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Juke Box memories tell of another time
Juke Box memories tell of another time
By JOAN DEMIRJIAN
Back in the day when there were no computers and high-tech entertainment, young people often gathered at a neighborhood restaurant that played jukebox music.
It was a different world, and the area of East Washington Street and Chillicothe Road (Route 306) in Bainbridge provided afterschool and summertime attractions that are still remembered fondly by many.
Richard "Twigg" Forrest, of Russell, said on Friday nights after high school basketball games, many players, cheerleaders and classmates gathered at the Juke Box on East Washington Street in Bainbridge. It is now a rental business west of Savage Road.
A handful of teenagers had cars or their parents' cars, Mr. Forrest said. "There was always some guys who had cars. It was great living then. I grew up in a great period," he said of the late 1940s. He graduated in 1949 from Russell School.
The Juke Box was at its height between 1958 and the early 1960s, he said. "It was a great hangout and noisy and packed. They had all the greasy foods you wanted. The jukebox played continuously. Everyone was there from everywhere, including Bainbridge, Chagrin Falls and Russell," Mr. Forrest said.
Bainbridge resident William Takacs remembers going to the Juke Box after the basketball games to buy sodas during the early 1950s. After the games, it was a hangout, he said. "It opened in the late 1940s and closed in the 1950s."
There were a number of hangouts in the East Washington Street area, Mr. Takacs said. He worked at Harmony Ranch dance hall and picnic building in the late 1940s. It stood where an outdoor drive-in theater was later built, followed by the current Chagrin Cinemas. The demise of Harmony Ranch came after a snowfall caused the roof to cave in, he recalled.
Marge Cook, of South Russell, graduated from Bainbridge School in 1951, and worked for Lowe's Swing In restaurant. It was at the southeast corner of East Washington Street and Chillicothe Road, where there is now a shopping strip.
There was a gas station on the northwest corner where people could stop in to eat at the counter in the 1950s. It was owned by George and Martha Heath, Mrs. Cook said. On the northeast corner was another gas station.
"I worked for Lowe's Swing In in the summers," she said. They served chicken in a basket and hamburgers. Teens went there in the summer and ice cream was sold at the window, Mrs. Cook said. "Mr. Lowe had a jukebox and pinball machine."
After it closed, they all went to the Dog and Suds, another eatery on East Washington Street. Waitresses, on roller skates and in short skirts, skated out to the cars where they took orders for hotdogs, hamburgers and pop.
The Colonial Lanes bowling alley on East Washington Street, owned by Ray Arnold, was a drawing place for many, and she took her own children there, Mrs. Cook said. The Sears store now occupies that building.
"East Washington Street had a lot of places to go," Mrs. Cook said.
Bainbridge resident Bruce Chittock recalled Seliga's tavern on the southwest corner of East Washington and Chillicothe Road (Route 306). It later became Nash's restaurant and in more recent years was demolished for Dunkin' Donuts. Lowe's Swing In attracted all the teenagers, Mr. Chittock said.
Eileen Dickerson, of Bainbridge, graduated in 1949 from Bainbridge School. She frequented the Dog and Suds where she ordered root beer, she said.
"A lot of us went to Lowe's Swing In in the 1950s," she said. "Mr. Lowe was a good cook and it was a nice little family restaurant."
Charlie's Bar was on East Washington Street, east of Chillicothe Road at what later became the Big Picture tavern. The brick building has since been torn down to make way for other stores.
Mrs. Dickerson recalled how she and her friends danced at Harmony Ranch in the 1940s. There were bands at Harmony Ranch with picnic tables in an open pavilion, she said. "I loved to dance. We did a lot of polkas and two-step waltzes there."
Mrs. Dickerson also visited Colonial Lanes bowling lanes. "The food was great and Dorothy Locke was a good cook."
Eunice Hein is a 1943 graduate of Bainbridge School. She recalled how she and her friend Dorothy Taylor Clark walked everywhere in Bainbridge. "We could go anywhere on Route 306 because there were so few cars. In the summer, we would meet at Lowe's Swing In and order something to eat."
Sometimes, they got a ride to Chagrin Falls where they went to a restaurant near the falls with a jukebox. They would then walk home by way of Chagrin Road, if it was during the day, Mrs. Hein said. "Chagrin Falls was a big deal on Saturday nights," she said. Her father would drive her and her friends there.
They went to the Falls Theater or walked around on Main Street.
Seliga's was a tavern, but they sold good fish fries, she said. "Tom Seliga, the owner, was a justice of the peace," Mrs. Hein said.
She worked at the old telephone company during her high school years. It was housed in the Burns House at Chillicothe and Bainbridge roads.
"In the winter we ice-skated on 306 at Bainbridge Center," Mrs. Hein said.
Patricia Mitchell worked at Lowe's Swing In as a car hop in the mid-1950s. "I spilled more milkshakes," she recalled, laughing. "It was the hangout and everyone came to Lowe's."
She noted Dairy Island opened at about that time and is still as active as ever. "They used to play music and we would dance in the parking lot," she said of Dairy Island. "We had good, clean fun and some of the other customers would join us."
Charlie's Bar on East Washington Street served good, corned beef sandwiches, Mrs. Mitchell recalled. "No one has ever matched them."
The outdoor drive-in theater replaced Harmony Ranch and was a place to load up the car with popcorn and punch and take the kids for the evening, she said. "My kids loved it."
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