5 Unusual Drive-Through Spots

iStock
iStock

A burger and fries or a cup of coffee aren't the only items you can get at a drive-through window. Here are five more unusual services offered on-the-go.

1. EMERGENCY ROOM

When you're going to the emergency room, the last thing you want is to sit next to someone who's coughing and sneezing. Who knows what they're coming in for and how contagious it is? Luckily, Stanford has a plan to ease those worries. Earlier this summer, researchers experimented with a drive-through emergency room to ease congestion during the busy flu season. Patients drove in and were first registered and given paperwork, because it wouldn't be a trip to the hospital without paperwork. At the next stop, they went through the triage and had their vital signs checked. Finally, they were seen by a doctor and diagnosed, where they were either admitted to the hospital or told to drive away. The organizers hope the drive-thru ER would help cut down on wait times and quickly move along patients that didn't need extensive treatment. Too bad this happened after the opportunity to write an ER/Taxi crossover.

2. LEGISLATIVE VISIT

Over the last month, when politicians have been meeting with their constituents, it hasn't gone well. So adding road rage to the equation wouldn't seem to do much to help. Luckily, Pennsylvania state representative Kevin Murphy hasn't reported any of those problems with his drive-through consultation window. He says the drive-up window at his Scranton office allows more people to see him and makes submitting paperwork more convenient for the elderly and disabled. When he can, he even staffs the window himself two days a week.

3. WEDDING CHAPEL

In Las Vegas, where you can get married on a whim, doesn't it just make sense that you should be able to do without getting out of your car? Enter the Little White Chapel's Tunnel of Love. The Chapel, which hosted such celebrities as Michael Jordan and George Hamilton, opened up a drive-through window for weddings in 1991 after the owner saw a handicapped couple having difficulty getting into the chapel. The tunnel has been tricked out with a decorated ceiling. The Little White Chapel doesn't have Vegas's only drive-up window, though. Based on pictures, couples riding anything from antique cars to scooters have gone for convenience for their ceremonies.

4. CONVENIENCE SHOPPING

It seems incredibly misguided to offer a drive-through liquor store, what with our whole effort against drunk driving. But the ultra-convenience stores have been springing up across the country. Some offer more than just alcohol; recently stores offering groceries have been abandoning the parking lots and opening the aisles up to cars. People can drive up, place an order with a staffer, and have it delivered to their car at checkout. In some chains, you can even just pop the trunk and have staffers put your bags right in there for you.

5. TREES

Like the forest, but don't want to get out of your car? Then head down to California, where people have been carving tunnels through the giant Redwoods since cars became popular. A popular site is the Chandelier Drive-Thru Tree in Legget, which has been in business since 1930. But there are plenty of other drive-through trees, including the Drive-On Tree, which allows you to go up a ramp onto a fallen tree and pretend your car conquered nature.

Thursday’s Best Amazon Deals Include Guitar Kits, Memory-Foam Pillows, and Smartwatches

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Amazon
As a recurring feature, our team combs the web and shares some amazing Amazon deals we’ve turned up. Here’s what caught our eye today, December 3. Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers, including Amazon, and may receive a small percentage of any sale. But we only get commission on items you buy and don’t return, so we’re only happy if you’re happy. Good luck deal hunting!

10 Illuminating Facts About A Christmas Story's Leg Lamp

It's a Major Award!
It's a Major Award!
Tim Evanson, Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0

When A Christmas Story was first released in 1983, it was a sleeper that attracted only a small (but quite cultish) following. Over the past three decades, however, the film has steadily become a holiday staple on par with classics like A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965) and Miracle on 34th Street (1947). And as the film itself has grown in popularity, so has one of its most recognizable props: the leg lamp, that glowing gam otherwise known as “A Major Award.”

1. The A Christmas Story leg lamp was inspired by an old-school soft drink.

Before A Christmas Story was a movie, it was a series of short stories that appeared in two different volumes by the late writer and radio personality Jean Shepherd. The books, In God We Trust: All Others Pay Cash and Wanda Hickey’s Night of Golden Memories and Other Disasters, were fictionalized accounts of Shepherd’s childhood in Depression-era Indiana (though the movie was filmed mostly in Cleveland, Ohio). Shepherd describes the leg lamp and his father’s obsession with it in a 1966 story titled “My Old Man and the Lascivious Special Award that Heralded the Birth of Pop Art.”

According to A Christmas Story House and Museum (yep, there’s an entire museum dedicated to the subject), Shepherd imagined the leg lamp after seeing an illuminated Nehi Soda advertisement, which featured two shapely disembodied legs up to the knee. Shepherd gave cloaked credit to Nehi by writing that the Old Man’s crossword contest was sponsored by an “orange pop” company whose name “was a play on words, involving the lady’s knee.”

