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34 things old-timers may remember in Gainesville
Johnny Vardeman

You date yourself if you remember:

  1. When two pool rooms sat side by side on Gainesville’s Main Street just south of the Collegiate Grill. And George and Margene Brown kept the Collegiate humming.

  2. When WDUN studios were across Main Street upstairs over Hardy’s Studio and the Gainesville News.

  3. When the weekly Gainesville News morphed into the daily Gainesville Morning News, operating for less than two years before going out of business.

  4. When what were then the Gainesville Daily Times and Radio Station WGGA were in the same building on West Spring Street where Ninth District Opportunity is now.

  5. When the only legal place to buy beer in Gainesville was in the Salvage House on Oak Street.

  6. When Holly Drive off Green Street in Gainesville was called Grape Street, leading to an area named Sandy Flats.

  7. When cruisers backed their cars into parking places on Gainesville’s downtown square to watch other cruisers cruise.

  8. When the Dixie-Hunt was one of three hotels in downtown Gainesville and its mezzanine was the meeting place for civic clubs and other organizations.

  9. When Brenau students were required to wear coats to cover their shorts going to physical education classes.

  10. When a chapel bell summoned Brenau students to vespers, change of classes and lights out at night.

  11. When the Northeast Georgia Fair was a major event sponsored by Gainesville Jaycees off Shallowford Road every fall.

  12. When Gainesville High School, Industrial Leagues and American Legion baseball teams played baseball on what is now Bobby Gruhn football field in City Park.

  13. When L.P. McNeal Jr. operated Lakeshore Lanes bowling alley in what became Lakeshore Mall.

  14. When swimmers churned up the waters of three Gainesville swimming pools: Green Street, Fair Street and Pine Street.

  15. When the Mayflower Café on the corner of Broad and Main in Gainesville stayed open all night.

  16. When, across the street, Jimmy Wood pumped gas at his Standard Oil service station.

  17. When three major churches were within a block of each other on Gainesville’s Green Street: First Baptist at the corner of Green and Washington, First Presbyterian at the corner of Green and Brenau Avenue, and First Methodist between Brenau Avenue and Academy Street on Green Street.

  18. When Cobb’s pool room was next to the Chew and Chat Café on Athens Street, and Price and Thompson’s pool hall was next to the Roxy Theater.

  19. When Clore’s Café was a popular eating place on North Bradford Street downtown.

  20. When professionals, politicians and blue-collar workers mixed to eat their veggies and fried chicken, gossip and talk politics at Jake’s Cafeteria on MLK Boulevard in Gainesville.

  21. When Holly’s Landing on old Thompson Bridge Road was the go-to place for a sumptuous buffet.

  22. When Gainesville and Fair Street high schools had the only football teams in the county.

  23. When the only post office in Gainesville was behind the Federal Building at the corner of Green and Washington streets.

  24. When poultry companies and other groups fashioned elaborate floats for the Poultry Parade that wound through Gainesville streets packed six deep with people.

  25. When ambulances from Ward’s, Vickers and other funeral homes responded to accident and other emergency calls.

  26. When Winn-Dixie was where Memorial Park Funeral Home is today on Gainesville’s Ronnie Green Parkway.

  27. When Produce Row off old Athens and Church streets south of downtown Gainesville was the place to go for fresh veggies and fruit, etc.

  28. When in the summertime, you went up Cornelia Highway (now Old Cornelia Highway) to buy your peaches from any number of stands along the way.

  29. When Sears Roebuck was just a catalog sales office in the corner building on West Washington Street at Maple, and WLBA radio station was next door.

  30. When the Boys’ Club was in an old house on Sycamore Street, now E.E. Butler Parkway.

  31. When Colonial Stores was in what most recently was Turner-Wood-Smith insurance agency building on Brenau Avenue downtown.

  32. When families occupied every house on Gainesville’s Green Street.

  33. When Home Federal Savings and Loan put on their annual curb market around its building at the corner of Green and Washington streets.

  34. When “Down Yonder” reverberated through the Civic Building (now Civic Center) as square dancers worked up a sweat in the un-air-conditioned building, and Teen Tavern rocked-and-rolled in a space in the basement.

Johnny Vardeman is retired editor of The Times. He can be reached at 2183 Pine Tree Circle NE, Gainesville, GA 30501; phone 770-532-2326; email

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