Thursday, February 11, 2021

Down at Mickey's

image from

 Down at Mickey’s

“A poet could write volumes about American diners,

because they are so beautiful.” --David Lynch.

On Saturday nights,

in our small town

we all used to hang out

at Mickey’s Diner,

a remodeled

Northern Pacific dining car.

Before specific hamburger restaurants

were invented in the late 50’s, diners

and drug stores were the only places

one could get a hamburger.

There was just something

so Art Deco about those

converted railroad car diners

that showed up after WWII.

Mickey’s had been built

in 1946. 

My Dad use to take me there,

just me and him,

as a treat after

one of my little league

baseball games.

I was a pretty good

first baseman.

Parked all around Mickey’s

were thrilling shiny cars.

Parked amongst the pre-war sedans

were ’57 Impalas,

         ’54 Bel Airs,

         ’56 Roadmasters,

         ’53 Packards

         ’58 Oldsmobile Rockets, and

         ’55 Lincolns.

These cars were trimmed

with tons of bright chrome,

steel bumpers and massive grills,

each with its unique hood ornament,

matching the brilliance

of the stainless steel trim

on the dining car.

Ike was President,

and the pounds of chrome

on every door, and 

the behemoth V-8 engines,

and the twin glass packs,

announced to the world

that 10 miles to the gallon of gas

was OK, and America was

the most prosperous country ever.

Inside the diner, a row

of chrome-necked red stools

were bolted to the floor 

in front of a stainless steel bar.

The grills and fryers were

in plain sight. 

The booths, all plush

with their red Naugahyde covers,

lined the window side of the car.

I preferred sitting in a booth.

I always ordered

a cheeseburger, curly fries,

and a chocolate shake.

They used real ice cream, 

and they left the chrome canister

with the left overs in it.         

The .19 cent burger places

that replaced the diners

never had the magic and allure

that the diner cars had.

Glenn Buttkus

Posted over at d'Verse Poet's Pub MTB


Ken Gierke said...

This shines, from dining car to the cars to the memories they gave you.

Jane Dougherty said...

This brings back an era some of us know only from Humphrey Bogart films.

JadeLi said...

I love your description of the cars, the diner itself, and what they meant to you. There is a car museum not all that far from here (check it out at:
( )that has all those old cars in it AND a diner as you describe on the property.

Grace said...

This is blast from the past and a treat to read tonight Glenn. I want those prices back for a good cheeseburger and ice cream.

JIm Feeney said...

Loved this Glenn...the atmosphere, the detail, a memory that shines like polished chrome...JIM

Jane said...

This makes me want a burger and a milkshake!

Helen said...

Well, you certainly know how to take a lady way back to St. Paul MN and her numerous visits to Mickey's Diner. You just made my day. The smells, the feel, the sounds, the food, the shakes, the people! Thanks.

Kim M. Russell said...

I’d only ever seen diners in films and on television – and then on my only visit to New York I went to a diner and experienced the real thing, and my memories are reflected in your words, Glenn. I’m enthralled by Mickey’s Diner! How wonderful to make a static diner from a Northern Pacific dining car! Even the cars parked outside are exotic to me. Do they serve veggie burgers?

Ingrid said...

You really paint a picture of a magical moment in time which I've only ever seen in the movies: how exciting to have lived, breathed and tasted it! The Lynch quote is interesting because Diners play a huge part in his work, and I always liked the atmosphere he creates there. You've captured that same atmosphere (though less sinister) in your poem.

robkistner said...

Wonderful! A boys wet bream. I love it! Cool bro... now come on over and fly with me!

robkistner said...

I am way too high — come on over and fly with me! I will be back earthbound tomorrow to tread better!!

Dwight L. Roth said...

Those were the days my friend... and the i recognized the cars..everyone!! My sister dated a guy who had a shiny orange and black 58 Mercury! And, did you play the jukebox by putting you Nickle in the slot and pick your favorite song!

Great memories Glen!

robkistner said...

I came back to read more thoroughly dude! I love this piece!! I especially love the inclusion of all those nickel-chromium’d glorious guzzlers. I personally owned owned of those steel “beasts” — ‘57 Chevy and ‘58 Olds. My Olds had a killer continental kit jutting off the back bumper. Those old cars still have soul!

brudberg said...

This is so filled with atmosphere, all that chrome and bright hope... but I'm sure that already then there was some rust behind the polished surface.