If I Had Left It Up to You — Merle Haggard

The Toddle House was a small diner off the main drag in Ardmore, Pennsylvania, a block or two either way from the train station and the bus terminal. Open all night, it was the only place within miles for coffee and cheeseburgers after all the fast-food joints had closed. It was not for kids, which made it all the more appealing to us kids making our first tentative steps to adulthood. Inside: harsh fluorescent lighting, white-tiled walls, a counter with swivel stools, a grille that sizzled and clanged. Plastic glasses, worn-out silverware, thick ceramic cups and plates. Soups, hamburgers, sandwiches, milk shakes, deserts, not much more. Smoke from the grille, but also from the customers and the waitress, clouds hanging … More