Remembering Cherry Park-In

There were more than a few gathering spots for East Hi Mountaineers in the 50’s and early 60’s….Babe Malloy’s on Chapman Highway, The Tic Toc on Magnolia with root beer in a frosted mug, Nan Denton’s Orange Julius on Magnolia near Park Junior High and the Blue Circle at Chilhowee Park, to name a few.  But the Cherry Park-In was the real “in place” during the period.  And second place was far behind.

(Click the image below to enlarge)

As I think back with nostalgia on the “Park-In,” as it was affectionately known, my mind’s eye tells me the building was massive.  But the attached photo tells a different story. The picture on the front of the menu illustrates the degree to which a seven-decade-old mind can be tricked.  Heck, the dimensions don’t matter, the memories are still big…and vivid.

It seemed expensive, too.  But the attached menu also dispels that long-held view.  You could get a hamburger steak, two rolls…homemade…a small Coke and a piece of coconut pie…for a DOLLAR! A better coconut pie has never been cooked…period!  It seems like a pittance now, but a buck was hard to come by then.  After I went to college, my brother and I would occasionally have lunch there…trying to recapture some of the memories…or inhale a piece of pie. Somehow, the experience wasn’t the same, but the pie had lost none of its scrumptious taste.

I lived on Cherry Street throughout my years at E.H.S.  Other East students’ homes bordered on Cherry…the Valentines, Wrays, Worshams, Davis’, Smallmans, Harbins and Rachel Yarnell.  Many lived close enough to walk there…which we rarely did.  It was a place to which you drove, if you had a car…which I didn’t, or rode with someone else…which I often did. There was only a handful of student cars at East in the 50’s.

After every football or basketball game, Mountaineers swarmed like locusts at the corner of Magnolia and Cherry, capturing the booths, counter and walking around space.  For some reason, it seemed that Eddie Doane was always there, in a front booth. I never knew where he lived…maybe in Booth #2.

(Click the image below to enlarge)

I’ve nursed many a nickel Coke to make my occupancy of the booth nominally legitimate. I usually wanted to play a couple of songs on the Wurlitzer…Only You or The Great Pretender by the Platters or Splish Splash by…I can’t remember who, but an extra nickel infrequently existed.  I suspect the owners made their money from the businessmen during the day ‘cause most Mounties were short on cash…except for a few rich kids.

You have your own memories of the Cherry Park-In, which I hope you share as comments at the bottom of this article.  We all owe a debt of gratitude to fellow East Hi classmate and former worker at the Park-In, Henry Russell, for keeping this menu and sharing it with the rest of us who wish we had been so forward thinking…or were, likewise, pack rats.  Thanks Henry!


  1. Paul Baker on February 21, 2012 at 10:29 am

    And a lot of us in my time went across the street to Kay’s.

  2. bill craig on February 21, 2012 at 10:32 am

    still think about the memories when i drive by!

  3. bill craig on February 21, 2012 at 10:33 am

    i hung out there for years. met my wife there 55 years ago. had lots of friends there!

    • Sherrie Sheffield waggoner on December 26, 2022 at 3:21 am

      My DadBill Sheffield was a cook there. my mom would drop me off there on friday evening and he would walk me through the kitchen to out front and sit me in a booth and ask me what I wanted to eat answer was always the same med- rare T none steak. It was sooo good and at the time I was probably 4 5 6 7cand 8 years old. That pie was most likely made by the wonderful sweet black lady in the kitchen that was always so kind to me. I wish it was still there but I seem to remember my dad’s boss being named shorty needham

    • Janneda Anderson on December 3, 2023 at 1:53 pm

      I remember meeting a gentlemen by the name of Raymond H. Holder. Did you know him or his family? I have been trying to locate his sister for years. I think Raymond worked there.


