Friday, February 2, 2024

Times and Good Stuff?

Do you remember Westland Plaza? The shopping center on Ellis Avenue first opened in 1958. I can remember going the second or third night after dad got home from work to have a look at what Farmer Jim told us would be the biggest shopping center we would ever see. For those days, the Jitney Jungle was huge, certainly the flagship of their chain. 

There were lots of firsts for Jackson at Westland Plaza. 

You had to be at Shoney's on a Friday night in the line of cars circling the drive-in parking places to understand that driving up ten feet and locking your brakes after laying 18 inches of rubber as the car began moving to understand what that end of the lot was like. 

I took my wife of 53 years to Shoney's, early in our dating life. We went inside to a booth and both had the Half Pound Ground Round, salad, and baked potato that night. Yes, I treated her just like a princess.

I remember what a big deal it was when KFC opened their first Jackson store just across the lot from Shoney's. Older folks probably remember what a good thing the opening of Castagliola Shrimp Company was. If you had the money, they had the seafood, fresh (a day earlier) from the gulf.

I looked and looked and could find no photos of the seafood market. The best I can do is put an arrow on the back corner of Walgreens showing where they opened their market (I think) the year after Westland opened.



The rest of that building block was occupied by other stores that some of you may be able to help us identify. The Walgreens store shown in my photo was not built for many years. I think the corner held a gas station for most of the time Castagliola's was located there.

Jumping forward many years to a year or two back, I stumbled upon Ms. Castagliola's seafood cookbook (Circa 1960?). I thought you might enjoy seeing it. I think a page is missing, but the dishes shown are classics.


Fancy Cookbook isn't it!

Thanks for looking.

God Bless you


Anonymous said...

I'm old enough to remember Westland Plaza in its heyday. Dates often consisted of eating at Shoney's (hamburgers, cherry cokes and hot fudge brownies), cruising around the shopping center to see and be seen and going to the drive-in movie theater located somewhere near that area.

My parents bought seafood at Castigliano's. Nowadays we usually buy our seafood at Mr. Chen's on the I-55 frontage road.

There was a McRaes in the northwest corner. When they closed down the bridal department there, my little sister bought a gorgeous $2000 seeded pearl satin wedding dress for about $60 on sale.

Anonymous said...

There was also a Kroger that opened on the Southwest corner and a Hardy's Shoe store near the Jitney. I bought a pair of Penny loafers for $14 that were so stiff they wore through a pair of socks in a day.

Anonymous said...

My dad bagged groceries at the Kroger there in high school

Anonymous said...

Let me help you with remembering those days.
In 1970, I was in the 11th grade and was hired by Tom Hogg to work at Westland Plaza Texaco. Westland Plaza was owned by a man named Fike. he was a regular customer. It was the year The Texaco station gave away the orange Plymouth Duster. The previous year, they gave away a Road Runner.
The back door of the Texaco was at the back door of KFC. The seafood place was on the end. On hot days, the stench from that place was horrible during deliveries.
You could once go around Westland Plaza and come up the back and turn left back into the parking lot. Then you would drive by the row of car hop stalls. But later, a barrier was poured to make traffic exit onto Robinson Rd. Oh boy, the crashes that happened. There were also speed bumps to slow vehicles down. Mr. Fike hated the cruise arounds, but dealt with it. Shoney's had the BIG BOY at the front door. A slim Jim, onion rings with a hot fudge cake was the thing.....
On a Friday evening, we would remove the toilet paper and on Saturday and Sunday mornings, we would prop open the doors to the Men's and Women's room and use the big water hose and wash them out. Don't come around and ask for paper, we were out.
The next year or so, the Big Boy was removed and the curb service stalls were removed.

Anonymous said...

@ 12:09 was that the original Kroger in the area? There was one 2 minutes away on Robinson Rd.,

Anonymous said...

I remember a Shainberg’s (where my mother bought me at least one “Easter Dress),” a First National Bank branch where my newlywed husband and I met someone to sell one of our cars, a Dad and Lad store, a dental office, and maybe a Parisian or Lerner’s at Westland Plaza.

Anonymous said...

Those are great memories that are gone forever. I wonder what has changed in that area to cause such a decrease in property values, business operations, out of control crime, etc??????

Anonymous said...

My mom used to take us there twice a year to buy new "Sunday shoes." Am I remembering correctly that it had a huge cactus sign?

Anonymous said...

Westland Plaza was the bomb! Being a graduate of ProvineHigh School I hung out there a lot. Back then there were only three high schools in Jackson - Provine, Central, Murrah and all three made the teen scene on Friday and Saturday nights at Shoney’s, with their hot cars and girls. Needless to say, lots of fisticuffs ensued.

That area used to be really busy. Across Robinson Street from Shoney’s was Pecan Park
Circle, with Pasquale’s Pizza, Skeets McWilliams guitar store, and the Cactus Lounge. The Camelot Apartments were considered upscale back then. Fond memories!

Anonymous said...

