Before Austin Avenue became the direct route through downtown Denison and
Highway 75 skirted the west side of the city, all the traffic traveled up and
down Armstrong Avenue.
In the 1940s, very few people traveled that route without stopping at either the
White Pig at 505 South Armstrong, or across the street at the Tom-Tom at 431
South Armstrong. If my memory isnít failing me, the Tom-Tom had a flashing neon
tom-tom (a type of drum) on top to draw customers into the restaurant.
At either place you could "hang-out" by staying in your car and having carhops
take your order and bring your food and drinks to your car window. Itís even
rumored that some carhops wore roller skates to get the orders out that much
Johnnie McCraw operated the White Pig at the present location of China Inn. Much
of the building is the same today as it was in the "Pigís" heyday. The Tom-Tom
was torn down many years ago.
"Hanging-out" was popular in the 40s and 50s, possibly because everyone didnít
own a car so friends all piled in a jalopy or dadís car when he was trusting
enough to let junior drive it, to get together with friends. Few had money to
buy gasoline to drive very far, even if they pooled their nickels and dimes to
buy 50 cents or a dollarís worth of gasoline. Many times all passengers dug into
the bottom of their purses or pockets or cleaned out he glove compartment to
come up with the needed cash. (Today they couldnít "drag Main Street" more than
a couple of times for that dollar.).
So they "hung-out" at either one of several root beer stands or drive-ins that
also served a little food. Probably the largest crowds were drawn to The White
Pig Stand and where the name came from is anybodyís guess.
While attending an old book sale in Dallas many years ago, I ran across a
postcard with a black and white picture of the White Pig Stand on it. This was
when the drive-in was in its original state and Iíve shared the image with a
number of people who had a nostalgic feeling about the old restaurant.
The White Pig was the epitome of a 40s or 50s drive-in. There was good music,
carhops and a big parking lot that often was filled. The parking lot completely
encircled the building, giving room for patrons to drive around to see who was
parked there before they pulled into a parking place to place an order.
Sometimes the cars were parked two deep around the south side of the building
and even extended to the back, where most people didnít want to park because you
faced into the rest rooms. It was embarrassing to walk into the rest room too,
with an audience watching you.
In my file I found a 1993 article written for The Denison Herald by Calvin
Mauldin, who at that time frequently freelanced articles for the TV guide
magazine. Calvin gave quite a bit history of the restaurant, which was built in
the early 1930s by the Thompson family. He said the McCraw brothers bought the
business and used it as a springboard for later ventures.
According to Calvinís article, Johnny McCraw began operating the business in
1938 while his brother, Carl opened the Eatwell Cafť on Main Street.
With World War II bringing airmen to Perrin Air Force Base Ė now Grayson County
Airport Ė the possible patrons multiplied.
That was during the days that curb service was all the go. Young and old alike
preferred to sit outside and talk rather than get out and go into the indoor
restaurant. Aluminum trays always were hanging to the car windows and music
could be heard coming from the indoor jukebox.
In the earlier days hamburgers were the most ordered item on the menu, although
the pig sandwich was a fitting thing to order at the White Pig. As time went by,
however, full meals were served inside in the dining room.
The day of punching a button and placing an order into a machine on a post
beside your car was a thing yet to be discovered. It was strictly personal
contact with a carhop that brought those delicious burgers and cherry cokes to
the car. Those girls, and occasionally boys, really walked their legs off on
busy nights, which was generally every night. They also put up with a lot of
good-natured foolishness because young people then were no different than they
Making the drag was probably the most popular pastime for young people, who also
visited "The Hive" (youth center) in the Munson Building upstairs in the 300
block West Woodard. Circling The Pig and stopping for a chat or a snack and cold
drink was right up high on teensí list of favorites.
But is wasnít only the high schoolers who patronized "The Pig." Adults stopped
for food or drink, to talk with Red and Lois Moman, owners in the restaurantís
later years, or to eat a full meal in the dining room.
The trees in the photo have been gone for many years, probably from damage
received during many head-on collisions by inattentive drivers, but the
architecture is still recognizable.
Looking at that postcard brings back many memories, which probably are different
for each individual. Itís one of those times that you want to say, "Those were
the good old days."
By Donna Hunt
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