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Glory Days: A story of Hazard.

Nostalgia has proven to be one of my favorite emotions, and it has the ability to bond large groups of people together, by one common thread. Most of what I write about, as well as the success of many of these articles, can be attributed to one thing: nostalgia. In keeping with that theme, I wanted to tug at the heart strings of my fellow Hazardites, by remembering the “Old Hazard.” The sprawling, bustling, little city that so many of our mothers,fathers,grandparents, aunts and uncles recall in long worn stories, passed down for years. The “Hazard” described in these tales exists only in the minds of the story tellers, but its not lost on those like me, the recipients, who marvel at the wonder of times long gone. We look to it as an example and inspiration. This long gone time was the era when men and women went dancing on Saturday nights. Ladies brought out the bridge tables on designated dates and gambled the night away to the sound of ice clinking in their glasses. Men starched their shirts before going into town, and women never left home without their hats perfectly pinned and hands delicately gloved. There were no “pill problems” to speak of; no such thing as “those who abuse the system,” and the worst anybody could ever do was to be “caught” trying pot. Looking back on these memories, the photographs, the tales and the legends, it’s hard for me to imagine Hazard as this almost fantastical place, but it was. For all it was worth then, it’s worth remembering now.Hazardblog

It is impossible to think, or talkĀ  about Hazard history, without thinking first of Jerry’s Restaurant. Located across from what is now Shell Mart, Jerry’s was opened on November 12, 1968, and it was known as the very first “chain” restaurant to grace the town. The restaurant soon became a local hangout for teenagers and a favorite among locals. Boys would cruise by in their hot rods (67 camaros, 78 z28s, even old Studebakers) and burn their tires, to impress all the beautiful women. Families would clamor to purchase the “J-Boy Boxes”, “Champ Sandwiches,” and “Ground Round-topped with an onion.” Fast food wasn’t supposed to taste as good as Jerry’s, but it did. The strawberry pie was so red and perfect, it’d make your eyes burn and the chocolate fudge sundaes were piled so high and frothy that you’d have to share it, because it was too much for only one person. Cat Sizemore was the owner, with the likes of Big Ernie as the cook, Bobby Riley as manager, and longtime waitress Madelyn Riddle, who knew everyone’s order before they even sat down.

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Many people would make the trip to downtown on the weekend to visit the Family Theater or The Virginian, where movies would cost you 25 to 50 cents. After the movie was over, you could walk to The Sweet Shop and get a spectacular ham salad sandwich with a thick vanilla milk shake. If you were lucky enough, you got to occupy a bar stool by the window so you could admire all the handsome boys who would sit on the rail by The Grand Hotel, to watch the ladies walk past. Boys would usually journey down to the 8-Ball Pool Room, ran by Charley and Johnny Robinson. You would have to produce your “pool card” that was supposed to be signed by your parents. Joining the 8-Ball Pool club was a right of passage, and after you had mastered the art of that establishment, you got to venture on to The Royal Bar where the “experienced” players played and drank beer. Taxi Alley was always full of cab drivers awaiting their next customers.

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Among the many special restaurants in Hazard was Don’s, Gross’s Steak House and The Shamrock. Kids at Don’s would scarf down their hamburgers, so they could look at the comic books up front that were displayed, cleverly, on a revolving wire rack. You could score one for 10-12 cents. Folks would order stew and dumplins by the platter at Gross’s, and The Shamrock was owned by Grapevine and Maggie Whitaker and remained one of the few places were you could drink coffee late into the night. You could go to Rexalls during long hot summers and purchase a lemon sour, but be sure to add salt, or to Fouts drug store for a fountain float. Not lost among these ranks were the Chat n’ Chew, Smiley’s, Bailey’s, and of course, you had to get Nola’s fried chicken and gravy at The Kentucky Inn. Hazard, in those days, had all the charm and sweetness of a small town untouched by commercialism, and was purely owned and operated by the souls who lived and breathed life within those city limits.

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A peak inside Fouts Drug Store on main.

