Don’t you just love the name, “White Pig,” given to a drive-in restaurant of the 1950s at South Armstrong Avenue and West Morgan Street in Denison? The White Pig Stand was the epitome of a ’50s drive-in, and I seem to remember some of the carhops on skates.
There were no electronic order taking machines and no buttons to punch when you were ready for the serving tray that attached to the driver side’s window to be picked up. Carhops came out and took your order, brought your food or drinks, then came back to collect the tray when you were finished and gently honked the horn.
Those girls, and occasionally boys, really walked their legs off, especially on a busy Saturday night. They put up with a lot of foolishness too from the young adults who were no different than today.
There was good music as well as carhops and a big parking lot that often was filled as it completely circled the drive-in, giving plenty of room to drive around and see who was there before you pulled into a parking place. Sometime the cars were parked two deep around the south side of the building and even extended to the back, where most people didn’t want to park because you faced the restrooms. It was embarrassing to walk into the restroom too, with an audience watching.
In those days, better known to the younger generation as “the olden days,” young people were no different than they are today. They liked to be together and have a place to “hang out.” Sometimes they irritated the “older” generation while they did it.
Those were the days when very few young people had their own cars or pickups and none of us had credit cards with which to buy gasoline or food. As I try to remember, I don’t think ANYONE had a credit card in those days. Instead they borrowed the family car and pooled their resources to buy enough gas to ride around and hang out.
Pooling their resources never meant buying a tank of gasoline even though fuel was about 19 cents a gallon. It meant the driver and passengers dug deep into the bottom of their purses or pockets or cleaned out the glove compartment to come up with enough change to buy 50 cents or a dollar’s worth of gasoline.
Gas station attendants, and there were people to pump your gas in those days, really loved us when we handed them the nickels, dimes and pennies we had collected. But that would allow us to drive around all evening until curfew time.
There were several root beer stands around – one at 630 West Woodard where Richard Doyle operated and now his son, Johnny Doyle still operates The Hickory House, a barbecue restaurant. There was another root beer stand at Washington, now Martin Luther King and Tone Avenue, the 1000 block South Austin and about the same block of Armstrong. And believe it or not, Watson’s on Main Street also was a place to have a soda, hamburger or soft drink.
Making the drag probably was the most popular pastime for young people who also visited “The Hive” in the Munson building upstairs in the 300 block West Woodard while the center for young people was in operation.
But it was not only the high school group that went to the “Pig.” Stopping for food or drink, talking with Red and Lois Moman, the owners in later years, or eating a full meal in the dining room became a habit for all ages. And the food was very reasonable too. I seem to remember a plate lunch being 50 cents.
The Pig was originally built and operated in the early 1930s by the Thompson family, then bought by the McCraw brothers in 1936. Johnny McCraw took over as sole operator in 1938 and Buster Wilson was manager for 15 years. McCraw sold the business to Carter “Red” Moman in 1961. Then it became Terry’s Restaurant in the 1970s, and then the China Inn, according to Calvin Mauldin in a feature titled, “The White Pig Specialized in Good Food,” on Nov. 14, 1993, in The Denison Herald.
Elaine Vick told me several years ago that she had a thousand memories of the White Pig. When she and her husband, Dossie were dating, he took her there a thousand times and they went inside to eat at a table, not in the car. She said he ALWAYS had the famous Yellow Jacket, a ham and cheese double decker sandwich with a scoop of potato salad.
When she was in high school, a group of girls went there for lunch and had hamburgers, fries and gravy. That’s not a mistake, they had gravy with their fries. A milkshake finished off their lunch, she said. “Oh, those were the days!” she said.
Before there was a White Pig, the corner first was occupied by the home of Lum and Nancy Williams that was built before 1900. Then W.M. Boone opened a grocery store there and in 1918 Peter Bradshaw took over its operation. In 1924 S.B. Rush opened a small café and finally, in 1932 the White Pig Sandwich Shop was opened by J.F. and Ruth Thomson and was taken over by John McCraw and wife in the late 1930s.
There were a number of other occupants before Cleta Richardson opened Cleta’s Café in the late 1970s. She moved out in the early 1980s and the building stood vacant for several years. Girasoles Mexican Food Restaurant now is operating in the former White Pig building.
Elaine Nall Bay maintains the Grayson County TXGenWeb Page on the Internet where many articles can be found about historical Grayson County places, people and events.
Donna Hunt is former editor of The Denison Herald. She lives in Denison and can be contacted at email@example.com. She has been a longtime contributor to the Herald Democrat with her bi-weekly column, which appears in the Wednesday and Sunday editions. The views and opinions expressed here are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of the Herald Democrat.