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Looking Back with Lindie

As a 70-year-old, I look back and remember as a young girl when on Tuesdays, burgers were six for a dollar at Mart’s In and Out. (This was named after its originator, Mart Phillips and later changed to Mark’s In and Out, after its second owner, Scott Black’s brother, Mark). Mom would give me two one-dollar bills, and I would walk over to Mart’s, order twelve burgers, and bring them home for our family of seven to enjoy this once-a-week treat.

To date, Mark’s In and Out has been a gleaming red-and-white fixture on the corner of 8th and Park Streets in Livingston since 1954, a year after I was born. Originally the outside ledge was a flowerbed for geraniums. It was later remodeled and turned in to the flat ceramic tile ledge you see today.

From May through October, locals and visitors alike gather beneath the glowing neon “Beefburgers” sign, drawn like moths to the classic fifties menu to experience an authentic, original, small-town America drive-in. Not much has changed in these past seventy years. The burger is still 100% beef, fresh-ground daily, and the ice cream has been and always will be Wilcoxson’s.

There used to be a classic car event, called the “Rod Run,” when local and area enthusiasts would bring out their period cars to experience a night from the fifties. That changed when the railroad increased the insurance fee to use the railroad boulevard across the street for a weekend. And the music being piped through the loud speakers at Mark’s remains the golden oldies—and sets the atmosphere.

The menu at Mark’s is burgers and fries, dogs and onion rings, complemented by fourteen flavors of shakes made the old-fashioned way—with hard ice cream and milk. Everything is made and dressed to order. In my estimation, my favorite meal each summer is a super pizza burger, an order of onion rings, and a peanut-butter milkshake. It’s as good as a prime rib dinner to me! While this isn’t fine dining, it’s American drive-in dining from the past at its finest. The ingredients are fresh and locally prepared by people who care about the food they serve.

The prices at Mark’s are also reminiscent of a bygone era. The most expensive item on the menu is a bacon triple cheeseburger, which rings up at $3.49, and a regular burger is only $1.29. That’s a steal for beef that’s never seen the inside of a freezer! Add in the Americana, the amazing onion rings that are like no others around, and Mark’s starts looking like the perfect curb-side place to curb your hunger in style.

My older sister and her husband, from Bozeman, make it a regular outing, as do many faithful customers from all around the area. When Mart’s began, Park Street was also the highway through town, until I-90 was built south of town on Harvat’s flat. And KPRK was our local source of music and entertainment at 1340 AM on your radio dial. For old times’ sake and a trip down memory lane stop in at Mark’s and get a burger, fries and/or onion rings, and a shake. Eat your feast at one of their several picnic tables across the street. If you take it down to Riverside Park at the end of 9th Street, you can enjoy your meal next to the cool and quiet ambiance of the Yellowstone River!


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