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Pete

Al Green's: Indy's #1 Historic Drive-in

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Greetings, all. I have an announcement to make. The completely revised Al Green's website is now up at a new location:

 

http://www.algreensdrivein.com

 

Al Green’s was a popular Eastside hangout until it dwindled in the late 60s, continued on in a moribund state for another 30 years, then died in the early 90s. On one level it’s the story of a WWII soldier returning home to start a very successful family business. On another level it’s about a place where teenagers from all over the city came of age. Then as the celebratory mood of the 50s ended, the 60s brought a more complex and sometimes desperate mood, diminishing the importance of drive-ins. Then the 70s delivered body blows to the drive-in industry as interstate highways diverted traffic from state highways and gasoline prices tripled, etc. Al Green’s was in many ways a perfect mirror for these national trends. Its success is also the mirror image of the poor quality of urban and suburban planning in Marion County. I discuss that in the analysis since today I work as a CAD specialist for architects and planners.

 

New information about the basement tunnels has also been uncovered. You have to see this bizarre architecture. It was there all along, apparently without anyone knowing about it. Also, learn the story of the manager Belle Green, who was said to have lived in the dingy basement right up until the place was demolished in 1994. The salvage man believed she did despite the extreme dilapidation of the premises. I myself do not think the basement was habitable. Also, listen to an extremely rare audio of Belle taking orders from customers or check out some rare photos, all in the Photo Album.

 

I invite you all to stop by and learn more about this legendary Hoosier restaurant. And if you should have any personal stories to share, please post them to the message board.

 

Thanks!

 

Best as always,

Pete Tocco

Columbia, MD

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Greetings, all. I have an announcement to make. The completely revised Al Green's website is now up at a new location:

 

www.algreensdrivein.com

 

 

Best as always,

Pete Tocco

Columbia, MD

 

Pete,

 

Wow, I have only read the first section, but it is a terrific piece of work so far. Your CAD skills really add to the presentation!

 

I'm headed back now to read more, but I came up out of the tunnels to comment! :D

 

Keep the Show on the Road!

 

Dave

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Pete

 

I think you did a great job. Not only did I learn about an interesting drive in, I also got a much better understanding of Indianapolis. Great stuff!

 

The analysis was well worth reading, excellent and informative, and I believe it to be substantially correct….but for my two bits worth…people stopped going to drive ins because eating in your car lost its novelty and appeal, and was a faulted model to begin with.

 

I lived through the entire drive in period, and while personal experience is a poor basis for generalization, I personally lost interest in having burgers and fries in my face or on my lap, and it definitely did not impress my girlfriends.

 

The “gang” migrated to McDonalds or the pizza parlor where we could get into small groups and hang out…like at the mall today. Drive in owners were not pleased to have you leave your car and go to visit with friends, or form noisy groups that blocked the service area. And neighbors disliked the honking horns and clamor of teenagers in cars screeching their tires to show off on entry and exit.

 

Sadly it was a badly faulted model for food service...but lots of fun while it lasted. Just my opinion, and worth what you paid for it!!

 

I recommend your site to anyone who enjoyed and loved the old drive ins as I did!! Thanks for sharing a great piece of work!

 

Keep the Show on the Road!

 

Dave

 

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Pete,

Glad to see you back! Hopefully it won't be another year before we hear from you again. ;) Again, you've done a fantastic job with the new additions to the web site. Hearing Belle's voice again brought me back to the early 1980's when I'd get to tag along with my brothers for a cheeseburger, tater tots, and jumbo cherry Coke....all while playing Asteroids while Al was sitting in his chair flipping burgers and talking about Bobby Knight & IU basketball. I've got around here somewhere a matchbook and an unused container of Al Green's Ice Cream. I've also got one of the napkins you've got on there. I'll take a pic of the other items & pass those along to you. I picked those up several years ago at the "Garage Sale" at the state fairgrounds. Thanks again for all the work you put into the place many of us loved. I often thought of making a small "shrine web stie" to Al Green's, but you've surpassed what I envisioned in illustrious fashion!

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Pete,

....all while playing Asteroids ,

 

That brings back a memory or two as well. That and Space Invaders.

 

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Pete,

Glad to see you back! Hopefully it won't be another year before we hear from you again. ;) Again, you've done a fantastic job with the new additions to the web site. Hearing Belle's voice again brought me back to the early 1980's when I'd get to tag along with my brothers for a cheeseburger, tater tots, and jumbo cherry Coke....all while playing Asteroids while Al was sitting in his chair flipping burgers and talking about Bobby Knight & IU basketball. I've got around here somewhere a matchbook and an unused container of Al Green's Ice Cream. I've also got one of the napkins you've got on there. I'll take a pic of the other items & pass those along to you. I picked those up several years ago at the "Garage Sale" at the state fairgrounds. Thanks again for all the work you put into the place many of us loved. I often thought of making a small "shrine web stie" to Al Green's, but you've surpassed what I envisioned in illustrious fashion!

 

Pat,

 

I'm so glad you like the AG site. If you would like to send in pictures of the matchbook and ice cream can or ??, that would be great. Did they actually sell it by the container? I wasn't aware they made ice cream until this past year. Interesting that the normally quiet Al would get excited about IU basketball. A true Hoosier. I remember him as totally silent. Just curious, how far did you and your brother drive from? And did you play Asteroids about where the jukebox used to be? And how did you know they would be open since they kept irregular hours toward the last decade or two.

