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It's Golden Arch-eology

August 14, 2003|Brenda Rees

Remember the time before orange groves, hot dog stands and home-cooking shacks gave way to super-sized fries, Big Macs and Ronald McDonald?

On this weekend's McTour, lovers of fast food, architecture, local history and modern SoCal culture can explore the beginnings of the McDonald's empire.

"Our story ends when Ray Kroc shows up," says Chris Nichols, a pop culture historian and leader of the bus tour. "The story of the McDonald brothers is really the great American success story."

Indeed, Richard and Maurice "Mac" McDonald's ingenious ideas about preparing and serving food to the increasingly car-conscious culture of the 1940s and '50s would revolutionize the way the world eats.

Beginning at the historic McDonald's store No. 3 in Downey, the tour will take pilgrims for visits to museums, other early restaurants and the industrial machine shop/museum where many fast-food innovations were created. A trip to the site of the brothers' first San Bernardino store is also planned.

Traveling down Route 66, tourgoers will

get personal anecdotes from former carhop Mildred "Skeeter" Kobzeff, early franchisee Jack R. Widmeyer and neon man Ray Quiel. Rare films and still photos of McDonald's early days will also be screened on the bus.

-- Brenda Rees

McTour begins Saturday at McDonald's, 10207 Lakewood Blvd., Downey. 10 a.m.- 4 p.m. $40 includes museum admissions, air-conditioned transportation, parking and lunch. Reservations: (323) 960-4479.

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