January 2, 2009

American Graffiti - 35 Years Ago George Lucas Discovered Rollerskates and Harrison Ford

Can you believe it has been 35 years since we first saw on the big screen carhops skate up to a car door with a full tray of burgers, shakes and fries? In my town we had an A&W Drive-In where someone walked up to our car and did the same thing, but they never roller skated.

In American Graffiti, I saw Harrison Ford before he became Indiana Jones. Ron Howard was already a star, but no one knew who Suzanne Sommers was yet (thus she was listed as "the girl in the white T-Bird in the credits) and Cindy Williams had yet to become "Shirley" of Laverne and Shirley fame (one of my favorite shows as a kid)

We can thank George Lucas for immortalizing Modesto and Mel's Drive-In after he filmed American Graffiti in 1973. My sister had the record album and this was one of the few movies I got to go see without adult supervision.

Now 35 years later when I want to relive that time period in San Francisco, we go to Mel's Drive-In without the carhops but still with lots of nostalgia and good food. They have locations around town but the two restaurants out on Lombard or on Geary Streets give you a little more of the old time feeling. It is almost like traveling back in time.

If you are downtown and can't find a Mel's, there is also Lori's Diner ready to provide a 1950's vibe and a good milkshake!

Photo credit to glenn batuyong

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