50 years later, burgers and french fries still making McMemories

New Hampshire Union Leader
December 20. 2014 5:56PM

MANCHESTER - In 1964, Arthur Deleault was one of the burger makers at the South Willow Street McDonald's. Back in the day, when the then-Manchester High School West student wasn't manning the grill flipping patties, he was enjoying the fruits (or meat, as it were) of his labors, which went for 15 cents a burger.

Fifty years later, Deleault has long since surrendered the title of grill master, but he still orders the same thing from the place where he worked as a teenager.

"Two burgers with fries," said Deleault, chuckling.

On Saturday, Deleault and several of his former co-workers joined current customers and employees at the South Willow Street McDonald's to celebrate the 50-year anniversary of the location's grand opening as the first McDonald's in New Hampshire.

McDonald's founders - brothers Richard and Maurice - were born in Manchester. They opened their first McDonald's in San Bernadino, Calif., in 1948, before the restaurant chain came to the Queen City and after the brothers had sold the company.

Ned Lamarine, Ron Boucher and Butch Broutzos, all of Manchester, worked with Deleault in 1964. Lamarine, Boucher and Deleault went to West and Broutzos went to Memorial. Lamarine said the first owner at the location, Bill Vanderwolk, personally recruited workers from the high schools in Manchester, though many from the first batch came from West.

"I guess he thought it would make for good business, to get the word out," said Lamarine.

The McDonald's of 1964 was vastly different from the McDonald's of today. The menu was simpler and prices were lower: customers could land the only two items on the menu - a burger and fries - for just under a quarter. There was no lobby and customers typically ate in their cars, which they parked around the restaurant so they could look through the windows that made up the building's walls and watch the employees work and cook. Lamarine, Boucher and Broutzios all joked about how a lot of the customers would throw their trash on the ground outside of their cars.

"And we would walk around and pick up the trash and the guys in the cars would always say," said Lamarine, "'Looks like business is picking up!'" said all three men at once.

Lamarine was the fry guy in 1964. His job included lugging hundred-pound bags of potatoes from the basement to the main floor, peeling and slicing the potatoes and then frying them. Lamarine and his co-workers even made up a game to pass the peeling time.

"The California potatoes were the longest so we would try and see how long we could get the fries to be," said Lamarine.

"And keep the long fries for us and give the customers the tiny ones," added Broutzos, laughing.

The men's goofing around was easily swamped by their efficiency - Deleault said he often had 24 patties going at once on the grill with another employee in the wing ready with a condiment execution plan.

"Ketchup and mustard at once - one in each hand, " said Deleault.

The ingenuity certainly paid off for the teenagers in their paychecks.

"We were making the big bucks," said Lamarine. "$1 an hour and we could eat for free when we were working."

"I remember one school break I worked 81 hours in a single week - I practically lived here!" said Broutzos. "The next week I got a check for $81 exactly. That was a lot back then."

While eating for free may sound like a deal, all four men agreed that the standard food menus did get tiring after awhile. That's when things got interesting.

"We used to make up our own recipes," said Boucher.

"You know, you eat the same thing for too long, you get sick of it," said Broutzos.

"My burger was with tartar sauce and a grilled bun," said Boucher.

All four men have since moved on from the McDonald's franchise but the Queen City's first set of yellow arches still holds a special place for each of them.

"Oh, it was a wonderful experience," said Deleault. "Great memories in this place."


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