Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Books - From Woodstock To Eternity / White Cat

Just got an email from John D. Cooper who was a singer with the popular band Andromeda.   John has written a book entitled "From Woodstock To Eternity" and it is for sale through Amazon.

If you want to wait to get an autographed copy, John will be doing a book signing at Gillies during this year's Steppin' Out festival on August 5 and 6.

I have not read this book but it seems to have very good reviews.


Also, an old acquaintance of mine wrote a fantastic book about his life (somewhat fictionalized as he changed the names of people and places) in Blacksburg and beyond.  The old-timers around town might have known this author as Tom Thumb, but his real name is Will Sarvis.  The book is "White Cat" and is also available on Amazon.  A big part of the enjoyment (for me) was figuring out what individuals he was talking about.  A very gut-wrenching part of the book dealt with the tragic loss of a friend who was run down and killed while riding his motorcycle.  All-in-all it is extremely well written and I enjoyed it so much I was sorry when the book ended .... I wanted more!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

The Water Closet

The Water Closet                           209 College Avenue

I kept hoping to find a good street scene photo of this place but never could.  The Water Closet came along sometime in the mid-70s and was located to the right of Little Doc's on College Avenue.  It was a pretty cool store that sold water beds (all the rage back then .... and yes, I had one).

They also sold beanbag chairs, "head" gear, and black lights.  There was an upstairs and a downstairs section and carried some stereo equipment as well.

Looking at this ad I wondered what constituted a true Bong emergency, but I don't doubt that it might have happened from time to time.  I assume the Collegiate Times wouldn't be able to post an ad like this today!

A blog reader sent me this photo of his ash tray some time ago.  At least someone still has a souvenir of the joint.  Anyone else have a memory of The Water Closet?

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

117 South Main (South Main Cafe)

117 South Main  -  Photo courtesy of Linda Ruth Schwab

Not long after this former church building housed the New River Trading Company, it transformed into what many people consider to be the best bar and music venue Blacksburg ever had.

If I have the story right, three business fellows (Bob "Bullwinkle" Summerell, Al Freeman, and Fred Blake) shifted from Levi's to Budweisers around 1973, and over the next couple of years the partnerships changed to include Steve McBroom and most importantly Mike Schwab.

By 1975 or 76, Mike Schwab became the sole owner of the establishment which eventually included wife Linda Ruth.  They enjoyed a 20-year run, and the number of little known and well known musical acts that graced the stage is countless.  In the latter years (1984 to 1995) the joint was known as South Main Cafe, but everyone I knew just called it "117".

If you're too young to remember this place, that's a shame because it was definitely the primary gathering place for cowboys, hippies, and everything in between.  I remember the long neck Buds, pinball machines, pool tables, and a balcony above.  It was rustic, but that's the way we liked it.  Today it is home to Cabo Fish Taco.

I know this post is going to fill up with comments.  Looking forward to the reader's own memories of drunkenness, debauchery, and ass-kicking music.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014


Here is a nice old picture of Hardees when it was up next to the old high school on South Main.  Thanks to Brian MacInnis for sending.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Odds & Ends

Here's a few items from the archives, and from several of you readers (thanks for sending these).

A business card from the local band Andromeda.
I remember hearing them play a lot in the Squires Ballrooms, along with another popular local band called Happy.

Playing foozball in the back of Mr. Fooz.  This is me and "Old Man" taking on some unknown opponent.

A schedule of events for Deadwood Days 1979.

A night shot of Peoples Drug Store, in the early days of the University Mall.

Inside the bar called Spankys, located above what is now D.P. Dough on Main Street.  The spot was also home to the Campus Club, and then later (and the last thing to be there) the Ton 80 club.

A poster advertising a really cool place at 209 College Avenue called the Water Closet.

John's Camera Corner on Draper Road.  Even though we're in the digital age, John is still alive and well and still has a camera shop on Draper.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Fringe Benefit

In 1972 local entrepreneur Bev Patterson started a new business upstairs in the old Mill building, later to move it down to street-front at 217 College Avenue.  She named it Fringe Benefit.

This very successful women's clothing and accessories shop was there for more than two decades.  Personally I remember Bev's two white dogs hanging around the shop a lot.

Fringe Benefit was eventually bought by Nancyne Willoughby, and about 9 years ago moved to the old spot where Davidson's men's clothing shop was on Main Street.  Fringe Benefit is still going strong, and is one of the nicest retail shops in downtown Blacksburg.

The picture above is of the original store on College Avenue (sorry it's not a better photo).

Thursday, November 21, 2013

The Hokie House

Here's another place that has been around for decades.  Started in 1966 by George Willard, the building was the original bus station which moved to the adjacent corner.  The photo above was taken around 1967.  The Hokie House started life as a luncheonette with about 10 stools lining the counter.  The photo below is more how we remember the place.

The Hokie House was famous for the Hokie Burger, a delicious fresh ground burger served on buttered Texas toast.  At the time I think it was the best burger in town.  Their other specialties included homemade chili beans, vegetable soup, and BBQ.

Julie Willard told me that one of their cooks, a woman named Dolly, was there for 32 years.
Sometime in the 1970's George Willard put on a side addition, and in the rear was pool tables and pinball machines.  I remember shooting pool there and man did it get crowded as twosomes would slap their quarters on the table to challenge the winners.

George sold the business in 1993, but it's still going strong ... now with an upper level.