Last week, an Upstate icon passed away. J.C. Stroble of Spartanburg’s Beacon Drive-In died after a severe fall.
Now, I don’t know enough about him to give a proper eulogy, but what the famous order caller brought to mind was the nostalgia of places like the Beacon.
We’ve all had those memories ingrained of things that are beloved to us, but may be ordinary to others. What’s even better is, my memories aren’t yours. We all have our own private nostalgia.
I used to think I had died and gone to heaven when a piping hot cheeseburger at Lum’s would grace my lips. My parents thought otherwise.
Truth be told, when I went back there as an adult, the mystique was gone, having evaporated either due to time blurring my past, or time eroding the quality.
If everyone shared our nostalgia, places we loved long ago would exist today.
We could still imitate a clown car when the drive-in theater charged by the vehicle. And we could still draw straws to see who climbed into the trunk when they started charging by the person.
We could still have malts at Lovell’s, get a fried chicken leg basket at The Red Barn or shop at S.F Izard’s.
That’s where a place like the Beacon differed.
It had enough nostalgia from yesteryear to draw long-time customers, but still was making memories for people today.
J.C. Stroble was a main reason for that. He is part of what’s kept the Beacon from becoming just a memory and instead made it a legendary place to visit.
I don’t know if the food is any better at the Beacon than lesser-known joints, but something about the experience almost makes it taste like it is.
You aren’t just getting a plate of fried, greasy goodness — you are getting the same thing your father and grandfather did. In places like the Beacon, you can see the history on the walls and feel the past in the air.
Being a throwback is chic these days, but the Beacon has been that way since the first time Mr. Stroble called out “Burger a-Plenty” to the short order cooks. It isn’t fine dining. It looks its age.
It isn’t healthy for you, yet the Beacon endures.
J.C. Stroble will be looking down on it, sipping his heavenly iced tea to try to keep it that way.
Reach Scott Cost at firstname.lastname@example.org to yell Fish Sandwich a-Plenty.