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Alice’s Restaurant – A Stage for Protest
(revised and updated February, 2021)
A Baby Boomer Generation Thanksgiving tale from the 60s – Alice’s Restaurant Massacre. It is a reality story right from Arlo Guthrie’s life. And, so it happened back on Thanksgiving day, 1965. Even if most of us did not share the same experiences with Arlo, we do identify with the issues he presents so well. More that those issues, we identify with the emotions and sentiments of the time.
I always smile when I hear the Arlo’s session with the shrink.
“And I went up there, I said, “Shrink, I want to kill. I mean, I wanna, I wanna kill. Kill. I wanna, I wanna see, I wanna see blood and gore and guts and veins in my teeth. Eat dead burnt bodies. I mean kill, kill, kill, kill.” And I started jumpin’ up and down yelling, “Kill! Kill!” and he started jumpin’ up and down with me and we was both jumping up and down yelling, “Kill! Kill!” And the Sargent came over, pinned a medal on me, sent me down the hall, said, “You’re our boy.”
Protest, the draft, the induction center, the motives of the recruiters – all of it bring back those old juices many of us experienced in the 60s. It is a serious topic, but Arlo presents it all with a deserving dose of sarcasm. Listen to the message again. Let it take you back to those feelings.
Those feelings are entirely absent in this new age where the majority of young people view the military establishment in a much different manner than it was viewed by the boomer generation back then.
Is Alice’s Restaurant Real?
Yes, Alice and her restaurant were indeed real.
Alice’s full name is May Brock. She was born on February 28th, 1941.
Alice’s restaurant did not originally bear that, now, iconic name. The restaurant was located in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. It’s sign and menu title was simply “The Back Room.”
When Arlo first sang Alice’s Restaurant a the Newport Folk Festival in July of 1967, few people knew about the eating establishment. It has since become an icon dinner, at least for we Baby Boomers.
The eatery’s name quickly became so famous that after the movie and cookbook were released, Alice’s Restaurants began to be franchised were franchised around the country, especially on the Atlantic and Pacific coasts.
Alice, or Ms. Brock, did not cook up any new age or hip food that was coming of age during the 60s. Instead she served up home-cooked comfort food like meatloaf and here own versions of the upscale Beef Stroganoff and Chicken Kiev.
While Alice was working as an extra on the filming of the movie, she wrote a cookbook feature her favorite fare.
It was published by Random House, in 1969, with a first run of 50,000 copies which were quickly scooped up due to the well planned release at the same time the movie came out.
The introduction to the cookbook was written by Arlo himself. It included a rather small, vinyl 33 1/3 RPM record tapped to the inside of the cover.
Alice’s Restaurant Served at Alro’s Wedding
The New York Times reported,
“Arlo Guthrie…after marriage yesterday to Jackie Hyde in Washington, Mass. At right is Alice Brock of ‘Alice’s Restaurant,’ who cooked. Rented card tables were piled with lasagne, fruit salad, turkey, roast beef and curried shrimp…’Alice’ is Brock of ‘Alice’s Restaurant. She looked after Arlo in Stockbridge, about 30 miles west of here when he was arrested for littering.”
—“Arlo Guthrie Weds in Berkshire Meadow,” Fred Ferretti
Illustrated version of Alice’s Restaurant.
The Group W Bench – My Favorite Scene from the Movie
Here is you will find a great review of Alice’s Restaurant, the movie.