Meet At The "Crossroads"
For A Sixties Dining Experience

Samantha M. Shapiro

© Copyright 2004 by Samantha M. Shapiro

Photo of a sixties style diner.  (c) 2004 by Richard Loller.

 This trip may not seem to have any real significance to a traveler by any means. In fact, if someone were to look at a map of Ohio and compare Canton to Mineral City they would never consider my story to be about travel at all. However, this journey I made will always have a very special meaning in my memories.

It all started with a trip to Mineral City, Ohio to buy a car from a salvage body shop. Little did my mom and I know that the paint wasn’t done drying on my new baby, and the bridge to get to the car lot was blocked off due to some construction. Having only traveled those roads once before, the two of us felt like hobbit’s, much like the ones traveling through “The Old Forest,” a slight resemblance to this so-called “city” we were in.

A half hour after discovering the roadblock had past. Our patience was winding down simultaneously with the gas gage. And then we found it! The house where my car was to be drove away from. But, it wasn’t ready for my taking. We had to come back later when the paint would be dry.

“OK,” we said. But then it hit us. We had no clue where we were, and we were hungry.

“Um … is there anywhere to go around here. I mean, anywhere we could go to relax and get a bite to eat?” My mom asked of the kind lady we had bought the car from.

She kind of just looked at us, with a do-you-know-where-you’re-at kind of stare. We knew we were out in the “boonies” as it is sometimes referred to.

“Well, really we just need something to eat,” my mom said quickly after the “out here?” stare.

“Sure …”

And the woman directed us out onto the main road and suggested a place called Mimi’s. She guaranteed it to be “really, really good,” so it was worth a shot. Well, being it just us two girls, with definitely a bad sense of direction, we both agreed before we left her driveway to stick to the main roads no matter what. We both get pretty cranky on an empty stomach and couldn’t afford to be lost again.

Suddenly, to our surprise, the angels in heaven must have heard our tummies rumbling because up ahead we saw a large strip of stores, and on the corner was “Crossroads Restaurant.” “Should we really stop here?” I asked.

Well, that didn’t need much convincing because it was the only sign of food for miles, besides of course a Burger King billboard pointing farther north. Why not go for something new and exciting? It would be the only chance, now or probably never.

We parked the little blue Mazda and stood in amazement, almost as if we had been in exile and finally found out holy land. We decided to check into the store next door before we ate dinner, because where we’re from 4:00 pm was just a little too early for dinner.

The Crossroad General Store was welcoming us with a little sidewalk sale and a friendly cashier. Inside we found everything from greeting cards, to candy, and arts and crafts to household needs. We were in a little utopia. We got a key for my new car made for $1.29. We purchased a few more things; in fact my mom proved the Easter Bunny didn’t exist when she found all the ingredients for awesome Easter baskets on sale in the seasonal isles of the store. Then we realized our hunger had grown enormously. So, we dropped our bags off at the car and walked on into the restaurant not knowing what to expect.

We got to pick our own seats, which may not seem that important, but where I’m from, you usually have to wait in line at the door for 10-15 minutes before you’re seated somewhere usually crowded and loud. I picked out the booth that was in front of the most decorated wall in the whole restaurant. Crazy enough, the decorations were for sale; I had to hold myself back, I’m also a sucker for homemade decorations, almost as I am for homemade food.

Suddenly in the middle of our amusement of the 60s-like diner, our waitress came to wait on us. “Why are you looking like the cat that ate the canary?” she asked.

Our answer was a simple smile and a shrug of the shoulders for I had never heard the phrase before. To this day I have yet to hear anyone else ask me that question. We ordered a glass of water, and decided on the buffet with soups, salad, and an array of warm dinner dishes. It reminded me of “Old Country Buffet,” a place my parents would take us kids to celebrate our birthdays and good report cards from school. But, for a curious reason this place was a little more special. The menus were just typed pieces of paper and the prices were refreshing compared to the restaurants in back home.

A cheeseburger was only $1.75, and a “bottomless” cup of coffee, $0.70. Our buffet was only $5.99 and we sure did get our monies’ worth.

I had a huge salad with the works, of course, a nice, big, hot bowl of homemade soup and later home-style deep fried chicken, like my grandma used to make. The mashed potatoes weren’t from a box and either was the macaroni and cheese. Everything was delicious. And if that wasn’t enough, fresh baked pies, cakes, and cookies were laid out on dishes for the grabbing. They were gorgeous and tasty as well.

Our bill was barely $13.00 and the atmosphere was just like eating at home at our own kitchen table. We made sure to leave a nice hefty tip because we were happily stuffed with wonderful food.

It may not seem like much at all. It’s not a fancy five-star dining facility where the waiters all wear tuxes: it was something special. It’s just a quaint little place out in boo-foo where the old men without wives sit and eat a good meal and chat about nothing. But it’s a place where a busy modern family could go to get the home-cooked feel without dirtying the kitchen. But, it’s definitely a place to stop when it’s time to eat and there’s not another restaurant in sight. On our way back to pick up my car we made sure not to get lost again. It was getting late and at the time I needed to get my homework done and get to bed. It’s rough being a teenager on a school night; you don’t ever seem to have any fun until the weekend. But this weekend, I would have a car.

The lady selling me the car asked if we found a place to eat and I let her know we went to the “Crossroads.” She still insisted that Mimi’s was “really, really good,” but she was just glad to know we made it there and back in one piece. We checked out the car and decided I would be able to drive her home. I was relieved because there was no way I wanted to come back tomorrow and risk another detour.

 On the way I noticed the placemat I had brought back to keep in my scrapbook. It had crossword puzzles, word searches, and fun facts: all things you usually only see on the children’s mats at those restaurants back home. It was entertaining for sure. I also made sure to keep a menu, so in case I would ever open a restaurant I would make sure it was as simple and satisfying as that one. I’m glad we didn’t make it to Mimi’s as the lady recommended; I enjoyed exploring Mineral City’s “Crossroads.”

When I got home and went to bed I forgot all about the trip to Mineral City my mom and I had made. In fact, I ended up wrecking that car eight months later rushing around at night trying to get out to meet my friends for a carefree summer night of fun. But, a few years flew by, after graduating from high school and joining the Army Reserves, I passed through Mineral City on the way home from a weekend of duty in Cadiz, Ohio.

I laughed and almost stopped into the diner for a bite to eat, but realized that this time around I had college homework waiting for me back home. Some things will never change, especially the memories I have of that tiny town about 30 miles from home. It may not seem far, but it’s more like a time warp then a half an hour drive. A journey I’m glad I’ve made and might even make again if I ever need a cheap car or an Easter basket for that matter.

I was born in and still live in Canton, Ohio. I graduated from GlenOak High School where I was the editor of the school newspaper. I am now studying journalism at Kent State University. I am also in the Army Reserves and plan on starting a family as soon as my contract with the military is up and I have graduated from college.

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