In the 70's there was a TG&Y in the corner. I can't remember the name of the dry cleaners that was there. I can't remember all the stores they had but I do remember every Christmas they had a huge tree with what I remember as green tinsel like streamers from the bottom to the top. In the spring there would be a small carnival with a few rides like at the state fair. Spent a lot of time with mom shopping there. We ate at the Shoney's on special occasions.

Anonymous said...

Papa Gibb's mid to late 70s. Correct?

Anonymous said...

I thought I was the only one that still had a copy of
Mrs. Castigliola's "cookbook". I found that little treasure in my late Mom's cookbook collection.

Although we lived in Northeast Jackson, making that cross-town road trip to Castigliolas was always a fun time. I also remember most everything that has been mentioned about Westland Plaza.

And 1:51,you are correct.
There was a large cactus sign at Westland Plaza back then.

And Poly Bear is right. If farmer Jim said it was good, we knew it was good. (I'm willing to bet the feist dog approved as well).

Only those of a certain age will understand/appreciate farmer Jim & the feist dog.

Anonymous said...

Rhodes Furniture was just across the street. Pasquales had the best sandwiches around. The bread was heavenly and was warmed with butter. Still, no place can match it. McDonals located on Ellis Avenue was the first one I can remember. Then at the corner of Hwy 80 and Ellis was a big discount store like a Wal Mart. MillersI think. Then there was the Red Barn Restaurant. Just across Hwy 80 was the Green Drrby Restaurant with a neon green derby on top of the building. My how times have changed. I remember that Half-pound OL ground round at Shoney’s and their delicious strawberry pies.

Anonymous said...

I remember the Kroger being in the middle of the side nearest the Shoney's. There was a sweet red haired lady who wore her hair up who always checked us out. That was back when you drove up to have them load your groceries in your car - each buggy had a number they'd write on a slip of paper that you'd hand to the young men loading.

There was a wonderful bakery on that side, and a Baskin Robbins in the middle on the other side. Both of those were birthday treats when I was little in the early 70s.

Callaway's was in the back on the road going behind the stores.

Anonymous said...

I’m 76 and didn’t grow up in Jackson but I have fond memories of Westland Plaza. My grandfather opened a men’s tailoring store (haberdashery) there-one of the first businesses. Years and years later, in the 80’s, moved to Jackson and was a pharmacist at the Super D Drugstore there. It was a different world then.

Anonymous said...

I remember the Christmas tree they'd put on that big metal tower every year. Was that tower ever used for anything else?

Anonymous said...

@5:18 PM - Also on Ellis Ave. close to Hwy.80 was the iconic Frost Top root beer stand, with a huge revolving drinking mug on the roof.

Anonymous said...

I think Miller’s Dept. Store was further north, prior to Hwy 80, corner of Ellis Ave. and J R Lynch St (?). The bowling alley (Cotton Bowl) was not far away on Lynch Street .

PittPanther said...

If West Jackson was white, and south Jackson was white, and downtown was white, where did the black people live?

Anonymous said...

Wasn’t there a shoe repair store next to Marie’s Bridal in the breezeway north of the McRae’s entrance? I remember in the early 70’s seeing an organ grinder w/a monkey in front of McRae’s a few times. Happy memories!

Anonymous said...

"Also on Ellis Ave. close to Hwy.80 was the iconic Frost Top root beer
stand, with a huge revolving drinking mug on the roof".

Being from North Jackson, I vaguely remember that revolving root beer mug. I have stronger memories of the giant paint can on top of the store down Hwy 80 (Sherwin-Williams) perhaps ?

And even further down 80 ... the WW II float plane (PBY Catalina) behind Surplus City.

Sorry to ramble.

But Poly Bear has started a trip down memory lane.
All because of an old pamphlet from Castigliola's.

I love it.

Thanks Mr. Bear.

Anonymous said...

7:47, the paint can was on Lane Hardware. Revell has it now on a trailer and displays it at various stores.

Anonymous said...

The clothing dept. at McRae’s used to come to Provine and present fashion shows introducing their new apparel. As a bonus they used students to model the clothes. Those were the days, my friend!

Anonymous said...

The paint can was at Lane Hardware.

Anonymous said...

@7:47 PM - the giant paint can on the roof was at Lane Hardware, corner of Dixon Road, Robinson Road & Hwy 80. You are correct that Surplus City was down the road, as was a two screen drive-in movie theater featuring Rebel and Bulldog screens. I remember seeing a dusk-to-dawn Clint Eastwood “spaghetti western” extravaganza there….whew!

Stuff About ZeroBear PolyBear said...

A few comments.

The discount store on the corner of Ellis and H-80 was a Gibson's THey were probably the best place in Jackson to buy fishing stuff. I still have a flyrod I bought there sometime in the 60's.

