How Different Things Were In Austin Back In 1960

A while back on another group I’m on, we were commenting about Bruce’s & Barnett’s Pies made me think about the other things that were happening around Austin around that same time. It made me realize how simple our lives were five and half decades ago.

The selections of eateries was really limited, but people didn’t eat out very often. Eating out was a special occasion instead of a way of life. My first memory of eating in a real restaurant was when I was 6 or 7. We were traveling home to Jollyville and it was getting late so we stopped at Hill’s Cafe on South Congress. We each got steaks, small cuts most likely, that they called their “Sizzler”. I still remember the sound those hot metal plates of steak made. An occasional trip to 2-J’s Burgers was the only other eating out I remember back in that time period.

Most all shopping was still done downtown. Capitol Plaza was coming but didn’t open until 1961 or 1962. Hancock Center came into being in the middle of that decades, but Highland Mall didn’t appear until the early 70s.

Then there was the issue of cars. There were only the big 4 car companies. That is if one considered American Motors – Rambler a real car company.
In Austin I can’t really remember who the Rambler dealer was in the 60’s.
General Motors had Capital Chevrolet and Covert Oldmobile, Buick and Cadillac, both downtown on 5th Street.

Simmons Motor Company was the Plymouth and maybe they also carried Dodge and Chrysler Automobiles. They were up around 10th and Lamar.

The Ford Dealer was Armstrong-Johnson (now Lief Johnson). It was way out north on Lamar, just south of Airport Blvd.

Roy Butler started his Lincoln – Mercury business in 1960.

Foreign cars were mostly limited to Volkswagen and Datsun. VW was either the small doodle bug car or a VW Bus. Datsun was mostly a sub par vehicle with lots of mechanical problems. A decade later they would be rebranded Nissan, to help escape an earlier bad reputation. Honda only made motorcycles and wouldn’t enter the car market for another decade.

The 1960 census listed the population of Austin at 186,545. So it wasn’t a small place back then. People’s buying habits and customs were just so much different back then. Five decades later the population of Austin was just over 4 times as large, but look at the difference in places to eat, shop and entertain ourselves.

Yes, I’d say things have really changed.

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