Where’s My Steak?

McDonald 1961The ad says it all.

It was 1961. I was 6 years old. I do not think I remember a “McDonald’s”, yet there were plenty of burger joints. I remember going to one of them regularly where we could buy 6 burgers for a dollar. No veggies, just meat, ketchup and bread. Veggies and cheese were extra. We would get these burgers and share some fries. I assume a soda was included in the purchase, but our family of 6… Well, just let it be said, we never went hungry!

All of this made me think about growing up and the cost of a dinner out for a family of six. So, I called mom. She reminded me the many places we went to, frequently they were burger joints, like the one in Seabrook that later was called “Tookies”. I remember it well as a kid and only ate there once as an adult. This was the place I fell in love with Pineapple Shakes. Where I live now, the old Norma’s on Martin Way reminds me of it, but now the burgers are 7.00, and a package deal pushes the price close to $10.00 – my how times have changed.  Back in the day you could feed a family of six on an hours worth of wages earned by dad, today, most families will spend several hours of work to pay for just 2 or 3 meals.

I remember a trip to Kentucky to visit family and we found numerous places that had 8 cent burgers – mostly on a biscuit size roll, but now these “sliders” are several dollars each…

Another favorite place was a little Mexican restaurant in Cloverleaf. I do not remember the name, but it was still there about 10 years ago. What I do remember is playing a couple of songs on the jukebox that reminds me of my dad singing – Jim Reeves and Eddy Arnold. Great memories!

And, of course, for those from Channelview of my era and later, who can forget Helen’s. Later in life it was a favored dining place with my kids in her much improved and enlarged location. Chicken Fried Steak sandwiches – never better than there!

Last year I reconnected with a guy from my school years back in the 60’s and 70’s. Joe is his name. His family owned a steak house in the city of my teen years – very popular as I remember it. 7 Son’s Steak House – maybe there were 7 boys in that family! So, with my call to mom I asked her about the restaurant as I never remember going there. She says they used to go there for special occasions, but it may have been too expensive to take the entire family – 3 boys can pack away the food…. But I never remember going there. In fact, until I started working and paying for all my own meals I am almost positive that I n-e-v-e-r dined at a steak house. In fact, there were very few I could name and most of them were family dining places, like Bonanza, Western Sizzler, etc. Take it even further, I never remember having steaks at home… We may have, but it never made an impression on me.

In fact, the longer I think about it I never remember grilling steaks at home. Now, it’s such a common thing. If we did cook outside it was mostly hamburger or hotdogs, and every so often we would have a fish fry. But I never remember grilling steaks.

Probably the main hamburger chain I recall is Burger King. They used to have Yumbo‘s – Hot Ham and Cheese. The best sandwich ever. Let’s see, they used to have a Mustard Whopper. I remember eating at a BK in Baytown with my grandparents when I was about 16 or so… Messy, sloppy, delicious hamburgers!

I never remember lettuce being considered an option on burgers until I started eating taco’s at a local Mexican restaurant when I was about 16. It was actually in LaPorte that event transpired… Before attempting lettuce and tomato, taco’s were just like hamburgers, meat, cheese and the holder – a taco shell.  Now, I would not consider having one without. Probably the same with tomatoes.

When we had chicken it was often popular to claim the legs, until we discovered white meat… It was not till later in life when I could drive that I remember being sent to the KFC in Northshore to pick up a bucket, and, oh by the way, make sure we order mom some gizzards… Today, I seldom eat any part of the chicken except white meat…

When I go back to Texas, the place that captures what I think about when I think about hamburgers is Whataburger…

Oh, and talk about discovering different foods? How about Shrimp?!!? Fried. Mom had a friend at the school she taught at who had a shrimp boat, and once or twice a year it seemed like she would bring home a 100lbs of shrimp and we would sit in the garage preparing them for the freezer… But eating out? Let’s go to Lynchburg Crossing – the ferry location that crossed the ship channel from Highlands to Deer Park. There was a little shack of a place on the Highlands side until it moved across the channel into new quarters. Today it’s called Monument Inn – not to be confused with the original Monument Inn a little further down the road that was closer to San Jacinto Inn and the San Jacinto Monument, and the Battleship Texas, where Santa Ana was defeated.

Regardless to say, steak plays a more important “status” in my life today because I never remember having it when I was a kid… In fact, we had a good one a few days ago at Falls Terrace, here in Tumwater, thanks to Josh and Regan Morey…

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