The words hit me like a a sledge hammer, or a telegram announcing the death of a loved one.
“Klines is closing”
Then my sister sent me the newslink. I mean, if it is on the internet, it has to be true, right?
The sad news-Kline’s Drive-In on Nokesville Road south of Manassas will close its doors on Wednesday, November 21, 2007. Lynn Kline, son of the late Paul Kline, is selling the land so a bank can be built on it and he can step back from the grueling restaurant business.
Those who have not encountered this establishment likely are saying, “So what? Restaurants close every day.”
This is true-but when that closing takes a piece of your life with it, it hurts.
I grew up with the Kline family as members of the Manassas Church of the Brethren. When I was a kid my family went out to Yorkshire to get ice cream at the original Kline’s Freeze. That place, like Carl’s down in Fredericksburg, had no indoor eating area. So they built another store south of manassas in 1969. No one thought the business would last. You had to drive over the RR tracks at Wellington Road, out past the Church of the Brethren and IBM, and past at least three farms to get there.
But it did last. In fact, it flourished.
Kline’s was like the fictional Cheers, a place where “every body knew your name.”
During the summers of my youth Dad would load us up and trawl out there for ice cream. When Dad picked me up at Boy Scout meetings and the pick up was early enough, it was out to Kline’s for foot logn chili dogs. Each of my sons have enjoyed the rite of passage of trying to eat a chocolate fudge sundae at the age of two without getting sauce on your shirt.
I am pushing fifty, and I still have not pulled that one off.
Even now, at 83, my father has been known to call me to come down, rescue him from assisted living, and commence a horizontal assault on Kline’s. We brave the horrendous traffic on southbound Va. 28 and order the usual.
Yes, the chilidog gas comes at him a lot faster now than it used to, but there are somethings that you simply should not deny yourself…like a meal of a footlong chili dog, fries, and a milkshake. It fills you up and keep the cardiologists employed, so it is kind of like multi-tasking.
When I was a child, I didn’t know restaurants or business’s closed. I thought there would always be a Dam-Side restaurant, Cooke’s Pharmacy, General Office Supply, Giacomo’s Pizza, Sloper’s Sports, Rohr’s 5 and Dime, Manassas Lumber, Commonwealth Savings and Loan, and others.
None remain. All have gone, and live on only in memory.
Soon Kline’s, with all the memories it holds for me, will also vanish.
It has been said that growing old stinks. But even worse is to see the building blocks of your memories fall beneath your eyes. The fact that it is an inevitable part of life and progress does not make it easier.
My hometown has changed over the years, and it no longer resembles the town where I grew up. But there are bright spots of memory that remind one of the old days…and there will be one less come late Wednesday evening.
Late Wednesday evening, I will likely shed a tear…and unfortunately it probably won’t be caused by the onions on a Kline’s Chili Dog or a Kline Burger.
I guess they are wrong…it doesn’t stink to grow old
But it really sucks.