The Big Mac at 50

Reminisce - - Spotlight - BY SHERRI VIZZUETT • MONONGAHELA, PA

Af­ter post­ing a re­quest on Face­book for a photo of the Cot­tage Diner, my fa­vorite place to eat grow­ing up in the ’70s in Monongahela, Penn­syl­va­nia, I was flooded with sto­ries. One per­son shared a hi­lar­i­ous tale from his early teens when, dur­ing a sleep­over, he and his friends snuck into the al­ley be­hind the diner at 4 a.m. and heisted pies out of the back of the de­liv­ery truck.

Many re­mem­bered hav­ing a sand­wich at the diner af­ter a movie at the Star The­ater just around the cor­ner. Nearby Frank’s Fruit Mar­ket sold beau­ti­ful wrapped fruit bas­kets and Christ­mas trees in the open plaza. A taxi stand and a Grey­hound stop next door meant you could grab a snack at the diner while wait­ing for the bus. The mem­o­ries go back to the ’50s, when my mom went there.

Dur­ing re­de­vel­op­ment in the ’80s, the en­tire block was wiped out. A shiny McDonald’s now stands in place of the diner. Its owner has be­come a gen­er­ous com­mu­nity mem­ber. My chil­dren and I hit the drive-thru when­ever we crave a Big Mac and a sweet thick shake.

But so many im­ages of the old diner stay with me. I share them with my chil­dren, but they can’t know the plea­sure we took in the not-so-per­fect ar­chi­tec­ture, the not-so­com­fort­able wooden booths, the not-so­healthy fries cooked in pots of well-used grease or the not-so-pleas­ant whiff of ripe pro­duce through the open diner win­dow on a warm sum­mer day.

The mem­o­ries

go back to the ’50s, when my mom went there.

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