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Ailes' Market, 3123 Beltline Boulevard: 1980s (?)   17 comments

Posted at 11:30 pm in Uncategorized

This post comes from reader Dennis. I know of the building, but that area wasn't really in our orbit growing up, and I don't think we ever stopped at Ailes':

I took these photos today. Not really a timely "Closing," just some nostalgic rambling.

This building at 3123 Beltline was Roche Brothers last summer, and is now Taste of Jamaica, but it will always be Ailes' Market to me. I lived about two blocks away from about 1967 to 1979, from ages 10 to 22, and Mr. Ailes lived right around the corner from us. My mother didn't drive, and didn't have a car even if she could have, so I was almost daily sent to Ailes' to get something or another. I didn't mind at all. It was a chance to get out of the house, and Ailes' had a wonderful candy aisle. It was understood that when I went on a errand there, some of the change would get spent on candy. We also did a lot of wash at the laundromat that was directly across Beltline; same building that is now a sad looking office center. That laundromat was dim and dirty, loud and hot (no A.C.) but only a block from the house.

Ailes' was a typical general store/gas station of the time, before giant national conglomerates put a Fast Fare or a Pantry (like the one to the left of it now) on every corner. Also before I-77 was even thought of, so a LOT of big semi-trucks rattled down Beltline day and night. Mr. Ailes alone decided what he would sell, and he had a little bit of everything. Rat traps to onions. Velveeta to plastic model kits. Spark plugs to tampons. Of interest to a kid like me, in addition to the candy, was the fireworks he had, the excellent comic book rack, the baked snacks like Little Debbie's and Mickey's and Sweet Sixteen donuts that were always fresh and delicious, not like the awful mess you often get today.

Mr. Ailes held court at the front, on the left as you came in, on a wooden bar stool behind his cash register. He had an anti-burglary shotgun prominently displayed on the wall behind him, right next to that sign about "We made a deal with the bank - they don't sell beer and we don't cash checks." There was also a board of shame displaying checks written to the store that had bounced, and of course the faded Polaroids of regular customers holding fish they had caught using his worms.

On the other side of the counter, also on wooden bar stools, were three or four men who were either unemployed or retired or had the greatest unsupervised jobs in the world, because they were always there, chain smoking and drinking beer. I guess one of them was his gas attendant. On the counter was the requisite gallon jar of homemade pickled eggs and a clipboard with a college football parlay card on it. One dollar per square. Also on the counter was this big can-opening device that pierced two perfect triangles in steel beer cans (I know -- I'm old.) The beer came out of one of three big, old, heavy coolers with solid steel lids. If you opened one and "shopped" too long you'd get yelled at to close it. In addition to popsicles and the menfolks' PBR and Old Milwaukee, they had ICE cold Coke, Pepsi, Mountain Dew (in the green glass bottle with the hillbilly moonshiner on it), Nehi, Fanta, Patio, and Crush.

Next to his seated entourage Mr. Ailes had three or four old fashioned pinball machines -- not fun games with flippers, but just a bunch of holes for the balls to fall into. If you won you got 5¢ (or was it a penny?) per point right out of the cash register. I never understood it and it was clear that they were for adults only.

Speaking of adults only, while I was in the right front corner reading comics, and MAD, and Cracked, and Sick, and later National Lampoon, (He didn't care how long I loitered in the store) I soon discovered a section of the trashiest, sleaziest black & white smut magazines imaginable, which he would yell at me not to look at, but of course many times I did anyway. Warped for life.

In the back left corner was a snack bar that had decent fries, burgers and dogs, cooked up by a nice little old man with the sweats and the shakes who was clearly a struggling alcoholic. We went there on hot summer days after swimming across the street at the Bradley Terrace Pool (Restricted -- Whites only) which was where that small nursing home is now. I remember seeing my first microwave oven at that snack bar.

If you went outside to the right there was a pretty nice two chair barbershop way in the back corner of the building (see the door in the photo?). The building next door was Diamond Xanthakis' liquor store, or a "red dot" store to us.

A Hess station was built on the other side of the store, overnight it seemed, and as you might expect it killed Ailes' gas sales and he got rid of his two pumps. Not sure what year Mr. Ailes sold the store. It struggled on for a long time as a out of date convenience store.

Thanks, Dennis -- Ted

Written by ted on January 6th, 2009

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17 Responses to 'Ailes' Market, 3123 Beltline Boulevard: 1980s (?)'

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  1. never heard of the place but great job of writing about it. I felt like I was there with you.

    Mr Bill

    7 Jan 09 at 4:13 pm

  2. Thanks, Mr. Bill.
    This site is all about internal time travel. Glad I could take you along.


    8 Jan 09 at 9:35 am

  3. I bought many a pack of smokes from Ailes. I was never questioned when I bought rolling papers to roll my own. It was pretty obvious that the tobacco of choice was funny weed. But an ID was always required to buy beer or wine. The regular drunks are one of the memories of the place. They always made me nervous upon entering and leaving the store. I was a scrawny teenager and these were seemingly rough and tumble 40 something year olds. The store manager would keep them in check since I was one of his best customers. Back then a pack smokes could be had for 35 cents, an affordable pleasure for a poor teenager. The place went by the wayside seemingly overnight.


