Reflecting upon Shavertown

Published 3:25 pm Wednesday, March 11, 2015

I refer to the exit or intersection of U.S. 84 and the bypass near Penney’s as the “Shavertown Exit.”

My grandfather was Henry Shaver and he lived in the little grey house on the right after you turn on 84 West. He returned from several years in Bradenton, Fla., where he was engaged as a Ford dealer there. There was no bridge from Tampa over to Bradenton. His order of Fords came to Tampa and then they were barged over to Bradenton. He operated on one of the wharfs there where he completed the assembly. He sold most of his cars to Yankees coming south for the winter. When they returned in the late summer or early fall, he would purchase the cars back and re-sell them. He also operated an orange grove as a sideline. When he returned to Andalusia, Alatex had just gotten under way and there was a demand for housing nearby. Henry Shaver bought the land and built a number of nice, small houses on the side of the railroad, including the house in which he lived. Next to his house and toward Penney’s of today, he built a grocery store or commissary. Mr Harvey Sims operated it, and there was a barber chair in the back part of the store. I usually got my haircut here. My father would give me a quarter and that would be 15 cents for the haircut and 10 cents for an RC and perhaps a Moon Pie. Closer to the bypass was a Standard Oil Service Station operated by Mr. McGee. I think his daughter lies in the nice brick house across the street and near Rite Aid.

Henry had named his subdivision “Seminole Heights,” and the plat at the courthouse indicates that. He wanted people to call his development by its proper name – “Seminole Heights.” The road (U.S. 84) was not paved. Grandpa built a large sign with brick pillars on either side and arching over the road. It read “Seminole Heights,” of course. The highway department promptly required him to take the sign down. In spite of his efforts, people referred to his project as “Shavertown.” Even today, in spite of Henry’s efforts, many older people refer to the area as “Shavertown.” He named all of the streets after the Indians and they remain as such today. He built almost 100 houses on both sides of the railroad.

As a young boy I would go with my parents to visit Grandpa. He would let me go out the back door and dig in one of his “tater hills” for a potato to bake for his next meal. He always owned and drove a Model T Coup and because of an injury, it was the most comfortable for him to drive. He made frequent trips over to his home at Herbert. He was born there and many family members lived there. One time, he rode his motorcycle to Herbert. Back then, there was a 90-degree turn coming off one of the bridges. He failed to make the turn and into the woods he went. Grandpa did not seem to fair well on or near bridges. One time he was approaching the bridge across the river at River Falls. I think he must have been attracted to a lady sitting on a porch just before you crossed the old iron bridge across the Conecuh. Into the river he went, car and all. It took 90 feet of chain for Mr. Charlie Spurlin to pull the car out o the river. Grandpa was cut up in places, a rib or two broken, and otherwise hurt to some extent. Miss Mary Olive Henderson operated an insurance agency and Grandpa with all his houses was a good customer. She came by my mother’s house where Henry was recording and said to him, “Brother Henry, the Lord was surely with you.” Grandpa shrugged his shoulders and replied, “If he was, he sure had a hell of a ride.” Nuff said.

Polly and I frequently go over to River Falls to eat lunch and we pass right through the heart of “Seminole Heights,” or as most people with some age refer to it, “Shavertown.” I have been thinking how nice it would be to recognize the area today as “Seminole Heights” or perhaps better, “Shavertown.” Why not a small sign in the area signifying “Shavertown” or “Shavertown Exit”? Wouldn’t that be ice?

G. Sidney Waits