When I was an undergrad I sometimes went to Porky’s, a drive-in diner on University Avenue in Saint Paul. I can’t say I was a frequent patron of the joint, but over my 14 years in Minnesota I’ve driven past it several times never missing a chance to take glance as I drove by. It had a great classic 1950s essence to it and even though it was a small, simple building, it looked very beautiful.
On nights when the neon was lit and classic cars filled the parking lot or roamed up and down University Avenue, it was a like a scene out of a movie–the look was almost too perfect.
A popular St. Paul drive-in, Porky’s opened in 1953 with car hops delivering orders to customers dining in their cars. It later closed in the 1980s and reopened in the 1990s. The week of March 27, 2011, the owners, Nora and her son Tryg Truelson, announced the closing and sale of the land which had offered its hospitality, fabulous menu, and bright lights for so many years.
Upon hearing the announcement thousands turned up and waited in line for hours to have one last chance to gather and eat at Porky’s. It was an ultimate celebration of nostalgia for drive-in eateries and a testament to the importance the establishment meant to the community. Many attending were long time regulars sporting classic cars, married couples who in their younger years went there on dates, or now grown adults who as kids were dazzled by the neon and sparkling lights.
After the last burger and milkshake was served late-night Sunday, April 3, 2011, Porky’s permanently turned off its fryers with an online auction scheduled for the next day.
When the owners were getting ready for the auction they found a box of at least two-hundred paper placemat menus from 1968 that were stored “in the back,” long forgotten and never used. In perfect condition with no damage, wear, yellowing, or staining, two-hundred went up for auction. I was fortunate to place a winning bid on a lot of 10.
I am truly glad to have had the opportunity to not only have known Porky’s, but to own a piece of history. I’ve already framed my own, and sold a few to other acquaintances who also had fond memories. I did put three remaining menus up for sale on eBay (ends on April 16).