Burnet Road ACTION!

By Frank Campbell – Frank The Movie Watcher, Book Lover, Pop Culture Fan

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Captain Action at Shopper’s World on Burnet Road

When I was a kid, my mother used to go to a beauty parlor located in the shopping center at the northwest corner of Burnet Road and North Loop. The shopping center is still there,by the way, and underwent a complete make over a few years ago.

My mother would go to the parlor on Friday afternoons, after I got out of school. Sometimes I’d go with her because while she was getting her hair done, I was free to roam the aisles of Shopper’s World, a discount department store in the shopping center.

Shopper’s World on Burnet Road had a lot of cool stuff, especially toys. I bought my first Captain Action action figure there. Captain Action was an action figure, okay damn it, a DOLL, made by Ideal Toy Company in the mid-1960s. He was similar in size and articulation to the first generation G.I.Joe. What made Captain Action special was that he could turn into different super-heroes. All you had to do was purchase a separate costume set (yes, damn it, they were DOLL clothes) and Captain Action could become Superman, Batman, Captain America, Nick Fury, Aquaman, The Lone Ranger, Steve Canyon or Buck Rogers. Other heroes’ costumes came later, as did his sidekick, Action Boy and his arch nemesis, Dr. Evil.

I have some cool reproductions of several of the Captain Action figures and costume sets but the originals are extremely expensive and highly sought after by vintage toy collectors.

But in 1966, Shopper’s World had all of the Captain Action stuff a kid could want. And at a pretty cheap price too.

Boy, those were the days!

BURO Editors’ Note: Frank Campbell is known to film fans as the writer of the film notes for the Paramount Summer Classic Film Series in Austin, Texas. Frank authors a very popular blog – Frank The Movie Watcher, Book Lover, Pop Culture Fan and we strongly encourage you to visit it!

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Need Glass?

By Steve Cook – BURO Editor

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Texas Mirrors & Doors at 5508 Burnet Road

I live in a 41 year old house and I’m constantly finding little fixer-upper jobs for myself.  Recently the handle on my shower’s sliding glass door came off and when I tried to repair it I found that the end caps’ threads were stripped.

I’m pretty sure those end caps are 41 years old also!  I took the handle to Lowe’s and was told that the end caps were a specialty item that very few hardware stores carry.  Fortunately for me the guy at Lowe’s told me about a window and glass place ‘somewhere south of 183’ on Burnet Road.  After a quick Google search I motored over to Texas Mirrors & Doors at 5508 Burnet Road.

I was immediately greeted by a friendly employee who took a look at the end caps I was trying to replace.  She and Alex starting digging through a large file cabinet drawer filled with all kinds of end caps, but alas – nothing like the ones I needed.

Alex offered to order the parts for me and said he would call me when they came in.  Two days later I got the call and went back, along with my shower handle.  When I tried to insert the new end caps they wouldn’t quite fit.  The owner, Mr. Juarez, gave it a try and ran into the same problem.  He then took the time to hand trim the new end caps and attach them to the handle for me.

With my restored handle in hand I asked what I owed – ‘Nothing!’ was their reply.  This is what I call old-school customer service.  Not only is the entire staff friendly, they go the extra mile to make sure their customers are happy.

I can assure you if I ever need anything glass or mirror related, Texas Mirrors & Doors will be my first stop!

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Mexicana y Americana on Burnet Road

By Frank Campbell – Frank The Movie Watcher, Book Lover, Pop Culture Fan

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Clint Eastwood talks to the trees at the Americana Theater on Burnet Road

There are three places that I want to mention today, only one of which is actually on Burnet Road. The other two are very close by and are important to the history of the area.

The first is the long gone El Chico’s Mexican restaurant, located at the southwest corner of Burnet and Hancock. Uncle Billy’s is the current resident of this building but back in the 1960s, El Chico restaurants were everywhere. I think the first Mexican food I ever ate was at the old El Chico’s in Hancock Shopping Center.

Heading west on Hancock from Burnet, there’s the recently closed Jorge’s, another Mexican restaurant (but far better than El Chico!). Jorge’s closed earlier this year and a new restaurant has opened in the building. Sorry, I can’t recall the name of the establishment. I ate many a meal at Jorge’s over the years. When I lived on Placid Place in Central Austin, Jorge’s was the closest and best Mexican restaurant to my house. The food was always good and the margaritas were incredibly potent. Trivia: the building was originally built to house a location of the Montana Mining Company, a steakhouse chain that folded in the ’70s.

Finally, across the street from Jorge’s on the north side of Hancock was the legendary Americana Theatre. It’s now a branch location of the Austin public library but in it’s time, the Americana was the premier first run movie house in Austin. Some of the movies I saw there over the years include: 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY, PATTON, THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK, STAR TREK: THE MOTION PICTURE, THE FRENCH CONNECTION, CHINATOWN, ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO’S NEST, CABARET, GONE WITH THE WIND, HIGH PLAINS DRIFTER, MAROONED, DAS BOOT, ROBOCOP and PAINT YOUR WAGON.

