THE iconic A&W drive-in restaurant will serve its last mug of rootbeer at the end of the year.
It is supposed to return in 2018, with a fresh and new look, but it will not be quite the same (StarMetro, Aug 1).
The last free-standing cinema in Penang, the Odeon, meanwhile made its final curtain call on July 31, and realistically speaking, few will miss its demise (StarMetro, Aug 2).
These two landmarks have one thing in common, they were
standalone outlets, with a long history behind them.
The A&W eatery in Petaling Jaya New Town was where I courted my wife.
Each time we went out for dinner, we would head to the place for desserts.
A mug of rootbeer and maybe a scoop of ice cream were all we needed to while those hours away.
There was no WiFi then, and no mobile devices.
Every young man on a date only had eyes on his girlfriend.
I wonder if any marriage proposal was ever made at this A&W outlet.
Through the years, even after we got married, this place was a regular family haunt.
We never did any of the boys’ birthday parties there, but we certainly got invited to quite a number of parties of friends, and the highlight would be when the big brown A&W Bear came trooping in.
The Odeon was special to me because in my early years as a reporter in the now defunct National Echo, the cinema was a walking distance away.
Going to the cinema in those days was a real experience because if there was a hit movie, you would have to move from one cinema to another to try to get a ticket.
Fortunately, in the George Town zone, there were a number of cinemas quite near to one another at that time.
I remember the day when I did not have much to do at work.
Our editors did not encourage us to be in the office, and even if there were no assignments, we were expected to wonder around the streets and get a story on our own.
That day, when I passed the Odeon, the movie that was on was The Champ.
I was in time for the 1pm show and I reckoned my bosses would not miss me terribly much if I were to go back after the show at 3pm.
It was just a slightly longer lunch break than usual.
In those days, the bosses could not really track where you were.
I suppose everything was based on the honour system.
So I sheepishly bought myself a ticket and watched Jon Voight play the role of an aging boxer with his son played by Ricky Schroeder.
I cried buckets.
It was such a tearjerker, this movie.
In the annals of moviemaking, this version of The Champ that was released in 1979 is considered a classic.
Who can forget the scene when Shroeder, who plays the role of TJ, saw his father die after a gruelling match in the ring.
“Champ, wake up! Wake up!” the little boy screams.
The performance was so moving it earned the young actor a Golden Globe award.
It was only a few years ago that I managed to order the movie on DVD from Amazon.
And it remains one of my favourite movies which I would watch over and over again each time I need a good cry.
I was a bachelor boy at that time and I remember that the cinema was practically empty because it was the 1pm show on a working day.
These two articles published in StarMetro, one day after the other, certainly put me into a contemplative mood.
It is a reminder that in our ever-busy world, we can perhaps still learn to slow down, so that we can truly soak in the experiences that will stay with us for a much longer time.
- Executive editor Soo Ewe Jin is planning a nostalgic outing with his better half to the A&W drive-in restaurant before it closes. He will make sure they both leave their smartphones at home.