.

Remember Hal's Whistle Stop?

More Belmont Memories

Thank you all for your kind words about my blog. I’m enjoying the memories, too!

Today, I’m going to talk about some of our illustrious establishments then and now. What “old-timer" can forget Hal’s Whistle Stop on the northeast corner of ECR and Ralston, next to “The Pink Building?” The Whistle Stop was a great place for Sunday-after-church breakfasts, lunch, or dinner.  It had a huge circular fireplace in the middle, and those lacquered tables. It was there that I ate my first Buffalo Burger!  It later became Leo’s Whistle Stop, then The Country Inn (or Larry’s Country Inn—I can’t remember), then the train station was built. Back in those days you had to wait for the train to go by at ECR and Ralston!

The Belmont Carwash was right across the street on the southeast corner of ECR and Ralston. It was a full service operation, very similar to the Hillsdale Carwash.  It was known for its marquee that announced: “Mr. Smith your check bounced.” It was always a source of great humor—especially if you knew the person whose check bounced!

The McDonald’s in town opened in the early 60’s. Back in those days, they actually cooked the burgers on-site!  Unlike today, it was a very special treat to go to McDonald’s. We would run to the big side window and watch the “French Fry Man” peel and slice potatoes, and the cooks flipping burgers. Nowadays, they dump frozen faux french fries out of a bag, and cook the burgers somewhere in Kansas.  In fact, you can’t even see a grill! The burgers were 18¢ and cooked fresh.

We also briefly had a Dairy Queen on ECR just south of McD’s (next to Hi-Lo Appliance), but that was short-lived.

Pilgrim Kitchen on El Camino has been there since 1968.  Most locals call it Pilgrim Pies, and it was one of two bakeries where you got your birthday cake. My dad used to drive us on Old County Road-where we would get out, walk across the railroad tracks, and squeeze between fence boards to get to the bakery. The other bakery was Knutson’s at 6th and Ralston, where a dry cleaners now resides. That was when you could park on Ralston Ave. between ECR and 6th! The nice old ladies at Knutson’s would always give you a cookie. It was like at the Mayfair or R&S meat counters, where the butchers would slip you a hot dog to munch on.

Well, I’m hungry now. See you soon—maybe at Twin Pines this Sunday for the last summer concert!

More memories to come, but for my next blog I’m going to switch gears.

Next Time:  Summertime tips for preparing your child for school.

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Laura Reed July 26, 2011 at 03:01 AM
And any kid who had Mr. Metro for 3rd grade will tell you that McDonald's hamburgers are cooked in Kansas! Loving these history lessons, Mr. M. Keep it up!
Terri Cook July 29, 2011 at 04:13 PM
I remember Hal's! I think Belmont's McDonald's was the first one in SM County. It might have even been before 1960. I'm from a big family (6 kids). My mom used to send my dad to McDonald's with $2 for burgers and fries for the whole family, might have included some milkshakes. Can you imagine? Knutson's Bakery was famous for its hot cross buns during Lent (never a favorite of mine, but is for many). I forgot about the check bouncing bulletin board. Effective, I'm sure.
Amy Perryman July 29, 2011 at 09:38 PM
Hello George, would you be interested in discussing the possibility of working with our publishing company on a photographic history of Belmont? If so, please contact me at aperryman@arcadiapublishing.com, or by phone at 843-853-2070, ext. 132. Thank you! Amy Perryman, Senior Acquisitions Editor, Arcadia Publishing.
Terri Cook July 29, 2011 at 10:25 PM
Amy, stop by the 2nd and 3rd floor of city hall for a great photographic history. Goes much farther back than George and my tenure in Belmont! : ) But sounds like a great project for George. He could get his students involved.
George Metropulos July 29, 2011 at 11:34 PM
Amy--I'll contact you via email. George
Ron August 06, 2011 at 05:20 PM
Great story. George, I think you should continue writing this stuff here, and try and get some pictures. I'd completely forgotten about the pink building and the whistle stop until you wrote about it (my memory of the whistle stop is....lousy food but nice people). Look forward to the next installment. With pictures!
RecruiterMan August 11, 2011 at 01:29 PM
Thank's for bringing us back on that stroll!! Some of my earliest memories are going over the railroad tracks and wishing we could stop at the Whistle Stop!! I remember touring in '68 as a Cub Scout from Fox School the McDonald's (back then there was a sign 'Over a million burgers sold!') or even better ...piling into the back of our station wagon on a Friday night for a burger, fries and the thickest chocolate shake I had ever tasted!! ...Thank's again!!!
Greg Boomer August 14, 2011 at 03:55 AM
Weird finding this today. I was talking to my brother about Hal's at dinner, (Oh lord! do I ever miss steak sandwiches). Moved to Vancouver Canada in '75 and shocked that here a steak "sandwich" (harumph!) is a piece of meat slapped on top of a piece of garlic bread. How the heck are you supposed to eat THAT! Then being brothers we started arguing... I said a steak sandwich was basically a nice 3/4 inch sirloin on a white rectangular french roll with 'burger-ish' toppings. He said... ... something else and it went to laughter after that.
Scott F. August 14, 2011 at 05:12 AM
Remember Henry's Hamburgers? It was right next door to McDonalds. It might even have been there first. Almost identical menu and prices except they also had hot dogs. Their logo was a smiling hamburger bun. Closed around the late 60's or early 70's.
George Metropulos August 15, 2011 at 03:12 AM
I went to Henry's Hamburger's grand opening, and I remember it being in San Carlos. There was a Dairy Queen a few doors south of McDonald's in Belmont. That's my memory.
George Metropulos August 15, 2011 at 03:14 AM
Greg--YES steak on a french roll. I vividly remember the toasted roll. Then it was mayo, tomato and lettuce, and A-1!
Greg Boomer August 15, 2011 at 11:04 PM
Henry's closed a slew of times. The burgers were great, (my dad's favourite actually) but they... (avert your eyes if you're squeamish) used a mix of beef and horsemeat, hence the repeated closures. Ahhh the memories of home.
Greg Boomer August 15, 2011 at 11:27 PM
George, you make it sound like a steak sandwich isn't readily available anymore. Here's a couple more of my -I miss these places- "melancholies". -The American Steakhouse (San Carlos/Redwood City) -Horky's mexican food (San Carlos) and NObody up here believes that name -The Magic Pan (Hillsdale mall) & their pilarcintas? deep fried hamcheese crepes -Mama Gina's (Hillsdale mall-down the spiral ramp where Lyon's was) LONG before quizno's stole the broiled sub idea. RATS! now I'm homesick and sobbing
Tim Anderson April 21, 2012 at 09:20 PM
I definitely remember Hal's Whistle Stop! My first actual wage paying job was being busboy/dishwasher there from Sept-Dec '67. At that time, it was just the cook, myself, Hal, and a waitress/cashier. That was it. I think I worked harder at that job than any since. I remember getting there in the morning, and Hal sitting back smoking a cigar with a couple of buddies while I was mopping the floor. Don't want to give the wrong impression -- he was a good guy.
JoMont March 10, 2013 at 03:34 AM
You probably bussed our table then. We ate there a lot in 67. A family of 5, (I was eleven then) I always ordered the cheeseburger and a bowl of chile and then went over to the comic book table where I could always find a nice selection of Archie, Richie Rich and Little Lotta. I loved that place so much. Now that I think of it, it may have been more like 1965-67.

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