Readers revive memories of their favorite college hangouts.
Shakes at Stan’s
Ellen Patton, ’82, Arlington, Mass.
I can’t remember how my brother Robes and I got hooked on shakes at Stan’s, but we were definitely hooked. Over 20 years have gone by, and I can still taste that thick and delicious chocolate banana shake, which stood an inch or two taller than the paper cup. You really got your money’s worth. It was my personal favorite from their varied menu. Robes always ordered black raspberry. We were such creatures of habit. Stan’s also sold burgers, hot dogs, fries, and the like, but we mostly frequented it for half-price milk shakes on Monday nights. We considered a trip to Stan’s our own little family home evening, and we went every Monday night! Stan’s was on 900 East, across the street from Smith’s Food King and next door to the Star Palace. At first there were only a few people who knew the secret, but once the word got out, Stan’s became the hot spot on Monday nights, which led to a longer wait. I must sound like an old person when I say that our half-price shakes “were only 45 cents.”
I was in Provo last October visiting family and friends. BYU has had significant changes since I was a student (1978–82). The Wilkinson Center is different and filled with fast food. I looked around for my early-’80s Mexican platter, complete with enchiladas, beans, and rice. And where were the mint brownies? One day I suggested to my friends that we have lunch at Stan’s. We barreled down 900 East headed for my favorite hangout. I ate a hot dog and fries and enjoyed a chocolate banana milk shake, taking me right back to the good old days.
Jamming and Jimba’s
René R. Gutierrez, ’85, Delano, Calif.
During the late ’70s and early ’80s, Jimba’s on west Center Street was a hot spot where hungry musicians could sing for tips and food. To one side of the tiny stage, the booths were cozy and dimly lit; on the other side customers at clattering tables chattered loudly and yelled requests. Wedged into the room was a telephone booth, from which a waiter in a gorilla suit would emerge to celebrate a lucky diner’s birthday. The gorilla’s entry at the middle of a James Taylor tune, accompanied by both a loud siren and the crying of frightened children, made for a night to remember.
Jimba (he was flesh and blood) served his own line of ice cream that was marketed in local grocery stores. I sang there off and on in various configurations of musical friends until about 1984, when the sirens and music went silent and the gorilla suit was retired unceremoniously to the phone booth.
Embarrassment at the Border
Suzanne Michaud Campbell, ’96, Preston, Idaho
As freshmen in Helaman Halls, my group of friends quickly realized that our hangout would have to be within walking distance. Taco Bell provided the necessary components of being nearby and offering cheap foodstuffs.
I recall many a game of hearts played in the old corner booth, usually between 10 p.m. and midnight. (Taco Bell’s late-night hours made it perfect for freshmen who were eager to put off studying for the exam—which, after all, wasn’t until 9 the next morning.) We decided that the loser of each game would have to suffer a little humiliation. A few of the scenes of disgrace I recollect are Paul doing push-ups in the aisle between the booths, Rob sailing paper airplanes at a nearby family, and Russell drinking straight from the soda-pop fountain. I tried really hard not to lose—as I wasn’t sure even my 1-in-the-morning silliness could withstand the embarrassment—but I do remember having to go outside and press my mouth against the glass window in a huge “blowfish” after a hard-fought game.
When I’m in Provo, I like to visit the old hangouts and remember the many methods we cooked up to embarrass ourselves. I like to drive by that old Taco Bell and see the plate glass window from which my ChapStick was cleaned long ago. I don’t go in, though. After all, you never know whose mouth has been on the soda-pop dispenser.
A Heap of Heaven
Diana Bell Williams, ’60, Woodland Hills, Utah
I was a terrified freshman, living at Amanda Knight Hall, in 1955. Having grown up as an only child with a single mother (and being a fairly new convert to the Church), I wondered how I would survive in this “strange” place—strange because, up until that time, my life had been spent in Brooklyn, N.Y., and Los Angeles. Provo was a hick town to me.
There was a small grocery store down the street where we would go to buy goodies. Then in 1956, lo and behold, a man named Heaps opened a little pizza place at the store—and I mean little. You had to go up to a little window to get your pizza and then, hopefully, you got a little table—of which there were three or four. Talk about heaven: pizza in Utah! I couldn’t believe it. I was a lonely Italian from Brooklyn, and now I had a pizza place to help me feel at home. Heaps of Pizza became a great hangout for the girls at Amanda Knight and their dates. Now, 47 years later, the Brick Oven restaurant is still a favorite hangout, albeit a lot bigger.
Home Away from Home
A. Curtis Bowman, ’69, Bountiful, Utah
The struggles of college life presented quite a challenge when I was at BYU in the ’60s. Sometimes I needed a refuge just to face such burdens.
My refuge was a wonderful place called Lynn’s Café, just south of campus off 700 East. It was a combination greasy spoon, homey parlor, and dusty bookstall run by Lynn, a kindly old gentleman, and his portly, grandmotherly wife. He turned out thick, delicious hamburgers (even the buns were a treat), and there was always a slice of her bulky banana cream pie.
There were rows of National Geographic magazines and marvelous paperback novels that had little to do with academia. My brother Roy and I would often sit in one of the cushy red booths, supplied with hamburgers and pie, and lose ourselves among the searing red plateaus of Louis L’Amour’s Shalako and Heller with a Gun.
But most important, Lynn’s Café was a place we would repair to when we were in trouble. My friend and roommate Steen C. Lemon Jr., ’67, and I fled often to Lynn’s, where we would unload our troubles and receive consolation and advice. Lynn and his wife always made us feel they were on our side. When Steen worried about his musical prowess or when I fretted about a girl, we would step into the homey atmosphere of Lynn’s, receive consolation, and walk out feeling much more confident.
I don’t know what happened to Lynn’s. But its kindly atmosphere remains a valuable contribution to my days at BYU.
Lounging at the Library
Erin Renouf Mylroie, ’95, Fairport, N.Y.
While the avant-garde crowds flocked to Mama’s Café for bagels and atmosphere, my roommates and I frequented a much-hipper but less-appreciated hangout—the BYU library. We started off at the southwest corner of the main floor at the long tables in front of the large windows, affording passersby in the know a perfect view of our activities. This was a handy situation, because one could easily peek through the window en route to see if any comrades were there. Even in the case of a vacancy, a note was often taped to the underside of the table, relating the latest items of exclusive interest.
We convened at our cache between classes to trade clues on the Daily Universe crossword puzzle. During empty hours we sat in front of open books and re-rehearsed humorous memories. Through lazy afternoons we took turns napping under the table, sleeping suddenly and peacefully, the way you can do only in college after strings of all-nighters. We kept at our fun but feeble attempts at studying until nighttime closing. We would dash to the Bookstore for covert food operations, purchasing chocolate-covered peanuts and yogurt pretzels that would have to be sneaked into the library and then into our mouths. We figured out a way to make a cup out of a sheet of notebook paper and furtively fetched cups of water from the drinking fountain.
There is something magical about a rule to be quiet that makes erupting into laughter as unavoidable as it was at age 10. Somehow, life was funnier at the library. Even though we eventually had to move to a new spot in the library to avoid parasitic would-be suitors, the library was still the stomping ground that evokes the happiest, sweetest, and silliest memories.