Monday, August 29, 2011

Happy Birthday Blacksburg

The following editorial piece appeared in the Blacksburg Sun in 1971.  I thought it was interesting what the author had to say, and it reflects the feeling of a lot of people today so it is worth reprinting here -

     "As of last April, Blacksburg has been incorporated for 100 years.
     This fact has been overlooked by most, if not all, residents of the town.  Tragic as this is, it is not nearly so as the fact that town officials and merchants have let this event pass by, a moment when citizens of the town might have been brought together and given the feeling of existence as a town and not as an extension of Virginia Tech.
     The town and college must work together but for the college because of it's own centennial to be able to suppress any idea of a town centennial leads one to assume that a mentality of existence, and not being, is prevalent in both officials and people in the town.
     Blacksburg has grown over the past 100 years and will continue to grow at an even greater pace than before.  The question which remains is whether Blacksburg will only be known as the place where VPI is or will it have it's own life, in cooperation with, but not overshadowed by, the college?
     Blacksburg needs a recognition by it's citizens of it's 100th year.  To lose the feeling of community is to pave the way for a future of disaster."

Remember, this was written 40 years ago.  So, how are we doing as a Town and not just the place where that big university is located?

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Spudnuts / Carol Lee Donuts

In 1970 you could walk down College Avenue in the early morning hours and the main thing permeating the air was the smell of wonderful fresh doughnuts coming from a shop known as Sputnuts.  It was so alluring that you might have pictured yourself as one of those cartoon characters floating on air as the smell waves wafted into your nostrils, and your body involuntarily sought out the source of that aroma.

Carol Lee Donuts      133 College Avenue

You can thank the Kidd family that started the business just one year before that, especially Mr. Kidd who drove from Roanoke and often stayed overnight because he would be open until midnight and reopen at 6 a.m.  The name would appear in local ads as "The Spudnut Shop" but everyone just knew it as Spudnuts, and loved the flavor of those potato flour delicacies.

Within a couple of years or so the shop was renamed Carol Lee Donuts and continued their reign on College Avenue for about 3 decades.  Today the sight is a Chinese food restaurant called the Happy Wok, but you can still find Carol Lee's way up at 1414 North Main Street.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Town Hall

In the mid 1970's some guys from North Carolina scoped out our little town and decided that it was a good place to open a higher class joint with a higher class of live entertainment.

They picked a familiar spot, under the parking lot at Draper and Jackson Streets (the eventual home of Mish Mish and a bunch of others).  The main nightclub area was full of exotic woods, glass, chrome ... well, you get the picture ... oh and big ol' fish tanks too.

Jeremy, one of the NC guys, hired me to help open up a deli in the front part of the club.  It was a lot of work, but a lot of fun coming up with a menu.  One of our specialties was a hot mushroom sub, and I also insisted we sell Dannon yogurt which was unavailable anywhere else in the Blacksburg area.

The musical acts were great.  I remember John Prine (Dear Abby, Dear Abby), Robert Palmer, and a host of other stellar performers.

If I remember correctly, the next thing to come in right after Town Hall folded was Cowboy's .... complete with mechanical bull.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Going In Style

Argabrite's          228 N. Main Street

If you weren't among the unwashed masses who trudged around town in bell bottoms and tie dye shirts, then it's possible you may have stepped into one of several finer clothing shops in town.  On the corner of Main and Old Main (College Ave extended) sat Argabrite's (now the home of Sharky's) with a big display window that was sure to have the latest in collegiate attire for the young men in town.

John Norman's          109 College Avenue
Further down College Avenue, on the left, was John Norman's clothing store, and a couple of blocks up Main Street you would find Davidson's Charwood Shop (started in 1959).  These three fine establishments mostly catered to the guys in town who actually dressed up to go out to football games, dances, concerts, or just a plain old date.  The gals in town tended to head out to Gables to shop at either Leggett or Sidney's.

I almost hate to admit it, but I did own a tan corduroy suit back then.  Davidson's was at 117 N. Main for the longest time, and now that spot is the home of Fringe Benefit.

I also want to add one note.  Jim Dymock, who ran Davidson's for seemingly forever, was and is one of the finest people you could ever hope to meet in Blacksburg ... always smiling, so gentle and so kind.

Monday, August 8, 2011

When Doggies Roamed

It was not at all unusual to see dogs roaming around town in the 70's.  When I was in the freshman dorm there was a cool dog named Woodstock that hung around a lot.... never knew if he had a real owner.

I ran into a guy yesterday who remembered my beagle dog named Ajax (pictured above), mainly because when I left my house on Roanoke Street the dog would often tag along.  Sometimes he would go all the way to campus but most times he would stop in town and find a cool concrete floor somewhere (and maybe some coeds who would talk to him).  He always came home though.  Guess dogs always remember from whence their gravy train comes.  Ajax lived to the ripe old age of 17.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Deadwood Days Revisited

Because the 31st annual Steppin' Out fair starts tomorrow it seemed like a good time to reflect on the beginning of it all.  You already know about the history of Deadwood Days from your own memories, or my earlier post, so I just wanted to share a few more photos from those old festival days. Let me know if you see anyone you recognize here.  Enjoy. (Remember you can click on the photo to enlarge it).

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Corner Drug

For some reason Corner Drug seemed like a friendly "anchor" for the businesses downtown.

It was literally on the corner ..... of Main Street and College Avenue .... and had an entrance on both streets, just like the current occupant Moe's does.  At the back of the store was the pharmacy and nearer the front (College Ave. side) was the lunch counter.   The food was pretty decent and the store itself had most everything you'd expect to find in a drug store.

But, it wasn't the only game in town by any means.  It had competition in the form of Center Drug (across the street) and Tech Drug (on the same block), and Gables Pharmacy on the south end of town.  Still, the Corner Drug store seems to be the one us old timers remember best.

Why can't we have a drugstore downtown again?