Kingsport: Dinner at the Diner

This post is full of unabashed nostalgia and I will not apologize for it.

edBelvue Dariland 1955I can imagine a time when employees posed in fully uniformed pride for staff photos, when drinking a shake or eating a sundae was a treat and not an every-other-day occurrence, when having two straws in your soda meant you were cool, and when taking a break from shopping or errands was as easy as sitting down at the counter.

The newest exhibit from the Archives of the City of Kingsport takes a look back at a time when nothing could be finer. Here are some of my favorite images from the exhibit, which date from 1940-1965. Above: The Belvue Dairy-Land, 1955, was located on E. Center St. near Robinson Middle School (the current location of Belvue Christian Church).

edLeft03The left exhibit case contains photos of Honest John’s, Belvue Dairy-Land, Dipsy Doodle, Clinchfield Drug, Center Street Grill, Mason-Dixon Cafeteria, the United Nations Restaurant, and Earle’s Drug Store.

edRight005The right exhibit case contains photographs of Burger Chef, Morelock Motors Luncheonette, Barger Tourist Camp and Sandwich Shop, Clinchfield Drug, Center Street Restaurant (now the abandoned Auto Club office), Mead Paper Cafeteria, Texas Steer Drive-In, and Handy’s Restaurant.

edMorelock Motors Luncheonette 56Morelock Motors Luncheonette, 1956, was located inside the showroom on Center St. (Bristol Hwy). They served ice cream, as you can see, but would your food taste like tires? I am not sure I would have eaten there but I can stare at this photo for hours. Fascinating.

edDBGradDayGraduates Day at Clinchfield Drug, c. 1940-41. The archives’ records only show this event occurring for 2-3 years. There are some wonderful pictures from it, however. I included one in each case. Clinchfield Drug was once on Shelby, then Main St., then finally on Broad St.

Feature image: Look closely at the photo across the top of the blog. If you are a Kingsporter, you will recognize the carved wooden Indian which now stands in front of Pratt’s Barbecue. It was originally carved by John D. Barker and here it is seen standing in front of his Honest John’s Restaurant, 1960, on Stone Dr.

Dinner at the Diner will be on exhibit on the main floor of the Kingsport Public Library through the end of April 2017.

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9 Responses to Kingsport: Dinner at the Diner

  1. Rachel says:

    Hi, I found you/this via Susan Branch….isn’t she just THE best. Your post is wonderful….love “unabashed nostalgia.” I think my favorite photo is the one of graduation day….everyone in a hat and heels. The restaurant reminds me of the V-Grill in Tuscumbia, Alabama, where we used to go for lunch during semester exams. Since we had a closed campus, this was a rare treat. Everyone crowded in together…lots of girl talk. Thanks for sharing. Rachel

  2. Brent sturmeblt says:

    I lived on Pear Street behind John’s store and would stop in and watch while he was building the Indian. It stood on a fish tank that had goldfish in it. You could try to win a fish by dropping a coin in the water into the back of a frog.

  3. Adrian Ferguson says:

    I worked at Honest John’s all thru high school. It was interesting !

  4. P. Jones says:

    On your great feature photo of Honest John’s restaurant and Indian it appears to
    be the Stone Drive location of the 1960’s but prior to that in the mid 1950’s, or earlier, Honest John’s and the Indian were located going up Memorial Boulevard on the right in
    that first nasty curve.

    • Gloria Blackburn Wilson says:

      The Indian was in front of Honest Johns going up Memorial Blvd. near Hillcrest. There was a gift shop there. I grew up in Sunnyside and passed the Indian quite often. A great memory!

  5. Don Wiley says:

    Wasn’t the Indian moved to Memorial Blvd after Honest John’s closed?

  6. Myrth Mills says:

    Your display is very well done. I like the photo of Graduates Day. I remember my mother having the same shoes as the woman in the center of the picture. I thought my mom’s shoes were so pretty.

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