DRIVE-INS & HAUNTS
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3550 Cedar Avenue South
Photo credit: Class of 1963
~ The Airloha Drive-In was located at 58th Street and 34th Avenue South,
"The airplane to the right of the words
'Drive In' on the Airloha sign (above) is the Boeing B-377
Northwest bought ten of them and the first was delivered in 1949. The last one went out of service in October, 1960.
It was unbelievably comfortable and luxurious for passengers and included a cocktail lounge on the lower level. The cockpit was nicknamed 'the greenhouse' because of its many windows.
The pilots loved to fly it, we cabin attendants loved to work on it and the passengers just plain loved it. But it was very expensive for airlines to operate and maintain, and
jets had already become the standard by 1960.", according to Anne.
~ Excerpts from Anne B. Kerr's
upcoming book ~
"Born in Worley West Virginia, Lemley soloed
in a Bird OX-5 at the age of 15, graduated Blacksville High School and
joined the Army Air Corps.
After surviving the Japanese attack at Pearl Harbor, Lemley remained an Air Force pilot until after World War II when he signed on with Northwest Airlines. It was while he was stationed in Honolulu with the Air Force that Captain Lemley got the idea for the Airloha Drive-In, which he started in 1948."
"Ever the innovator, Lemley also installed
the very first drive-in radio ordering
system in the Twin Cities area.
"The Airloha offered
root beer, French fried shrimp, malts,
frozen whip cones, and hot dogs in addition
to the burgers.
"Captain Lemley retired from NWA in 1980
after a 36 year career.
"The original Twin Cities airport was built around 1920 on the site of the former bankrupt Twin City Speedway Racetrack, giving the airport its original name, Speedway Field.
In 1921 the airport was renamed Wold-Chamberlain Field for WWI pilots Ernest Groves Wold and Cyrus Foss Chamberlain.
In 1944 the site was renamed Minneapolis-St. Paul Metropolitan Airport/Wold-Chamberlain Field, with 'International' replacing 'Metropolitan' four years later.
Today it is very rare to see the Wold-Chamberlain part of the name used at all.
It is commonly known as Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport. The Terminal was on 34th Ave.
I have attached a photo of me standing in front of the terminal wearing my brand new uniform. It was 1956."
When Anne got married in 1960 she had to resign. I find that so sad and unfair to women. Times were different back then.
Thank you for sharing, Anne.
Anne Billingsley, 1956 Anne (Billingsley) Kerr, 2008
~ EMAILS I HAVE RECEIVED ~
~ Some Minneapolis Memories ~
"I would like to contribute some information about some of those Drive-In Haunts."
"The drive-in across the street from the Airloha was owned by Delbert and Donald Cummings, and I was one of their first employees.
It was not an A & W root beer stand. The root beer was purchased from the Rich-O root beer stand which was located near Minnehaha Falls on 46th Street and 42nd Avenue south [46th Ave. S?].
I think I was in 9th grade when I went to work for them. I worked there all summer long. Del and Don were dairy farmers on their property which was subsequently sold to the airport or the city when the Crosstown highway
was constructed. The Cummings did not construct that building but rather moved it from another location.
The second owners were Vic and Marie Chase. Vic owned the Mobil gas station located at 54th and 34th Avenue South. I worked for them about two or three summers as one of their fry cooks, where I learned a lot from Marie's mother. Her name was Gertrude and she was a bear to work with. One of their specialties was the Texburger, which was mustard, ketchup and red pepper. The redder the pepper the hotter it got!
When Vic sold the drive-in or it was vacated by the Highway, I went to work for a new drive-in that was built on 58th and Cedar Avenue.
The new drive-in was located a half block south of the 5-8 Club. It was built and owned by a guy who ran a restaurant on Nicollet and Lake Street whose name escapes me right now.
He introduced me to making pizza and that was on the menu. I cannot think of the name of the drive-in, but maybe it will come to me later.
I think I worked there for two years.
