Friday, May 11, 2007

Drive-in restaurants hold fond memories for locals

Readers have had a great time reminiscing about local drive-in restaurants. It all started when Don Castle asked f"Did You Ever Wonder?" readers the name of a longtime-gone drive-in restaurant on the “cruising” circuit on Nevada Avenue in the 1950s and ’60s. The first ones mentioned were Jay’s across from Colorado College, Garth’s in the 400 block of South Nevada Avenue and the Fabulous Scotchman at 1815 S. Nevada Ave. Then Arnie Blair wrote about W&W Food Ranch and Gas Ranch at Fountain Creek and South Nevada Avenue and recalled a Wimpy’s at Mill and Tejon streets in the late 1930’s and early ’40s. His cousin car-hopped at Wimpy’s and took Wimpy burgers home for the family.

We’ve run several columns with drive-in updates and questions and we’re still getting e-mails and blogs from people who fondly remember the local eateries. Our thanks to everyone.

Diane Sigler asked about “a place on the corner of Las Vegas and Nevada and one on the corner of Mill Street and Nevada called McHales.” Al Cordova responded: “The drive-in was called Michaelis and was known as the home of the original 10 cent hamburger.” He continued down memory lane, “other drive-ins which were popular during early and mid-60’s included Howdy Pard on South 8th Street just north of where the Wal-Mart is now, Ivy’s on South Tejon and Las Vegas, and Cy’s drive-in on West Colorado Avenue (now at 19th and Uintah). There was also an A&W on the south side of the city owned by the Gorman family of Harrison School District 2 fame, more or less where the Car Toys near I-25 and Circle Drive is now. Circle Drive did not even exist then and across the street from the A&W were mostly cornfields and farm country.”

J. Michael Riley said the Mill Street Michaelis (a baker’s dozen burgers, 13 for $1 on Fridays and Saturdays when families headed for the drive-in theaters) was the smallest of four in a local chain with others at Platte Avenue and Boulder, on West Colorado Avenue and on the west side of North Nevada Avenue up near the dog track.

Jerry Price knew all about the drive-in near Las Vegas Street and Nevada Avenue: “Growing up in Colorado Springs in the late ’50s and early ’60s, I delivered meat there. It was Jack’s drive-in.” Reader Mary loved Jack's Drive-In, "which was owned by an elder couple named Pop and Mom Levy." She worked there and met her future husband at Jack's.

A reader blogged: “Two blocks west of Nevada on Las Vegas you got to the old Ivy’s Drive In which was in the same parking lot as the old Bowl-Mor bowling alley lanes and the miniature golf park.

Margaret Jackson said in the late ’40s and early ’50s she and her husband liked the hamburgers on a long bun at “Tom Boy’s and Poor Boy’s,” one on the east side of South Nevada and the other at Ramona Street. Another burger fan was partial to White Spot on Eighth Street and remembered the A&W on Manitou Avenue. And others said to not forget “The Drive-In" on North Wahsatch Avenue and “B.J.’s" on Union.

Gloria Stovern Mitchell shared that in 1954 her father, Reuben Stovern, built the Gold Nugget drive-in at the corner of South Nevada Avenue and Mill Street and the family lived in the attached house. Gloria was a car-hop during her high school years. The property near the underpass was sold in 1957 and the building later leveled.

Paula Jenlink Heydman said, "I can't believe that no one has mentioned the Cherry Pit which was located on the north side of Colorado Avenue just west of Cascade Avenue in the early 1950's. I remember it to be the #1 hangout spot in town at that time. I have fond memories of meeting friends there. The local police walked the beat in pairs downtown and always stopped to chat. I believe the population was about 55,000 then, and what a wonderful little city this was."


Blogger Linda Navarro said...

