have started this blog to catalog those "missed" things that when mentioned to a younger generation will cause knitted eyebrows, shaken heads, and a "what's that?” expression; now you have a place to show them just…What

This is a catalog of all the things that I and others miss from their younger days and olden times.

Monday, May 9, 2011

#88 ~ drive-in "carhops"

A carhop was a waitress or waiter who brought food to people in their cars at drive-in restaurants. Usually they worked on foot but sometimes the restaurant would have them use roller-skates.  They would take your order, rush off and return with a special tray, that attached to your partially lowered window, piled with all the treats and yummies you were waiting for.  What was it about sitting in your car and trying to drink a coke and eat a hamburger, loaded with cheese, lettuce, tomato, pickles and onions?  It was fun! Defiantly more fun than a drive-through and pick it up at the second window and take off.
 My favorite place was A&W with their “baby burger”, which consisted of a simple beef patty,  a smaller than average bun, and some mayo. Not sure, what they put on that burger, but as simple as it was, it was tasty. Moreover, to top that off, don’t forget the Rootbeer Float, that made this company famous.

Carhops originated in the late 1930s when drive-in eateries were devised to draw in a more mobile society. It started as pull-up service to drug stores and eating establishments and was found to be a very effective way to draw customers.

Now carhops are only featured at a few remaining original drive-in stands and nostalgic fast food establishments. The few remaining drive-ins are mostly in small towns with local ownership.  Sonic Drive In still uses carhops, and one, personally known, existing A&W in Colorado features these wonderful attendants. There has been a resurgence with some franchises cashing in on the nostalgic aspect and tapping into the memories of the baby boomers.

The uniforms of early carhops were important, as many drive-ins were competing and something eye-catching was seen as gamesmanship. There was often a military theme, airline theme, space age theme or cheerleader theme along with any other whim an owner thought would get customers.

A carhop was the most prominent image on the poster for the film American Graffiti. They were also often seen in the first two seasons of Happy Days. –(a 1974 sit-com- info for those post millennium readers.)

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