There was another new drive-in that was built right across the street from the old airport terminal on 34th Avenue South. (the Sunset Drive-In? or Vicks Drive-In?) In fact, the guy who ran that was a guy with the name A__.
That's right only the first letter of the alphabet. And guess what, my mother worked there part-time in 1957 or 1958!
One more interesting tid-bit . . .My father and his dad, John Corcoran helped grade the very first runways at Wold Chamberlain Field with their team of horses.
This was sometime between 1910 and 1920. Their horses were on their property which was on 51st and 39th Avenue South.
Grandpa Corcoran died in 1936, so I never knew him because I was born in March of 1937.
I thought that I might be able to add some information that could be included on the web site."
~ Additional Note from Pat ~
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"Seven of the Corcoran family graduated from Roosevelt: Barbara, Margaret, Al, Patrick, Michael, John, and Joey. I was a cheerleader during my senior year. I was president of the Board of Governors and was All City President of the student council for my junior and senior years. My younger brother, Mike (deceased March, 2009) graduated from Roosevelt in 1958.
Four of us (Barbara, Al, myself, and Mike) went on to St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota.
The drive-in on 58th and Cedar was about a half block south of the Five Eight Club (webmaster wonders if this would have been the Tom Tom Drive-In located in Richfield).
When I return to Minneapolis from time to time, I still go into the 5-8 Club for a beer and the 'best burger' in south Minneapolis.
I have been living in the Milwaukee, Wisconsin area since 1961 and currently reside on Upper Nemahbim Lake in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin (the past 16 years).
I think you might be correct in calling the drive-in across from the old terminal of the airport, Sunset.
I attended the a Roosevelt all-class reunion in Arizona last February. I think there were close to 80 people who attended.
My sister, now Barbara Davidson taught Home Economics at Roosevelt when my brother, Mike was a senior in 1958. Dick Ramberg, the clarinet player with the band "Barbary Coast" had Barb for a homeroom teacher.
I saw the band in Arizona last February and Dick and I talked about it."
~ Patrick A. (Pat) Corcoran, RHS '55 ~
~ Oh the Memories ~
"I thank you so much for the page of memories on drive-ins . . . and the Parkway Canteen."
"Okay, I am going to relive a few memories . . .
In the '60s, I grew up living on 58th Street and 44th Avenue South. Before the 62 Crosstown came roaring through, we kids would ride our bikes to the Airloha Drive-In to get the best hot dogs around. I was surprised they didn't include those hot dogs on the menu; they were sooooo good.
A day of fun for us kids would be to ride our bikes down to Skylane Bowling lanes, bowl a few games then run up 34th Avenue to the Airloha for the dogs.
When this page of the web site opened and I panned down to see the familiar billboard sign, I burst out in tears tonight. AND PINKY!!!!!!
I remember those little cars driving all over my neighborhood all the time. I keep telling my daughter about these cars when we see the tiny electric cars driving around now.
Thanks again for the wonderful site . . . so many memories about all those places. Dave's Popcorn was the best. Charlie's A&W was okay too, but the Airloha had 'em beat hands down for the best food. Beek's Pizza still remains my favorite pizza long after the place has gone. Only one place rivals Beek's, that's Tasty Pizza on 41st and Central Avenue NE. They make the pizza the way Beek's used to."
~ Fred Axberg, RHS '72 ~
~ Old Airloha Employee... ~
"Yep, I'm the guy who cleaned up the parking lot, watered the new trees along the drive-up, and scrubbed the front of the building.
Mrs. Lemley would drop by in her turquoise, 1955 Pontiac convert with little Travis in the seat next to her.
"Lem" paid me well. He said I could have all I could eat. Of course they were not open at that time of the day. That was 55 years ago.
Anything that went on in south Minneapolis, back then, I can remember: Marty's, the little beach at Nokomis, the stone quarry, all of the "good" parking spots, Carl the cop and Tom at the Minnehaha Park skating rink, and the friendly snowball fights in the Airloha parking lot after the RHS basketball games.