 

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The Shamrock

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Fathers, husbands and boyfriends would come to window shop at Papania’s, Lasslo’s, or Stiles for that perfect piece of jewelry. Little boys would receive their first knives from Davis Hardware, and you bought your first pair of Converse sneakers from Dawahares. You could go down to Scott’s 5 & dime and flip through stacks of records or locate some special toy. Later, this spot would be known as T, G, and Y. George’s shoe store had all the Aigner purses and shoes you could ever want, and whenever you had worn them out, you had to go to Halcombs, across the bridge, to get them repaired. You could go down to Home Office Supply and listen to 45’s, before you could buy them. The place was off limits to many, because it was a teenage haven. Little girls would exclaim over the peaches and cream dresses sold at Tots-n-Teens, and at Christmastime, children would line up to see the window display at Shafter Comb’s store. The Holidays were a magical time, in downtown Hazard, and something that shop keepers and town leaders took a lot of pride in. Lights would be draped over the streets, and the entire strip was transformed into a dream like winter wonderland. Every window showed their best merchandise and everyone was cheerful. By all accounts, those were special days.

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Main Street Hazard 1957

I describe these things as I have read about them on message boards or on stories told on social media. Most have become tributes or oral accounts of these days that escaped us, so long ago. I’ve never walked the streets of downtown Hazard, packed shoulder to shoulder with my fellow citizens. I’ve never had a hamburger at Don’s, or gotten a root beer float at Fout’s Drug store. By the time I was old enough to really remember Hazard as a kid, the five and dime was long gone, Dawahares had moved to high street, and the only restaurant on the strip, that I ever recall, was The North Fork Grill, and even that didn’t last long. My generation will never know that special place our town was then. If you notice, I’ve not really put a name to this era or decade I am talking about, because it seems that it was every decade that preceded the 90’s. Even in the 1980’s, Hazard was busy. We’ve long lost that special, small town feel that lit up Hazard, and made her so special, and dear to our hearts.

As I was driving downtown today, I recognized some of these places from past pictures. Most now are attorney’s offices, random businesses, or just simply left vacant. My own husband works now in the building that was once The Shamrock Restaurant. Hazard has suffered a great blow with the advances of chain restaurants, commercialism, and super companies like Wal-Mart and Lowes. There is no room for small town country stores anymore, and it certainly shows downtown. We no longer have bumper to bumper traffic, you see more people wearing pajamas downtown than you do in your home.

I will always remain adamant that, despite everything, I still love Hazard, and I am always proud to tell people that this is where I am from. Am I a little sad that myself and my children will never get to experience “the Hazard” that so many remember fondly and with such pride? Of course I am. I also remain optimistic that organizations like InVision, and Fantastically Hazard are working hard at re-branding the Queen City and revitalizing downtown into a place we can all be proud of. I remain optimistic that city leaders will put their heads together to think of new and exciting ways to bring positive attention to our town and our area and help make it special again. Lastly, I remain optimistic that there are still sentimental, nostalgic folks out there, like myself, who still see the beauty of things, even though they may just need a little dusting off.

So, this one is to you. I dedicate this piece to those of you who have walked down main street and recall these places in your memory. My childhood didn’t produce those pictures. I am a product of what, I hope, will be described as a displaced generation. I want for my generation to be the only one who won’t have that caliber of memories about this place. Therefore, this piece is also dedicated to those of you who have an opportunity to change that for our children. May they have memories as fond as anyone before us.

Pictures Courtesy of:

wsgs.com

hazardkentucky.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Published by

Courtney

Hazard, Kentucky girl, born and raised. Daughter of Appalachia. Mother to two handsome boys. Wife to a hardworking, small town Attorney.

12 thoughts on “Glory Days: A story of Hazard.”

  1. I worked @ the Kentucky inn. I also worked @ Shamrock . I was trying to support my Daughter April . I left Hazard and now live in Dublin Ga.. My Family all but one , still live in Hazard . I visit when I can .

  2. I love your articles. How can I receive them? I only see them when someone share on FB. They bring back great memories. Keep them coming.

