This fine town was once dotted with places where kids, adults, families, and everyone could go for a quick meal in a friendly atmosphere. In those times, they were simply called drive-ins. On Gateway Drive, there was the Al Ru (now a Mexican restaurant), and Reed & Bell (now a tobacco store) and others including Oh Boy. On Yosemite, and a favorite of Madera High students (the only high school then), was Big Top on the west end of the “main drag.” All are gone, save one, at the east end of the drag, Sno-White Drive-In; at the corner of Yosemite and Lake since the 1950s.
It was there I remember dad and mom stopping to get donuts and coffee in the morning on the way to camping in the mountains. It was there I remember “dragging main” in my ‘58 Ford Fairlane convertible and stopping to get a hotdog and soda. And even a year or so ago getting a chili dog for lunch before returning to the Youth Center where I worked for the Parks Department. And my gal and I always stopped for a cold frosty ice cream cone on a hot summer day.
I was shocked, disappointed, and saddened to read the letter to the editor (Friday, Feb. 7) by First 5 Executive Director Chinayera Black-Hardeman concerning the Planning Commission’s decision (Jan. 14) to approve demolition of the historic eatery in favor of an expansion of an already unsavory liquor store that is an eyesore to the area. Her letter explained that the store has never been concerned with the improvement of downtown and has always taken the stance to ignore the city’s ordinances concerning signage, and the area already exceeds the allowable number of alcohol permits; the Planning Commission completely disregarded these facts presented by city staff and approved the destruction.
Yesterday, I drove (actually, my gal drove us) to the historic corner. I espied the same, nostalgic, neon sign from the 1950s that displays a huge frosty. The façade has been painted (Coyote) blue and white and a small deck (patio) has been added to the east side. Though not yet open the place was clean, including the parking lot and sidewalk. Next door, and behind the drive-in, along the west wall of the liquor store, trash, including various size liquor bottles littered the area. What looked to be a homeless person leaned against the wall and sipped something out of a paper bag. In front of the store large banners (a code violation) advertised a favorite brand of beer at discount prices...