When I was a little girl, my dream job when I grew up was to be a roller-skating carhop at the A&W Restaurant that was two blocks from my house. In the glory days of the early 1970’s, the A&W in our small town was the happening place to be. I spent many summer days there cooling off over a frosty mug of root beer or a chocolate and vanilla twist cone. On extra special occasions, mom and dad would even let me order the créme de la créme of A&W… the root beer float.
When I was old enough to understand what it meant to have a job, that’s the only thing I wanted to do. My family teased me about it, but I didn’t mind. I was so excited about the idea of getting paid to skate those trays of food out to the cars parked at the drive-in, that it didn’t matter what anyone else thought. All that mattered was that I was planning to be the best car hop there ever was!
In preparation for my dream career, I practiced my little heart out with the only thing I could get my hands on. They were old metal skates that attached to my sneakers and they were forever falling off. Skating back and forth on the sidewalk in front of my house, I couldn’t even make it ten yards before one or the other would come loose and trip me. Every time I’d plummet to the ground, I’d unscramble myself, reattach my skates, and get right back up again.
By the time I was in High School we had a real skating rink with real roller skates you could rent. Yet, that was also around the same time that McDonald’s moved into town and my beloved A&W moved out. When I saw the building being torn down, all my roller-skating, car-hopping, frosty-mug serving dreams were torn down with it.
Eventually, I managed to pick up the pieces of my shattered young life and discover new aspirations. Even so, the dream I dreamed in childhood has a special place in my heart that will never leave me. That is why on any given day of the year you can find a real A&W root beer mug occupying a place on honor in my freezer.
I may not have become the carhop queen I’d envisioned, and I haven’t even lived near an A&W for 40 years, but I am never without my frosty mug. It serves to remind me to never stop dreaming. It also serves to refresh me on a hot summer day when I can pop open a can of A&W root beer from the grocery store, pour it into my frosty mug, and be immediately transported back to a time when life was simple and fun… when all I ever wanted to do was be a roller-skating carhop.
Note: This story appeared as a newspaper column in the Mail Tribune. Read it here.