Over 99 Billion Served

Over 99 Billion Served - but no more.

Over 99 Billion Served – but no more.

There is a joke in Dallas… it goes like this, “Whenever you ask someone for directions, they always start ‘Get on Beltline…’.” And it’s true.

I live a handful of short blocks north of Beltline, so I know that endless loop well. Less than a mile to the West, on Beltline, of course, is was a McDonald’s. I have been in that place exactly once, when we first moved in, before our internet and water was hooked up. I went in there for coffee and wifi.

Now when my kids were little, we went to McDonald’s (and various other fast-food emporiums) all the time. Not for the food, per se, but for the ball pits and climbing tunnels. My kids were connoisseurs of fast-food ball pits. They would sit around at home discussing the comparative merits of all the local McDonald’s vs. Burger King. They would arrive at a decision and off we would go. When driving long distances they would spot a unique climbing structure out the speeding windows and we would have to stop. Candy would walk to another place, any place, and get food – she could not stand McDonald’s… no matter how fun the ball pit was.

But the kids had outgrown all that before we moved here. Shame, because that McDonald’s had a really nice climbing structure in a huge glass enclosure out front. (Google Maps Streetview from before the demolition). At any rate, I had no reason to go there and had only been there that once.

Still, though, I drove or biked past it at least twice a day for years and years and it had blended into the daily background of my life.

Then, one day, coming home from work, it was gone. There was nothing there except a pile of rubble.

Plastic tunnels and ball pit netting, bulldozed and torn asunder.

Plastic tunnels and ball pit netting, bulldozed and torn asunder.

It was a shock. There were the plastic tunnels all bulldozed and torn asunder. It was like finding a body in the yard – like someone you knew slightly had died. Of course, the neighborhood email list went into a frenzy of indignation and fear – nobody knew what had happened.

Of course, this is Dallas (or at least a suburb), and nothing is allowed to rest for long. The rubble was gone in a couple days and already, concrete is being poured. I assume it will be another McDonald’s – probably bigger and better.

But I bet the food will be the same.

There is another Dallas joke. “There are only two seasons in Dallas, Football and Construction.”

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Car Cooler

When I first saw one of these it was over forty years ago and although I was only, maybe ten years old, I remember it like it was yesterday. It was in the parking lot of the McDonald’s at Fourth and Walnut in Hutchinson, Kansas. There is still one there, but it looks completely different of course. In 1967, the place still was more of a shack with those giant yellow arches. I think its “sold” sign was still in the millions. Once, I saw a guy actually fetching a bag of real potatoes from an outbuilding to cut into fries.

That was a long time ago.

At any rate, there was a car in the parking lot with this galvanized steel contraption attached to its window. I looked at it closely, with the kind of curiosity only a nerdy ten-year-old boy has. It was a big metal tube, closed off at the back, with a coarse screen on the front, and a vent that went through the partially opened window into the interior of the car. I was able to guess its purpose, though it seemed pretty odd.

My father confirmed that it was a crude air-conditioner. You dumped a five pound bag of ice into the tube and when you drove, the air was forced over the ice and into the car. Ordinary air-conditioning was still rare in automobiles, but I have no idea how common this sort of contraption was.

So now I see another one, sort of, at a car show. This one is not as crude as the one in my memory (I’m pretty sure that one was home-made) and, instead of ice, it’s an evaporative cooler – better known in these parts as a swamp cooler. It’s known as a Car Cooler or a Thermador.

Maybe that’s how the one in my memory worked… but I seem to remember a place for ice. No matter, neither one would really work very well. I think I’ll stick with Freon.

Car Cooler

Car Cooler