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Faded Pictures from a Life: A&W

A & W


Drive-in restaurants were numerous in Aberdeen. They were mostly local but also a few chains. Just across the road to West of our house was a local one called the Blue Buffalo. It was renowned for its exceptionally greasy burgers and fries and also its very large fiberglass blue buffalo out front. If I remember right, my older brother and some of his buddies once painted the buffalo’s genitals red.

Another nearby drive-in was the national chain A&W. An uncle of one of my friends owned the franchise and ran it himself. With my connections I got a job there at the age of 10 washing root beer mugs. The salary, paid in cash at the end of each shift, was 25 cents an hour. I remember the dominate smell being the french fries, the frantic pace of the kitchen when busy, my puckered up hands, and the robust taste of the root beer that seems so weak today. The job seems a bit ironic to me now as I can never remember washing a dish at home–woman’s work. But I thought it was great to walk away from the job with a dollar in my pocket. It was, of course, blatant child labor exploitation even in those days. I guess I was lucky my friend’s uncle didn’t own a coal mine.

A&W, 9″ x 12″, acrylic on shuen paper, 2021

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