Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Burger Chef

Sending e-mail back and forth with a friend reminded me of a time long ago and two things, mescaline and Burger Chef. Yeah, strange combination, but not if you were there in the late 1960's. Ok, and the story goes how?

I served in the US Air Force (USAF) from March 7, 1969 to January 2, 1973 (everyone who served remembers those dates and days, enlisting and being discharged). After basic training at Lackland AFB in Texas and electronics training at Lowry AFB in between Denver and Aurora Colorado (now gone, turned over to the city), I was stationed at McClellan AFB north of Sacramento, California where I spent the duration of my service when not on temporary duty assignments (TDY's).

It was there I was introduced to drugs and fast food restaurants. The drugs were marijuana, of course, and something more interesting, mescaline. While marijuana was the drug of choice of many of the service people at McClelland, of those who partook of drugs, with the close proximity of San Francisco there were others but far less so.

A friend in our dormitory was the local drug source. Knowing and trusting your source and knowing the quality of the drugs was paramount then, one bad trip or buy and all could be disasterous, as one found out when the marijuana was laced with speed. His source didn't last very long after that as we stopped buying.

Anyway, while this was going on, on the east side of the base was Watt Avenue, the main thorough fare for north-south bound traffic from Interstate 80 and all areas north, which at that time was pretty much open country once past the base. But on the east side of the avenue was housing developments and small commericial malls serving base personnel, like a lot of fast food places.

And one of those was a Burger Chef. At the time they were popular and had good food that rivaled all the rest. One of my favorite was the Big Shef, a hamburger, when it was actually meat, with mayonaisse-like dressing instead of ketchup or mustard. With fries, it as a great meal then.

And when I was on marijuana, it was the place of choice for the munchies, followed by the local pizza place (long forgotten the name), but mostly I loved Burger Chef, and on mescaline, it was heaven. The problem was that on the drug you have no sense of the world around, only what you thought you felt and saw.

That was good if you had a guide, someone to make sure you didn't do anything bad or stupid, especially in public. Sounds strange to some folks, but once I tried to cross Watt Avenue, a four-lane major highway, during rush hour against the light. Not smart, and my guide held me until we could cross.

There are more memories of those days and those trips, drug-related or not, and of those people. The memories we have of then, lost in the back of our mind, filed in mental shoe boxes in storage until someone jingles the bell to remove it and open the lid, to remember an interesting time and events. And something lost, drugs and Burger Chef.