Growing Up In The Hub City: The Places I Miss
Jan 18, 2017 02:03PM ● Published by Elizabeth Hesterly
Having been born and raised in Lafayette, I often drive around the city and nostalgically yearn for places of the past. Perhaps it’s because they were some of my family’s favorite spots, or because we frequented these businesses, or because they held some allure that made them appear special. I often drive by a location where a new business now resides and my mind sees instead the place of my childhood.
My family primarily shopped in the Oil Center for our clothing. We bought our nicest clothes at Abdalla’s and our casual clothes at The Fair. When we were small children, our Easter outfits came from Landry’s on Johnston Street. My sister Rebecca and I often had complementary ensembles. We have a grand picture from 1968 of my brother in a blue sports coat and my sister and me wearing matching yellow and white dresses. Since she is five years younger than I, mine had a more mature waistline (!). We stood at attention at our front door while my mother in her Easter hat took the snapshot. My brother is squinting at the camera, agitated with his little sisters, but Rebecca and I are thrilled with our black patent Mary-Janes. They perfectly accented our dresses adorned with white eyelet. No doubt they were purchased at Greenwood Shoes.
I remember The Hanger, a teenage girl’s dream, and Max’s, a place my brother shopped once we were in high school. Both spots were coming of age shops, and how the personnel dealt with their pubescent patrons is hard to imagine. BB jeans were a staple at The Hanger while Max’s offered leather platform shoes.
My family rarely ate out, as my mother cooked almost every night, but we did enjoy a good barbecue joint. Our favorites were Grayson’s in a metal building on Johnston Street and Stop-n-Shop BBQ a bit further down the road. Both had excellent sandwiches and plate lunches, and I remember standing in line with my father on Saturdays. I once heard that buns at Grayson’s were subject to the 5-second rule. But what I know firsthand is the food was world class.
A major treat was a snow cone from D&S in the parking lot of South College Shopping Center. Each one in my family had a particular order, with my favorite being strawberry. Many days the line for those delicious snow cones wrapped through the parking lot like a serpentine beast. Nothing fought the heat like one of those shaved ice delicacies.
I miss Hoppers and A&W Root Beer, and I long for the Beef and Ale. We ate Burger Chef Hamburgers with reckless abandon, and as I got older, my friends frequented Baskin Robbins in the Oil Center. Almost every Homecoming and Miss Merry Christmas date took me to Jacob’s or Toby’s at Four Corners or The Blair House on Surrey Street. The meals were extraordinary, and I wish someone had catalogued the high school dates at those special places.
I am still sometimes surprised at the expanse of cement where the Center Cinema once stood. Just how many movies I saw there, I’ll never know, but it is definitely where I stood in line with hundreds of others to view the premiere of Jaws. The very next day my family went to Florida on vacation and I barely got my feet wet. I’ve truly not felt the same about playing in the surf since.
I remember the Twin Drive-In, too, with a mystical quality, partially hidden from view, but everyone knew the Twin was there, perched just off of Johnston near Doucet Road. I can still picture the big screen through a grove of trees. It beckoned from what seemed like an enchanted forest.
I realize businesses come and go. Trends and tastes and economies change. But it’s fun to think of Lafayette the way it used to be, to reminisce about special places of my youth, to attach a certain memory to a location in my past. I miss these places. They are like a favorite book on my shelf, and sometimes I just want to read the story again.
About the author:
Elizabeth O'Roark Hesterly was born and raised in Lafayette. She is a graduate of Acadiana High School and LSU, is too serious for her own good, admires loyalty and faithfulness, and strives for both.
Click to read more of "Growing Up In The Hub City".
[Formerly known as "Growing Up In The 60's and 70's"]
More photos of Lafayette in the 60's and 70's
Hoppers Drive In
Jacob's on Four Corners
Jaws is a 1975 American thriller film directed by Steven Spielberg and based on Peter Benchley's 1974 novel of the same name.
- Cover photo is of Jefferson Street in downtown Lafayette, Louisiana - 1960's
- Burger Chef Hamburgers were only 15 cents