The Car Hop in the ‘50s

| Jan 14, 2019
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By Bobbi Swan

After World War II when new automobiles went back on sale to the public and gas rationing was over America took to the roads. Motels sprang up across the country and so did the drive-in. To some, it was off to the movies and a soda and popcorn in the car. For others looking for a meal, it was a way to get quick service and not have to leave the car with your date. Groups could meet at the long parking strips that would be served by a waitress running up and down the ramps that cars had pulled into. Convertibles became favorites of the young and old and these new eating spots flourished and became quite competitive in attracting their customers.

That meant nimble and swift service from pretty lassies to hustle for the patrons. Strong legs and nicely shaped bodies became essential for these comely waitresses. The Car Hop was born and was always outfitted with a short skirt and petticoat to billow out the frock and expose long bare legs except for the then traditional ‘bobby sox’ and sneakers. Off the shoulder low cut blouses with ruffles displayed their ample bosoms in a most tempting manner. A cute apron would be worn by these maids, tied in a pretty fashion to signify their status and role as waitresses. These ensembles or uniforms were custom-made for the drive-in and would often symbolize the nationality of the cuisine offered or the locality of the drive-in.

All the girls selected were attractive, young and healthy, often the epitome of the school cheerleader — and very available for dates and meeting young men when their shifts were done.

Bobbi did the Car Hop costume for Halloween.

Many establishments, for efficiency would have their damsels lace on roller skates to speed them on their way.

They carried their trays nimbly and always had a smile on their faces hoping for generous tips. The hustling was energetic and required stamina as these maids found themselves well reimbursed for their efforts. They worked hard on hair styles and make-up with fresh looks and often long and natural hairdos. Their eyes would sparkle and happy smiles on their faces welcomed and lured the customer to large orders and encouraged seconds to be brought to the lingering cars.

And they did, indeed, find many dates and suitors among the young men and boys that would come in groups and find that a big night out was prowling in their cars, new and old.

I always loved to see them hurry about and jealously wanted to be in their ‘shoes’ and costumes to be like them. But I had to wait for a Halloween party to finally dress as one and actually serve at a party in full garb. Sadly, roller skates were forbidden to me — and maybe I would have needed more practice on them — it has been a long time since I was in an arena skating around to the music on a date!

And, I had a lot of fun. How about you; think you might like to do the same?

Sure they had fun back in the ’50s but that was before people realized the drive-in owners were exploiting their car hop’s charms. Care to make a comment or share a car hop story? Login here and use the comment area below.

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Category: History


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