  4. Chris Wohlwend on February 21, 2012 at 10:59 am

    Cherry Park Inn was too rich for us; we hung out at the Blue Circle next to Chilhowee Park, and then the Tic Toc and Pizza Palace when old enough to drive. But I remember Cherry Park was a favorite for the coaches (Polston, Sonny Wilson, George Tampas, Bill Addonizio, etc.). By the way, Splish Splash was Bobby Darin’s first hit …

  5. Ann Loftis Lacava on February 21, 2012 at 11:15 am

    First of all, thank you, Ross, for the time and energy you put into this site. I’m one of the “oldies”; I graduated in 1955 and had forgotten that I indeed did have fun in high school.

    Oh, the hours (and dollars) spent at Cherry Park-In. I think The Great Pretender was my very favorite, and still is. I watched in horror and with laughter as some of the “guys” put sugar in the salt shaker and never tattled. I lived on Parkview, so it was just a hop, skip and jump to this favorite place.

    And only a few years later, my husband of 53 years (who died this past December) took me to Tic Toc and gave me a tiny diamond ring and married me the next weekend.

    East Knoxville life was awesome!!!!

    • Barbara Zwick Hirsh on February 22, 2012 at 2:05 am

      Great Nostalgia!! Thoroughly enjoyed it. Thanks for the memories! Barbara

  6. John. Blanc on February 21, 2012 at 11:34 am

    I spent most of my time at Kay’s when I wasn’t working at Bill Sims ESSO or Doug Harbin Texaco or driving the delivery car for Brown’s Drug store.

  7. Evelyn Latham Lingerfelt on February 21, 2012 at 11:38 am

    I don’t remember this place but I was only there for about a year when I lived with my sister Joyce and her husnband Bud Lobetti. I’m sure they would both remember it. I do remember stopping at a drugstore walking from school. It was on the corner of Magnolia, and ? They had the best peanutbutter and crackers (6 to a pack). Eating those crackers and drinking a Coke was very satisfying to me, and something I still remember after 47 years. To this day I love eating peanutbutter and crackers and drinking Coke. Do remember the Blue Circle, and Bud’s sister, Nancy, would take me to a great Pizza Place on Magnolia. Can’t think of the name of the Pizza place right now. Maybe Pizza Palace? Thanks for the memories Ross!

    • Ross Greene on February 21, 2012 at 11:48 am

      Thanks Evelyn. Bud and I talked about the Park-In many times over the last 3 years or so and he and I went there together during our time at East. He and I searched for a picture like the one in this blog but I didn’t find it until after his untimely death. I still miss him!

      • Evelyn Latham Lingerfelt on February 21, 2012 at 3:26 pm

        We miss him too, and my sister Joyce also. Did you get to go to the Inurnment on February 4th, their 50th wedding anniversary?
        It was real sweet. A lot of people there and it rained so, if you were there I missed you. There were no invitations, just word of mouth.

    • David "Pat" Wright on February 21, 2012 at 11:58 am

      I lived a few blocks from Cherry Park-In and frequently ate their famous hamburger steak with a ton of fries and Coke. It was THE place to go after every football or basketball game — simply because that’s where the girls were. I have such fond memories of all my friends that would hang out there and check out all the cars in the parking lot — especially Terry Smullian’s pink convertible. Thanks Ross for reminding us.

  8. Allen McGill on February 21, 2012 at 12:06 pm

    One of my first real jobs was as a paper carrier (paperboy back then) for the Knoxville Journal. I lived on Cherry Street and the Cherry Park Inn would be my last stop of the morning. There, I would meet Jay Brewer, my District Manager, for a mini business meeting and would always wind up with a stack of pancakes before I left. They were only .25 cents, but usually a free paper to the waitress or manager would get you a free plate of them.

    Wray’s Shopping Center was our place to hang out and Mom and Dad could always find us hanging out on the corner, or in the winter time, by the big wood stove Mr Wray had in the back. Our pay for him letting us do that was to carry coal in to fuel the stove or wash the windows during the smmmer time. He also employed many of the neighborhood kids at Winona Park during the summer. If only Hubert knew what a mentor he was then. I thank him, Mrs Wray (Billie), Arabell and JoAnn for keeping me in line and commanding the respet that is lacking in many of our youth of today.

