Thinking about my birthday, and it's a Chicago night. In the 1960s, there were three main shopping streets within a few blocks of our house: 55th St., 59th St., and 63rd St.
55th Street was the best: a secret library sub-branch on Mozart (pronounced MO-zar) stood next to the donut shop where a very thin lady ate two frosted every morning. Nearby was Red Hots: corned beef, fresh steaming fries, and all-beef hot dogs. Sausages. On buns with fries. For $1.00 -- the best lunch in the world. Counter talk:
"Yeah, lemme have corned beef on rye. Is it lean? Show me. Cut the fat off. You call that lean? Don't gimme the leftovers from the end, cut it from the new piece, there, that one."
"Did you just make those French fries? I want the fresh ones. No, don't give me those from the side. Gimme the fresh ones. With the corned beef. And two Red Hots. With fries. I don't want the soda. You got coffee?"
"I'm going to sit over there. I don't want to sit in that draft. Call me when you got the Red Hots ready."
Noisy, hot, wonderful Red Hots.