Thursday, April 30, 2009

Blacksburg VA - The Hippie Era & Beyond

Yes, I loved my parents but I couldn't wait to get away and become an independent college student. It was September 1970.

If you've lived in Blacksburg in more recent times, say, the last 10 or 20 years, all I can say is it ain't exactly the same ..... it was more of a "real" town then. And by real I mean it didn't seem to matter that there happened to be a rather large college attached to it. It was quite self sufficient .... complete with drug stores, clothing stores, books and records, appliances, hardware stores, stereo hi-fi stores, barbershops and salons, a downtown grocery store .... and a whole lot more. Not exactly Mayberry, but not exactly Roanoke either. It was quaint, it was much slower moving, and you could find pretty much anything you wanted right inside the town limits.

Today the population is over 40,000 (counting students) but in 1970 it was half that. It was a helluva lot easier to get around !!! Most students walked or rode bicycles. No such thing as a rush hour or a traffic jam of any kind.

Anyway, the point of all this is to say Welcome. If you knew Blacksburg 30 or 40 years ago, or even longer than that, I hope you'll share some memories with us here.

For me personally, it was a time of long hair (on guys), bell bottoms, tie-dyes, sandals and bare feet, headbands, an ever-changing music scene, blacklight posters, shag carpeting, incense, bean bag chairs, and funny smells in the air at concerts.

It was a great time to be a wide-eyed teen on his own for the first time.


  1. The guys did have long hair, but the girl's was could still tell us apart. Yeah, I said "us" - I was there, too!! And I loved it!! And I love it now!! But Dennis is was a town then with a variety of stores and a few bars, not a huge bar with some shopping squeezed in. Munchies came from Krogers (now Tech Bookstore), dorm necessities came from Rose's (now the used textbook store, previously the outdoor outfitters) and shoe laces came from "Corner Drug" at the corner of College and Main. Most of us walked everywhere not just becasue we didn't have cars (which you didn't really need), but becasue we liked to.

    One of my favorite stores was the New River Trading Company (aka Cabo Fish Taco) where jeans were $5.00. I could get everything I needed in town, but once in a while, when we wanted a big shopping experience, some girls would get together and call Legget's at Gables (now Kroger) who would send a car for us.

    It was people's home town, not just that place where VPI was. Don't get me wrong, I'm proud that I went to Tech and I loved living on campus. And although I walked and shopped all over town, I appreciate more now that there was a town - a real town. I didn't have to think about it then becasue it was here. Blacksburg was a town a century before college boys in uniforms showed up. I'm glad to have experienced all that Blacksburg was in the 70s and I'm happy to call it home today. But I do wish that there was more of the old flavor of the small town that we really are. So, thanks Dennis for reminding us of the place we loved and giving us an outlet to share our memories.

  2. I remember a restaurant that looked like a cave inside and I cannot remember its name. Does anyone remember this place?

  3. Sounds like you mean Middle Earth !! Soon as I get some good photos I'll be doing that place too.

  4. What a great Blog! Thank you for doing this. I came to Blacksburg/VT in 1974 and have been coming back ever since. This has brought back some great memories and I've enjoyed commenting.

  5. Terrific blog Dennis. I'm discovering it late so I hope it keeps going.
    As for traffic, I remember sitting on the hill at the corner of College and Main and watching rush-hour at 5 o'clock. Traffic backed up for about five minutes, then it was over.

    PS: do you recall a Mark Shapiro, long time Fooz employee?

  6. Thank you for making this. Not much progress on the stuff I was SUPPOSED to be doing during the last couple of hours, but it's been time well-spent.

  7. Does anyone remember davinchies attic