1950's & more - Part XXI
|Southern Shopping Center (due east of Ward's Corner, up
Little Creek) wasn't built until after the construction of Tidewater
Drive. The first 15˘ burger joint to hit Wards Corner was Burger Chef
(where Wendy's is now) but in the 60's we had a Rich's burger place in
Willoughby across the street from the Camel. There was also Carroll's
(Corp) which T/A Burger King. Rich's was operated by the Newport News grocer Jimmy
Rich, who later sold to Giant Open Air Markets (courtesy of an email correcting us). See more about "the Giant" below.
Just south of this area, up Virginian Drive (which takes you to Thole &
Tidewater) since 1956, is Parkdale Private School.
The Wards Corner Regino's served homemade sausage, legendary veal parmigiana & distinctive pizzas ( click image to enlarge ==> ). Gregory A. Mazarakis Sr. came to America from Greece and originally opened Regino's on Main St; his son, Gregory Mazarakis took over for him in the 70's at Wards Corner; which was originally a bar, called Johnson's. It became Yasou! --a Mediterranean Café, which Liz West opened in 2001, but soon closed. It reopened Nov '03, transformed as Aireana's (Pasta - Seafood). It then became Steckroth's but we don't give that long, either. Regino's opened in a new location Summer 2002 on Little Creek near Shore Drive-- Stephanie Mazarakis works for her father at this location illustrating a longevity not unlike the Loiercio families, still operating The Venice in Riverview. Mama Lina's (on Little Creek, is now El Azteca) --and there's no forgetting Mama's Italian Kitchen razed 2002, near the old amusement park site.
Hofheimer's Shoes first location in Norfolk was the downtown store but the first strip or burb location was in Wards Corner, touted by reverent bus drivers of that era to passengers as Times Square of the South in passing. For many of us, our first shoes, Stride-Rites were purchased there when we were toddlers. Warehouse Manager, Ricky Beisner, an employee of 33 years reminisced with us about Lulu the monkey, darling of all children visiting that location. They couldn't put her in a zoo, she was so at home there, he recalled. Beisner began with Hofheimer's at Wards Corner in 1965, remembering how the advent of the Giant Open Air (now Farm Fresh, once Rosso & Mastracco) affected hours-- that area merchants began staying open evenings rather than closing at five. A KFC was recently built at the Ward's Corner Beauty Academy location.
Later, the Wards Corner location became a Lillian Vernon store, and prior, a Lá Vogue but in the earlier photo (page top) you can just make out that Rice's, an upscale retailer long since gone, was Hofheimer's next-door neighbor. Beyond, there's still Sai Gai's, but remember Jerry's (a tavern, then Bobbywood, now Gators Sports Bar), NAAS Bakery (there is still a location at Lakewood), High's Ice Cream, Eljo's, The Place.
Years back, Crossroads Restaurant was located (the structure gone by the 60's) where the large music store is --originally built in the 70's as Tracks which morphed to the Wherehouse of today. For many years in-between, it was simply parking across from Hofheimer's. In 1998, Hofheimer's joined Center Shops (a Paul H. Rose store in Wards Corner- the same original owner of Rose's Stores), Rice's, Miller & Rhode's, Smith & Welton's, Thalhimer's, Leggett's and other quality (but now defunct) Virginia retailers, including The Hub men's store, which was located near the Pancake House & Wachovia Bank.
At right: the flyover heading toward Wards Corner (Taussig) from Bayview on Granby, during its construction in the late 60's. You'll remember Olympic Skateway aka Mercury Roller Rink which closed in 1986. It is about the same area, where, decades back a few years prior, our Dad would point out "Myrtle" on (Admiral) Taussig Boulevard (diagonally from the Exxon today). The plane, parked there as long as we remember, with insignia on her side: was a US Navy Neptune patrol aircraft, made by Lockheed (correction courtesy of web visitor, Ken Wiley). The most famous "Neptune" was our own P2V-1, the "Truculent Turtle", which flew non-stop: Sep 29- Oct 1, 1947 --without refueling from Perth, Australia, to Columbus, OH --a world-record setting distance of 11,235 miles, a piston-engine record for nearly forty years. Needless to say, we kids pointed it out each time thereafter, until they moved it to make way for the flyover/overpass allowing a 'shortcut' from NOB to I-64 West.