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Buildings can be much more than bricks and mortar or drywall and plumbing.
Buildings also can serve as symbols.
A building erected 39 years ago at the corner of Dixie and Lincoln Trail boulevards was a sign of Radcliff’s arrival. It was no longer a town. Radcliff was a city because in 1974 only cities had a McDonald’s.
Growing up in the north end of Hardin County, fast food had meant a curb-service root beer from Dog ‘n Suds or a quick burger at Hottie’s next to the skating rink. By the time I started driving, an extra dollar in my pocket meant either buying one gallon of gas or grabbing a Royal Burger and Coke at Burger Queen, which later was renamed Druther’s.
When I was small, a perfectly symmetrical McDonald’s hamburger or a package of those golden shoestring fries required a drive to Louisville – or at least Valley Station. One of those pre-Golden Arches McDonald’s with the neon walking burger man on its sign stood along the highway there. Many shopping trips to Dixie Manor with Mom or accompanying Dad to pick up his paycheck at the factory in Rubbertown included a degree of pleading for McDonald’s.
A McDonald’s in Radcliff changed the landscape.
A building also can become an opportunity.
No matter what bias you might hold about fast-food establishments, they have symbolized employment for countless teenagers. The 16-year-old who would become my wife was a member of the first crew at the Radcliff McDonald’s.
While her work ethic probably should be credited to parental coaching and examples, her appreciation for processes and doing things the right way was enhanced by McDonald’s.
Phrases like “if you have time to lean, you have time to clean” were McDonald’s mantras that influence her still.
The registers in those days before computerization required the order taker to know each item and its price. She still has that menu board locked in memory with the 1970s prices.
Buildings also can store memories.
The original Radcliff McDonald’s recently was torn down. A new one is being erected on the same spot.
Driving past the lot last week where rubble is giving way to the framework of a new McDonald’s, thoughts and images rushed by: family meals, friendly conversations, old friends, kids in the PlayPlace, grandkids in the PlayPlace. Who knew an old building could hold so much.
Because I dated a girl on that first work crew, pleasant feelings associated with new love and a young romance came to mind. Remember those times? Everything was a discovery. Every conversation seemed exciting and new. The world was all ahead of you.
On the other side of your wedding vows, the concept of “for better or for worse” sounds only like a commitment to stand tall in the face of adversity and circumstance. You have no idea that a little of the better and most of the worse is stuff that you cause yourself.
So apparently a building also can cause you to be overly philosophical and a bit misty eyed.
Only one thing left to say: “I’m loving it.”
Ben Sheroan is editor of The News-Enterprise. He can
be reached at 270-505-1764 or firstname.lastname@example.org.