Several readers sent drive-in memories:

From Carol Bishop: Sunday's article re local drive-ins of the 1940, 1950, 1960 era really caught my eye as a 66 year old native. Especially since the last paragraph mentioned my Mother's A&W on Manitou Blvd. She was the original owner and operator of the A&W in Canon City built in 1953 and the owner of the Manitou A&W built in 1956 which she then also operated from 1960 to 1963. It was fun reminiscing about all the kids in the family she hired and trained on their first jobs: Janet Smid, Jeff Harvey, Tom Harvey and Don Toft. As her daughter, Carol Bishop, I was already trained in Canon City to car-hop, cook, fill orders, wash mugs, make the root beer syrup, breakdown and cleanup every night, etc. We also remembered many of the local Manitou kids that became such an integral part of the business - also working their first jobs for her. There were, among others, the Studebaker girls - Lynnette, Linda, Laura and Leslie, and their brother Doug, the Shockey's - especially Glenda who was Mom's right hand for a couple of years. Her name then was Dorothy Harmon and is now Dorothy Field. She will be 94 years old in August and is still going strong- drives her 17 year old Cadillac to play bridge a couple of times a week and to the nearby grocery store at least once a week,. She still likes to plant and tend her flowers and pull weeds. She has lived with me for the past 13 years and we now share the cooking and housekeeping since I retired but she did the major part of those chores until this past October. The main regret we have about the drive-in is that we didn't save a single mug as a souvenir - guess we got too tired of washing, cooling, and filling the thousands of them over the years!

From Judy Lester: By the way, another White Spot was on north Nevada, which is now Senor Manuel's - many times expanded since they took the tiny building over in the early 1970's.

In reference to your recent columns on Drive In's in Colorado Springs in past years:

I grew up in Colorado Springs and drove between Garth's Drive-In and J's Drive-In on Nevada Avenue back in the early 1960's. I met my husband at Garth's Drive-In in 1963; he was a soldier at Fort Carson, and drove a beautiful 1960 Chevrolet Bel-Air with a red metal flake paint job, which caught my eye, and then my eyes caught a glimpse of my handsome husband to be. We married in November of 1963, a lot of fond memories and great food at Garth's...sure do miss that place.

I have a postcard of Garth's I've kept in my wedding album all these years. On the back of the card it reads "One of the West's most beautiful Drive-In Restaurants. Located in Downtown Colorado Springs. Kentucky Fried Chicken and Pizzaburger, the two taste treats of the nation, are featured here. Breakfast also served. Curb service space for 97 cars. A delightful place to eat. 421 South Nevada Avenue, Colorado Springs, CO.

Must've been before the day of Kentucky Fried Chicken franchises.

12:39 PM, May 14, 2007  
Blogger Bill Crissman said...

Tom Boy Inn---It was nice to see that my grandfather's & father's drive-in is still remembered. The Tom Boy Inn @ 1634 So. Nevada was opened in 1933 by John Merit & a Mr. Walcher. Six months later, Walcher went a half block north & opened the Poor Boy Drive-In where Grey's Tire Shop is now located. Mr. Merit sold the Tom Boy in 1938 & in 1939 it was purchased by Glen Crissman with his then 20 yr.-old son Eldon. The Poor Boy moved across & down the street to Nevada & East St. Elmo after World War II. The Tom Boy was re-modeled & enlarged into a family restaurant in 1952 & enlarged again in 1966 as a pancake house. When the sign-painter made a new sign for the new name change in 1952, it was spelled "Chris" instead of "Criss" & not wanting to wait for the correction, the new spelling stuck. Eldon bought out his father in 1955 then sold out in 1985. Glen died in 1998 just days short of his 105th birthday. "Criss" still works as an apartment owner & will celebrate his 89th birthday @ the end of summer. We wish all former clients the best!----Bill Crissman

12:41 PM, May 23, 2007  
Anonymous Chuck Bader said...

the Maid Rite drive inn

5:51 PM, April 09, 2010  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There was a place on solo av by the site service station call the tick tock that sold burgers.I also miss the old Maidrites. lI lve this web site and all the menories.I miss those days hanging out at the Drive Inns with our car club the Genteels from Manitou.
Thanks Chuck Bader

9:01 AM, April 13, 2010  
Anonymous Lloyd said...

Does anyone remember Barthels (Bartels? downtown, home of the pimento cheese sandwich and burnt weenie sandwich, or the fabulous Scotchman on S. Nevada, a big portion of fried jumbo shrimp, "texas toast," and baked beans, plus other culinary delights? All in the 1950's.

3:42 PM, August 19, 2015  
Anonymous Arlys said...

Did Michaelis DriveIn on N. Nevada begin as a "Burger in a Basket"?

6:31 PM, June 26, 2016  

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