    And last, but not least, who can forget the hot dogs and hamburgers at Lindsey’s Confectionary. Thank you Mr and Mrs Lindsey for putting up with a bunch of rowdy high school students in the early morning hours and after school as well. Your chili dogs and hamburgers with the hot lettuce were the best, especially for breakfast. If the sudents there now, only knew the history of that corner store.

    Sorry for the long comment, but the memories just kept coming. Please share yours. Thanks. Allen

  9. Don Whedbee on February 21, 2012 at 12:08 pm

    I guess i had moved away when the building was taken down, dont remember that, but do remember “walking” there many times. I also have fomd memroies of the Tic-Toc. We rode bikes to Chilhowee Park, played baseball in the very dusty fields, and then across the street for the frosty mug of root beer and a dime balogna sandwich, hard to bear on a hot summer day.

  10. Butch Conover on February 21, 2012 at 12:35 pm

    I remember one sunday morning after church, i was leaving kays ice cream and walking past the cherry park in a pigeon flew into the glass shattering the window when the cherry park in was crowded with pweople in their sunday finest all running out the door in panic.

  11. NANCY TIPTON BELL on February 21, 2012 at 1:03 pm

    Thanks so much.
    Nancy Tipton Bell

  12. Donna Capps Compton - Class of '62 on February 21, 2012 at 1:31 pm

    If I was taken to the Cherry Park in on a date…..I was impressed. To this day my love for coconut pie originated there. Thank you Ross for keeping all of these special memories alive.

  13. Wilbur Curtis on February 21, 2012 at 1:57 pm

    The Park-In was located at 2601 E. Magnolia and I lived at 2543 E. Magnolia about a half block away. Bill Needham’s father was the owner and when you talk about the home-made breads, pies, and cakes they were all made by a black lady(can’t remember her name – getting old you know) on a daily basis. The food was always excellent and the prices were affordable.

  14. Ron French on February 21, 2012 at 2:29 pm

    When I grew up in Burlington, eating out was rare. Eating at a walk in, sit down restaurant was almost unheard of. After church one Sunday evening my aunt and uncle took my two sisters and me to the Cherry Park-In. We were all under twelve years of age and very impressed.
    The waitress brought the menu and, wide-eyed, we asked, “Can we order anything on the menu?”
    The answer was, “Yes, as long as it’s on the sandwich menu”.

  15. John Anderson on February 21, 2012 at 3:57 pm

    Like Allen McGill my hangout was Wray’s Market on Cherry and Washington.
    Occasionally Jack Sherrod and I would lay out of church at Fifth Avenue
    Baptist and use our money that was suppose to be put in the offering for
    breakfast at the Cherry Park Inn. On a more somber note, does anyone remember the connection between the convicted rapist, Billy Joe Long, and the Cherry Park Inn?

  16. Eugene Luttrell on February 21, 2012 at 5:39 pm

    I was employed at the Cherry Park In for a short time back in the early fifties. I was sorry to see that it had been torn down years later, after I had moved from Knoxville. Thanks for the memories!!!

    • Eugene Luttrell on February 21, 2012 at 5:41 pm

      I worked there as a busboy, and graduated from East High in 1953.

  17. Lynn (Linda) Curtis Arnold on February 21, 2012 at 7:05 pm

    Hi Ross Green – I have been living out of TN since 1960 or 1961. It has been such a long time since I have thought of these things and places. I graduated in 1959, so it has been a while. Talk about feelings of nostalgia, reading all the posts. And Pat Wright — that is a name I have not heard for years. If you do not remember me, I am Jack Whited’s sister-in-law and Carole Curtis Whited’s sister.

    Ross, thank you so much for the web site.

