February 26, 1999
Responding to a recent column about the P.F. Lau home, where Dave Payne, his brothers and parents lived before the house was demolished to make way for a new sub-division several years ago, Kit Froebel of Houston sends me an e-mail message. That column sparked memories of her own childhood home before she moved to Perry. Her parents were Ernest and Margaret Norman, and Kit finished high school here as Margaret Norman. She and her mother, who taught school in Perry and elsewhere in the county, stay in touch with several folks here and they read this column because it often concerns folks or things they remember so well. Kit and her mother are neighbors in Houston.
"There is a two-story, bright pink, Victorian Conch house in my past," she writes. "We never got a picture of it before we left it to move to Perry in 1944." Kit adds that another Northwest Corner article about the Period Drive-In Restaurant that used to be located on the curve of the old highway south of town also caught her eye. The business was run by Mr. and Mrs. Chet Stoughton. They had a daughter, Carol, who was one of Kit's close friends when they were about 12 or 13 years old.
"Later the restaurant was sold," Kit recalls, "and when I was 14 years old I went to work there as a car hop. At that time it was owned by Bertie Orcutt, who was an older sister of Bill Passow. I recall that when the Korean war broke out and the 45th (National Guard) Division was called up, Bill came into the Period asking his sister for some proof of his age. He was big for his age, and I believe he had joined the National Guard before he was old enough to do so." (Apparently he was about 14). She continues: "I worked there one summer and during the Christmas school holidays that year. My salary was 35 cents per hour and lunch. There was a married woman who worked the shift ahead of me. I babysat with her two little boys for 25 cents per hour during her shift. My grandmother came from next door and watched them while I walked to work at the Period and the other lady walked home. It was a 16-hour workday for me, but I don't recall that I objected. They lived where the backyard of the YMCA is now. My grandfather and grandmother Hartung had a big, two-story, green house at 722 Birch, which was the next door east of Dr. Render's home and office."
Many friends remember the Normans and the Hartungs, and quite a few of us still remember the Period. It was a forerunner to places like McDonald's, Sonic and Braum's. Even without the neon, chrome cabinets and today's glitzy decor, it was a fun place to be on one of those nights when you could let down the top on a convertible and drive around the square with your friends and all the Cokes and hamburgers you could hold. Thanks to Kit/Margaret for bringing back those days.