I Wuz Just Thinking: Cheers

Inside the Streamliner, an old railroad car that was once looked upon as one of Kilgore’s finest restaurants. Photo: Terry Stembridge
Those were the days, and those were the breakfast places where everybody knew your name and were glad you came to share a cup of early morning coffee.

Driving through our little East Texas town of Kilgore, I was thinking about some of the cafes and restaurants that have seen many of the local town-folks gather throughout the years, especially in the early mornings prior to their going to work, enjoying a cup of coffee, and some even having breakfast.

The title song, “Where everybody knows your name” came to mind as I passed the location where the former railroad car, the Streamliner once sat by the side of the road.  A little farther into downtown was the Kilgore Cafe’, and then I drove out to the Circle Cafe, which still stands at the intersection of Commerce and Houston Streets.

Betty Mahurin Baker

The television show Cheers began in 1982 and ran for nearly ten years.  Cheers was a Boston bar Where everyone knows your name.  The regulars share their experiences and lives with each other while drinking or working at the bar.

This is how it was and is, here in Kilgore.  Instead of lifting a mug of beer, it would be a cup of coffee or a glass of Southern sweet iced tea.

Jimmy was working out of town and with the six boys at home, the early mornings were always chaotic. The boys would race to see who got to the shower first and then the winner would stay until the hot water was used up, leaving cold water for the next teen.  They would argue about who ate the “good” cereals, drank all the milk, took the last biscuit. It was a never-ending discussion. I can hear their voices still.

But on some days, their arguing made me want to run away from home, which I did.  As soon as they were headed to school, I would usually go either to the Streamliner or the Kilgore Cafe’ where I ordered one biscuit with gravy and a cup of coffee. The total cost was less than a dollar.  I could relax and visit with friends a little while before going to work, or in search of work, whichever the situation may have been at the time.

The tables and booths were so close together, you could not help but hear everyone else’s conversation.

To me, those cafes were a great source for locating a job.  Instead of driving to Longview, down the road ten miles or so, to submit an application to the Employment agency, I would sit, enjoy a cup of coffee, and hear some of the owners of businesses talk about their companies, their plans, and who was in need of secretarial help.

A short time later, I arrived at their office with resume’ in hand and land the job before most folks had learned there was even an opening.

The Streamliner and the Kilgore Cafe’ have long since been abandoned.

The Circle Cafe, with its old-fashioned, hometown, country cooking, is still open in Kilgore, and across the back wall are many photos of customers who were regulars throughout the years.

Many are gone now. Time has erased everything but their faces and my memories of the stories they told sitting around those tables Where everyone knows their names …. as I was just thinking

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