July 10, 2019
Writer: Jaime Strobel
The Public History class at BYU-Idaho is opening its latest exhibit and has released its first podcast season called Remembering Rexburg.
The students and their teacher, Roger Wiblin, have researched buildings that have disappeared from Rexburg over the years. This first season talks about buildings such as the old Spori Building, Shirley's Drive-In, the original Madison Memorial Hospital, Washington Elementary School, the women's dorms at Ricks College, Food Center, and the Kirkham Building at BYU-Idaho set to be demolished this year.
The class has also created an exhibit in the Special Collections area of the David O. McKay Library at BYU-Idaho. Go to the second floor and you'll find it between the Iron Acorn Press and the Academic Support Center. The open house for the exhibit is Thursday, July 11 from 2 - 4 p.m. The exhibit runs through July 23.
An example of the stories they tell is about a family favorite restaurant called Shirley’s.
Shirley’s Drive-In restaurant will forever be remembered for its crinkled fries and the best burger in town---The Rexburger.
Doug Ladle, a local resident of Rexburg recalls his mother always taking him and his friends to Shirley’s after every baseball game to get their hamburger and fries.
“It had just the right amount of mustard and onions…it was perhaps our favorite,” he said. “We had to eat four or five of those if we could.”
Others in the community felt similar feelings toward the restaurant.
Merrill Moore said, “I’ll never forget Rexburgers. Have not been able to duplicate the taste yet, and still haven’t found anything just like the Rexburger.”
The mint chocolate chip ice cream sandwiches is something Alesia Matthews Winters remembers. Her dad would buy them by the dozen and hide them in the freezer.
In 1947, Fred Shirley and his son Henry operated the restaurant and grocery store. Henry managed the store with Floyd Keith and Verla Parkinson, while Fred and his wife, Rachel, managed the drive-in.
On June 5, 1976, tragedy struck when the Teton Dam broke. It left many homes and businesses desolate due to the flooding, one of them being Shirley’s.
This left many people in Rexburg devastated.
Rhonda Munns wishes Shirley’s was still around, and Diane Perry misses it every day.
“Even though Shirley’s was washed away with the Teton flood, which claimed so many memorable buildings, its essence is captured in the hearts and minds of those old enough to recall that small brown and white building known as Shirley’s Drive-In and Grocery,” Lee Karcher, a student at BYU-Idaho said.
Shirley’s was similar to an old style Dairy Queen. It had a window where people could drive through and order. Their fries were freshly cut, the burgers were fresh and the milkshakes were hand made. The restaurant used to stand close to where the Pizza Hut is currently built.
“While the location of Shirley’s may be gone the memories created by its presence, the smells and tastes associated with its food, will last for some time to come,” Karcher said.