If I could do it all over, I'd do it all over. We lived in a great era.
If I could only find a good Stratoburger now. By the way, large cones were 20¢ at the Dairy Queen."
~ Reminiscing ~
"Man, I stumbled onto this website just staring at my computer last night. Airloha flashed into my mind. How nice.
I could go on for days with these memories. The building across the street from the Airloha was painted orange (maybe could have been an A&W).
The Tom-Tom Drive-In never did too much business. It was on the west side of Cedar Ave. S. approximately about 63rd Street., just a ways north from the old Airport Pet Hospital, just south a few feet from the gas company shut off valves sticking out of the ground. Those pipes may still be there.
The 5/8 Club has been there forever.
I remember all of the plane crashes that ever happened out there.
I was playing baseball across the street, in the V.A. hospital field when the jet hit the street and bounced into those houses on 58th and 46th Ave. S. That was a horrible sight. It is on the internet with a few pictures.
A fireman friend of mine couldn't get his fire truck any closer than four blocks from there because of the crowds of people and cars blocking the streets.
The Navy put the initial fire out.
To read more here is a link: http://blogs2.startribune.com/blogs/oldnews/archives/31
was 50¢ and soybean
were 50¢ extra.
"I worked the summer of 1953 as the "fry
cook" at the Airloha. That was between my junior and senior years in
I was the son of an NWA mechanic and we lived in Tokyo, Japan from 1948 to 1954. I went all through junior and senior high school there, graduating in 1954 to attend the U. of M.
We were able to come back to the states every two years, so I returned for the summer of '53 and found my first REAL job at the Airloha.
I was paid, as I recall, 75 cents/hour.
The fry cook had a little grill in the back room along with a deep fryer. We cut our own French fries in a hand-operated press using huge Idaho potatoes.
We cooked deep fried shrimp, grilled burgers and pork chops.
It was a GREAT job for a 16-year-old guy .... the only male among a bevy of young lady car-hops.
It was especially fun when after we closed up (around 10 pm?), one of the girls who had a car would take a load of us to Lake Nokomis
for a late night (al fresco?) dip. I don't remember any of the names ... perhaps one was Marlene, or MaryAnn?"
~ Joe Pehoushek, Tokyo, Japan, RHS '54 ~
Now in Sun City Center, FL
~ Fun Times
at the Airloha: '57 - '59 ~
and the Cummings' farm ~
the King of Pizza
|~ Beek's Pizza, at 3836 Hiawatha Avenue, PA1-3836. This was certainly a popular haunt! ~|
"In April 1957, this converted fruit stand, located at 38th Street and Hiawatha Avenue in Minneapolis, opened as, 'Beek the King of Pizza'.
The building was small, cramped, had a leaky roof but was an instant success.
It had atmosphere. The tables and chairs were used and the decor wasn't much but the pizza was great.
The thin crust was covered with delicious tomato paste, spiced with Charles Beekman's own recipe,
fresh ground meat, then smothered with the best mozzarella cheese.
~ As far as pizza was concerned in general, it seems to me our only options were sausage or pepperoni.
There are many more choices today, but with fewer spices. ~
It was a fun place.
Young people from South, Roosevelt and Washburn High Schools
gathered on Friday nights, families came for dinner and guys brought their dates. This was 'The Place'."
In the 1980s, there were five Beek locations:
St. Louis Park, South Minneapolis (Bloomington Ave.), Crystal, Southwest Minneapolis (Lyndale Ave. S), and Bloomington (Southtown Center).
This Hiawatha Avenue location (photo above) was demolished as were many homes to make way for today's light rail system.
Source: a placemat!
Cynthia Fritzke, Dorsey Kleckner, Judy Kingsberg, Kay McLean, and Adrianne Leibrock (standing)
Submitted by Cynthia Fritzke
"This is 'Beek' - Charles Beekman, late 50's I think."
Submitted by Charles Beekman, son - the "Crowned Prince of Pizza" 1/27/11.
(with his 1958 Ford station wagon)
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