Those simple times were in the 1950s, the go-to decade of simple times. The drive-in trying to sell you burgers was the Howdy Pardner Drive-In, located on Fairview Avenue, kind of kitty-corner from where KTVB is today. In the 50s a parking lot for the Western Idaho Fair was across the street from the drive-in, so advertising mentioned that the establishment was on Highway 30 across from the fairgrounds.
And, they did a lot of advertising, much of it aimed at letting people know what was going on up on the roof (cue the Drifters). That roof extended out over the cars pulled up to order from the curbside menu boards ready to serve drivers. It doubled as a stage for acrobatic artists, a tiny tots style show, 11-year old local TV and radio singer Gene Capps, spring follies, tap dancers, a ballet, the Twisters “teenage jazzmen,” ventriloquists, and the “Miss Howdy Pardner” contests in two divisions, one for those 3-5 years old and the other for girls 3-18. One hundred and fifty students in costume from the Maysco school of dance in Nampa gave a recital on the roof in June, 1955.
The “stage in the air” was well used, mostly on Wednesday and Thursday evenings from 1952 into the late 50s when owner Al Travlestead sold out to Chuck Peterson. Peterson kept the rooftop stage performances going for a few years, but they stopped after Ed Pollard took over the operation in 1962, bringing to an end the “roof shows.”
It was years later that we learned the true reason the Howdy Partner went out of business. Al Travlestead, the marketing genius behind the Show on the Roof, left town in a hurry because he was about to get caught up in the infamous Boys of Boise scandal. For most, this came to light for the first time in the documentary The Fall of ’55. In 2022, Tom Ford and Alex Syiek premiered the musical The Show on the Roof that took a loving look at Travlestead and the Howdy Partner.
Totally gratuitous sidebar: Delene Strawn, 17, Boise, drove into the Howdy Pardner, 5250 Fairview, and knocked her sister, Mrs. Elaine Doris, 18, a curb girl taking a break and seated on a chair, through a plate glass window. Strawn’s brakes apparently failed. Mrs. Doris was treated for cuts and bruises. That the two were sisters was apparently just one of those serendipitous tricks the universe plays on car hops from time to time.