Harvest Time

Block Number: 59


By Ginger Todd

With Fall upon us, the timing was perfect for Mike Lucas to install the Harvest Drive-In restaurant’s quilt block “Harvest Time.” On the morning of September 30, Number 59 in the McDowell Quilt Trail collection graced the drive-in’s south wall, complimenting its well-recognized motif of colorful autumn leaves, the trademark of Harvest Drive In, Inc. Bob and Mack Gaddy, owners, as well as several employees, attended the presentation of the Certificate of Authenticity by Jill Lucas. Bob Gaddy said the decision was made to become a part of the Trail after suggestions from his wife and employees, urging that it would further enhance the restaurant’s 48-year history in McDowell County.

John Lancaster constructed the building in 1962. It was, however, in 1974 that Bob Gaddy resigned his position as a North Carolina Wildlife Protection Agent, and along with his brother Mack Gaddy, purchased the business, which has remained a landmark in Marion for the last 36 years. The previous owner employed Vada Gaddy, mother of the Gaddy brothers, before her sons attained the business. Mrs. Gaddy still works a few hours each day, now making it a total of 45 years having worked there.

This unique style of drive-in restaurants became most popular in the “fabulous fifties” as people liked the idea of speedy service and the concept of being served in their cars. The slender, cute “car hops” or “curb girls,” as they were called, took the orders and always reminded the passengers to be sure to roll the window up at least half way to accommodate the special food trays that would hang from them. Shortly, she would return with the drinks and meal. Drive-in restaurants shared the same era as the popular drive-in movie theaters, and are remembered by many with nostalgia as being part of the “cruising circuit” and local hangout spots for meeting up with friends. By the 1970s drive-ins were on the way out and fond memories became a bygone time, as drive-through window services, such as McDonalds, replaced them. There are few remaining milestone drive-in restaurants existing today, most of which are found in small towns with local ownership, although updated drive-ins, such as Sonic, seem to be making somewhat of a comeback.

The Harvest House Drive-In is a heartfelt reminder for many of those “fabulous fifties” days. One can still drive in and eat in the car, like in years gone by, now modernized by placing your order over the phone situated at each station, and the food is hand delivered to the car. Window trays are no longer in use, but patrons also have the choice of entering the building and choosing from an array of booths. After removing the menu from the wall pocket, an adjacent phone is used to transmit the order, and with speedy service, the meal and check are soon delivered.

The interior décor is quaint, with older photos of McDowell High School cheerleaders and football players adorning the walls along with other local trivia. The menu has a wide variety of food items from which to choose, as well as good soup and salad bars. The prices are reasonable and a private upstairs room is available for larger parties. Meals are served Monday through Saturday; however, their motto remains “Never on Sunday.”

The installation of the “Harvest Time” block further adds to the interesting stories associated with the various colorful patterns along the McDowell Quilt Trail throughout the county. “Harvest Time” may be seen, while traveling north, at 861 Main Street. The block’s title was chosen to synchronize with the restaurant’s long-standing name. Each of the four corners of the 4’ x 4’ block has a design resembling a maple leaf, formed from trapezoids and triangles, in color tones of light green, orange, maroon and taupe. The center consists of a square, representing the restaurant, and is contained within two larger squares in colors of cinnamon and beige. Four black stems extending from the four corners of the center square curve outward and connect with each of the four maple leaves. The colors are displayed on a brilliant yellow background with the outer borders in beige.

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