When I re-read my column last Saturday, I realized there was actually more to the story that I should have written, so I sat down and wrote this extension to the memory. As I said last week I have always believed a wrecking ball can destroy structures, but it can’t destroy a memory, which means a memory must be stronger. In light of more demolitions recently of those things my memories are made of, that premise is being tested again.
As I write this memory there is nothing left of the little Drive-In restaurant called Garst’s or called Eddie’s, depending on when you grew up. For me and those close to my age it will always be Garst’s Drive-In.
In my memory traffic still circles the building, and carhops like my wife Marlene, and her sister Joyce Jeffries still wait on flirty guys in cool cars. One of my favorite memories is one I wrote about Garst’s and John Closser, a friend from those carefree days of our youth. I always thought of this memory when I drove by Garst’s.
As some of you may have noticed the drive into the restaurant has a pretty good incline, something John took advantage of every time we went to Garst’s. I should explain that John did not have a cool car of his own at the time, but he could borrow his parents late ’40s model Packard, which as anyone who knows cars will tell you was not a car that could spin its wheels, and squeal the tires the way some of the cooler cars could.
The inclined driveway however made it possible for the Packard to make a short squeal, that was actually more like a high-pitched yip, but it thrilled us boys just the same. I doubt that John ever told his parents about that. I don’t know if the incline will stay when the new business is completed, but that’s OK, I don’t have an old Packard anyway, and without that car and John at the wheel it just wouldn’t be the same.
Garst’s, as those of my era know, was a big part of our favorite past time called “Taking The Drag.” The kids today have different points of interest, and their drag today is quite different. I just hope their memories will last as long as mine have when years from now they think of their versions of Garst’s/Eddie’s.
The other structure that is being changed so much it would be unrecognizable to a kid of the ’40s or ’50s is the underpass on East Broadway Boulevard, and while I do not have any heartfelt memories for that structure like I do of Garst’s, I do remember walking under and over it to get to school.
I also remember the graffiti that would decorate it from time to time, mostly in the walkways under the underpass. I wonder how many people remember the big “Kilroy Was Here” sign someone put on the exterior of the bridge during the Korean War? I had to look it up to find out that was something soldiers used to write in battle zones during World War II, and the Korean War perhaps to perplex the enemy.
I do have a scary memory of the underpass that I still have nightmares about. One day two of my friends and I, whose names I won’t mention so as not to scare their grown kids, were on the underpass. On a dare, we three geniuses decided we could hand walk one of those huge steel beams that are now removed. We did not make it that far, because people in cars started honking, and cursing us from below.
We turned back partly because of the honking and yelling, but mostly because our muscles, which were as underdeveloped as our minds, began to weaken. It took all we could do to make it back to the safety of the broad concrete that held the beams, and I can tell you I have never felt the need to take a dare that required strength or the absence of fear of heights since that day.
If I were to list all the things that have disappeared from Sedalia that make up my memories it would take more space than this column could hold. Fortunately the storage space in the human brain has the capacity to keep them until I can write them down. I hope you will be here next week to read another memory.
Jack Miller is a longtime Sedalia resident whose column runs in the Weekend edition of the Democrat.