Welcome to August, the Bulwark of Summer. The Fortress against which the arrows of Autumn fall and fail. The Citadel that one day opens its windows to Autumn, hears a cosseting song, and thinks it might be nice to have Autumn over for a day or two. Autumn’s not that bad. In fact Autumn’s rather nice.
But that’s an eternity away, right? At the moment I’m in the gazebo, the crickets performing a rebuttal to the arguments made in the day by the cicadas. It rained a bit, strenuous rain with sunshine, and now the twilight clouds in the distance are strobing with peculiar intent. The hum of the anti-skeeter device; the splash of the water feature.
Nothing more to be said about the moment or the weekend. A perfect serving. Not that everything was great and merry and
In today’s “Folders that do not merit a subsite,” we have a contender for the 60s Decade Project. The theme: 60s restaurants! Perhaps if I got more, I’d add more. But I don’t have more.
I do have this:
It’s a glorious night out at Mr. Steak. You know it’s staged, of course, but it’s almost impossible to think that they weren’t that happy. Or that some family like them wasn’t just as delighted to be here, about to enjoy the bounty to come. Of course they’d have different expressions if his had taken 10 minutes to come out, and everyone had been waiting.
They all seem so lucky, don’t they?
A word about the table: finest marble-printed laminate.
A word about the table: finest marble-printed laminate.
It got me thinking about Mr. Steak.
Consider the style. A drawing of the basic unit:
It's Ann Arbor, by the way. The reality, hte early years of Google Street view: unchanged. Alas.
It was a big deal when Mr. Steak came to Fargo. We didn’t go there often, but we did, now and then. It was a step above Bonanza, which was cafeteria style but had two boons no kid could resist: big fresh Texas Toast, and the cups of pudding becalmed in a frozen sea of ice. Mr. Steak was different. No cafeterial line, so Moms liked it better.
I don’t remember where it was in Fargo. South side, no doubt. But is the building still there?
Yes. Right by West Acres. And the Mr. Steak closed in 2007, which makes it one of the longest-lasting, I think.
I ask because the Mr. Steak in my neighborhood, long gone, is still standing.
It’s across from two other franchise joints since repurposed - a Red-Barn type hamburger joint, and a Big Boy that was turned into Davanni’s Pizza.
Later: the Buckaroo'd roof is finally gone, and no one can tell what it was.
This got me thinking about Shakey’s, which was our favorite place to go. The pizza was salty with some exotic ingredient - rosemary, garlic, something - and crispy. The interior was dark and sticky. There was, at one point, an 1890s musical group, or am I imagining that? Was it just in the ads?
Why did they have that barbershop quartet vibe at all?
Then I found on Google Street View a remarkable contemporary picture:
That damned coach lamp, of course. “Ye public house.” So it was an 1890s place with Olde England (Merrie) vibes as well. Completely incoherent. We didn’t notice.
And a short documentary:
There are still 60 left, most in California - but this documentary ways that pre-pandemic, there were over 500 in the world, with about half in the Philippines.
I know it’s nostalgia with all its faults, and lots of stuff was wrong, and going south, or rocky, or up in the air. So it always is.
But it was a fine time to be a kid in a nice town with loving parents and safe streets and good schools. That’s all. It’s forgotten sometimes in the endless parade of Year Zero resets. So much was so good.
Yes, I base this on Mr. Steak and Shakey recollections. But if you want an antidote, behold this screengrab from a Dragnet episide, and weep.
Credits that look like a 50s TV show:
Ray Krost, responsible for making sure all the units were sourced from the Great North:
Ah, Larry Dobkin, known to all as a guy who was on 942 Gunsmoke episodes, playing 942 different characters who all sounded the same.
Star Trek composer. Also worked with Kubrick.
Maybe "cooperation" meant "didn't arrest them after they caught them outside a base trying to get some footage they could use so it didn't look like they shot it all at someone's house."
Anyway. America has a new Hydrogen Bomb Delivery System. It is named Job.
It was designed by this fellow, and here is his adoring fiancee.
Here comes the other guy: instant Star Trek recognition.
Meanwhile, there’s a Lost Missile, shrieking around the globe, burning everything it passes. It’s a mystery!
Stop everything, though: lunchtime ring-shopping is going poorly.
Soon everyone’s called back to the office because of the wild missile that’s scorching everything. What follows is an extravaganza of stock footage, interspersed with shots of this thing:
It’s headed for New York! That’s bad. It’ll kill everyone. Quick: five minutes of B-52s taking off! Red-hot close-ups of teletype machines!
The narrator discusses all the preparations, with a tip o’ the white helmet to the Civil Defense guys who drop everything to start moving supplies of blood around the city, just in case. There are shots of men in white coats loading boxes marked BLOOD on to trucks.
It makes me wonder whether people actually thought there’d be any point. Whether it was one of those things they organized to make people think survival and recovery was possible, or whether it was all domestic psyops. I realize that keener minds than mine have addressed the issue and the answer was probably “both.”
I’ll say this: they do a lot with what they have, and the editing ups the interest factor.
I mean, if you have a budget of sixty-two dollars, that’s how you do it.
Then again, if you’re going to rely on editing, maybe grab a few more extras so you’re not showing people twice in the space of 10 seconds.
That explains the Canadian Unit, I guess.
That'll do. Off on another week of ancient irrelevancies!