Saturday, April 17, 2010

The Campus Shop

Some time back, we shared a piece about the old Colacino’s Supper Club east of Chadron.

There’ve been many popular eating establishments around Chadron over the years – from King Louie’s and the Niles Café to the Pullman and the Chuckwagon. But how could we overlook the Campus Shop?

Well, we haven’t. And while it was popular mostly with college kids for several decades, it also drew lots of younger teens and a few adults, too.

The building today looks much the same as it did nearly a half century ago, sitting along the east side of Main Street near the entrance to Chadron State College. There’s even still a sign that says “Campus Shop,” although you’re not likely to catch any wafts of burgers and fries. It’s been decades since the building housed a restaurant.

John “Richie” Fahey has vivid memories of the Campus Shop. When he moved from Igloo, South Dakota to Chadron in 1951 to go to Assumption Academy, he worked at the restaurant for a couple of years.

“It was in the days before there was Student Union cafeteria or snack bar on campus,” says Fahey, who remembers making 60 cents an hour at the popular college hangout.

“And there wasn’t much in the way of tips in those days.”

The shop was operated by Gorton Jim Boyd, who also was an early owner of the Frontier Drive-In on the east edge of Chadron. Boyd’s father, Jim, who was a retired C&NW boilermaker, was also involved in the business, according to his 1951 obituary.  Our thanks to Karen Schlais of Chadron for sharing that information.  By July of 1957, Boyd had left Chadron and was serving as City Manager of Holton, Kansas, a job he held until at least the end of 1963. 

“We were open from about 5:30 in the morning until 10 o’clock at night, and we had a drive-in window,” remembers Fahey.

“For 10 cents, you could get an egg sandwich on a bun. Our slogan was Where Eagles Meet to Eat.”

Of course, the Campus Shop was something of a social hub, too. With a busy grill and soda fountain, it was the place to meet for a quick burger – or perhaps enjoy some soft ice cream on top of a brownie. All the while, “grooving” to music from a juke box that was stocked with all the latest tunes. The photo here -- an ad lifted from the 1950 Cardinal -- said the Campus Shop was "Famous for its 'after the game' snacks and convenient curb service. You'll find delicious sandwiches and drinks at this drive-in. These students find the Campus Shop's home-made rootbeer delicious on a warm afternoon." Not sure who the gals are, but the boys in this photo look like Jerry Richards and Lloyd Eitemiller. [Ed. Note:  Thanks to Gerald Miller for helping us identify all four of these kids.  They are (l-to-r):  Gretchen Carlson, Jerry Richards, Nancy Cartwright, and Lloyd Eitemiller. 7/2/12]

Over the years, dozens – probably hundreds of high school and college kids worked at the buzzing little hangout. Fahey specifically remembered co-workers Charlene Yeradi, JoAnn Konrath and Ruth Ann Katen.

We’re aware of at least two other owners back in the ‘50s and 60s.

Red and Juanita McKnight operated the Campus Shop for a while, as did Charley and Marian “Mammy” Shumway.

Shumway's daughter, Penny, had her turn working there.

“Becky Moody and I could really clean the floors, but it’s just a wonder we didn't kill ourselves when we mixed ammonia and Clorox!”

“They (Mammy & Charley) always said it was hard work, but the best place to be,” says Penny, who now lives in Torrington, Wyoming.

“They truly loved the college kids. I know we sure had a lot of them live with us over the years!”