Here in our small town in Central Pennsylvania, we have our own famous “Coney Island”. It is a small diner that has been here since the beginning of time. They serve two foods. Hot dogs and hamburgers. They serve three drinks. Coffee, soda pop in bottles and chocolate milk. (They may serve white milk, I’m really not sure) They have had the same sign, grill, tables and women working there as long as I can remember.
You can tell that you’re approaching the Coney Island first by the smell. It has a unique aroma of grilled onions and meat sauce that enters your nostrils blocks away. As you get closer, you will see a staff person flipping burgers on the grill that is centered in the front window, all framed out by bright light bulbs.
Once you enter Coney Island, it’s like you stepped back in time. It is adorned with a 20 foot high tin ceiling, the original counter tops (complete with bare spots from the dishes being slid across it) and the same wooden stools that my grandparents sat on when they dined there. There is a scale that would tell your fortune for a nickle, if it worked. You will be served on vintage diner plates with worn emblems and will hear just the right amount of “clank” when they’re placed down on the counter, ready to be slid your way.
When you’re inside, you will be encased with the aroma and will have to shower and wash every stitch of clothing you’re wearing unless you want stray dogs following you for days. But you don’t mind because you know you’re getting ready to enjoy THE best burger and/or hot dog you have ever tasted. When you place your order it will be relayed to staff as either “up” (hot dog) or “down” (hamburger). One down/everything is a hamburger with mustard, grilled onions and their special meat sauce. One up/everything is a hot dog with mustard, raw onions and the meat sauce. My special order: one up, no mustard, xxx sauce and light onions. Oh my.
One of the things Coney Island is famous for is their Christmas tree. It is a monster and has the most lights of any tree I’ve ever seen. This picture was taken with my cell phone on February 24th of this year. Yes, it was still up at the end of February. They don’t have a set time for tree removal, it goes when the needles start dropping. Period.
What I love most about Coney Island is the fact that they refuse to give way to “modern times”. Even when the old coffee brewer broke beyond repair, what did they do? Brought in someone’s Jeff Gordon coffee maker and plugged it in on top of the counter. Totally makes me smile.
Coney Island. One of our hometown masterpieces. I’m thinking Fat Friday dinner plans have been made!