They brought a mock-up of the X-15 rocket plane to Westland once. Parked it on a big trailer between Shoney's and Castagliola once. You guys might remember when the Christmas village displayed in Madison was erected in the front yard of the guy who built them on Pecan Blvd, across from Provine. I think the family gave it to Madison. Was also displayed at the Baptist Children's Village where Jackson Mall is located now. Went from Across from Proving to Baptist Children's Village, then to Madison. The person who stated the location of Miller's on Ellis and Lynch is correct. We went to Miller's maybe the week they opened the store there. I always said Sam Walton stole the discount store idea from Gibson's Miller's and KMart.

In those days, Callaway's Garden center, on the back corner of the shopping center lot, behind McRae's had the best aquarium fish dept in Jackson. Callaway's had a second location close to Primos Northgate that had a very good aquarium fish dept. also. I don't think the Callaway's on County line road or the smaller one off Robinson Road between H-80 and the interstate carried fish either.

Stuff About ZeroBear PolyBear said...

To the person who says they have a copy of the recipe book - Am I missing any pages in what I posted. I have always thought I was missing a few pages.

Stuff About ZeroBear PolyBear said...

The Frostop on Ellis and 80 was owned by John Wilson. I worked for Mr. Wilson at his second burger restaurant - T-Willies Frostop, on North State Street, sort of across and a store or two south of Primos Northgate.

Mr. Wilson was a great man, probably the best, most honest person I have ever worked for.

The Frostop Corp. wanted to get into the fried chicken business to compete with KFC and Mr. Wilson sold both stores to the folks who owned the Green Derby and moved to New Orleans and became a VP with Frostop, probably in charge of franchising Plantation Chicken restaurants.

All I know is it didn't work out and after maybe ten years, they went in some other direction. I have always wondered what happened to Mr. Wilson.

For anyone day-dreaming about going into the restaurant business, what I can tell you is the business demands more direct involvement than most folks are willing to devote, and even then you may fail.

Anonymous said...

Across the street from Westland Plaza was temp service office. I only worked a week or so.

The name was ??Sneeds?? Someone help me out.

Anonymous said...

" In those days, Callaway's Garden center, on the back corner of the shopping center lot, behind McRae's had the best aquarium fish dept in Jackson. Callaway's had a second location close to Primos Northgate that had a very good aquarium fish dept. also "

Correct again Poly Bear.

By the time Callaway's had opened their new store on County Line Rd at Pear Orchard around 1979 or 80, aquariums were not as popular.

"To the person who says they have a copy of the recipe book - Am I
missing any pages in what I posted. I have always thought I was
missing a few pages."

That would be me.

I don't think you're missing any pages. Your copy is identical to mine. It's probably 1960's era printing tech that gives such an idea.

Anonymous said...

I went to Murrah. We were not allowed to go to Westland Plaza. Not safe. Too many thugs around.

Anonymous said...

Sneed’s Seed and Feed.
Formerly Chuck’s

Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting this. Great memories. Put a huge smile on my face.

Anonymous said...

There are similar memories of the good times shopping in downtown Jackson, but alas the money went elsewhere and here we are.

Anonymous said...

My mother would love to shop at McRaes located in the corner and would allow me as a 10 year old to wander in the Hale & Jones Sporting Goods store to try on all the baseball gloves. Nowadays we wouldn’t dream of leaving a 10 year old alone in a retail store.
Great memories of a time gone by.

Anonymous said...

@ 7:42pm Yes, there was a shoe repair store! My father owned Shirley’s Shoe Repair for many years. He sold it sometime around the mid to late 1980’s. He was known for his quality work especially with boot repairs, etc. Many good times in that shopping center and watching daddy work. He passed in 2017 at the age of 90. He is greatly missed by his family and friends!!

Anonymous said...

These are some great memories of days gone by. Does anyone have any photos of any of this during those times? And PittPanther, don’t ruin a good post.

Anonymous said...

Wasn't there a Woolworth Store next to McRae's? My brother used to win a lot of model car events in the toy store that was close to the Kroger.

Captain William said...

Shoney's was the Mecca for teens and their cars in the mid- 60's. Nothing better than to order their terrific onion rings and a slice of strawberry pie.
Then ride around and around Shoney's/Westland Plaza girl and car watching! I almost wrecked my 1964 Ford Galaxie 2 door fastback when I was watching a convertible full of girls instead of where I was driving.

There is a great photo of clean cut Provine teens in their 1963 Pontiac convertible sitting at Shoney's on the "Provine High School and West Jackson, The Way We Were" Facebook page.

Anonymous said...

Thank you 2/2 @ 1:51 Until that question is pondered, it only gets worse from here.

Ophelia said...

I remember meeting Sky King (and his plane!) when he made an appearance in the breezeway near McRae's. And I can still smell the pleasant fishy scent, see the brightly-lit white interior, and feel the brrrrrr chill, of Castigliola's, when waiting for my mother to buy oysters. We went once a week, every Thursday afternoon, after my ballet and tap lessons at Mr. Lamar Goings' dance studio across the street (Robinson Rd., I think? I adored the mid-60s! Happy days, indeed.

Anonymous said...

Don't forget the fair that would come to Westland Plaza once a year. Farrow Amusements.

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