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October 17, 2021

Applicant for Carhop Job Being Interviewed, Houston, 1940

Applicant for carhop job, Ruth Oliphant, 18, is being inspected by Mrs. Sivils, who coaches girls in diction, deportment and the importance of laughing at customers’ jokes.

A carhop is a waiter or waitress who brings fast food to people in their cars at drive-in restaurants. Carhops usually work on foot but sometimes use roller skates, as depicted in movies such as American Graffiti and television shows such as Happy Days.

Carhops were especially big in the 1950s and 1960s when car culture was really emerging. They can still be found at a few remaining original drive-in stands and nostalgic fast food establishments, mostly in smaller and rural towns with local ownership.

Roller skating carhop in the 1940s.

Sonic Drive-In still employs carhops at most of their over 3,600 restaurants. In recent years, there has been a carhop resurgence, with some franchises cashing in on the nostalgia and memories of baby boomers. The aluminum window trays used by carhops are still manufactured and sold today.


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