Opinion: Fast food, long romance

Cheryl and Frank Akers on the wedding day in 1969.

When the Pacific Coast Highway Jack in the Box opened close to 45 years ago, the kids of Seal Beach were pretty excited to have a new hang out. A place where we could buy 10 cents cokes and 29 cents hamburgers and just “chill.”  I would walk down from the Hill and meet up with my girlfriends from Old Town, Rhonda and Debby. It was quite the talk of the town for the teenagers.

The place was packed from the day it opened as kids and families headed down Pacific Coast Highway to the beach. Parents enjoyed the burgers with the secret sauce and the kids loved talking to the clown head. So, I was a bit melancholy when I received the article from my folks about Jack closing to make way for a Fresh & Easy Market.

Jack in the Box holds a special place in my heart; because little did I know at the time that I would meet my future husband at “Jack’s.” While attending Orange Coast College, Frank was the assistant manager working for franchise owner Jim Baker. Frank and I fell in love at Jack’s. It wasn’t like “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” but it sure was magical.

Before the magic happened, my girlfriend, Rhonda was “goo goo ga ga” over him. I didn’t give him a second glance.

One day as I was at the counter to order a coke, I noticed that Frank was changing from his regular shirt to his Jack in the Box shirt. What a uniform … anyway … I noticed he had hair on his chest! I had never seen that before and I marched right off to my girlfriend and told her “hey you can’t like this guy; he’s got hair on his chest for goodness sake!” Rhonda was more determined then ever to go after the college guy who was working as an assistant manager for Jack.

Frank and Rhonda didn’t work out. It worked out for Frank and me, with a little bit of help from my friend, Debby. She was the only one of our group with a car and she would make it a point to go through Jack’s drive-through, just so I could order my 10 cents coke from Frank.

We got married Dec. 6, 1969 at the United Methodist church on 10th Street. Debby was my Maid of Honor and Frank’s Best Man, was Jack’s owner, Jim Baker. After the wedding, we drove through Jack in the Box followed by our wedding party with horns honking and engines revving. After all, Jack brought us together.

Jack and Seal Beach are near to my heart.

Frank and I lived in Seal Beach right after we married and then in 1986 we bought a home on the Hill. We treasured raising our children in a small town atmosphere. We enjoyed walking down Main St. and seeing family and friends. As we all know, life sends you curve balls and in 1996 we made the difficult decision to move from Seal Beach and over to Arizona to care for Frank’s mom. It was the right thing to do, but it sure was hard to leave my home.

Frank and I will celebrate our 42nd wedding anniversary this December. We have been blest with two amazing children. Our son  Frank is an optometrist and our daughter Alicia is an elementary school teacher. Between them we have eight fantastic grandchildren. Love has definitely flourished!

So it will be a sad day when Jack is gone, but the memories will still be there for me, just like my wonderful memories of living in Seal Beach. Wouldn’t it be cool if on the last day that Jack is open they would offer 10 cents cokes and 29 cents hamburgers? Hey Jack, are you listening? A couple of lovebirds will happily join you for that last meal.

Cheryl (Barringer) Akers and her husband Frank, former Seal Beach residents now living in in Glendale, Ariz., met at the Jack in the Box in Seal Beach, where Frank was an assistant manager, fell in love and have been married for more than four decades.