Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Rec Center

I didn't frequent this place so I can't tell you much about it, other than that they hosted a yearly crafts fair which was pretty cool.  I think it's the same crafts fair that was in the ballroom at Squires, and that now shows up at the University Mall.

The Rec Center was on Draper Road.


  1. I remember going here foy Boy Scouts, but actually skipping and taking my dues money and spending it on pinball at University Billards above Little Docs. I never got my Tenderfoot and didn't stay in scouts long. I did however get pretty good at pinball.

  2. That's funny. "Univ Bills" as we used to call it was yet another place I worked for a while along with a red headed guy named Bruce and, of course, the owner Mr. Hill. I played a LOT of pinball there too, and shot pool with guys named Cody, Rick, Steve, etc.

  3. A long time ago, this was an Armory - "Armory" was chiseled in the bricks above the entrance (where the Rec Center sign is in the photo). In the 1960s/1970s they had a basketball court in the lower level where Sandlot Basketball used to play & practice. The AAUW's annual book sale was held there for awhile. The craft fair you mentioned was sponsored by the YMCA - it moved to Squires sometime in the early 1970s, I think. Now the building is used as an art gallery affiliated with Tech.

  4. Thanks, Tom !!! I always appreciate folks helping with the missing details of these posts.

  5. Coached a few rec basketball games there in the late 70's. I remember the crafts show very well.

  6. Yep, this was the Armory alright. I can remember in 1969 there was an influx of the "hippies" into town. Since we now had a music store in my bedroom, I often heard cool stuff from people who would come in to "test" the instruments. I can remember this one guy coming in several times - to practice I think. He was in a band and they were going to play at the Armory. He told me to stop on by. I can remember the funny lights inside and people's clothes glowed. The music was really loud. I think it was the first time I heard Inagaddavida. I also smelled some really funny stuff. I thought it might have been that mary jane stuff people were talking about...but I later learned that those smokey sticks they were waving around was not a drug. (I'm sure now those skinny stick things must have been to mask the REAL smells I didn't know! LOL) As a side bar - just to the left rear of the Armory was the location of the first elementary school I went to - and the high school my siblings attended. One of the smaller buildings back there became home to WUVT. I spent a lot of time back there hanging out to watch DJs spin records. I truly had an exciting life as a pre-adolescent street urchin of downtown Blacksburg.

    1. Susan, the band was probably Bittersweet, the drummer, Terry Britt did a great rendition of Inagaddavida. A friend of mine was one of the WUVT DJ's from about '67-70.

  7. In the early '70s I dated a weight lifter. We'd go to the old armory to life weights. There was a lot of equipment available, and it was free to use.

  8. I entered the first grade at Blacksburg Elementary School in Sep. 1959. The Armory parking lot always had military vehicles parked behind a chain link fence. The community basketball program did hold practice down in the basement gym, and I "sneaked" upstairs and read the names painted on the office doors: "Captain so'n'so, etc" The Elementary school playground was located in what is now the Donaldson Brown parking lot, and a kid could get a good view of the military gear from that location.

    Where Donaldson now stands, there was a lovely lake. It was fed by Strouble's Creek which (back hen) ran under College Avenue in a big pipe (which it entered behind Argabright's). From that lake, the stream continued (again in pipes) under the VT campus until it "broke free" at the end of the drill field - and flowed free into the bigger pond - The Duck Pond - beside Solitude.

    Back to the Armory. In the later 1960s, as High Holy Hippiness descended on Blacksburg, Psychedelic concerts did indeed happen in the Armory - which by then must have been decommissioned. I remember (as mentioned above) hearing a romping performance of Innagadadavida complete with bio-projections, strobe lights, black lights, and dayglo murals.

    After the Elementary School was closed - replaced by Gildert Linkous and Margaret Beeks schools - VATECH took over the buildings which sat empty for a while (except to be explored by tweens land vandals - I the former). Again as mentioned above, the VT radio station was there, and I too visited the DJs many a hot summer night when the sides were playing, and music wafted out the open door.

    Just a personal note: I can still see, in my minds eye, the entire walk from my house on Montgomery Street to the elementary school; every wall I walked on (like the one on Progress street; every iron fence (where music ensues when dragging a stick against the pickets; every Victorian house and ancient clapboard; the bridge over Strouble Creek beside the fire station; the old jail (where prisoner/drunks would holler out between bars; and down the street beside Roses (which replaced the old Hotel).

    I wish you could all see that Blacksburg, sleepy little mountain (as my dad used to call it). He graduated from VPI in 1937, fought in WWII, and returned to "the Burg" to teach at VATECH after hostilities ended. We spent plenty of time discussing what used to be in the 30s 40s and 50s prior to my own experiences. Ciao