Allow me to introduce you to the stories behind many of our attractions and historic areas here in Irving, Texas. This week we'll look at what our downtown area used to look like, and we’ll concentrate on a favorite eatery – Big State Fountain & Grill. After the story, you can have fun with the Big State Sudoku Puzzle. Simply click on the puzzle below to print it out. Now let's get started! 


By the time Irving was founded in 1913, America was going through some rapid changes.  These changes led to the concentration of more and more Americans from rural areas into the cities. In 1910, over half of Americans lived in urban areas.  (Google the word “urban”) By 1920, the population of Irving was 357 people. World War I had ended and all of the servicemen had returned to their homes in the U.S. It was a time of growth and a time for industry to provide everyone with what they needed.

People living in Irving and other cities needed a grocery store for food because there wasn’t enough room to grow crops like they did on a rural farm. They needed a school for their children to learn, post office to keep in touch with people (most folks still didn't have a telephone yet), church for worshiping, newspapers, library, and many other places for people to get what they needed.  What other kinds of shops do you think would be important to have during this time? One of the businesses that were built downtown on the corner of Main St. and Irving Blvd. was a “haberdashery.” That’s a big word for a men’s clothing store. Back then a haberdashery would carry not only men’s suits but also hats, shoes, socks, coats, ties, and everything a businessman needed to go to work.



As Irving grew larger and more people moved here, they needed more than just men’s clothing, so the store turned into B&H Dry Goods Store. A dry goods store is like a very small Wal-Mart that sold what you needed for your house. Irving kept growing and by 1940 there were over 1,000 people who lived here. Then in 1948, the store was turned into a pharmacy. What was common with drug stores back then, and what most pharmacies don’t have today are soda fountains (which isn’t really a fountain, it’s a place where you can sit at a counter, eat and drink sodas)? That drug store was named Big State Drug and they served food right there in the store. Do you know which building I’m describing now? The drug store also had a jukebox that played records and air-conditioning, which hardly anyone had back then. That’s hard to imagine, isn’t it?

Big State Drug 1962


Over the years, the city of Irving kept changing and growing bigger, but people still enjoyed going downtown for lunch at the soda fountain while they waited to get their prescriptions filled. And then one day in 2014, the owner of the pharmacy was very, very sad when he announced he would be closing the drug store. He was getting ready to retire. Everyone in the area was sad too because they loved the soda fountain, the jukebox, and the great food they could eat there.

Rick Donna Fairless

One of those people who didn’t want to see the Big State Drug close was a gentleman by the name of Rick Fairless. Rick and his wife, Susan, ate at the drug store’s soda fountain a lot. Even though Rick owned a custom motorcycle shop, they decided to buy the building and turn it into a restaurant. And that’s how Big State Fountain and Grill came to be. They still have the soda fountain, they still have the jukebox, they still have that really cool sign, and they still serve great food.

Now that you know a little more about the city of Irving and Big State Fountain and Grill, try to solve this Sudoku puzzle below. Some of the pieces are already in place.


Click here to download the Big State Sudoku Puzzle and print out both pages. Cut out all of the squares on page two and arrange them in the empty squares in the puzzle on page one. Each line of pictures (up and down and across) can only have one of each of the nine different pictures. And every box of nine squares can only have one of each picture. This one’s a little harder so it’s okay to ask your family for help.

As a bonus, we’ve also included a Big State Coloring Page. Click here to download the coloring page for printing.

Big State Sudoku


Answers to last week's puzzle

Crossword Puzzle Key

Previous activity pages