Recalling Jiffy Burger, Science Hill High School’s “J” Club”

Lewis Brown commented on my Nov. 21 reader response column in which Thomas Beckner mentioned the Krystal-type hamburger place in Johnson City that was across from the old Hamilton Bank building on E. Main. Tom believed the burgers were five or ten cents each. He said he could still recall the smell of the place.

“The restaurant Tom spoke of,” said Lewis, “was called the Jiffy Burger and the hamburgers cost seven cents each. What a deal. I believe it was open for about a year around 1955. About the time they closed, Dairy Queen started selling their famous little burgers for 10 cents. They ran weekly specials that sometimes included pricing them at a dollar a dozen.”

Louis remembered the business being a simple layout in a building that was long and narrow. When a customer entered the front door, he or she approached a small counter with a small grill beside it for placing an order. A man, whom Brown believed was the owner, poured oil on the grill, added chopped onions, placed burgers on top of the onions and cooked them. Within a couple of minutes, the mouth-watering products were done. While they were grilling, he heated the buns on the corner of the grill. The burgers were square and wrapped in paper. Each one was garnished with mustard and two thin-sliced pickles.

Brown surmised that the location was probably the same one that once operated as Harrison’s Jewelers (201 E. Main, adjacent to Anderson Drug Store). He first heard about the restaurant from some of the older kids in his neighborhood and checked it out on his next trip downtown, which included a trip to the movies. He was not disappointed. He believed he was with Mark McCown or Mackey Therrell.

He speculated that the enterprise failed because it was located on Main Street that presented significant competition from other eateries in the immediate area. He wondered how a 7-cent burger could have generated very much profit.

On another subject, I received a package in the mail from York Trivette, who was my contributor for the Hart’s Jewelers column in May 2009. “I’m sending you,” he said, “a picture of the ‘J’ Club of Science Hill High School from The Wataugan yearbook of 1942 for your consideration of using it in a future heritage column.

“The ‘J’ Club was composed of boys who earned the letter for meeting certain goals in one or more of the various athletic events such as basketball, football, baseball, tennis or track. Today, the boys receive an ‘SH’ instead of just a ‘J’. They probably also get a jacket.” York noted that the photo was taken a few months before most all of the boys entered the armed forces. The country was at war.

Trivette related that the school was referred to then as Johnson City High School, rather than Science Hill High School as it is today. He recalled a favorite cheer used by the cheerleaders: “Are we in it? Yes, I guess. JCHS. Yes, yes, yes.”

Trivette identified several of the boys in the photo and hoped that some of my readers, who are children or grandchildren of a student pictured, might identify one of those noted with a question mark and a number.

First row (l to r): Ralph Carmichael, (?1), Terry Epperson, (?2), York Trivette, Fred Frazier, Red Caughron, (?3), Carlyle Dowdy, (?4).

Second row: (?5), Charlie Johnson, (?6), Buddy Price, (?7), Buford Goldstein, (?8), Roy Holloway, Donnie Miller, Charles Ray Alexander.

Third row: Jay Tipton, (?9), Randall Walters, Coach Denver Dyer, Coach Howard Dyer and Buddy Poole.

Forward any names you can identify and I will share them with York and also incorporate in a future column.