|Photo: Jeff Keen, Flickr.|
Naomi Bays, an artist who's coordinating the nationwide retrieval of Shoney's items in conjunction with a new Charleston, W. Va., memorial marking the site of the franchise's first restaurant, is now accepting donations of all things Shoney's -- no questions asked.
"Someone's bringing me a salt shaker he stole 50 years ago," Bays says.
Not every item in Bays' collection was ill-begotten: She's also accumulated Shoney's tie clips, key chains, photographs, watches, comic books and maps from Shoney's golden era, showing the chain's 1,900 locations.
The trinkets will be housed in display cases surrounding the 14-foot-tall monument dreamed up by Emily Schoenbaum, youngest daughter of Shoney's founder Alex Schoenbaum. According to Bays, Schoenbaum wanted to commemorate the restaurant's drive-in roots: The monument's official unveiling next week will be seeped in carhop culture.
"We'll have a deejay spinning vinyl records, and we'll be serving hamburgers and Cokes," Bays says. "From what I gather, this place was very much like what you see in the movies."
It also included, it seems, the endless lines of finned Caddies and post-game crowds of cheerleaders. Shoney's, called the Parkette Drive-In and Bowling Alley when it opened in 1947, parlayed its immense popularity into more than 100 outlets by the late 1960s.
Bays claims there isn't a "holy grail" of Shoney's ephemera, but there are a few items on her collection wish list: "I'd like to have an apron," she admits. "But that's kind of a lofty dream."
Do you have any Shoney's memorabilia stashed away? Tell us in the comments.