Friday, May 27, 2011

Radford Brothers Grocery

1000 North Main Street

In the early 1970's, and with less than half the population there is now, you might be surprised to know there were at least 4 major grocery stores in town.  Two were located at Gables Shopping Center (see an earlier Post about Gables), another store was Kroger located on South Main Street where the Tech Bookstore now operates, and then there was Radford Brothers which was at the site of the now YMCA Thrift Store.

A banker friend of mine once quipped that it should have been called the National Bank of Radford Brothers because they were so customer-friendly they would let you go in and write a personal check for cash.  Heck, I remember doing that myself when I was a poor college student and there was no such thing as an ATM.

Radford Brothers had the real feel of a "mom and pop" store and their prices were some of the most competitive in town.  I have fond memories of shopping there, even returning soda bottles for a few pennies apiece.  My roommate and I existed on Kraft Mac & Cheese (yeah, in the blue box) and it cost something like 29 cents a box.

Radford  Brothers later became Wades Supermarket before being sold to the YMCA.

Anyone else have memories of shopping here?

Monday, May 23, 2011

Our cars

Compared to today, many of my friends didn't even own cars while they were students at Tech.  My home in eastern Virginia was about 6 hours away so I had to have some cheap transportation ..... and here it is in the picture above, a 1970 VW Beetle.  She was a little rough around the edges, black exterior and red inside with self-installed shag carpet and a Craig AM/FM cassette player.  I loved this car and I might still have it if it hadn't died of exhaustion on I-95 in southern Florida.

I remember other autos that cruised the town on a regular basis.  Lots of VW's of course, but it seemed like there were a lot more British cars back then like MGs and MGBs, Triumphs (thought the TR-6 was a beaut), and also a variety of vans, 4-door smoke bombs of many makes and models, and motorcycles galore.

By the way, the photo here was taken at the side parking lot of the old Marriott Hotel on Prices Fork Road, now the Holiday Inn.

So, what were your early car memories?  And if you have a photo I'll gladly post it.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Flipper McCoy

215 North Main Street

Even though the storefront in the photo above looks entirely different, it is the same spot in which D.P. Dough now operates, across the alley from Hokie Hair and adjacent to the Campus Emporium.

In 1977 Flipper McCoy existed solely to entertain the masses via pinball and pool tables. Long before there were home computers this was the diversion of choice among a lot of high school and college kids. A friend of mine recently admitted she was addicted to Ms. Pac Man back then and would sneak down to Flipper McCoy during lunch to feed her habit. 

Some of the video games that came on the scene in the 70's were ones like Pac Man, Q-bert, Frogger, Asteroids, Centipede, Tron, Space Invaders, and others. I was more of a pinball guy, myself, and leaned toward ones made by Gottlieb .... personal favorites were Big Indian, Scuba, Fireball, Jack-In-The-Box and ones that had lots of targets to shoot at. A proficient pinball player could stop a ball dead in it's tracks and balance it on the flipper in order to line up a direct hit on a drop target, push target, or bonus button.

Previously, this building had been Jamie's Boutique and following Flipper it became the Downtowner Deli for a short period.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Deadwood Days

In 1976 a couple of local merchants got together and came up with a plan to perk up the slow business days of summer. One of them noted in a book of famous events that Wild Bill Hickok had been shot in Deadwood, South Dakota, while holding pairs of Aces and Eights in his poker hand, one hundred years earlier. The idea for a giant weekend party started to formulate, along with the name Deadwood Days.

Other downtown business owners and members of the Town came to terms on what would be the first of many summer celebrations every August. The very first Deadwood Days weekend had folks dressed in Old West regalia, and many of the downtown shops temporarily changed their names. Books Strings & Things became the Thundergrit Hotel, while Mr. Fooz Sub Shop was dubbed the Aces & Eights Saloon. The popular bar at 117 South Main was renamed the Silver Dollar Saloon, and there you would have found cowpokes and saloon girls quenching their thirst. There was even a kissing booth in town where a tired, dusty cowboy could get a smooch from a pretty gal for one silver dollar.

Deadwood Days was a huge success, and continued for three more consecutive years. In 1981 it was renamed Steppin' Out.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Gables Shopping Center

In the early 70's the Gables Shopping Center was the primary spot for a multitude of stores in one place.

Note in the second photo above there wasn't anything across the street yet (right side of picture).

On the Gables side, you see a Texaco gas station, and to the left of that was a great eatery called Lendy's Family Restaurant. They had a "Big Boy" statue out front, and in the rear take-out area you could get Kentucky Fried Chicken. A personal favorite in the dining area for me was the hot fudge sundae.

The other stores that made up the row within Gables Shopping Center were two grocery stores (Mick-Or-Mack and the A & P), two department stores (Sidneys and Leggetts), a Sears Catalog store, the ABC store, a High's Ice Cream, Marguerites Beauty Rama, and a Firestone Tire store.  In the top picture, if you click to enlarge it, you can see Sears, A & P, and Leggets most prominently.

Am I forgetting anything?

(July 2011 Update on this posting .... discovered more stores at Gables, namely, TG&Y , Crigler's Shoes, Ridingers Hardware, and Holdren's)