The 2000-mile trip was fun. We saw a lot of sights along the way, played games in the car, and ate at McDonald’s—when we could find one (the Golden Arches were not so prevalent in those days). Strangely, it seemed that doing nothing, while riding in a car, produced quite an appetite. By the time we neared our destination however, I think all four of us; my dad, mom, brother, and me, were ready for the journey to be over. I remember finally taking the exit for the town that would be our new home. There was an old flour mill—a big white building badly in need of new paint, a downtown church with a towering steeple, and a big bright blue sign with yellow letters, trimmed in red, that simply said, “EAT.” That’s what caught my eye, the sign, rising high above a drive-in diner. And, as had become my habit on the trip, I was hungry.
My dad said we’d go find our house first, and then worry about eating. We did locate the house, and we did eat, but not at that restaurant. I think it was the next day that we got to enjoy the drive-in’s burgers. However, since our new town had no McDonald’s, we did frequent the drive-in, well, frequently—probably more often than my dad could afford. But you know kids, they just keep asking. The drive-in diner quickly became one of my favorite places to eat.
That’s been 41 years ago now. A lot of things have changed since way back then. A lot of the town has changed; buildings have been torn down and new ones built. Despite the changes, some things remain. For instance, every day, as I arrive home from work and exit the freeway, I see that same sign that I saw years ago. The color has faded, the drive-in is now gone, replaced by another restaurant, but the sign is still there! It’s how I know I’m home. Only problem is; you know how memories are associated with the senses? And how the mere sight of something can bring back the same feelings of long ago? Well, I know it may have something to do with the fact that by the time I make it home each day, I’ve been driving for about 14 hours but, every time I look up and see that sign, I’m instantly hungry!