Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Drive-In Was Main Street Fixture until '73

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Drive-In Was Main Street Fixture until '73

Article excerpt

Byline: Sandy Strickland

Dear Call Box: I drove down Main Street and saw that they were tearing down Bailey's. What's up with that?

R.M., Northside

Dear R.M.: Over the years, Jacksonville has had many drive-thru restaurants. But few were as iconic as Bailey's Drive-Inn across from Andrew Jackson High School.

It had an eye-catching sign of a drum majorette in red hat, flared skirt and red blouse, twirling her baton with her white boots in mid-stride. Then there were the carhops on roller skates who brought your food on metal trays.

Bailey's recently was demolished to construct a Dollar General, which distressed a lot of former patrons, even though it hadn't been Bailey's since 1973. Jo Ann Bailey Ferber recalled that her father, Ward Bailey, built and opened the 24-hour-a-day restaurant around 1945. Ward Bailey previously had managed Al's Drive-In, another Main Street institution, when he decided to start his own place.

Bailey's quickly became a popular Northside fixture. Tuffy Thompson, Jackson's head football coach, had lunch there every day. In the afternoons before games, the football team ate there. And it was part of the Main Street cruisin' circuit, a scene straight out of the movie "American Graffiti." Going north, cruisers would hit the Krystal, then Al's, then Bailey's at 3801 N. Main St. and Ebb's, just past Jackson.

It was also a family restaurant popular with the after-church crowd, Ferber said. Her father, who co-founded the Northside Business Man's Club, got up before 6 a.m. to buy fresh vegetables at the Farmers Market on Beaver Street. He bought shrimp at Beaver Street Fisheries. And he bought sides of beef, cut his own meat and made his own hamburgers and steaks. For a time, he sold ice cream and milk shakes from a tiny block house called The Creamette next to Bailey's. But he closed it because it wasn't making enough money. Still, he continued to make his milk shake base in the building and then brought it to Bailey's to spin the frosty concoctions.

When Jackson grad Michael Nabi posted its closing on the websites, "Northside over 60 memories" and "If you grew up on the Northside, you remember when," the reaction was swift and loaded with nostalgia. And Ray Moore, a 1962 Jackson grad who started the all-class reunions, called Call Box to tell of the razing.

"Things will never be the same," Sally Skipper said. "We had some really good times with friends before and after school and before and after football games. There were a lot of laughs and tears, happy and sad. Those were the good times."

Joyce Cox recalled eating there every morning before school. When he was 14, Earl Goodin said he got hot glazed doughnuts there at 3 a.m. before his paper route. And Carolyn Hollis said she felt so "adult" when she had her first cup of coffee at Bailey's one morning before classes. …

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