Nostalgia is an interesting thing. It washes over you like a wave and floods you with emotion. When you hear a favorite old song, or get a whiff of fresh baked bread.

Do you enjoy a great rush of nostalgia when you recall past birthdays and holidays with family? I love watching old black and white sitcoms, westerns and cartoons. My decade of choice for music is the 60’s, Beatles and Motown! Two of my favorite movies are "American Graffiti" and "The Sting".

While I did not grow up in Iowa, I find there are people, places, and things about Cedar Rapids that nevertheless make me nostalgic.

Sinclair Gas Stations: They used to be everywhere, along with other long-gone pit stops like Texaco, Union 76 Gas, and Marathon stations. ARCO acquired Sinclair in 1969 and the green dinosaur named Dino seemed to vanish. ARCO spun off the company in 1976 and Sinclair was back, positioned mostly in the Western U.S. but also as far east as Iowa. In Cedar Rapids, the Sinclair Dinosaur is alive and well, and a throwback to an era long gone.


 A&P Grocery Store on 3rd Avenue: The grocery chain was "Walmart" before there was a Walmart. A&P stood for Atlantic and Pacific Tea Co. and it became one of the first grocery chains in the U.S. in the early 1900's. The stores were very popular in the 30's, 40’s and 50’s. But by the 1960’s, other supermarket chains grew and the A&P grocery stores were eventually acquired by other larger companies. Ironically, the original A&P store on 3rd Ave is the home of Kieck’s Career Apparel, and that has been there for over 60 years – that’s a pretty good run and very nostalgic too!

The Freeze Ice Cream Stand: They certainly aren't as glamorous as the fancy new Cold Stone Creamery shops. Heck, they're not even as glamorous as Dairy Queens. But the small independent ice cream stands are as American as an A&W burger joint. With names like Tastee-Freeze, Dizzy-Whip, and Curly-Q these roadside soft serve ice cream stands were the “poor-man’s” version of Baskin-Robbins' 31 Flavors. Sweet, but kinda cheap…just like your old high school boyfriend.

Maid Rite Restaurants: Can you remember your mom and dad taking you to Maid Rite for the first time? Consider yourself privileged! The original loose-meat burger restaurant opened in Muscatine in 1926. By 1930, there were four restaurants, are those four are still in operation today, along with about 75 other locations. The plans to expand nationwide have yet to be realized, so the delicious truth that is the loose-meat delight is a safely guarded Midwest secret.

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Quaker Oats Company: Face it, they date back to 1901. That's old old school. Cedar Rapids was one of four operations that merged that year, creating the company you know today. And yet, the fresh smell of Crunch Berries baking in downtown Cedar Rapids never gets old. According to Wikipedia, Quaker Oats once gave away free land deeds in Connecticut in a 1902 cereal promotion. They did it again in 1955 with valid deeds to land in the Klondike.

[source Wikipedia]