Part owner Carl McCraw stands outside the White Pig drive-in with co-workers Bill Russell & Leland Miller

 

The White Pig Stand circa 1940s - 1950s

 

THE WHITE PIG STAND

 

 

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 faster.

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 are today.

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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