In February of 2008, Metro Jacksonville discovered a NYC subway car in the Springfield, just north of Downtown Jacksonville. It was unclear how or why it was brought to Jacksonville, until now...
My name is Hap Schneider. I was with Nichols Alley from early 1975 until late 1979. I believe it was in 1977 that we opened Nichols Alley Jacksonville. I was working in Gainesville Fl as the assistant manager of the Nichols Alley there (Gainesville was the headquarters of Nichols Alley management) Being a former Brooklynite, I was asked by Richmond Smith (the CEO of Nichols Alley) to go to the scrap yard in Coney Island Brooklyn to pick over the available cars and choose one for transport to Jacksonville.
I was told the car was taken out of service in early 1975 . It was a car with out wheel carriages. While in the scrap yard I went through a number of cars and took additional advertisements to use in the one I had picked out. I also was able to pull some additional cane back seats and seat backs. It was then my duty to babysit the car as it was craned onto a flatbed truck. I then drove an escort car with wide load signs to convoy it down to Jacksonville.
We had to take a circuitous route as certain states like Delaware and North Carolina wouldn't allow the wide load on their highways. It took us two days to Columbus Ga. and another to Jacksonville. Our own construction crew headed by Gyula Goretzsky supervised the cars insertion into the building so that only the front showed through the front of the building. The engineer's compartment was used as the ticket booth. One would enter the club through the front of the car and exit through the side doors onto a platform and then down steps into the club itself.
The Club was our largest. It had a 2600sq ft neon lighted dance floor. Disco was in then, and we had dance contests regularly. We began each night with "Welcome back my friends to the show that never ends" and the last two songs were "Last Dance" and then "Stairway to Heaven"
I was in my mid twenties. It was the best job anyone could have at that time of life. I have been in the hospitality business ever since.
Comments from Ron Bereman:
It was circa 1982 and I was working for Florida Pump Service in Orange Park Fl as the VP and General Manager. When the club went out of business Mark (the owner of Florida Pump Service) either bought the car or removed it at his expense. He took it to Orange Park and put it on a vacant lot he owned. His plan was to make it a meeting place for a women's club that his wife belonged to. Neighbors complained and the plan never came together. Mark moved the car to the his 2nd Store in Springfield where it sits today.
Thanks to Hap Schneider and Ron Bereman for their first hand accounts.
Photos by Ron Bereman.