  3. Love the article as always. The Shamrock restaurant was owned by Biram and Stella Caudill from 1959 to 1971. They sold it to Grapevine and Maggie and Dora Rowe in late 1971. The Kentucky Inn was started in 1971 and owned by Biram, Stella and Nola operated it. Biram and Stella then sold it to Nola and re opened the Chat and Chew which they owned in the early 1950’s. The Chat and Chew closed at their retirement in 1982. The Taxi Alley also had a restaurant in the late 50’s and early 60’s owned by Harrison and Dulcena Caudill. Maggie Whitaker and Dulcena Caudill are the only living people from this wonderful restaurants.

  4. I love this article. I wish Hazard was more family friendly, like a theater and good family restaurants that can accommodate kids. They are after all our future. We are now in a unemployment predicament but if the city would focus on jobs instead of the main street we have now, I think all people would be grateful. I know the court houses are very busy and the lawyers need to be close but I think they all need to be in one building. I know they would not like that but they could accommodate their own needs More convenience for all. The parking structure needs repair and lights badly. I miss restaurants that cook good food. Fast food is unhealthy and it is more satisfying to sit and eat and have conversation. I guess young people have different ideas but if they were here long ago they would have the same thoughts. I forgot pj’s are for home.

    1. Not only is Hazard drowning in a glut of fast food that has shut down almost every mom and pop, but city government has never quite realized that they can bring in as many low paying service economy jobs as they please, but when the PROFITS leave the community and go to corporate headquarters in Arkansas or wherever, there is no REAL money circulating in the local economy. Support of local businesses is the only way to fix this. Until then, we’re all serfs serving the big multinational corporations for horrible wages with the profits being sent far away.
      How about some real VISION from local leaders? And let’s not put all our eggs in the basket of coal! No more should we do that than put all our eggs in the baskets of McDonalds and Wal-Mart and any other absentee landlord (so to speak)!
      In a nutshell, seeing the vitality of days gone by with appropriate local ownership makes me grieve and mourn that time period, but not jus out of nostalgia . . . Also because of the negligent choices local government has made.

  5. I came to Perry county in 1961, just a few weeks after my marriage. My husband grew up in Perry county and was very familiar with the Hazard pictured in today’s post. He so enjoyed looking at these reminders of a big part of his youth.

    It is sad to see the difference in downtown Hazard . I miss all those nice stores and shopping in town was a social time for you always ran into friends and neighbors.

  6. I was born in hazard in 1942. My father took the family (7 children) by greyhound in 1943 to Michigan because he did not want his boys to go in the mines.
    We went back to Hazard every year to visit family. My uncle built the duck house and I have wonderful memories playing in the house. So I did experience the old Hazard.

  7. I was born in Good Samaritan Hospital Lexington on Christmas Day, 1934. I grew up in Hardburly, and attended
    Hardburly Kindergarten, Lower Broadway, HBI , and graduated from Hazard High, class of ’51. I rode the bus to the bus to the bus station in Hazand walked to school from there. There was an Italian restaurant named Chry’s next to the Greyhound Bus . As a kid I walked Main Street enjoying all the stores and movie theaters. I was never afraid, and even the Arcade at night didn’t bother me. I marched proudly in the band down Main Street with people lining the sidewalks. Everyone loved and respected each other. I went to UK from 1951-55. I played in the Marching Cats band, and will never forget the night the basketball team lost to Ga.Tech ending years long record of home wins. I enlisted in the Army in September 1958, and have lived in Texas, Jaurez Mexico, San Diego, Wichita Falls, Roswell NM, Milpitas and San Jose CA. My wife has a home near Xalapa Veracruz, and I have a permanent resident visa that lets me live there with her. I have never encountered a place as beautiful as Hazard. There will never be a town like the Hazard I remember. I thank Jesus, my brother, for giving me the gift of growing up in Perry County, county seat Hazard!

  8. As a little girl I remember Watson very well mommy would always buy us cloths there ever Christmas I’d pick out my 2 grandmother’s a dress my mom worked at rexall when I was 3 years old I remember it tho just like the picture you posted they use to be a toy store downtown too can’t remember the name of it but even on the 80s they were a lot of still down hazard great post ..

  9. I remember all the stores u have talked about on this article my mom Jackie noble was also a waitress at Jerry’s resteraunt along with madalyn! After I got older I worked at Jerry’s but it was called cats time out!! I have lots of memories of hazard an I am proud to call it my home

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