Patti Campbell Williams remembers putting on her purple socks.
It was the early 1970s and the junior high student was going to her first concert at the Hampton Coliseum: The Osmond Brothers.
She went with a classmate and her sister’s friend, she said. They wore purple socks to match Donny Osmond’s.
Now 60, Williams left Hampton Roads in 1992 and lives in Johnson City, Tennessee. Still, she remembers that concert and the classmate. The two reconnected about seven years ago after Williams joined a Facebook group called “I Grew up in Norfolk.”
“I was scrolling through the page and that name looked familiar, so I messaged her,” Williams said. “That was the first concert we went to and we still talk about that to this day.”
The group was started in 2010 and has over 34,000 members. If you scroll through, you’re likely to see photos of old shops and restaurants like the Giant Open Air Market or High’s Ice Cream. Group members reminisce about the rotisserie barbecue chicken, donuts and banana splits they’d eat back in the day.
Some folks ask about friends they haven’t seen in decades in hopes of finding them. It’s becoming pretty common, said Jimmy Carr, who runs the group with his wife Lu Ann and three other people.
“Quite a few of our members have relocated and rekindled long lost friendships,” said Carr, who’s from Norfolk but now lives in Currituck, North Carolina.
The Carrs started the group after Lu Ann joined a similar one for Virginia Beach. Jimmy thought they needed one for Norfolk, too. The group has become a “history lesson,” he said.
“Our city has changed quite a bit,” he said. “It’s good to have a place where memories are shared with all members. Old and younger alike. Many have reconnected with friends specifically through our site.”
Sisters Debbie Watson Stagner and Terrie Watson Castleberry can attest to it. Now 64 and 62, they spent the 1960s and early ’70s living in Chesapeake, Virginia Beach and Norfolk, including Glenrock Road near Military Circle Mall.
The mall was one of their favorite spots.
“It was brand new then,” said Debbie. “They had an arcade and a Woolworth’s store and a lot of places to eat. We kept that mall full.”
Debbie remembers working at the Waffle House on Military Highway and stopping to get gas before heading to the Ocean View Amusement Park with her sister and friends.
“They said the roller coaster there was the second largest wooden roller coaster in the world,” Terrie said. “It went out over the water and they made a movie when they tore it down.”
On Saturday nights, they’d go to dances at the Davis Corner Volunteer Fire Department just off Virginia Beach Boulevard.
“There were many times that we’d get a carload and even get a truck to go the drive-in movie theater,” Debbie said. “It was right there across the road by Janaf Shopping Center.”
Debbie moved to Oklahoma in 1973 and her family followed three months later, she said. Terrie came back to Norfolk, but she too left for good eventually.
The sisters now live together in Smithville, Texas, they said. Since joining the Norfolk group and another called “I Grew up in Glenrock,” they’ve reconnected with around 50 people.
“It’s typically the same people in both groups and it kind of bled over to the Norfolk one,” Debbie said.
Two years ago, they came back for a Glenrock reunion and cooked out in Ocean View. For the first time in nearly 46 years, they spent time with their old friends. They talk regularly and some have visited them in Texas, they said.
“It was just so much fun getting back with them,” Terrie said. “It’s like time had just stood still. It was like we had picked right back up from yesterday.”
Saleen Martin, 757-446-2027, firstname.lastname@example.org
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