Although the phonebook itself is missing, there are 18 advertisements inside it. He noted that the phone numbers were three and four digit, which is a significant clue within itself. He posted it on Facebook under "You know you grew up in Johnson City if you remember ... "
I had a hint of the year in question because I have several City Directories in my collection. I looked up all 18 businesses and found almost all of them listed in the ... (drum roll) ... 1948 directory.
I copied all the ads to capture the information presented in the old phone book. I have fond memories of patronizing many of them, especially those that peddled scrumptious food.
Let's sit back and take a leisurely sojourn back to 1948 when I was 5 years old living in the Gardner Apartments. Thank you, Jim, for posting this directory and challenging us to identify the years:
1. Southern Maid, It's Homogenized: Ice Cream Manufacturers, Milk, Cream Butter and Cottage Cheese. 500 South Roan, Phones 5109 and 8, 1948. (See photo)
2. The Spot Steakhouse: Two Blocks East of Hotel, Serving Delicious Steaks Cooked In A Charcoal Oven Over Hickory Charcoal, Genuine Italian Spaghetti, Special Salads, Jumbo Shrimp, Lobster Tails, Country Ham, Southern Fried Chicken, Air Conditioned Dining Room, Paved Drive-In, Phone 640, 421 E. Main Street, 1948.
3. The Bonnie Kate Beauty and Cosmetic Shop: Mr. Armando, "Nationally Known Hair Specialist," The Bonnie Kate Beauty and Cosmetic Shop, John Sevier Hotel Building, Phones 161 & 300, Johnson City, Tenn., Recommended By This Hotel. 1948.
4. Cash & Haul: Wholesale Grocers. 1948.
5. Cradle Shop: Complete Line, "Maternity" and Children's Wear, "Only 25 Steps From The Hotel," 309 S. Roan Street, Phone 2585, Johnson City, Tenn., "One Stop - One Shop," Recommended By Our Hotel. 1948.
6. J.E. Green: General Contractor, Building, Excavating, Dozer, Shovel & Crane Work, Basement Work, "No Job Too Large, No Job Too Small," Division Street, Phone 707. 1948.
7. Johnson City Steam Laundry: One Day Service, Member Of American Institute of Laundering, 1948. Launderers- Cleaners- Dryers, Phone 3688.
8. Pet Dairy Products Co.: (see photo 2), 1948.
9. Seven Hour Laundry Service: French, Dry Cleaning and Laundry Corporation, Opposite John Sevier Hotel, Established Over Quarter Century, W.M. Watkins, President, Recommended By This Hotel. (later became French Dry Cleaners).
10. B.&B. Produce Co.: Fruits and Vegetables, Phones - Day-755 --Night-371-J. 1948.
11. Dixie Drive-In Restaurant: Specializing in Fried Chicken - Italian Spaghetti - Steaks - Sea Food, Special Luncheons -- Special Dinners, 425 E. Main Street, Johnson city, Tenn., Open 10:00 A.M. , Closes 12:00 Midnight, Call 1681. 1948.
12. Hertz Driv-Ur-Self Service: Delbert Frye - Licensee, Office: Tri-City Airport, Phone 588, Johnson City, Phone 2779, Cars Delivered To Any Points In Johnson City - Kingsport - Bristol, Street Address: 906 Claiborne Street, Prompt And Courteous Service, Recommended By This Hotel. 1948.
13. Whitlow Sign Company: Estimates Gladly Given, Neon And Painted Signs, Phone 154, 108 Tipton St., Recommended By This Hotel. 1948.
14. Commercial Refrigeration Company: Distributed For Frigidaire Commercial Air Conditioning, Sales And Service, Sales Office, 405 E. Chilhowie Ave., Telephone 2236, Johnson City, Tenn. 1948.
15. Yellow Cab: "The Thinking Fellow Calls A Yellow," Enjoy Personal Transportation That Is Courteous- Economical. Efficient, Special Rates For Out-Of-Town Trips, Call Desk For Service, Phone 5252, E. Market Street. 1948.
16. Peerless Steak House: Number 1: 320 W. Market Street, Number 2: Kingsport Highway, Famous For Fine Foods, Choice Western Steaks, Shrimp Cocktail, Southern Fried Chicken, Delicious Combination Salads, Private Dining Rooms, Special Accommodations For Private Parties And Banquets, Call 2007 Or 1313, Ample Parking Space, Jim Kalogeros, Proprietor, Recommended By This Hotel. 1948.
17. Noland Company Incorporated: Distributors, Electrical, Refrigeration, Plumbing, Heating, Industrial Supplies, Phone 2542, W. Walnut St., Johnson City, Tenn., Recommended By This Hotel. 1948.
18. Miller & Keezel: Paint And Body Shop, 24-Hour Wrecker Service, 830 West Market Street, Phone 3787, Specializing In All Types Of Fender And Body Repairs For All Makes Of Cars, All Work Guaranteed. 1948.
And the winner is ... 1948.
Reach Bob Cox at firstname.lastname@example.org or www.bcyesteryear.com.