  18. Ed Cooper on February 21, 2012 at 7:27 pm


    Remember it well. Appreciate your time and effort

  19. Tom Adkinson on February 21, 2012 at 8:49 pm

    Thank you so much for the great memories. I spent a lot of time at the Park Inn and Kay’s ice cream. Knoxville was a wonderful place to live in the 50’s. I lived on Magnolia, two houses down from the Cherry Park Inn.Our back yard bordered the Park Inn’s parking lot. On Friday night there was usually some guys drinking beer in the parking lot. Well as you could imagine they tossed there empties in our back yard. My mother who was opposed to any kind of drinking would collect the bottles the next day and throw them accross the fence and they broke on the pavement. This went on for a few weeks, Then it stopped. So I guess in her own way she stopped the drinking in our little part of town. But then these guys probaly moved to the Tic Toc. Thanks again Ross.
    Tom Adkinson Class of 57

    • Kay Rimmer Van Valkenburg on September 15, 2012 at 6:38 pm

      Tom: My two spinster aunts lived next door to the Cherry Park-In. I was a small child in the 50s and my Dad was in the military. Whenever we got back to the States from an assignment we would go home to K’ville and we always stayed with my aunts. I remember hearing the sounds and smelling the wonderful aromas wafting from next door. And I remember the back of the restaurant was actually a drive-in. Small world!

  20. Sandra Turner Wimdham on February 21, 2012 at 10:04 pm

    Ross, You have turned back the hands of time(so to speak). I have lots of great memories of the Park Inn.I lived one block from it on 5th Ave. They had the best banana cream pie. My brother Bud wasn’t to happy when I got old enough to go, he thought i was spying on him. The drugstore someone mentioned on Magnolia was Sharp’s and they had the old marble soda fountain,with the best choc. soda’s. Those really really were the good old days. Thanks for the stroll down memory lane. Sandra Wimdham

  21. Jim Watson (Busse) on February 21, 2012 at 10:42 pm

    When the Cherry Park-in first opened, my mother worked in the area and we ate there many times as a family. Later, it became a teen hang-out especially after ball games and my friends and I in our band uniforms made a point to go there after the games at Evens-Collins. Later, I worked at the White stores across the street, working my way through college. By that time the local motocycle groups began to hang out there and there seemed to always be trouble in the parking lot. By the time I was married, our first apartment was a few blocks away, it was closed. Those of us near Burlington went to the Tic-Toc and later Pizza Palace (still there) I never paid at the Tic Toc because my uncle was a close high school friend with the owner and we were always fed free. Richard Allen and I used to hang there in his hot rod (’39 Ford coupe flathead) and try to meet girls or find a drag race.
    I ate there for many years after until it closed. My great-grand parents lived across the street from thew Tic-Toc location in 1902 and Mary street was named after my aunt. I also remember fondly Owens Convience store on McCalla. Nancy Owens (East High) father owned the place and we were distant cousins. It was on my paper route, East High to mid-Burlington on McCalla. I lived at Linden and Castle at one end and my grandparents lived on Ashland at the other end.
    I also remember Southern Drive-in and Babe Malloy’s on Chapman hwy. When the Band went to Florida, Babe Malloy’s daughter became my girl friend for a short time. The volume of business there was tremendous since itr also included UT students. Later when I went to Holston High, the four-way drive-in was popular but too far from Knoxville to be crowded. My forever best memories will always be the Quarterback club at UT where we would go if we had enough money. I would always take my high school dates there after a dance, if I could.

    jim Watson, Adopted name “Busse” at that time in my life.

    • Fred Clayton on February 23, 2012 at 1:55 pm


      I enjoy these old memories of Park City and Burlington as well. I could really put away a half fried chicken plate with all the fries at the Cherry Park-In.
      Have not heard about you since about 1963. Have been to lots of Central high reunions where your name comes up. Relia Hamilton was at our 50th in 2008. Maybe we can catch up on things some day and way.

  22. Charlie Miller-EHS 1966 on February 22, 2012 at 3:53 am

    Hey Ross, enjoyed your story on the Cherry Park Inn. I, too, remember going there for a coke and hamburger (when I could afford it). I worked part-time at Kroger on Holston Drive during my junior and senior years at EHS. I also remember the Worshams. Andy and I were pretty good friends. Thanks for the memories Ross.

