Wednesday, May 24, 2017

South Belt Spot: Farrell's Ice Cream Parlor at Almeda Mall

At its height, Farrell's had 130 stores in operation. 

The Farrell's in the South Belt was opened in 1975 in Almeda Mall. 

From the Galveston Daily News, July 29, 1975

Farrell's was founded in Portland, OR in 1963 and by 1970 Marriott Corp. had bought the company, keeping its founder, Bob Farrell as head of operations until 1985, when Marriott sold the company, whose new owners promptly changed the concept and drove it out of business by 1990.

The South Belt Leader had a few mentions of Farrell's in its early days:

The search for our readers' Almeda Farrell's photos has, so far , yielded these two from Michelle Roeder:

This one contributed by Scott Head:

And these two posted from Carla Hegeman Crim just yesterday!

I had asked the South Belt Facebook group to post a few memories they had of the place. 

 A Google Image Search will yield a few photographs that look vaguely like "our" Farrell's

and you can still find some ephemera for sale on places like eBay

But the biggest goldmine of photographs is still the Houston Area yearbook photos. 

In 2009, with Bob Farrell's help, the brand was reborn as its original concept in Orange County, CA and it now boasts franchises in seven CA locations as well as Honolulu, HI. 

And yes, they still boast the Pig Trough and the Farrell's Zoo on the Parlour Menu

For comparison's sake, here are the prices from the 1970's era menu around the time the Almeda Mall one opened:

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

The Carousel at Almeda Mall

In the early 90s, Almeda Mall removed the pineapple fountain and installed, for a short time, a carousel at center court.

I had not yet located a photo of it in the mall itself until this past trip, when I happened on just a piece of it as a backdrop for a yearbook photo of the Dobie Choir in 1994.

I first read about it in 2015, in the Cite-31 Winter-Spring 1994 issue in an article entitled "Gulfgate: the Mall Generation Gap" by Bruce C. Webb.

I had been doing what little online research I could on Almeda and came across this paragraph:

When I posted a query on our Almeda Mall Facebook page, quite a few readers recalled it.

According to Major Henderson, the first carousel was the double-decker referenced in the Webb article which was replaced by a single level carousel after that. 

Johnny Kurt Campbell remembers installing it, writing, "I have no photos but I put it in. It required two tow trucks, one on each side of the fountain to stand up the center mast. Very similar in finish to the one posted above. The mall never owned the carousel while I was there, the spec was leased to the operator."

Digging around, this is what the double decker would have looked like from afar:

Finding a full photo of this, actually in Almeda, with its skylight overhead, is on a my top-ten South Belt photos wish list. (To be fair, that list is quite long.)

The double decker one eventually made its way over to San Jacinto Mall in Baytown in 1998, and spun its last August 31, 2016, according to The Baytown Sun.

The single-deck Phillip Schneider would have looked like this:

So, as always, a plea: if you are reading this and have a photo of the carousel in Almeda, please comment or message me if you are willing to share!

Sunday, May 14, 2017

South Belt Spot: New Vaudeville Pizza House Collection

Over the three and a half years of the South Belt Digital Archive's existence, we've done a smattering of posts that included Vaudeville Pizza, typically in the chronological order of the year they appeared in the South Belt Leader.

We are trying something new as summer approaches by pulling together all the scans we've amassed thus far into a "super post" with the hopes people who see it will reach out to share their own photographs or memorabilia of the featured South Belt Spot to grow and expand our holdings.

Our first South Belt Spot featured: New Vaudeville Pizza House.

(If there was an Old Vaudeville, it clearly couldn't have been as good.)

Marie tells the story that in their earliest years, Vaudeville was often a place she and Bobby would call their office, and word got around that if you were trying to reach the South Belt Press ladies, you could probably call over to Vaudeville and find them, or just leave a message for when they came in.

Vaudeville Pizza was at Hughes Road, sandwiched for many years between Safeway and Eckerd Drugs. It opened in 1974 and stayed in business through most of the 1980s, after Sagemont Baptist Church Youth had moved into the Safeway next door.

In the first hours that I posted a question about which South Belt spots would make our readers' top-ten list of most-nostalgic, at least a third of respondents include Vaudeville Pizza.

It was a place for thousands of South Belt kids' birthdays, for scout troops' visits to the kitchen to make their own pizzas, for groups to meet after all variety of sports games, for awards ceremonies. The list is endless.

Surely some readers out there have photos from some of these visits? Please, please share!!

For now, here is what we've got. Some are nothing more than a glimpse of the sign.


(this is No-No)