FROM THE 1950’s, 60’s & 70’s
1. Harvey’s Nativity scene at the Parthenon in Centennial Park. The Nativity Scene featured life size figures with lights that faded from white to blue to red and Christmas Carols on the sound system. It was a truly spiritual experience and one that brought families together and reminded them of the meaning of the season.
2. The old Krystal Restaurants on West End and on Gallatin Road with curb service. They served the burgers in a red plastic basket with that wax paper covering them up for a dime each. Thick shakes and chocolate ice box pie for dessert.
3. The Monkey Bar and Carousel (operated by Max Loewenstein a survivor of Buchenwald) at downtown Harvey’s. If business was slow Mr. Harvey would let the monkeys run loose in the store.
4. The old movie theaters downtown: The Tennessee, Crescent, Lowes, Knickerbocker and the Paramount? The “Popeye Club” was at the Paramount Theater….also Bob Luck who played the big organ as it rose from a lower level at the front of the theater. Most of the theatres carried big banners “AIR CONDITIONED” in icy blue letters.
5. The original Green Hills Strip – Chester’s, Three Sisters, Family Booterie, Durys, Woolworths, Walgreens, Cross Keys restaurant & Castner Knotts. The BEST cherry cokes were at Woolworths in Green Hills and you could pop a balloon to get the price of your banana split. Chester’s had a mynah bird on the basement floor which would wolf whistle at the ladies walking by. Talking Mynah birds were a novelty in the late 50’s and downtown Harveys, the Children’s Museum and Jim Reed Chevrolet all had resident birds.
6. Green Hills & Inglewood Theaters – Party Rooms that were soundproofed and could host noisy birthday parties and crying babies. Melrose Theatre and it’s make-out balcony, Martin Theatres at 100 Oaks with the rocking chairs seats and Belle Meade Theatre with double seats for dates to get close and personal. Many theatres had drawings for cash and the prize could grow each week if unclaimed.
7. All the “real” hotels were downtown: Andrew Jackson, Maxwell House, Noel, Hermitage, Sam Davis and ultra cool Hyatt Regency with the revolving Polaris Restaurant on top and the Blue Max Lounge in the basement. As a side note, the wildest and most out of control party in the Nashville 60’s was at the Hermitage in 1968 and was an after- prom breakfast for Hillsboro High School. It made the newspapers and has become an urban legend for it’s gross excess. The Downtown Hermitage Hotel was the year-round home for eight years to pool legend Minnesota Fats. The pool shark, arguably the most famous player to pick up a cue stick, had his own table on the Mezzanine above the lobby.
8. Cascade Plunge Swimming Pool at Fair Park. The pool was massive and almost toxic from the chemicals employed to keep it sanitary. One exited the dressing room to the poolside by walking through a green ankle high pool of chemical to sterilize the feet after which one walked through an adjoining pool of a similar orange solution, then one dived into water so soaked with chlorine pool solution it was bright blue in color, stung the eyes, and had a slight bitter taste. There were several other pools of note including Swim & Sun, Centennial Park Pool, Glendale in Melrose, Sun Valley in Madison, Collins’ Lake off River Road, Pleasant Green in Goodlettsville, Willow Plunge in Franklin, Pine Springs off Couchville Pike, Union Hill Pool next to the drag strip and Rawlings off of Clarksville Highway. Swimming lessons at Shelby Park with Vic Varallo. Remember when the Downtown YMCA pool was sans swimsuits? Boys would start out as minnows and complete the course as whales. The 2nd. biggest urban legend of Nashville (behind the Hookman) concerned razor blades embedded in the water slide at Cascade Plunge. Apparently the 3rd. biggest urban legend that the Downtown YMCA required nude swimming was true.
9. Hippodrome Skating Rink (where the Vanderbilt Holiday Inn is) or the Rollerdrome (where H H Gregg is on Thompson Lane at the railroad tunnel) or Skateland …