We’ve been thinking a lot recently about the heyday of the American diner and drive in – the 1950’s. This was a truly happy time in American; we were actually thrilled to be moving to the suburbs, kids played outside freely, and doors were always left unlocked. No television show depicts these happier times than “Happy Days”, watched by droves of baby boomers beginning in the early 70’s. Central to the show was Arnold’s Drive in where the teens hung out after school and Fonzie banged on the jukebox at least once in every show.
The show, which is supposed to take place in the mid-fifties, is about a typical middle-class American family – the Cunninghams. Howard Cunningham owned a hardware store while his wife Marion was a stay-at-home mom raising their two children – teenager Richie and his younger sister Joanie. Richie and his gang of friends and their day-to-day antics are central to the story. Potsie Weber was Richie’s socially awkward and not-to-bring friend while Ralph Malph was the girl-chasing jokster of the trio. But the star of the show was undoubtably Fonzie whose leather jacket, motorcycle and awesome hair always got him the girls Ralph just dreamed about.
As the jingle said “Come to Arnold’s Drive-In for real good food and music”, and that’s exactly what Richie and his pals did. Arnold’s was the epitome of the 1950’s diner, where kids rode their bikes or cars after school to enjoy a burger, a pop, good gossip, a little flirting, music and dance! The diner was a center of social life for teens and young adults across America.