Monday, September 10, 2012

Ray and Ola's

Just a short walk from the high school I attended there was a lunch counter/soda fountain/general teen hang-out called Ray and Ola's named, not surprisingly, after its owners, Ray and Ola. It had a counter with stools, a few booths, a jukebox and a pin ball machine, but mostly what it had was location as it was within easy walking distance from the school so it was a natural place for kids to go to at lunch and after school.  To say that the place was constantly mobbed at those times would be an understatement - it was THE place to go to meet friends, catch up on the latest news about who was going out with whom, and maybe engage in discreet public displays of affection with your sweetie, and you could stay for hours for the price of a cherry-coke.

Ray and Ola's was, I think, the east coast small town version of places like Arnold's, which was the fictional Milwaukee drive-in the gang from Happy Days used to frequent, or Mel's Drive-In, the real life teen gathering place featured in the movie "American Graffiti".  In the '60s teens everywhere, it seems, needed a place to gather, to socialize and be seen, and occasionally, truth be told, to cause a little mischief.

I don't know if such places exist today; it seems teens lives now are more structured with lots of organized activities to occupy them after school and not a lot of time to just "hang out" the way we used to.  I know there is a teen facility operated by the school department in the small town where I now live that is intended to give teens a safe place to go meet with friends, play games and otherwise occupy themselves in their spare time, but somehow it just doesn't seem to provide the same kind of atmosphere that a place like Ray and Ola's did.

I have no idea why I am telling you all this, but at least it gives me an opportunity to post a couple of song's from the era that were likely to be on the juke box at Ray and Ola's. The British invasion was just getting under way in the early '60s and the charts were dominated by the likes of the Beatles and the Dave Clark Five, but at Ray and Ola's you were more likely to be listening to a song about teen love, like this -

or teen angst, like this -

(I seem to remember that the girls picked most of the songs we listened to.)

Whatever the reason it was on my mind, I can never think of Ray and Ola's without being reminded of this song from Jimmy Buffett - I think you'll see why:

I hope Ray and Ola got to enjoy a second honeymoon in Pensacola - after putting up with us for all of those years I'll bet they really needed one - and they certainly deserved it!

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