 

I was thinking, if my friends are still talking about Al's, then there must be others, especially those who recall the glory days, which I certainly don't (too young). And if people are fond of Al Green's, think of all the other driveins there must be, and groups like this are evidence of the nostalgia for great drive-ins.

 

Hey, if anyone wants to exchange links, I'd be happy to post a link to my links page. Just let me know.

 

Nice group, I hope to stop back and visit once in a while.

 

Pete

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Pete,

Glad to see you back! Hopefully it won't be another year before we hear from you again. ;) Again, you've done a fantastic job with the new additions to the web site. Hearing Belle's voice again brought me back to the early 1980's when I'd get to tag along with my brothers for a cheeseburger, tater tots, and jumbo cherry Coke....all while playing Asteroids while Al was sitting in his chair flipping burgers and talking about Bobby Knight & IU basketball. I've got around here somewhere a matchbook and an unused container of Al Green's Ice Cream. I've also got one of the napkins you've got on there. I'll take a pic of the other items & pass those along to you. I picked those up several years ago at the "Garage Sale" at the state fairgrounds. Thanks again for all the work you put into the place many of us loved. I often thought of making a small "shrine web stie" to Al Green's, but you've surpassed what I envisioned in illustrious fashion!

 

Pat,

 

I'm so glad you like the AG site. If you would like to send in pictures of the matchbook and ice cream can or ??, that would be great. Did they actually sell it by the container? I wasn't aware they made ice cream until this past year. Interesting that the normally quiet Al would get excited about IU basketball. A true Hoosier. I remember him as totally silent. Just curious, how far did you and your brother drive from? And did you play Asteroids about where the jukebox used to be? And how did you know they would be open since they kept irregular hours toward the last decade or two.

 

I was thinking, if my friends are still talking about Al's, then there must be others, especially those who recall the glory days, which I certainly don't (too young). And if people are fond of Al Green's, think of all the other driveins there must be, and groups like this are evidence of the nostalgia for great drive-ins.

 

Hey, if anyone wants to exchange links, I'd be happy to post a link to my links page. Just let me know.

 

Nice group, I hope to stop back and visit once in a while.

 

Pete

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Having been a teen in the (early) 50's I can relate to the old style drive-ins. You website brought back many happy memories.

 

Some drive-ins had car hops on skates - anybody remember those. And, yes, occasioinally there would be a spill. There were drive-ins, like todays Sonic, with the little speaker boxes, but the main seemed to be the young ladies (mostly high school girls) running around taking orders, delivering orders - and doing it at high speed, most of the time.

 

It was a place where you exchanged hello's and greetings, as Paul Stookey of Peter, Paul and Mary fame, sang - with occasions when something heavier than hello's and greetings were exchanged - usually with lads from another town who dared invade OUR town drive-in. The trick was to get out of the place, bill paid, before the cops showed up. And beleive me if you left without paying your bill, you had damned well go back later and pay it. Dear old Dad WOULD find out and not paying was more painful than paying.

 

Ah, the good old days.

 

Hudsonly,

Alex Burr

Memphis, TN

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From the day this thread started, I've wanted to tell of a "flashback" I experienced just the week before. I had taken a different and longer route home from my Dad's and had stopped - for the first time in forty years or so - at an old hangout from high-school days. Although it has expanded and now has a dining room and drive-thru, the A & W stand in Union City, Indiana, is essentially the same place it was in 1965. Speakers, window trays, and car hops, though not on skates. I've added a few pictures to the gallery here.

 

And Alex, I too remember Paul Stookey's great monologue. Of course, by the time you stopped to "exchange hello's and greetings", you'd "been driving for sseevveenn hours".

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I have two friends who grew up in Randolph Co., IN, and never told me about this drive in! They've been holding out on me! Amazing and wonderful that it's still going. A&W drive-ins were everywhere when I was little. Most of them had closed by the mid 80s and were standing empty, and today I don't see even the bones of many old A&Ws in my travels. jim

Edited by mobilene

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From the day this thread started, I've wanted to tell of a "flashback" I experienced just the week before. I had taken a different and longer route home from my Dad's and had stopped - for the first time in forty years or so - at an old hangout from high-school days. Although it has expanded and now has a dining room and drive-thru, the A & W stand in Union City, Indiana, is essentially the same place it was in 1965. Speakers, window trays, and car hops, though not on skates. I've added a few pictures to the gallery here.

 

And Alex, I too remember Paul Stookey's great monologue. Of course, by the time you stopped to "exchange hello's and greetings", you'd "been driving for sseevveenn hours".

 

 

Denny,

 

Thanks for the great photos of the A & W. The 'ole "Frosty Mug" sure looked good!

 

Keep the Show on the Road!

 

Dave

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I have two friends who grew up in Randolph Co., IN, and never told me about this drive in! They've been holding out on me!
Maybe not. Union City sits on the state line and the A&W is on the Ohio side, in Darke Co., about half a mile from the Pikes Peak Ocean to Ocean Highway. I identified it incorrectly and have corrected the gallery. A photo opportunity I missed was the sign, near my Dad's house, that read "Union City IN 11" "Union City OH 11". It's now gone.

 

By the way, my uncle was once Randolf Co. Sheriff (and Union City, IN, Chief of Police) and, while I'm sure he never arrested your friends, he may have had "contact" with their parents - or grandparents. :D

 

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And Alex, I too remember Paul Stookey's great monologue. Of course, by the time you stopped to "exchange hello's and greetings", you'd "been driving for sseevveenn hours".

 

And the girls were all from our high school!!!!!!!!!! Bummer. :D

 

Hudsonly,

Alex Burr

Memphis, TN

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