Playful, Pius or Remembered Stuff

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Thursday, November 19, 2009

Not just cheeseburgers

I suppose everyone had a favorite hamburger joint when we were kids. Mine was on Slauson Ave. near 6th Ave. in Los Angeles. It was called "Lil Abner's". We discovered it because it was convenient. At the time I lived on 7th Ave. near 54th Street and I could easily walk to Lil Abner's. Many of the kids from Manual Arts High School dined there occasionally--at least those who lived in my end of town. I don't have any idea when Lou opened his business, but it must have been about 1950 when I discovered him. This is before the Colonel fried his first chicken or Ray Croc (McDonald) sold his first cheap burger.

It was a shack no larger than 20 by 20 with outside stools only. Lou Rubino, the proprietor, was the ironic Lil Abner. He weighed 400 pounds if he weighed an ounce. He was the nicest guy you would ever want to meet, and he was fastidious about the food he served. He had his own secret recipe for chili. He did not serve a cheeseburger with thin slices of cheese nor did he use some sort of "cheese food" for economy. His cheeseburgers included a generous slice of real cheddar. He told me that he watched while the butcher ground his beef to make sure he didn't include any extra fat. He served a tamale with chili and cheese smothered in chopped onions that was to die for.

After graduation my job as an apprentice pressman for Moore Business Forms brought me by Lil Abner's on my way home from work. When I worked swing shift I frequently enjoyed a burger or a tamale and a chat with Lou for my midnight snack. We exchanged Christmas cards long after I moved, after I got married and after I finished seminary and was ordained. Lou Rubino was one of those feel good memories from my high school days. Don't you have a memory like that?

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