Krystal’s–Just Icing on the Cake

English: One of Krystal restaurants (in Calhou...

English: One of Krystal restaurants (in Calhoun) by Cculber007 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Growing up we had many adventures.  Especially during the summer.  My favorite memories of those times are loading up in either our Chevy II or my Aunt’s, and off we would go.  We loved going to the weekly movies at the Planetarium.  They would project old Disney movies like “Cannonball Express” or “Candleshoe” or “Apple Dumpling Gang” up on the horizon part of the dome above us.  The cool darkness was a welcome contrast to the blazing bright heat outside.  As we exited through the side door, talking about our favorite parts of the movie, we would blink against the sun shining down on us.

As the movies were shown mid-morning, by the time the movie was over, we were all hungry.  It was lunchtime.  I remember on several occasions either Mama or my Aunt driving across town to the Krystal over near the Mall.  One of them, maybe both, would have clipped  a coupon out.  Krystal burgers 25 cents each.  Later the special was 35 cents each. As we’d pull into the drive thru lane, they would do a headcount and figure out how many each of us could eat.  With at least seven children (and eight later on) eating between the two families and two adults, the order could get quite sizable.  Seems like I can remember us ordering well over thirty.

But we’re talking Krystal burgers, so yeah, they all got eaten.  And appreciated.  If you’ve never had one, you don’t know what you are missing.

Good food.  But really, really good times.

Today I had the rare treat of spending time just me and my little guy Cooter.  We spent a little while at a Christmas Market where he assured me he would absolutely take care of the wooden fire engine or tow truck, and that he really is old enough for a cap pistol. Ahem.  Christmas is coming soon, buddy.  In the end, he was happy with the simple lariat he found, convinced he is the next Indiana Jones.

As we were leaving, he mentioned being hungry.  Today was one of those strange days that clocks didn’t matter.  We hadn’t eaten lunch at the traditional hour, so I told him we’d run through and pick something up.  He was in good spirits, that cutie pie in the booster seat behind me.  His joy came through in his attitude as he played with his rope.

“Mama, we can eat from anywhere you choose.  Just anywhere you choose is just fine with me. Anywhere at all.”

Well.  That was strange.  Cooter is a fan of the beige food groups–pizza, chicken, cheese quesadillas, etc.  When I encourage him to eat his vegetables, he reminds me, “But Mama, I’m a fruitatarian.”  Oh my.

I am my Daddy’s daughter, so I couldn’t resist teasing him.  “Sure thing.  I was thinking of going to the Vegetable Place.”

A glance in the rearview mirror showed his face had fallen.  Bless him.  I felt bad.

“Mama,” he said in a small voice.  “I don’t like vegetables.”

I assured him I was just kidding.  Then he perked back up.  And asked for Zaxby’s.  Ugh.  I do love Zaxby’s at times, but we can have it anytime, as it is safe for my food allergy child.  While I wasn’t looking to have a nut sandwich for lunch, I was hoping for something that wasn’t from one of the few places we are able to go safely.  As I turned into Zaxby’s I saw it.  The red circle.  The K.  Krystal.  My heart, my stomach, my mind–whatever–hollered YES.  I was going to have to make another drive around to get in the drive-thru at Zaxby’s, so I told Cooter that I had a treat for him.  As I pulled back out on the road and went two drives down to Krystal, he began to cry.

“No Mama no.  I want Zaxby’s.”

“Trust me buddy, this is going to be really good.”

We don’t eat much red meat in our house anymore, so I didn’t want to chance the burger.  I ordered him a Krystal Chik, their mini chicken sandwich, and a Krystal pup.

He sat quietly in the backseat.  When the food was ready I passed it back to him.  And then…..

“Oh Mama! This is really, really good. How long have they been around?  When did you have your first one? I can’t believe this is so good.”  He went on and on between bites.  “It’s even better than Chick-Fil-A.”  What?!  Are you kidding me?

Oh y’all.  He carried on  like that for the rest of his meal.

“Mama, those tears from before were untrusting tears.  But I trust you now.”

Well all righty then.

I told him the story of sneaking a Krystal Chik into Mama at the hospital.  He laughed at that, and then we had a long talk about hospital food and what it’s like.  As his hunger subsided and he was all but glowing from this meal he loved so much, he started chanting.

“Krystal’s is great, Krystal’s is good, Let us thank Him for our Krystals…..” When I recognized the cadence as an altered version of our blessing, I stopped him.

“Whoa buddy, let’s don’t do that.”  I wasn’t sure, but it felt like it might border on sacrilege.

