Mariettans to celebrate 5th Varner Reunion
by Leo Hohmann
April 24, 2013 12:06 AM | 2563 views | 0 0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
William ‘Bill’ Spinks drives a Ford Model A in a photo taken in 1967 on the wedding day of his daughter, Patsy. Spinks will be the guest of honor at this year’s Varner Reunion at American Legion Post 29.<br>Special to the MDJ
William ‘Bill’ Spinks drives a Ford Model A in a photo taken in 1967 on the wedding day of his daughter, Patsy. Spinks will be the guest of honor at this year’s Varner Reunion at American Legion Post 29.
Special to the MDJ
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The grounds of the American Legion Post 29 might resemble a set for the 1970’s sitcom “Happy Days” this Saturday from 5 to 11 p.m.

That’s when a group of longtime Marietta residents will come together to celebrate the fifth annual Varner Reunion.

The American Legion grounds will be filled with music, memorabilia, old cars and lots of stories being swapped among people with one thing in common — a love of everything Marietta.

Varner’s was a restaurant and drive-in theater that operated on Roswell Road from about 1952 to 1966, when it was torn down. The reunion is a celebration of the times back then and all that Marietta has become since, say the organizers.

“The first year we expected 100 people and we had 400 turn out,” said Paul Roper, one of the original cast of characters who celebrates the annual Varner Reunion.

Since then, it’s only grown, with more entertainment and even its own website, varnerreunion2013.com. There will be lots of music, as well as old photos and cars on display.

This year’s guest of honor will be World War II veteran Bill Spinks, 93, who is a lifetime resident of Marietta.

“Bill gave more to his country than most realize,” said Monte Calhoun, one of the event organizers. “Bill is a local legend. At 93 he is still going strong, and it is a great honor ... and a whole lot of fun to have him be with us this year.”

The featured entertainment will be Elvis impersonator Chuck Ayers of Charlotte, N.C.

As for the Varner establishment that serves as the inspiration for the reunion, it may no longer be up and running, but in the minds of those who grew up here, it remains as real as the Big Chicken, The Strand Theatre or any other Marietta landmark.

“Varner’s was the place to be in the 50s and 60s,” Calhoun said. “This was a special time in America and in Marietta in particular. We had just gone through the era of two major wars, and the economy was picking up a bit. The day had just passed when only the rich had a T set and very few households owned two automobiles.”

To go to the movies cost about 14 cents, and this was the only place you could enjoy air-conditioning.

Marietta, before Elvis had ever set foot on a stage, enjoyed the sounds of Bill Hayley, Big Joe Turner and Hank Ballard and the Midnighters.

“Varners was where most of us congregated and enjoyed these great new sounds,” Calhoun said. “This year we are celebrating old friendships, music, and Marietta in general at the Varner Reunion.”

The event will be at the American Legion at 921 Gresham Ave., Marietta. Tickets will be available at the door for $15. The public is welcome. Refreshments will be served.
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