  23. Rachel Yarnell - EHS 1958 on February 22, 2012 at 11:52 am

    Hi Ross, I remember the Cherry Park-In well, and the menu confirms my memory. I was telling friends that during high school I made $1.00 a week ironing blouses for my neighbor–that’s when we still lived on Washington Ave.–and with that I could buy a football ticket, and purchase a hamburger, french fries, and coke at the Cherry Park-In. It brought back some nice memories. Thanks! Rachel

  24. Linda J. Ahlgrim on February 22, 2012 at 2:35 pm

    I remember the aroma of the baking bread coming from the bakery wafting into Park Jr. Fay and Tommy Mellon’s dad worked there and sometimes we would stop in and he would give us a freshly baked pecan pie. Then we would pass the aroma’s coming from the Orange Julius, Krispy Kreme, and I got off the bus at the Pizza Palace and would walk up towards McCalla to get a whiff of the barbeque at the Tick Tock. I lived next door to the Duck’s and the McMinn’s and Ronnie Noe lived behind the Duck’s and directly in front of my house were the Cupp’s on one corner and the Coffee’s on the other. My first crush worked at the first McDonalds. The only time I remember eating at the Cherry Park Inn was with my East High silver-tooth sweetheart and our last date was at the big Regas where I worked in the 90’s. I worked at Regas on 17th in the early 70’s where I was one of Charlie’s angels. Whenever I get back to East Tn I go to the first Krystal and Ham’n Goody’s for yummy Tea Cakes like my grandmother Molly made for me. Yes, I need to loose weight.

  25. carolyn heiskell phillips on February 22, 2012 at 6:42 pm

    great, great article as always!

  26. phil jehu haun on February 22, 2012 at 11:55 pm

    Great memories of the frosted root beer mugs! One visit the police asked me was I going to make a purchase. When I replied I was only looking for my brother he told me to get out. Kays ice cream hot summer nights James Vittetoe and I would walk there, shakes for a quarter and malts fo 30 cents. Thanks Ross for your work! Jehu and Snorts

  27. /Ed Carter on February 25, 2012 at 3:21 pm

    My parents lived @ 1401 McCalla Ave next to Jerry Hunley’s parents house. As a kid growing up my grandfather would take me Barnes Barber shop while he went across the street for a beer. We would walk there when ever he came into town. Passes 5 & 10, Cox & Wright, Easterday Grogery, Blains Hardware, Weaver’s Cafe, can’t remember the pharmacy. I went to Fair Garden. When my parents moved to Holston Hill I went to Chilhowee & Holston High b/4 transfering to East my soph. year. I really did enjoyed this school, better than being a Tea Sipper. I played a LOT of Putt Putt. I was there so much that several of the gang got to play free by sweeping the carpets. Great Times. I wonder if anyone remember Doctor Riggins in Burlington? He would make house calls. I have many of his stitches you can still see on my old fingers, etc. Our kids and grand children will never know how great it was growing up in the 50’s & 60’s. Thanks, Ross, for letting me wonder & remember. As we get younger it GREAT to be able to remiss about the pass while we look forward to a better future.Back then we were in our sunrise years and how time have gone by so fast it is hard be believe we are now in our sunset years. GO MOUNTAINEERS!!!!

  28. Carolyn Needham Ellis on February 25, 2012 at 6:41 pm

    Ross, I wrote earlier this evening but know it did not go through, since I have not yet subscribed to Knox Heritage. I so enjoyed the comments about Cherry Park Inn and wondered if you knew where I might get a picture of the Inn, since most of my stuff went out with Hurricane Andrew in Miami. My dad, Aubrey Needham, owned the restaurant, and I have had several requests for a picture, and I can not find one. Marjorie Bensay, who is working on the history of Park Ridge, would like to have a picture. When Gail Wray sent me your e-mail, I thought I would see if you could help. I certainly would appreciate any efforts. Many thanks, Carolyn Needham Ellis

    • Sherrie Sheffield waggoner on December 26, 2022 at 3:44 am

      Carolyn. I’m sorry I don’t have a pic but you may remember my dad Bill Sheffield and I believe he called your dad Shorty. I remember hearing your name thank you

    • Sherrie Sheffield waggoner on January 30, 2023 at 2:16 pm

      Do you remember my dad Bill Sheffield he was at Shorty’s house on a barn roof working and all Shorty kept saying is Bill I need you to come down here he would not tell him while he was up there that his 7 week old son had just passed. Do you remember my dad?

