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Sunday, Jan. 22, 2017

Picturing the Past 5: The Rebel Maid

Posted Tuesday, April 21, 2009, at 2:17 PM

The Rebel Maid restaurant, following a severe thunderstorm in March 1959. (T-G file photo)
This entire series of pictures of the past began after I was asked if the Times-Gazette files contained any photos of the Rebel Maid restaurant. I've found other photos of interest during the search, but none of the Rebel Maid -- until now.

It's not exactly in the best of shape here, though, with a damaged awning following a severe thunderstorm in March 1959. Hopefully I'll run across some photos of the building without damage.

The Rebel Maid, located at Madison and North Main where KFC is today, was the main teen hangout during the 1950s and 1960s, according to many of those who were there. Was there a drive-in area as well, off to the side or behind it?

This photo brought back a couple of memories to me as well. Seems like I remember that billboard which, from the photo, appears to overshadow the restaurant. If it was still there in the mid-to-late 1960s, then it's what I'm thinking of.

It also reminded me of the neon billboard (seems like it was Jersey Farms as well, or at least a dairy) which was next to the old Coca-Cola plant on Elm Street in the 1960s. I remember seeing that sign while riding to Central High football games with my parents as a small child. Seems like I remember some element of that sign which moved or appeared to be moving, and was fascinating to the eyes of a small child.

Picturing the Past is featured in this blog each Tuesday.

Showing comments in chronological order
[Show most recent comments first]

David, thanks for the photo of the Rebel Maid. I am glad that you found it. I have many fond memories of that place. Let me share with your readers a little bit of what I remember about the place.

In the early '50's the original building was very small, kind of like a Dairy Dip, or Dairy Curl, or Dairy Queen of years gone by. It had two small walk up windows where you could place your order for and receive cones of ice cream. In my memory it seems to me that there were two dormers on the roof. The building extended from the extreme left in the picture to about 4 feet behind the Buick in the photo. It did not stay small long as "Chick" Thornton expanded rapidly to include seating as well as a burger and fries menu among other things.

I can remember that about '51 or '52 I had a job there pushing an ice cream cart in the Summer. Chick had dry ice shipped in every night and that is what we used in our carts to keep the ice cream frozen. My route included the Fairgrounds area.

As for the Jersey Farms billboard behind the building, there was a small refrigerated building right beneath the billboard where a milk company stored the milk for the door to door milk men. It is kind of ironic but I remember that company as being Sealtest if my memory serves me correctly.

Many times in the past I have heard teenagers lament that there was nothing to do in Shelbyville. Well let me tell you that we had a regular ritual we went through. Before we went home for the night we made a run out to Ray's Drive-In to see who was there, then on to the Rebel Maid to see who was there, and then a trip around the square to see who was there. If the person you were looking for was not at one of those three places, then they had to be out of town, or in the bed asleep.

-- Posted by leeiii on Tue, Apr 21, 2009, at 4:54 PM

What was the restaurant called that was there for many years where El Mexico is now? I remember going there as a child, but can't think of the name of it for anything!

-- Posted by titansfan on Wed, Apr 22, 2009, at 10:49 AM

titansfan.......i also remember going to a restaurant at the current El Mexico location when I was a child. The first thing that came to my mind when I read your post was Turner's. Does that sound right to you? If I remember correctly, wasn't it a cafeteria style place?

-- Posted by k_collins39 on Wed, Apr 22, 2009, at 1:11 PM

I believe The Saddle Restaurant followed by Turner's Cafeteria was where El Mexico is now.

-- Posted by volfanatic on Wed, Apr 22, 2009, at 1:14 PM

Seems like it was a cafeteria style, cause I hated those as a child. It could have been Turner's, does seem like it was a name like that. The main thing I remember is sitting in a booth that sat in a corner and seem like there was a horse statue close to the door.

-- Posted by titansfan on Wed, Apr 22, 2009, at 1:58 PM

Going back a little further, the Northwest corner lot of the North Main, Madison/Elm street intersection was once occupied by a two-story house that I believe was owned by Tom Burke. In the middle of the intersection there was a concrete pillar with a traffic light sticking out of it. When the intersection was reconfigured the two-story house was moved out Whitthorne Street just past Perfection Drive. I believe that house is being used today as a Bed and Breakfast or at least it has been in the past.

The Saddle/Turners was the next house out North Main.

-- Posted by leeiii on Thu, Apr 23, 2009, at 11:40 AM

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David Melson is a copy editor and staff writer for the Times-Gazette.