Too quiet on the Westerner front

Today at lunch I was trying to answer a question that has repeatedly plagued us all:

"What am I going to eat today?"

QCS photo: Amanda Smith

Thomas Garcia hungers for the past

As I drove around Tucumcari trying to answer this question of nourishment, I passed the Westerner Drive-Inn.

For those of you who don't know, the Westerner was once a thriving business on Route 66, located in front of the TG&Y or Duckworth ALCO as we know it now.

Its current state can be described as condemned, but it wasn't always that way.

It once boasted of a red and white paint theme and large "Westerner" sign with a picture of a hamburger.

The stalls in the early 1990s were filled with those short-bed Chevy trucks, modified Ford muscle cars and, when I got lucky, my mom's station wagon.

There was something special about pulling up, placing your order and having it whisked out by the car-hop and placed on that window tray.

I decided to pull over and park in the lot in front of the Westerner for a few moments. I began to think back to the days before it closed more than a decade ago.

I can still picture the interior, especially the arcade room. Of course, there were arcade machines involved. In those days, I always kept a pocket full of quarters on the off chance I could sneak in a quick game of Mrs. Pac Man or Mortal Kombat.

Those were simpler times, which I often wish would return. You know, when the economy was still OK and gas was around $1.50 a gallon?

I don't think I'm alone when I say I'd like to take a step back, press that little red button and wait to enjoy a burger basket delivered in that red-and-white-checkered basket.

But not today.

The closest I could come was a Sonic cheeseburger.

(Thomas Garcia is the senior writer at the Quay County Sun. Contact him at

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