Monday, November 11, 2013

Week 43 of 2012...Soda Fountains and Local Restaurants

It seems like many, many years ago, but soda fountains and restaurants were a REAL treat, unlike today when sweet treats and/or a restaurant meal can be a daily occurrence. Living in a large family, "eating out" or "sweet treats" were a rarity. A large family in Romeo was 6 children. The Harold Smiths were one of the two largest families, the Obrecht's on 29 Mile Road was the other.  Interestingly, both large families lived on 29 Mile Road west of Van Dyke Road.   We ate out a couple times a year...once while on vacation and it was usually McDonald's golden arches for a burger, fries and a pop and once during the holiday season.  We would go to view Christmas lights in the city and would eat in a sit down restaurant.  A big deal would be Howard Johnson's or Sveden House.  Can you imagine...twice a year?  I enjoyed eating out when on dates...Big Boy, Burger King or A and W were my favorites growing up.  I will never forget my hamburger loving husband introducing me the the Burger King Whopper!  OMG...I was in heaven!  I also enjoyed going to Grandpa Vanoff's restaurant in Romeo.  The Semps ate there are Wednesday nights and Sunday noon.  While dating Mike and and during our early married days, it was a treat to visit via the back door and eat in the back kitchen.  Grandpa's pan fried chicken was the best.  Any of Grandma Vanoff's desserts were spectacular...all kinds of pies, cake, and cherry torte.  YUM...I still enjoy making Grandma Vanoff's Chocolate Fudge Frosting and also her Chocolate Cream Pie.  She also made me a fabulous birthday cake...white cake with lemon filling and vanilla frosting.  It was the best!  I also remember my mother in law remarking that she wouldn't have to learn to make pies as Pam could take over once Grandma Ruth retired.   And that I have done.

Soda fountains were a part of my growing up...but we didn't get to indulge very often.  I remember The Dairy Bar on West Lafayette Street with a U shaped counter and stools all around it. I also remember the one at the Dairy Bar in Washington, MI where we would ride our bikes and get a treat before pedaling back down Campground Road to 29 Mile...close to 3 miles one way.  There was another soda fountain at Bill Knapp's in Rochester, which is still in operation today. When visiting our cousins in Harbor Beach in the 60s, there was a soda fountain at Klump Drug.  I have photos of my store, The Corner Store, which shows a soda fountain in the back corner.  I also remember in my short stint in Imlay City, enjoying sweet treats at one of the drug stores there.  One of the finest and most recent soda fountains, was at Diana's Sweet Shop in downtown Port Huron.  A fixture for dozens of years, my Mom told stories of enjoying Diana's during her youthful years.  The wooden booths and unique lighting in each, sweet treats and tasty meals made it a destination for almost a century.  It closed in the last 10 years and the beautiful wooden fixtures were sold to a business in Tennessee.  One can still find sodas, malts, shakes, sundaes and banana splits today, but somehow they don't seem quite the same as what we used to enjoy at a soda fountain.