Sunday Drive

My father’s gas/service station was open about 100 hours a week. One of my strongest memories is of my mother whispering, “Shhh, your father’s asleep” because when he wasn’t at the station, he was usually home sleeping.

On Sundays, though, he closed the station around 4 PM instead of 10 PM. He would come home, shower, and then we would often head out for a drive and dinner. I wish I had pictures of the actual car with which I will always associate these Sundays, but this is the best I can do.


See the source image


From Hemmings a picture of a 1956 four-door Buick Century. My father’s car had a more subdued color scheme, light blue and darker blue I think, maybe blue and black, although I haven’t seen the car since the early 1980s. I’m fairly certain his car was not the DeLuxe version, but the standard hardtop sedan, of which about 21,000 were built in 1956.

Most, if not all, of the restaurants where we ate dinner on Sundays after the drive are no longer in business. One of those, Sid Mandel’s (could have been spelled Mandell’s), was open from the mid-1950s until 1980. The item for which the restaurant was most known was the “Four by Four,” which was a large hamburger in a basket surrounded by large piles of french fries and always delicious onion rings. I think those were the first onion rings I ever ate. Sid Mandel’s also had a bakery on-site. I think it is difficult to beat the taste of food made from scratch and made on the premises.

Like many people I usually prefer dining at “Ma and Pa” restaurants as opposed to big-chain eateries. I really don’t like extra-fancy accommodations and cuisine, at least not very often. I didn’t grow up eating in such places as we were a lower middle-class family. In general, granting that some exceptions might exist, I don’t have to have “the latest and the greatest.” For example, my wonderful wife and I keep our iPhones for years, have missed many versions and don’t care that we’ve missed them. My phone has a crack across the screen, but until the phone stops working I have no intention of replacing it.

I would very much like to read your memories of your Sunday Drives, whether they are/were with your family or not.






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6 thoughts on “Sunday Drive

  1. As best as I can remember, our Sunday drives involved a stop at some type of attraction; beach, park, zoo or something similar. Then stop for dinner, be it dine in or takeout to eat when we got home.

    Like you, I’ve grown to prefer the Mom and Pop restaurants.Much better quality, usually sourced locally if possible.Yesterday afternoon, I took my dad to a little “out of the way” seafood place for Fathers Day, being as I wouldn’t be able to be there today. Great fresh seafood, reasonably priced and even with a “lunch” portion almost more than you could eat. Sometimes it can be a little tricky tho. About 35 years ago I took my first work related trip for my employer, to a little town outside Dayton Ohio. I asked a couple of the employee’s there where might be a good place for an evening meal. They recommended a place called A Place for Ribs.I like ribs so tried it out. On the menu was also onion rings, sold as loaf or half loaf. Now I do like good onion rings, and had missed lunch, so I ordered the loaf in addition to whatever else I had ordered.. Big mistake.They would stuff the homemade rings into a basket about 3/4 the size of the basket McDonalds uses for their fries and serve the WHOLE basket as your order. I had zero chance for finishing that order. In subsequent trips I would get the half loaf, and it usually went unfinished also.They were however some of the best onion rings I’ve ever had.


  2. After a big Sunday dinner at Grandpa’s, he announced we were going for a ride in his new car with the first automatic transmission that I had ever ridden in, at about age seven i watched the shift lever expecting to see it move by itself all i heard was a click and he said there it is in high gear now. When we arrived at a small nearby town there was a new Dairy Queen where we had our first soft serve ice cream cones. Two first experiences in one day.


  3. I follow my brother’s advice and buy “local”, i.e. find the locally owned and operated restaurants and businesses rather than the chains. And at the grocery store I look for products produced locally like the green poblano sauce made and bottled just down the road on the way to Nogales. The same for tortillas and chips much better tasting than the national chain product Lays. Circulate your cash locally as it will do as my Latino friends say, “what goes around, comes around”.

    Our Sunday drives were always in the afternoon and could end up going for a while. The ones I enjoyed went to either Mt. Lemmon or Sabino Canyon. After I was in high school, it was usually me going for a drive on my motor scooter.


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