What did you see at the Americana?

BURO Editors’ Note: Frank Campbell is known to film fans as the writer of the film notes for the Paramount Summer Classic Film Series in Austin, Texas. Frank authors a very popular blog – Frank The Movie Watcher, Book Lover, Pop Culture Fan and we strongly encourage you to visit it!

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Handy Andy on Burnet Road

By Terry Porter – native Austinite.

Handy Andy on Burnet Road
Handy Andy on Burnet Road

My first job was at the Handy Andy at North Loop and Burnet Road. The year was 1972 and my dad told me I had to get a summer job since I was 16. My mom had shopped at Handy Andy so I was familiar with the store.

It was mid May and I went by the store after school on a Friday to put in my application, hoping I wouldn’t get hired and not expecting to be interviewed that same day. Unfortunately, the assistant manager handed me the application and suggested I complete it right there. In those days they didn’t ask many questions, probably only if I had been arrested……recently. Stupidly, I said no and he asked me if I could start the next day at 9:00 AM. Great.

I arrived at 9 dressed in the sacker uniform of blue jeans, white long sleeve shirt, and neck tie (underwear optional). I added my own personal touch, white Chuck Taylor’s. The night before my dad taught me the mystical secrets of proper sacking; cans on the bottom of the sack with light weight stuff on top, cold stuff in a separate sack, ice cream double sacked. I had to write it down.

Saturday at the grocery store was the busiest day of the week and I worked my butt off. I brought my lunch and ate in the workers lounge with my cousin who worked there too. Everyone else in the lounge but me smoked and I lost 5% of my lung capacity over my ham sandwich that day. Note to self, eat on the picnic tables outside next Saturday.

Being young and dumb, I never asked when I was supposed to punch out that afternoon. I had never heard of an eight hour workday job. Heck, I didn’t know how to spell job. At about 8:30 PM, the night manager told me that employees who worked until closing at 9 on Saturday’s had to clean out the warehouse (stores were closed on Sundays back then). I said OK and didn’t want to let on I was tired and hungry but he could see I was dragging. He asked me what time I started that day and I said 9 AM. I almost got fired the first day for working too many hours. Never made that mistake again.

I actually enjoyed working at Handy Andy that summer. I even enjoyed carrying groceries for the old women who lived in the French Quarter between the store and Luby’s. It was hard work but I was a member of the working force, earning the generous minimum wage of $1.36 per hour.

Every kid should work at least one summer at a grocery store. Even better if its on Burnet Road.

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Hats and Roast Beef on Burnet Road

By Terry Porter – native Austinite.

Arby's & Hat Creek - then and now on Burnet Road
Arby’s & Hat Creek – then and now on Burnet Road

A relatively new restaurant on Burnet Road is Hat Creek Burgers. I enjoy their hamburgers and grilled chicken burgers. If you like shoe string french fries, they have good ones.

Prior to being Hat Creek, the building for years housed Arby’s. I can’t say that I was a fan but enough people were to keep it open at that location for several decades. A friend of ours worked there while we were in college in the 70’s. I think he was the night, assistant manager (there were two night employees, him and the manager). This friend was not known for his hygiene so I refused to eat there when I visited one night. I guess the manager caught on quickly because our buddy didn’t last there long.

Still not sure how the Burnet Road Arby’s lasted so long.

BTW, there is a new BBQ joint across the street called Dickey’s, I think. I need to try it out.

 

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Burnet Road – Home of the Whopper?

By Frank Campbell – Frank The Movie Watcher, Book Lover, Pop Culture Fan

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Burnet Road Whopper Burger?

I’m not crazy, I promise, but I seem to recall a locally owned hamburger joint at the northwest corner of Burnet and Hancock (just down from the Americana Theater and catty-cornered from Jorge’s) called “Whopperburger”. This was, of course, before the Burger King chain and their trademarked “Whopper” hamburgers entered the Austin market.

Whopperburger featured both drive thru and sit down service, really good (and really big!) burgers and to top it all off, a giant, inflatable chef atop the building.

The business was in operation during the late ’60s, early ’70s. My brother and I used to go there and get burgers to go on Saturday afternoons after we’d spent the morning mowing the grass and working in the yard. Guess who did the most work?

I’m guessing that once Burger King restaurants started opening in Austin in the mid ’70s, Whopperburger’s days were over. But boy, did they have good hamburgers!

Any one else out there recall the giant, inflatable chef on the roof and those wonderful burgers? I can’t be the only person who remembers this place.

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BURO Editors’ Note: Frank Campbell is known to film fans as the writer of the film notes for the Paramount Summer Classic Film Series in Austin, Texas. Frank authors a very popular blog – Frank The Movie Watcher, Book Lover, Pop Culture Fan and we strongly encourage you to visit it!

