Remember when: Of tent revivals, bedroom hair

Published 1:12 am Saturday, January 21, 2017

“Try to remember the kind of September when life was slow and oh, so mellow…Try to remember and if you remember, then follow, follow, follow…” This song was from the Broadway music comedy, The Fantastiks. The Brothers Four crooned this popular tune in the 1960s along with Perry Como, Andy Williams, Harry Belafonte, Ed Ames, and Roy Orbison.

     Remember when – a tornado swooped right down East Three Notch Street. If we had known about it, we would have headed for my daddy’s basement, but back then we only heard about that kind of thing after it was over!

Remember when – a lot of my friends’ grandparents had chicken houses in their back yards. Now it has become a popular hobby again. One can even buy a “designer” chicken house online!

Remember when – the carnival or the fair came to town, and they set up the rides in the “new” city municipal stadium parking lot.

Remember whentent revivals always seemed to be in town. The visiting evangelists would set up their chairs and tent on the edge of town, sometimes out River Falls Street and sometimes out in the far-reaching Sanford Road area. My friends who had come to my 6th grade “beatnik” birthday party decided that we should visit the tent revival after the party. That was after Beverly Brooks won the bongo drums for the best costume! Well, we got kicked out of the tent revival, but all of our mothers when they heard about it predicted that our “Class of ’65” would be the wildest! Right, Ward Taylor and Nancy Mills Robbins?

Remember when – blackberries were plentiful in the summertime along the railroad track behind East Three Notch Court. Those wild berries made the best homemade blackberry cobblers!

Remember when – my playmates and I would place pennies on that same railroad track. When the train came by and steamed away, those pennies would be flat as flitters! I don’t know who thought of that!

Remember when – teenagers worked for the Summer Recreation Department and kept the neighborhood children playing all summer at the East Three Notch and Church Street School playgrounds with jump rope, card games, kick ball, storytelling, and Friday dress-up contests! Teenagers got a little jingle in their pockets from their summer jobs, and the elementary age children were occupied with “something to do!” A contest at the end of August awarded a special recognition to a “Miss Playground.” Also, this was the beginning of the “Storybook Festival” at Robinson Memorial Park.

     Remember when – long hair worn by most women prior to the 1920s was fashionable and tied up on a bun or a ball. When they let it flow down at night, the coiffure was referred to as “bedroom hair.” Women of that era and generation thought it “disgraceful” to wear long hair around the shoulders in the daytime! Then in the early 1920s the dress hems became shorter as did the hair-dos. Women were enjoying their new independence after World War I, and they bobbed their hair at the beauty parlors. Permanent waves curled the hair, and finger waves were the rage. Those were the times!

Remember when – the young ladies who were graduated from the high schools in Covington County wore white dresses for their graduation photos. They posed with bouquets of red roses in their arms. This was before graduation robes were affordable for the schools and the students. The young men often wore black and sometimes white suits.

     Remember when – the high school beauty contest was called “Miss Andalusia.” It later became known as “Miss Memolusia.” Mr. Joe Wingard, AHS teacher of English for 39 years and Memolusia sponsor for about that same amount of time probably had something to do with that. Mr. Wingard and another AHS teacher Mr. Dan Shehan once wrote a precious song for the beauty pageant which they named, “Oh, Lovely Miss Memolusia.”

Remember when – pallbearers walked the casket of the dead over to Magnolia Cemetery from the First Methodist Church which was at that time located on Church Street on the lot across from the present fire station. I guess no one is still living that remembers that or else they’d be as old as Methuselah mentioned in the Bible!

Remember when – a local citizen, a mother proud of her son in the military during one of the world wars, told it all around town that her son had written a letter home with the exciting news that he had been promoted in the Navy to “Captain of the Head!” He was actually “Captain of the Latrine!”

     Remember when – many of the downtown businessmen would take coffee breaks at Rooster’s Café around 10:00 in the morning. This was during the 1950s when Marion “Skinny” Boyette with The Andalusia Star News referred to Dr. Dan McInnish and Charlie Bass as the “Pear Street Moguls!” They operated their storefront businesses, optometry and insurance agency, on Pear Street one block off Court Square.

Remember when – a popular swimming pool was the Amvets Club pool beside Gantt Lake Beach. The water was ice cold and the sides of the pool had slippery green algae, but it was refreshing in the hot summer.

