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Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Nights at White Mana

I see that the White Mana Diner on Tonnelle Avenue in Jersey City is getting a fair amount of attention these days as a landmark. As well it should. One of the last remnants of the 1939 New York World's Fair, and yet still functioning as a modern burger palace, it deserves all the attention it gets.

But in the early '70s, the place earned a special place in my heart for an entirely different reason. My college girlfriend and I used to head down there to cure the munchies after an evening of frolic up along the skyline in Weehawken. White Mana always had good grub, and there was still a car hop to bring the food right out to your driver's side window.

Between the time we'd place our order and the arrival of the food, we'd make out passionately, steaming up the car windows until the burgers and fries arrived. Good times.

Comments (3)

Jack, I lived not too far away from the Mana -- head up the hill to Mosquito Park, turn right at Kennedy Blvd, a few more blocks and I was home. When I was a kid, it was the place my Dad would take me and my friends when Mom wasn't cooking and we didn't want pizza. When I was a teenaged hooligan staying out late and getting into trouble, hitting the Mana at 2 a.m. for an early breakfast was always on the agenda. I must say, the place lost a bit of its appeal to me when one of my best friends got an after-school job there as a fry cook, and he led me into the back for a tour. If a teenaged boy growing up in the J.C. Heights had hygiene concerns about a restaurant, you know it had to be something appalling!

I grew up in San Francisco in the early 1960s and used to go to a couple of the original Mel's Drive-Ins. (The one on South Van Ness Avenue was the location for the "American Graffitti" movie, by the way - and NO the car hops did NOT use roller skates in real life!) Lots of great times, especially cruising around SF in our various cars and calling out kids from other High Schools.

I'm living in Jersey City right now, closer to Journal Square than Tonnelle Ave, but I've driven by the place. JC is such an interesting town!

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