It seems most high school students have a favorite place to hang out. In Bridge to Haven, Abra and her friends cross the street to Eddie’s, a hamburger joint run by a proprietor who has a soft spot for troubled teens, hiring and rehabilitating them before they end up in the pen. We had a couple of hangouts in my home town. I worked in one called “The Ivory” during the summer and after school. I could make a “mean” banana split and even slung some hamburgers. Friends would come in and order fries. Rick left me a 25 cent tip, which was generous in the sixties when fries were about 25 cents. So was a gallon of gas! I had one admirer who came by frequently. He was older. I was sixteen, he was twenty or so. And he drove a Corvette. What a car! He asked me out, but I felt a little leery of him and said I’d need to talk to my parents. He had lots of plans and didn’t mind sharing them. After he left, Mom talked to me. “He’s looking for a hard-working girl to pay his way through college. My guess is he’ll look for another one with an education when he’s got his degree.” Ouch! You mean it wasn’t my charming personality that attracted him? What Mom said had a ring of truth in it, and I had my own plans to go to college and major in English so that someday I could work as a reporter for the Oakland Tribune. At the time. Dreams change.
Another favorite high school hang out was Fisher’s which was closer to the high school, just across the railroad tracks at the north end of Main Street where kids who had cars would cruise back and forth. I worked at Fisher’s, too, for one summer. It had been my dream to work there. It was, after all, the in place. I had stopped for a chocolate-dipped frosty every day after swimming from eight to five in the high school pool – long before I was old enough to get a work permit. Everyone came into Fisher’s. I worked so hard there I had no time to socialize. The thing with a popular diner is the cooks and waitresses are working fast and hard, and hoping not to drip sweat on anyone’s buns – or fries.
There was one other hang out that was at the south end of town. It looked like a bar – or bordello. Painted red with a neon sign, the Gay 90s drew all the boys and word was out NO GIRLS ALLOWED. My older brother, a senior, told me so. I was a freshman in high school when one very pretty and popular senior girl crossed the invisible barrier, pushed the double swinging doors open and walked into the boys only domain. Gasps! Shock and awe! No blood was shed. I’m sure all she had to do was smile and every guy in the place wilted or stood at attention and offered her a seat. I’m also certain the proprietor was delighted to see her. His business doubled quickly as the junior and senior girls flocked in like the Coit Tower parrots. Alas, I had to wait another two years before I got inside those doors.
When our high school class held a ten year reunion, we all ended up inside the old hangout. Still looked like a bordello from the outside. Still had great pizza.