Located in Cartersville, Georgia, at the corner of East Main Street (Hwy 41) and Gilmer Street,the “4-Way”, as the locals called it, has been there since 1931. I painted the painting in about 1984, when I was exhibiting in art shows in the area. It was one of my most popular paintings of the time.
The 4-Way was small, but it had front doors and a side door. Before desegregation, the black folks were not allowed in the front, so they had their own eating area, where they use the side door. as you entered through the front doors, you noticed there were no tables, just 8 stools across the front of the counter. They may have had 2 or 3 at the end of the counter, but the always seemed to be full. Their menu was simple with hot dogs, hamburgers and fried chicken. Their gravy burgers, you had to eat with a fork. I enjoyed watching them make the chili dogs, The cook lined up all the hot dogs up and down his arm and look a ladle and filled them with the chili.
The 4-way was not a place for a leisure lunch with friends and conversation. When you finished eating, you had to leave, to let the next person come in and have a place to sit. It was quite an experience.
It is located just off I-75 about 40 miles north of Atlanta. It’s well worth the experience.
I was told by an Eastern Airlines Pilot, many years ago, that when flying into Atlanta, Georgia, when he saw the big chicken, he knew when to start his descent into Hartsfield Airport. The Big Chicken was 68 feet high. The eye rolled around and the tail feather on the back of its head went up and down. It was called “Johnny Rebels, Chick, Chuck and Shake.” You can just about guess what they served.
When I arrived in Marietta, in 1983, the building was occupied by Kentucky Fried Chicken. Many years later, when the mechanisms no longer worked, they decided to tear the building down, but the community response convinced to rebuild the chicken. The building now is just slightly shorter, but now everything has been rebuilt and updated into working order. They even have a spiked roof, so the birds wouldn’t perch on top of it. You can see the building at the corner of Hwy 41 and Roswell Road, in Marietta, Georgia.
When I painted the picture, I had already taken photos of the original Big Chicken, so I decided to use that version to paint
When exhibiting at Art Shows and Festivals, I tried to have a painting that the locals could identify with, so I would scan the area after the shows and take pictures of interesting places. I had been in the show in Wyandotte, Michigan for years and painted several places near there.
One of the places I painted, was the A & W Drive-in, located in Taylor, Michigan. It was a typical design for that restaurant in the 1950’s that I remembered. It was a 24″ x 36″ painting, on stretched canvas. With a little humor, you will notice the driver of the corvette is parked in a no parking zone and the car hop is paying more attention to him, instead of the customers.