Mike Ruby
Mike Ruby
A Muscatine resident for over forty years, Mike Ruby had careers both as a teacher at Muscatine High school and as a writer for nonprofit companies. Now retired, Ruby continues to cultivate his love for writing by contributing monthly Ruby's Reflections to Discover Muscatine newspaper.

Muscatine Living

About 4 blocks from my house was an old fashioned A & W Root Beer stand that had been in the same location for decades. Sometimes on hot summer evenings, I’d take a nickel or dime from my newspaper earnings and jump on my bike, totally focused on savoring that frosty treat. After parking my bike, I’d walk up to the window to place my order. A few high-top stools were close by, and if I was lucky I was able to snag one. Prices for the mugs were 3 cents, 5 cents, and 10 cents. I usually settled for the nickel mug, but if it was super hot and I was extra thirsty, I’d splurge and spend a dime.

A couple of times each summer, after the dishes were done and the folks had finished reading the evening newspaper, Dad suggested we all climb into the car and go to the A & W. I don’t think it ever occurred to him that we could have walked that short distance. Soon after finding a parking spot in the gravel lot, the gum chewing, teenage carhop showed up with her order pad and pencil.

Dad usually ordered a dime mug and Mother, my brother, and I got a nickel mug. When the 4 mugs were brought to the car, Dad rolled the window up just far enough so the tray would be securely hooked on the window. On one memorable trip, Dad also ordered 2 quarts of root beer, at 35 cents each, to take home. Life couldn’t get much better than to have a supply of A & W Root Beer in our refrigerator. The bill totaled 95 cents. Dad gave the carhop a dollar and told her to keep the change. He wasn’t a big tipper.

Fast forward 20 years to when I was married and living in Kansas during the 1970s. There was an A & W drive-in close by, and our young son, Marcus, called it the root beer station. I well remember buckling him in our red 2-seater sports car and heading out for an impromptu father-son getaway. Now 47-years-old, Marcus still has fond memories of those trips.

Today, when I recall those visits to the A & W, either as a child or as a young father, those memories bring a smile to my face.

What childhood memories do you have of enjoying a special summer treat?

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