“But Mama,” he said, insistently, “we HAVE to pray for them; we want them to stay open.”

I smiled.  I am glad he enjoyed his day and our time together.  I know the meal he had today wasn’t the best for him.  So I will pump him full of fruits and much better things tomorrow.  The thing is, I hope one day he will look back on today and remember the Krystals and everything and be filled with the warmth that only a good memory can bring.  And one day he will realize, as I have come to, that while the Krystal burgers, chiks, pups, whatever are delicious and worth remembering, it’s who we were with and how they made us feel that were really at the root of the joy of the day.

And when you throw in Krystals with good times and the folks you love, well, that’s just icing on an already better than anything in the world cake.

When the Family Gets Together

That's not something you see very often!

That’s not something you see very often

In my travels up and down 247 back and forth to Macon a few months back, I saw this sign.  That is not something you see very often, is it?

But once upon a time…..

Some of my fondest summer memories are of time spent with my cousins.  Mama and my Aunt loaded all seven and then eight of us up in the Chevy II Nova (way back in the days before mandatory car seats and seat belt laws), and we headed up to Macon.  The Museum of Arts and Sciences hosted movie mornings in the summer. I think it was every Tuesday and Thursday, but I can’t be sure now.  On the planetarium walls I saw many of the old Disney classics–Cannonball Express, The Ugly Dachshund, Candleshoe, and Escape to Witch Mountain, among many others.  Oh I loved the cool air and the comfortable seats in the planetarium.  When we left the cool darkness, the bright sunlight and steamy, sweltering heat made us blink and immediately enveloped us on the short walk back to the car.

After the movie, we often (okay my perspective, may not have been THAT often) went by the Krystal’s drive-thru and picked up burgers on the way home.  Back then 25 cent Krystals were not so unusual.  I can remember a head count being done–how many can you eat? was asked of the older ones and extras were added for the younger ones.  I wonder what those folks thought when Mama and my Aunt ordered 35 or 40 Krystals at a time.  With coupons.  Good times.

So many fun times spent together, especially in the summers.  Pots of chili or spaghetti spooned out in numerous bowls.  Playing Colored Ribbons or Cowboys and Indians in their yard or ours.  The Barbie Wedding.  Easter Egg Hunts and now Turkey Egg Hunts too.  Movie marathons on the Video Disc Players.  Remember those?  The thing holding the movie was shaped like a record album.  Remember those? Oh. Never mind.  Suffice to say, great times then.  Piled up in my Aunt and Uncle’s living room.  Star Wars–the original movies.  The Man From Snowy River.  The room was so dark and the picture on their color tv was so bright.  Almost like our own mini movie theater.

I am thinking of my cousins tonight as one of the best cousins ever has her birthday today.  And in the past week my own children have spent lots of fun times with some of their cousins.  And it’s also my niece’s birthday.  Yeah, I’ve got cousins on the brain.  And family.  And Krystal’s.  But that’s another story.

I am lucky to have a close family, where second and third generations out, we gather and love each other, share laughter and tears, and have each other’s backs.  If I am in a bind, I know who to call.

Tonight I am thankful for my cousins, who know me and oddly enough, seem to love me anyway.  I am thankful for my children’s cousins, and second cousins, and third, who brighten their lives and mine–with their creativity, imaginations, sweet spirits, and downright fun outlooks on life.  I give thanks for Mama and Daddy and all my aunts and uncles who made family a priority and made sure we had these great memories to turn back to on days like today.  And I’m grateful to Rody Davenport Jr. and J. Glenn Sherrill.  Oh, they’re the folks who invented and founded Krystal’s.  I don’t eat their burgers as often as I used to, but I still love them and the memories they carry with them.

A Hallmark card I got years ago--yep, this is how we roll.....

A Hallmark card I got years ago–yep, this is how we roll…..

Some fun Krystal facts: (from Wikipedia)

The first customer, French Jenkins, ordered a cup of coffee and six Krystals–for 35 cents

The focus for the restaurant from the beginning was cleanliness.  Mrs. Davenport suggested the name based on a crystal ball lawn ornament she saw–thinking of crystal clear and clean together, with a K for a twist

It first opened in 1932–it is the oldest hamburger chain in the South

Brenda Webb took her name from the chain after her sister Loretta Lynn suggested it–to Crystal Gayle

The current world record for eating Krystal burgers is 103 burgers consumed in 8 minutes by Joey Chestnut, set on October 28, 2007.