[Masthead] Fair ~ 12°F  
Feels like: 12°F
Friday, Mar. 6, 2015

Here, have a bite of the past

Saturday, August 5, 2006

Shelbyville has had its share and more of fast food outlets for years. The tradition goes back quite a few years, even when our fast food was from locally owned drive-ins.

Several of these restaurants form some of my earliest memories.

Imagine yourself driving inbound from the Madison Street-Wartrace Pike intersection. Directly across the road from today's Kangaroo store was:

*The Merry-Go-Round. Its round building housed a rough beer joint before it burned in the 1980s. Some remember it as a drive-in restaurant and the home of strawberry milkshakes in the 1950s.

Up the road, you could find a snack bar and much more at...

*The 41 Drive-In. A drive-in theater located roughly where Canterway and Lamplighter Estates Apartments are now, it went dark in the 1980s. The screen could be seen from Wartrace Pike. You'd be driving along and suddenly a steamy, larger-than-life love scene appeared in the woods!

About a mile up the road, at South Hillcrest Drive and Madison Street on the site of what now is another Kangaroo store, was...

*Ray's Drive-In. For food, not movies. I'm too young to remember it in operation but sometimes rode my bicycle around the abandoned building and read the scrawled graffiti about who'd loved who years earlier (a far cry from today's graffiti). A traditional-style drive-in with carhops and individual vehicle stalls, Ray's heyday was in the late 1950s and 1960s.

Just up and across the street was...

*Honeyland. I remember it as a bar in a small, yellow brick building in what would be the extreme front of today's Wessner Automotive lot and what's now the far right lane of Madison Street. I've heard it was more of a teen hangout in the 1950s and 1960s. Honeyland closed in the 1970s; I think it burned. Next stop:

*Stickey's. Definitely a tavern, it was in a small building next to Madison in the front of today's mostly-abandoned Kroger shopping center. The center was built around it in the late 1970s. Stickey's closed shortly afterwards and was demolished.

*The "old" Sonic Drive-In. One of "the" hangouts for those of us who grew up in the mid-to-late 1970s. Our version of TV's Arnold's Drive-In but without inside tables. In those days you "cruised" from Lane Parkway out to Sonic and used it as a turnaround point.

Shelbyville's "Arnold" was Sonic's manager Marion Tackett, whom we knew as "Mr. T." A great guy who had children about our age, he did a lot for Shelbyville and its youth.

It's sort of sad to see the remains of the "old" Sonic rusting out, falling apart and covered with weeds. I'd rather see it torn down than to be in today's shape. Up the street and to the right, it's...

*Mr. Burger. Mainly a 1960s operation which I barely remember. Seems like it had bright yellow neon lights over the stalls. It burned in the early 1970s and was rebuilt but never seemed the same. The remodeled building now houses a dentist's office. Nearby, in what today is the middle of Celebration Drive, was...

*Bud's Drive-In. Operated by Bud Watley, I remember this as more of a sit-down restaurant but others bring up its drive-up service. Next, on the south side of the street about a half-mile away, was the original...

*Dairy Queen. The second DQ building at that location still stands, but many probably remember the original rundown, blue-and-white building replaced in the early 1970s. Several blocks away on the right was, for a brief time, ....

*A & W Root Beer. It was located in what's now the parking lot of Pawnbrokers of Shelbyville. I can't imagine today how a drive-in was shoehorned into a lot that small. Up the road, at the Madison-North Main intersection, was arguably the major hangout of the 1950s and 1960s...

*The Rebel Maid. I hardly remember the Maid, but I ate in that building many times after it was remodeled into a KFC outlet. There's probably a lot more that should be said about this one, but its heyday was before my time.

Take a turn to the right, head up a couple of blocks, and you'd find...

*Joe-Boy Dairy Bar. Its location is covered by the far east end of Colloredo Boulevard -- right where so many of us impatiently sit under today's "long" red light. It was around in the mid-1960s to early 1970s. And we can't leave out...

*Burger Chef.The main "hangout" in the early 1970s, it gradually seemed to lose many of its customers by later in the decade. Its building today houses a Mexican grocery store.

I may have left out a few drive-in and similar restaurants of the 1950s-1970s, since I'm working strictly from memory here. Feel free to correct me or add any thoughts.

David Melson is a Times-Gazette copy editor/staff writer. Your comments welcome: dmelson@t-g.com.

David Melson
On the Loose