When the lamp finally arrives in Shepherd’s essay, he writes, “From ankle to thigh the translucent flesh radiated a vibrant, sensual, luminous orange-yellow-pinkish nimbus of Pagan fire. All it needed was tom-toms and maybe a gong or two. And a tenor singing in a high, quavery, earnest voice: ‘A pretty girl/Is like a melody…’”

2. The A Christmas Story leg lamp was immortalized by production designer Reuben Freed.

Uncertain of just what a leg lamp should look like, A Christmas Story’s production designer Reuben Freed created a quick sketch and showed it to Shepherd, who surprisingly approved it right away. “I immediately thought of something I had seen in my mother’s front room, which was sort of a gold-colored silk lampshade, pleated with fringe around it,” Freed told Cleveland magazine in 2009. “I thought of it immediately and never thought of anything else—just that classic, big ugly shape.”

3. The “original” A Christmas Story leg lamp no longer exists.

Finding an original leg lamp is considered the ultimate feat for A Christmas Story aficionados, Caseen Gaines wrote in A Christmas Story: Behind the Scenes of a Holiday Classic. But “the likelihood of finding one is about as great as locating Pee Wee Herman’s bicycle in the basement of the Alamo.” Freed produced three leg lamps for the movie, but none of them survived the production. All three were broken during filming.

4. There’s a simple reason for the typo on the box the A Christmas Story leg lamp is delivered in.

When the leg lamp arrives at Ralphie’s house in the movie, it’s in a crate labeled not only with the infamous “FRAGILE,” but also “HIS END UP.” Though the use of “his” in place of “this” might seem like a subtle joke, the crate was indeed originally labeled “THIS END UP,” but no one had bothered to measure the container before trying to wheel it through the door. Jim Moralevitz, an actor who played one of the leg-lamp delivery guys, told Cleveland’s News-Herald, “I had the pleasure of delivering the major award 30 years ago. Unfortunately, the crate was so wide that it wouldn’t fit through the door. So they called in the carpenters and they took four inches off.”

5. The A Christmas Story leg lamp is big in Cleveland.

Erik Drost, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

Because much of A Christmas Story was filmed in Cleveland, the city has embraced the movie as its own (possibly to the resentment of Shepherd’s native Indiana). In 2013, to celebrate the movie’s 30th anniversary, Terminal Tower in Cleveland’s Public Square was turned into a giant leg lamp, complete with a red garter.

Terminal Tower can be seen, sans leg-lamp accoutrements, in A Christmas Story’s first few opening shots, looming over Higbee’s department store, where Ralphie first spots the coveted Red Ryder BB gun.

6. The A Christmas Story leg lamp is also a big deal in Long Island.

In 2005, the Reichert family, owners of the Northport Hardware Store in Northport, Long Island, got a goofy idea after attending the mayor’s Christmas tree lighting ceremony. They browsed through the store’s generous stock of leg lamps, called over some of the guys from the bar next door, and ceremoniously lit one of the lamps in the store’s picture window. Then they all cheered.

Somehow the Reicherts’s lighting of the leg lamp caught on and it has become an annual Northport tradition, though their store no longer hosts the festivities.

7. The A Christmas Story leg lamp is a hit on Halloween.

The leg lamp has become so popular, you can now purchase ready-made Halloween costumes in its likeness. In 2012, Josh Sundquist, a paralympian, motivational speaker, and author who lost his leg to cancer when he was 9 years old, won Halloween when he decided to make his own leg lamp costume. He even shaved his leg for authenticity.

8. The A Christmas Story leg lamp has been a star on the stage.

In 2012, A Christmas Story: The Musical opened on Broadway at the Lunt-Fontanne Theater. The leg lamp was celebrated with a kick line—only the Broadway chorus kicked up not only their own legs, but also fishnet-clad leg lamps.

The year before, at the Falcon Theatre in Burbank, California, the Troubadour Theater Company performed A Christmas Westside Story, a mashup of A Christmas Story and the epic tale of the Sharks and the Jets. What song did the leg lamp get to sing? None other than “I Feel Pretty.”

9. The A Christmas Story leg lamp is a hot commodity.

Steam Pipe Trunk Distribution Venue, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

According to a post-Christmas press release that highlighted Amazon’s seasonal sales in 2012, the online retail giant boasted: “If you stacked every Christmas Story Leg Lamp purchased by Amazon customers this holiday season, the height would reach the top of Mt. Everest.”

10. The A Christmas Story leg lamp gave rise to a hilarious catchphrase.

“Fra-gee-lay. It must be Italian!” has graced everything from baby onesies to novelty shirts to kitschy home decor.