CHEESE DELUXE: A MEMOIR, is a collection of mostly true tales of a group of baby boomers in a time of transition. They are high school seniors, full of their own good fortune, bright prospects and parents' money, unaware of a world waiting impatiently to gobble them up. But they are beginning to get some inkling of that world as they make tentative forays into it and then come rushing back to the shelter of home. That home is the Samoa Drive In, a classic teen hangout, and purveyor of the Cheese Deluxe, one of the world's best burgers. The time is 1965, and the place is an upper middle class suburb of Seattle called Mercer Island, known for fancy houses on the lake, one of the best public school systems in America, and an almost entirely white citizenry composed of attorneys, doctors, accountants, middle management, and the ubiquitous Boeing engineers of the Northwest 1960s.
Coincidentally, Mercer Island High is where President Obama's mother, Stanley Ann Dunham, graduated in 1960. The island is in many ways an idyllic place to grow up, the kind of community where one of the "gangs" in high school is made up of members of the drama club. Moreover, the class of '65 is the last drug-free class in America-at least on the West Coast-as well as the last class where the boys don't feel the increasingly ominous presence of a war in Southeast Asia awaiting them if they opt out, drop out or flunk out of college. Cheese Deluxe author Greg Palmer was a member of the Mercer Island Class of '65, who worked evenings, weekends, and all summer after graduation as the Samoa's main cook. Over many a Cheese Deluxe he and his fellow Samoans enjoyed the vicarious escapades of their colleagues. Sometimes as a participant, sometimes as an observer and sometimes as a confessor, Palmer tells fourteen stories; some romances, some comedies and one or two tragedies.
I never grew up in this era. Yet it does not matter as I had such a fun, enjoyable, laughable time listening to this book. Yes, I checked out the audio version of this book. Which to be honest, if I had not done the audio version I may have given up on this book. Just because at times I could imagine this book being slow but this is where the talented Jeff Steitzer came in. Video gamers will be familiar with Jeff as he is the voice for the Halo games. Jeff really brought this book to life. I could not stop laughing with the antics and true situations that everyone on Mercer Island found themselves in. Oh and I have to say that if I had been living on Mercer Island that the Samoa Drive In would have been my favorite hang out as well.
Anyone who did grow up in this era will have fond memories of the things that the people in this story found themselves doing and saying. I recommend checking this book out in audio version.