    9 Jan 09 at 2:07 pm

  4. We lived up the street from Ailes. Sometimes my mother would ask me to go there to pick up an ingredient for dinner, etc. As a teenage girl, I hated going down there. From the descriptions of others I guess you can see why!


    12 Jan 09 at 10:00 pm

  5. Dennis, kind of late on this but you wrote a great narrative for Ailes. Just as I remember it. Though I didn't spend as much time there as you obviously did as a kid, my father with me in tow would stop by for some PBR with the boys from time to time, and then when I got old enough to buy beer (18 years old at that time), I would stop by for a six-pack every once in a while. When I was younger I had my hair cut at the barbershop, one of many in the vicinity that my father and I would patronize. Thanks for the time traveling.

    Since you mentioned Bradley Terrace, it also had a Putt-Putt golf course, and I was surprised that no one mentioned it in the discussion on Putt-Putt courses. Many fun times either swimming in the pool or playing Putt-Putt. Not sure when the Putt-Putt closed, but I did go there once half-lit with some friends when I first started drinking and attempted to play, and that would have been in the early to mid '70s. And to bring it home, for the last year of her life, my grandmother was in the nursing home that took the place of the Bradley Terrace Park not too very long after it became a nursing home.

    Michael Taylor

    17 Oct 09 at 2:18 am

  6. Thanks for the great memories of Ailes market. I lived on Bonner ave. and also on Dubard st. for many years. Lots of great memories and good times in that area. Not an upper-middle class neighborhood but wouldn't trade the fun and great memories of growing up there.


    10 May 10 at 11:56 am

  7. Sammy -- were you one of us that got caught up in school rezoning/desegregation in the 70s and wound up at C.A. Johnson? Even though we had always thought we were headed to Flora?


    10 May 10 at 3:14 pm

  8. yep, i was one of the "lucky" ones who wound up at C. A. Johnson for 3 years. From a Falcon to a green hornet. I Lived on Dubard right behind Midland Shopping center.


    11 May 10 at 11:24 am

  9. Dennis, I graduated from Johnson in 1974. what year did you graduate? Your last name wouldn't happen to begin with a C would it?


    11 May 10 at 2:43 pm

  10. Dennis
    That was a great post. While growing up in the 'burbs of SE Columbia I didn't get to the Beltline area much but we had stores like Ailes also. Great places to hang out and some of the education gained was priceless. So are the memories.


    12 May 10 at 5:09 am

  11. Sammy -- yes that's me. The tall skinny long-haired hippie. I graduated in '75.

    Is Reggie your brother? I talked to him at the fair a couple of years ago.


    12 May 10 at 6:07 am

  12. Dennis, Good to hear from someone from the old neighborhood. Ahhh, the good ole long-haired hippie days of the 70's. I got several brothers and you're talking about Ronnie not reggie but i understand how our memories get a little fuzzy from the "good times" we had back in our day.


    12 May 10 at 12:12 pm

  13. Sammy -- well you know why I got his name wrong -- it's because everyone called him Cooter.


    13 May 10 at 6:11 am

  14. Yep you're right Dennis, Everybody called him cooter but i always had other names for him. Being my little brother and all.....


    13 May 10 at 12:51 pm

  15. I grew up on Burley court back in the days you could send your 10 yr old to Ailes by himself with 35 cents to buy a newspaper. We used to pick up pop bottles from the side of the road and sell them for 3 cents each to buy candy, and quarters went a long way on the candy ailse back then. Thanks for the great description and memories.

    Keith (Looney)

    24 Apr 11 at 10:57 pm

  16. I share similar memories of Aile's, like bringing in bottles to sell and buying lots of comic books there. I remember a sign saying "Please do not read books or magazines unless you buy." There was also a boy who worked there who, if you did try to take a peek, would say, "You gonna buy them books?" I remember bringing in the Pepsi bottle caps that said "You have won a free Pepsi" under the cork lining.

    The first self service gas I remember was there. The clerk had to talk to you through the intercom before he could start the pump.

    Dennis and Sammy, I think I knew both of you back then. Michael, I just followed up on some of your comments about the Hi Hatt on Forest Drive and the movie scenes made there.

    Ronald Anders

    10 Aug 11 at 1:04 am

  17. In 1992 I briefly lived a couple of blocks from here and would stock up on boiled Peanuts, as he had a big industrial cooker and a propane tank that he would park out the front door with a painted sheet of plywood that had 'BOILED P NUTS' painted in block print.


    18 May 13 at 1:50 pm

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