Fifty years ago feels like yesterday for the nearly 100 folks who gathered Saturday morning to reminisce about a treasured period from their pasts.
The special weekend ceremony was held to honor the old “teen club” that formerly stood at the intersection of North Jefferson Street and Log Cabin Road where the Log Cabin convenience store sits today. With the permission of property and store owners, a sign commemorating the old teen club was unveiled Saturday on the property. Those who did the unveiling were the surviving members of The Royale V (five), a band made up of local kids that helped make the teen club such a popular place for youth to hang out on a weekly and sometimes twice-weekly basis back in the ‘60s.
The sign now stands on the Sinclair Dam Road side of the Log Cabin convenience store for all to see. A portion of the sign marking the club’s former existence reads: “The historical Log Cabin building that was once on this property opened as ‘The Royale V Teen Club’ during the mid-1960s. This venue provided the youth of Milledgeville, Baldwin County, and surrounding communities with a much needed safe environment for enjoying music and dancing for many years. The iconic ‘Teen Club’ was the place to be for so many young people who grew up in the area during this era.”
The old teen club was owned by Longino Little, whose family still owns the property to this day. The now-deceased Little had family present for Saturday’s unveiling, and multiple Royale V band members expressed their gratitude to the man who gave them a place to play music and just be young.
“It happened at a time where the community needed something,” said Dennis Carr, Royale V bass player who now splits time living in the Atlanta area and on Lake Oconee. “The greatest thing that ever happened was Mr. Longino Little volunteering this place. What a tremendous thing that was for him to do. It was good, clean fun.”
Jerry Glass, the band’s keyboard player, said that opening a teen club is a feat not likely to be replicated in today’s world of perpetual lawsuits.
“For Mr. Little to open a teen club out here where a couple hundred kids were going to be at least once, and sometimes twice a week, to take on all that responsibility along with our parents and other chaperones who helped — I just think that would be hard to pull off today,” said Glass, now a St. Simons Island resident.
What band guitarist Wayne Burgamy most remembers about the teen club is the large crowds that would consistently come out to sing and dance along with the band.
“We always had a good crowd and support from the community,” said Burgamy, the lone band member to still call Milledgeville home. “There was never any trouble. Sometimes it would be totally packed with just as many people as it could hold. During the summer we’d play Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, and you’d think it would have gotten old with people, but it just never did. It’s one of the fondest memories of my life.”
Saturday’s ceremony did not last very long, but as old friends are wont to do, many attendees chose to hang around for nearly an hour afterward and catch up with people they haven't seen in years. One of them was Royale V drummer Ricky Donnelly, who now lives in Athens after retiring from the University of Florida College of Law.
“I’m so glad about this tribute to Robert Rogers, in particular,” said Donnelly. “He was so talented. He was a good manager, a people person, a great musician, and an athlete. It’s such an honor to be here and be a part of all this.”
Robert Rogers was the band’s singer who passed away nearly three years ago. While he could not be present Saturday, multiple people commented that he was there in spirit celebrating the former band and popular venue they used to play.
“It’s like a dream come true,” said Danny Rogers, Robert’s younger brother who organized the ceremony, of having his plan come to fruition. “It’s something I wanted to do for Robert because I wanted him involved. He touched an awful lot of people with his music. I just wanted something in his honor and his memory. I’m just so thankful that the Little family and Tommy Lowndes (Log Cabin convenience store owner) have allowed us to do this. That [sign] will be here a whole lot longer than I’ll be here. I know Robert’s family appreciates it, and I know all the band members’ families appreciate it.”
The crowd numbered in the 80s a few minutes before the ceremony was set to begin, but more had made their way up by the time the festivities kicked off. Some were teen club attendees themselves, while others were friends and family members of band members there to celebrate the occasion. Many were in town for the Baldwin High School Class of 1969’s 50th reunion that was held later that evening. Distinguished guests included Ga. House District 145 state Rep. Rick Williams, Baldwin County Sheriff Bill Massee and former Milledgeville Mayor Gary Thrower.