It's a Saturday night forty years ago. Odell's is packed. It is the place to be if you're young and have a shiny car, and want the world to know you're alive. Four in the floor chrome Hurst shifters are appreciated along with Holley four barrel carbs and three deuces.
Last night the crowd was a little different. It was mostly people looking for good reasonably priced food from something other than a fast food spot. There were no kids cruising through the lot so likely the spot for the young to be is someplace else these days.
I first heard of Odell's as a young Boy Scout attending Camp Raven Knob in the summer of 1961. The counselors would whisper about the break from camp food and the good times to be had at Odell's on their one night off each Saturday.
It was a few years later when I first cruised through Odell's on my own, but it became a favorite late night spot for my teenage friends and I to grab a burger. In those days the town hadn't grown out to Odell's so it was on the edge of things, but that was typical of early drive-in restaurants where dual exhausts with rumbling engines were the rule.
Yet in those days, places like Odell's were a place to prove you existed outside the world of your parents. It was an edgy place then, but this was the south in the mid-sixties, and it didn't take much to be on the edge. Glenda, my wife, tells me that her parents wouldn't let her go to Odell's, but boys had a lot more freedom in those days so I didn't have that problem.
Our visit last night was pretty quiet. Most of the people showing up were regulars who had called ahead to avoid the fifteen to twenty minute wait which is inevitable since Odell's only cooks your food after it is ordered. As you pull up to the well-used radio menu stands, you get a good picture of a Big Moe with its two patties, special sauce, lettuce, pickles and toasted bun. It has been around a lot longer than a Big Mac. The Big Moe still only costs $2.00 and makes a substantial meal.
Just take NC Route 89 east about five miles until you come to the first stop light. Just after you pass through the stoplight, you can see Odell's parking lot behind the bank. There will cars there any day but Sunday when they're closed. In fact there are usually more cars than in the parking lot of the Hardee's across the street except at breakfast when Odell's also isn't open.
Order a Dog Basket for the ultimate value. Two very red, tasty hot dogs with slaw, onions, chili, and a nice order of fries for just $2.35. I can also recommend the lemonade which is pretty tasty these days. Other than a couple of picnic tables, the only place to eat is your car, but this is the sixties. If you listen closely you might just hear some of the rumble of the dual exhausts from those muscle cars of forty years ago.
When you're done eating, just take a left out the parking lot back onto to Route 89 (West Pine Street) keep heading east and in another couple miles you'll cross Mount Airy's Main Street. Take a left at the next light after Main Street, drive a couple of more blocks and take another left and one more left when you hit Main again, then you headed in the right direction to find a parking spot on Main and walk off that vintage sixties lunch by visiting a few of Mount Airy's shops. You might have to parallel park, but things haven't changed a lot in Mount Airy. You've also just completed the cruising loop that was so popular back a few decades.