"It was always a booming place," said Fogel, the restaurant's co-owner. "It was the only place around to get something to eat.
Small-town life was different then. If you wanted a quick burger, a cold drink or a sweet treat, you stopped at one of the local snack stands dotting the side of a country road.
Nowadays - am I old enough to use that word yet? - just about everyone in York County lives within a half-hour or less of a Bruster's/Dairy Queen/Rita's.
The McFranchise challengers to the local milkshake and snack shops reflects another step in the chainification of our food.
Think I'm overstating it? Consider what blogger Stephen Von Worley recently determined: The farthest you can get from a McDonald's in the lower 48 states is 107 miles.
How long until we're similarly surrounded by Sonic drive-ins.
I'm hoping never. People can still choose to spend their dollars at places like the Craley Drive In when they have a hankering for a fries and a chili dog, as I did last week.
About a year ago, Fogel and partner Karen Bowman, who manages the drive-in, revived the restaurant, which had been struggling to stay open since the early 90s.
"When we bought it, I just thought I want to take it back to the way it was," Fogel said. "It's not quite fast food, and it's not quite home-style cooking."
The result is a big variety of burgers, milkshakes and buckets of pressure-cooked chicken, which they call broasted.
The dogs are sizable, and mine was covered with just the right amount of a decent-tasting chili and a sprinkling of raw onion. I doused my pile of crisp, think-cut fries with malt vinegar. How anyone dared to come within breathing distance of me the rest of the day, I do not know. Fortunately, the thick raspberry milkshake refreshed me.
Simple put, the prices were great, the service courteous and prompt.
Given all that, I can see the Craley Drive In regaining its status as the community gathering place of Fogel's childhood, even with corporate competition.
To be fair, I'm not an unrelenting chain-hater, which would be hypocritical and silly. Some sell decent products. And who can deny - or avoid - the convenience factor?
A full meal of drive-in food requires an iron stomach and a few Tums. So I stopped for a bottle on the way home - at a nice, new, box-shaped CVS.
Cheap Eats is a biweekly column on local restaurants' meals for less than $10. Suggestions are welcome. Reach Wade Malcolm at 771-2101 or email@example.com.
If you go
LOCATION: Craley Drive In, 2621 Craley Road in Lower Windsor Township
WADE'S PICK: chili dog with onions ($1.50), fries ($1.75) and a raspberry milkshake ($2.25)
HOURS: 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Thursday; 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday; noon to 8 p.m. Sunday; closed Tuesday.
PRICE RANGE: $1.25 to $6.50
ACCEPTS: Cash only, ATM on site
KID'S MENU: none but regular menu is kid friendly.