  29. Howard Williams on March 1, 2012 at 2:10 am

    Jim, it was interesting reading your comment. I worked several years for Paul and Mary Owens at the EZ Curb store on McCalla. So many treasured memories! Made thousands of hot dogs, hamburgers, and thick fried-bologna sandwiches. Kept the indoor cooler organized with every soft drink known to man (well, Burlington men anyway! lol). Loaded tons of block ice for people, many of them still using Ice Boxes instead of electric refrigerators.

    And thanks so much Ross for all you do with this unique publication! It continues to mean so much to so many! Howard Williams

  30. Stephanie Patterson on May 4, 2012 at 10:37 am

    Babe Malloy’s- does any one have old pics? I need them for a 60th birthday present! Please share them with me if you do!!! I will make copies and you can keep orginals!

    • Stan Finch on May 28, 2012 at 4:40 pm

      I’m an ex Oak Ridger. After special occasions in the late 40’s and early 50’s(I graduated Oak Ridge High in 1952) we would fill somebody’s car and adventure to Magnolia Av. and the Cherry Park. Their fried chicken was some of the best I ever ate. Does anyone possibly have the recipe to that good stuff

  31. Michael Levy on July 20, 2012 at 10:58 pm

    Remember Cherry Park Inn well but vividly remember going in Kay’s Ice Cream with no money and drinking out of my first water fountain. Lived on Nichols Avenue off Cherry St. Also used to stand on the corner of Magnolia at the Merita Bread Company and filled my lungs with that sweet smell of the bakery.
    On Saturday mornings, Dad and I would go to Market Square and buy meats for the next weeks meals. After we shopped, we always stopped at the Orange Julius for one of their great drinks.
    Michael Levy
    East High School 1962

  32. Kris Hodge on September 15, 2012 at 3:07 am

    Some of you may be interested in my fb group called Burlington Street Kids.

  33. Debby Rimmer Nelson on September 15, 2012 at 6:47 pm

    I never had the pleasure of meeting any of you but I know the Cherry Park Inn very well. My great aunt and a cousin lived in the house next door for as long as I can remember and I was very sad when all of that closed and was torn down. I spent a few afternoons at the park inn with my cousins. We would go in and order cokes and fries and sit and visit away from the ‘old folks’. And you know I would give anything to spend an afternoon with them now. I spent many an evening looking out a window at what was going on on Magnolia Ave. I remember going to Kay’s for an ice cream, up the street to Krispy Kreme for a hot donut, going over to Cas Walker’s or the white store to pick something up for my aunt. I miss all that.

  34. Mike Campbell on September 16, 2013 at 4:30 pm

    I was raised on Magnolia Ave. and I remember the places all too well, so many good times are now just fond memories, thank you for letting me remember

  35. (Beverley) Joan Short MD on May 19, 2023 at 5:45 pm

    Hoping that Ross Green is still alive—& that he is actually who I knew as J.Ross Green…with a younger brother David—who lived next door to 615 Cherry Street— who lived next door to my Grandmother Mary Yarnell LaRue
    and her husband Harvey Leonard LaRue who was a railroad telegrapher. My mother Bonnie LaRue married James C Short who was in UT and moved to Franklin, Tn.. When I visited in summer, we played ball in connecting back yards.
    Across street was family by last name Valentine— We all loved the horse drawn ice cream carts that came up the street and sold popsicles, etc.
    Down at end of Cherry Street was Kay’s ice Cream… We went to 5th Ave Baptist and a library nearby … My Grandmother raised
    Rachel Yarnell when her family had to be temporarily separated…Rachel went to a Baptist College where dancing was not allowed…and later went on to become a famous author.. She and her younger sister visited with my sister,
    Dr Barbara Short Haskew and her husband Jerre in 2016 at their home on Elder Mountain in
    Chattanooga, Tn. So much more to share.
    I will hope for a reply. Text 347-546-8939

Leave a Comment