Remember when – and never forget the most friendly and down home place to eat barbeque in Covington County, Green’s Pit BBQ. This tradition started by the C. W. Green family was carried on for several generations and is still continuing at Green’s Hilltop in Gantt where seafood has been added to the cuisine. Where friends meet and greet, one can always feel comfortable and relaxed with master Southern cooks and chefs!

Remember when – the new automobiles would debut in Andalusia at Count Darling Co. and Andalusia Motor Co. Their showrooms would be covered with butcher paper and on that special day, the paper would be removed and the glass windows would display the new models for the new year. Naturally, my generation of teenagers would remember the Mustang on Church Street! The Cadillacs on East Three Notch Street made a grand entrance as well as passersby would almost wreck turning their heads in that direction as they viewed the automobiles of their dream!

Remember whenPolaroid cameras hit the market! It was about Christmas time one year. That camera was appealing and practical not only for home use but also for business use as well. The Polaroids came into existence some time later after the moving picture camera became available.

Remember when – Families of the 1930s and 1940s had a Victrola to play those thick heavy black 78 RPM records. Families and teenagers of the 1950s and 1960s had stereos to play the 45 and 33 RPM records. I still have a shadow box with the following records of my mother framed – “I Can’t Give You Anything But Love, Baby,” “I’ll Never Smile Again,” “Embraceable You,” and “I’ll Be Seeing You.”

Remember when – a new school was built in Andalusia, the Bethune School. I don’t remember, but I wish someone did remember who it was that came up with the name of the school named after the prominent black educator Mary Bethune. How do I know that? I saw it on the History Channel! The name was perfect for the new school! Someone tell me if you know.

Remember when – school boys could purchase two pair of Tuff Nutt blue jeans near or on the first day of school at Covington Stores on the square. The clerks would give the boys a new Barlow knife.

Remember when – the Dairy Queen first opened, one could buy a foot long hot dog with the best western sauce made by the Faulkners, Melvin and Euna, for 25 cents.

Remember when – a policeman was assigned to direct traffic around the square between the four o’clock and five o’clock hour when the Andala (downtown textile plant) shut down in the afternoons.

Remember when – some of the local teenage boys would hop on the FNBB elevator and ride six floors to the top, maybe even up and down several times! Although the building was originally known as the First National Bank Building, it later became known as the Timmerman Building when Frank Timmerman purchased it. I remember when it became listed on the National Register of Historic Places in the 1980s, thanks to Shehan and Kiepura, owners.

Remember when – lots of bicycles were parked at the Martin Theatre on Saturdays. There was a bicycle stand out front. Robert Cremer remembers when it only cost 15 cents to get into the “picture show” if you were under 12 years of age. Popcorn was 10 cents and a Milky Way candy bar was 5 cents.

     Remember whenTheo Welch would sell and cut up a chicken for just a little bit more at his store, Welch’s on Stanley Avenue. It had about 15 pieces so there would be plenty of fried chicken to go around at Sunday dinner. To eat chicken, the “holy bird,” on Sunday was a treat especially if the preacher was coming!

Remember when – there were a lot of boys not quite 16 years of age delivering The Montgomery Advertiser and The Andalusia Star News on their bicycles all around the neighborhoods where they lived. A newspaper route was the thing to do especially in the summertime. Lots of Andalusia boys got their start in business and in other lifelong professions delivering newspapers, because they learned to wake up early to go to work and to be dependable.

Remember when – a Tom Sawyer or Huckleberry Finn type boy could buy a syrup bucket full of fishing worms down there on Carlton Street near the Dixon Lumber Company at Collis Cooper’s store.

Remember when – girls liked to read Nancy Drew mystery books and boys enjoyed the Hardy Boys mysteries? I have a collection of these in my home library that I have found at yard sales and added to through the years. Hopefully, I can read them all again one day if forever is forever! In my grown up years, the Victoria Holt mysteries followed the youthful Nancy Drew stories. I remember when Miss Patricia Seymour, AHS English and history teacher, assigned us girls in the eighth grade a reading list which included the “Mistress of Mellyn,” Victoria Holt’s most popular novel. I’ve been hooked ever since!

Thank you, readers, for helping to come up with some other snippets of stories for REMEMBER WHEN. I guess the older we get, we can think back to yesteryear and remember old times better than we can remember yesterday or last week! After all, “Old times there are not forgotten, Look away…!”