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Top Drawer on Burnet Road

By Frank Campbell – Frank The Movie Watcher, Book Lover, Pop Culture Fan

I’d like to recognize a business on Burnet Road that is still open and doing business (and doing quite well it appears), rather than some ancient used-to-be that only a handful of people besides myself can still recall.

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Top Drawer Thrift Store at 4902 Burnet Road.

The business is the Top Drawer Thrift Store at 4902 Burnet Road. I don’t know how long it’s been there, seems like forever.  Judy and I went there for our first time earlier this summer and had a great time looking around. The store has tons of great vintage stuff (clothing, housewares, stereo equipment, some books, some DVDs, lots of other odds and ends). I found a way cool vintage bowling shirt that, for five bucks, I couldn’t resist.

The inventory changes constantly, the prices are extremely reasonable and the folks behind the counter friendly and helpful. We had a great time on our first visit to Top Drawer and I guarantee you we’ll be back.

If you’re looking for great vintage material at unbeatable prices, check out Top Drawer Thrift Store.

BURO Editors’ Note: Frank Campbell is known to film fans as the writer of the film notes for the Paramount Summer Classic Film Series in Austin, Texas. Frank authors a very popular blog – Frank The Movie Watcher, Book Lover, Pop Culture Fan and we strongly encourage you to visit it!

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Catfish and Windmills on Burnet Road

By Frank Campbell – Frank The Movie Watcher, Book Lover, Pop Culture Fan

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The Zuider Zee on Burnet Road

Anybody out there remember a Burnet Road seafood restaurant named Zuider Zee? Located where Hancock t-bones into Burnet, this chain seafood restaurant sported a very large, very fake windmill facade in an attempt to look authentic and Dutch-like. And who doesn’t think of the Dutch when they think of quality seafood?

The restaurant opened sometime in the late 1960s and I recall eating there only once. The Zuider Zee restaurant chain soon went out of business and the space re-opened as Bill Martin’s Fourth Edition (there’s another great name for a seafood restaurant). Martin was a restaurant owner out of Fort Worth who expanded into the Austin market in the early 1970s.

Bill Martin’s Fourth Edition featured, somewhat ingenuously, an all-you-can-eat catfish dinner. Terry Porter, Steve Cook and I put that claim to the test one night. We ordered the catfish and once we had received our initial order, we asked the waitress to please bring us another plate of fish. She took her time and finally brought us a plate with a total of three pieces of catfish on it. I guess she figured “three customers, three pieces of fish”. We each took a piece of fish and asked her to bring us some more. We were hungry college students and we could eat a lot of catfish but she refused to bring us an entire plate full of fish for us to consume before bringing more food.

This went on for a while but we didn’t give up. When someone advertises “all-you-can-eat” for us, it meant all we could eat and we were determined to do so.

Bill Martin’s Fourth Edition closed not long afterwards. I don’t know if our voracious appetites played a part in the restaurants’ demise or not. The building housed the offices of several eye doctors for many years and the last time I was in there was to get my eyes examined several years ago.

I drove by the other day and noticed a new structure has been built on the lot. I don’t know what tenants will reside there but at least the building doesn’t have a giant, dorky windmill on the front.

BURO Editors’ Note: Frank Campbell is known to film fans as the writer of the film notes for the Paramount Summer Classic Film Series in Austin, Texas. Frank authors a very popular blog – Frank The Movie Watcher, Book Lover, Pop Culture Fan and we strongly encourage you to visit it!

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Sound Whorehouse on Burnet Road

By Frank Campbell – Frank The Movie Watcher, Book Lover, Pop Culture Fan

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Did you mean “Sound Warehouse” on Burnet Road?

Since I mentioned it in my last post, I thought I’d say a few words about Sound Warehouse (or Sound Whorehouse as it was sometimes referred to) on Burnet Road in Austin, Texas.

I shopped there a lot in the late ’70s and early ’80s. It was a fairly decent record store (remember those?) and when the home video revolution happened in the 1980s, SW was one of the few retail outlets in town that sold pre-recorded, theatrically released movies in both VHS and Beta format. Granted, those babies didn’t come cheap but I do remember buying VHS copies of SUPERMAN, STAR WARS and other titles at Sound Warehouse.

The store also had a small, self-contained section for classical music recordings and during the 15 minutes of my life that I was actually interested in classical music, I bought a few Wagner CDs there (“They’re having a sale on Wagner records, Max, Wagner!”).

The building now houses a Junior League Thrift Shop that Judy and I visited earlier this summer. Didn’t find anything of interest and walked out empty handed.

That never happened when it was Sound Warehouse!

BURO Editors’ Note: Frank Campbell is known to film fans as the writer of the film notes for the Paramount Summer Classic Film Series in Austin, Texas.  Frank authors a very popular blog – Frank The Movie Watcher, Book Lover, Pop Culture Fan and we strongly encourage you to visit it!

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