Soda fountain was a popular meeting place

DEL MAR — Every drug store had a soda fountain. Del Mar Drug Store was located at 15th Street and Highway 101, which is now the Americana Restaurant. Its fountain was one of two popular meeting places in the village. The other was La Tienda, where folks came from everywhere every night to savor
Bea Polloreno’s delicious Mexican dishes.
The fountain was where kids gathered after school. Ice cream bars were a nickel and one out of every dozen had a “free” stick good for another bar. Milk shakes were 15 cents and thick, creamy malts were a quarter. Banana splits with three scoops of ice cream were 35 cents for kids who could afford them. Hamburgers with a pickle and potato chips were 20 cents and for two-bits you could get a cheeseburger. At one time or another most of the girls from grammar school worked behind the fountain and if you were favored by one of them they would slip you a Coke or a root beer that normally sold for a nickel.
During the summer Jimmy Durante and Ed Dunham, the village plumber, came in mid-morning for a cup of joe and a donut. They were still wearing their fishing togs that reeked of stale bait causing some customers to complain that management should not allow bums at the fountain, not realizing Durante was a celebrity during that era enjoying a vacation and the races at the track. Jerry Ward would stop by with the five Bing Crosby boys in tow. They were on their way to the beach where they would launch a rowboat and go out near the end of the pier. Jerry always said the hardest thing about the process was keeping the boys from climbing over the boat and into the ocean.
Sundays after Mass, Pat O’Brien dropped in for a cup of java and while he was sitting at the fountain he would thumb through the magazines that were for sale on a nearby rack. He knew every one of the girls behind the fountain by name and would kabitz with them.
The Hollywood elite said they enjoyed vacationing in the village because they were never hounded by autograph seekers or photographers wanting to take their pictures.

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