There were many memorable times in Spokane growing up. Grandma Woolum lived there and we took frequent trips from Kellogg to stay at her house. I recalled memories of Northtown before it was enclosed, shopping at the ValuMart on Francis before it was Fred Meyer, and bowling around the corner on Division. I also remembered the A&W Root Beer stand on Hamilton. Every time we headed up the hill after passing Gonzaga I spotted that root beer stand, the landmark that we were close to Grandma's. I always hoped some time during our visit we would get to drive down with Mom and pick up a gallon of frosty, cold root beer. I don't remember eating at the A&W as much as I remember getting the root beer to go. Back then you couldn't buy this brand of root beer in the store, so it was a special treat to get in while in Spokane. I think we also made root beer floats with the Darigold ice cream Grandma kept in the freezer on hot, muggy days in August.I have a memory of saving the gallon jug and Grandma would have it waiting on the floor by the washing machine when we came back another time because I think you got a discount if you returned with a jug. Was there also some wooden tokens with the logo on them?It seems like we drank that whole gallon while it was cold because there was never room in the frig to hold it. I like remembering these rituals that repeated themselves in my childhood. There was comfort knowing the jug would be there and we could once again enjoy that cold, tasty root beer when Mom would drive down to the drive-in.
Later the A& W lost it's novelty when more restaurants cropped up and when the root beer was available in stores. At the age of ten it was a special treat and something we looked forward to. We didn't have the fancy mugs, but it didn't seem to matter that we drank it out of Grandma's Libby glassware.
When I head north on Hamilton today I always glance over there at that building when I head up to Bridgeport as Hamilton turns to Nevada. It has been a few different cafes since the A&W closed. I can still taste that cold root beer.