Unhappy moments at Johnny’s Supper Club

Ernestine and Edward, early 1950s.

Ernestine and Edward, early 1950s.

Today’s photo post is a particularly haunting photograph of my grandmother and her first husband.  Taken sometime in the 1950s, I am distinctly intrigued by how unhappy they both look.  So many questions are brought up: Why are they are so unhappy, for starters.  Were they having an argument?  Why did they consent to having their photo taken if they were so unhappy at that moment?  Why not try to put on a fake smile? Why did they even keep the photo?  (I’m super glad my grandmother did keep it. I don’t have too many photos of her before 1980.) I’m also intrigued by the location of the photo.  They’re eating fried chicken out of a bucket in a diner with ‘Johnny’s Supper Club’ written on the glasses.  They’re dressed up, pretty fancily, too.

After a bit of investigating, I found a ‘Johnny’s Supper Club’ in Raleigh, NC.

Photo courtesy of Goodnight Raleigh.

Photo courtesy of Goodnight Raleigh.

According to Karl Larson over at Goodnight Raleigh- an online magazine bringing the news and history of Raleigh through photographs of the city at night- Johnny’s Supper Club was built in 1948 by Raleigh businessman John W. Griffin.  He also opened up Johnny’s Drive In Grill- ‘Raleigh’s First and Finest’ in 1948, as well as Johnny’s Motor Lodge around 1960.   The Supper Club was sold in 1960 and renamed Black Steer Steakhouse, which caught fire in 1965.

After talking with my mom, I found out that my grandmother and this guy divorced around 1953.  Perhaps they were on the verge of this breakup near the date this photo was taken?  We’ll probably never know.

Further Reading:

Larson, Karl. ‘Johnny’s Drive In Grill- Raleigh’s First and Finest, Raleigh, North Carolina.’ Goodnight Raleigh.  27 April 2012. Web. 28 May 2013




Filed under 1950s, Family History, Photograph

6 responses to “Unhappy moments at Johnny’s Supper Club

  1. Jess A

    It’s so interesting to find old family photographs! My grandparents literally have a trunk full of photos that I was once attempting to sort through and put into some order before their memories of events start to fade.

    • Jealous! I absolutely love old photographs (and trunks!) You should definitely get all the stories from that treasure trove before it’s too late! Good luck!

  2. Jim

    Something that I noticed in the picture is that the Miller Highlife that he is drinking looks exactly the way they do today. Its also cool to see the bottles of canada dry and pabst blue ribbon. To me it looks like someone said “hey look here!” *Click* but then again don’t really know the capability of cameras in that day. Could be more set up required than that. A very cool family treasure in anycase though.

    • Jim- I’m glad you noticed the bottles, too! I was hoping they’d be able to date this photograph when I first hijacked it from my parents’ house, but alas, PBR began in 1844, Canada Dry in 1890, and Miller Highlife in 1903. No luck there 🙂

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