Remember when: Andalusia, a potpourri of change

Published 12:55 am Saturday, August 26, 2017

Remember when – the J & B Motel was a popular place for overnight guests. There was a restaurant there, too. It was located at the top of the hill on Highway 29 North before heading down the hill to Gantt. Some of the cottages appear to be rented today.

Remember when – the Plywood Mill Road had another name? Was it the Oak Grove Road?

Remember when – the ground breaking for The Commercial Bank was located on the Church Street lot where there had been a large residential home place? All of the directors and their wives came out for the occasion and were photographed along with the Eiland and Eland Anthonys.

Remember when – the Campus Inn was located on East Three Notch Street. Each bungalow was occupied by college students and the complex was owned and handled by Grady Lanier who was an avid supporter of the LBW baseball program coached by Q. V. Lowe and later Mark Hogan.

Remember when – most Andalusia neighborhoods were sprinkled with children who played together (cops and robbers, hide and seek, jump rope, marbles, jacks), rode bicycles together, climbed trees, played ball together, and walked to the nearby neighborhood schools and grocery stores. The Brooms Grocery Store on Perry Street was a favorite neighborhood store just off Dunson, McLendon, and Church Streets.

Remember when – homes in certain neighborhoods were filled with homes built on 50 foot lots with sidewalks in front and porches where people sat in rocking chairs and on porch swings and greeted their neighbors passing by. The Riley-Rankin and the South Cotton, Baker, Morrison, E. & W. Watson Street neighborhoods are examples of that. Nowadays, it is too hot to sit on the porches after suppertime (or we think it is) so we sit inside our air conditioned homes and watch television instead of listening to news and entertainment on the radios. People do not seem to fraternize and socialize with their neighbors like they used to. (“Love they neighbor as thyself!”)

Remember when – school boys used to deliver early morning newspapers on their bicycles and motor scooters especially in the summertime.

Remember when – there was an armory that was located in the present location of the National Guard Armory, but it was torn down to make way for the new building in the late 1960s or early 1970s. Charles Jackson reminded me of that. The guardsmen operated during the interim across the street there on Prestwood Bridge Road where the horse stables used to be. Yes, horse stables were part of the armory buildings when the guard was mobilized during World War I before the days of automobiles. There is an old picture of the soldiers in uniform waiting on the train at the old L & N Depot. There are also some pictures taken of the WWI soldiers taken in front of the old courthouse in the middle of the Court Square as well as in front of the East Three Notch School. The courthouse was torn down a short time afterward, but the school was brand new at the time. The armory was also located at one time on Through Street behind Stokey’s. There was an encampment of German prisoners of war in that area during World War II. A picture at the Three Notch Museum shows the interior of that armory decorated and set up for a chamber of commerce banquet. I am not sure of the time frame of when the armory moved to Prestwood Bridge Road, but more than likely, I will run across that sooner or later in the old newspapers unless I hear from one of the readers.

     Remember when – the Church Street elementary children presented May Day. Every grade was involved with singing and dancing, and lots of mothers sewed costumes in preparation for the event that the townspeople poured out for in number. Spectators lined the street with lawn chairs. The Gables front yard was crowded with citizens who waited in anticipation for the colorful event. Miss Merilyn Jones, the fastidious music teacher, was in charge of the annual festivity. The various groups would file out of the “little building” when it was their turn to enter. The finale was always the May Pole dance performed by the Sixth Graders. Much practice and preparation went into this extravaganza each May.

Remember whenHula Hoops were the rage? It was fun to hula hoop with the 1950s and 1960s songs, “Come On Baby, Let’s Do the Twist…Round and Round and Up and Down We Go!” Today, I don’t believe I could hula hoop, jump on a pogo stick, or skate on a concrete sidewalk or a roller skate rink, and I used to be good at all of that. Probably, you, too!

Remember when – downtown Andalusia used to smell like those cinnamon rolls baking at the Andalusia Bakery. That was before the days of air conditioning. If you went downtown, you had to stop by the bakery before you went home!

Remember when“Singing Wheels” used to be the social studies textbook for 4th graders. I found one of these books by accident not too long ago at a yard or estate sale. It is worth “gold” to me, because that was my first introduction of loving to read and dream about history – the stagecoach, the wagon train, making homemade soap and candles, the spinning wheel, quilting, the blacksmith, turkey and deer hunting, building log cabins. I have read some chapters of that to my grandsons when I can get them still and sleepy for a few minutes at bed time.

Remember when – cars had clutches and learning to drive involved the mastering of shifting gears and driving a “straight shift” automobile. Mickey Patrick and I learned to drive her grandmother’s car all over her back yard on Sanford Road. We would rush in from school, jump in the car, and crank “Old Betsy” up. Her father Bonner was at the downtown Patrick Furniture Store and her mother Margaret was probably playing bridge somewhere!

Remember when – there was a driveway to the left of Andalusia High School (west side) in the early 1940s. This is when the school was first built. There is an old aerial photo that showed just the “old main” in the picture with the driveway that wrapped around the building. The other buildings in the rear were built later. That is probably when they relocated the driveway to the east and present side of the property.

Remember when – there used to be a “shack” of a tiny house to the right of that present school driveway at AHS. A very elderly lady lived there. Although she looked like a Halloween witch, she was very kind and dear. The Myrtle Kervin Sunday School class of senior girls at First Baptist used to visit her in the mid 1960s. The house and the lot were later purchased by the city schools after her death. The lot is used as an overflow parking lot now that is full at most home football games. I often think of the little old lady sitting on the front porch shack.

Remember when – the city board of education office was situated in the “little building” known as the AHS annex. Mr. J. H. Johnson was the superintendent of education back then. Marcella Jones was the office secretary. That flat-roofed brick building with modern architecture of the day had those 1950s roll-out windows. Mr. Joe Wingard occupied the classroom in that building formerly occupied by Miss Patricia Seymour, English, History, Journalism teacher, and sponsor of the Andy-Hi Lite. Mr. Wingard taught English in the same room for 39 years beginning in 1966. He was also the Memolusia sponsor.

One cold morning, a student rolled open a set of the windows in the back of the classroom because the room had heated up excessively. Mr. Wingard came into his homeroom with his usual spill – “Good-ugh morning, class. This is the 8th day of December in the year of our Lord, 1992, the two hundred twenty-sixth anniversary of our country’s independence. The thought for the day is ‘Cleanliness is next to Godliness!’ Are there any comments or suggestions? (No response.) This is to advise that there will be an English test on Friday at which time I expect you to be present and prepared. Today we will review what we have learned thus far on poems, prepositions, and participles. (The students went wild pleading not to have a test on football game day!) I am not concerned with the sports program, students. Now, would whomever opened the windows in the back please close them.” And then because there was no response or action, he asked the same question a second time. Ask Blaine Wilson who sat at the end of the back row (alphabetical order, of course) what his reply was to Mr. Wingard’s question that turned the teacher’s face red and sent the student immediately to the principal’s office!!

Remember when – the “Chicken Shack” on River Falls Street was a popular place to eat. I remember Sunday dinners there with my parents when I was a small child. The J. V. Gomillion Barber Shop was next door in the same building. Jimmy Wilson remembers a nickelodeon being in the restaurant on each table where one could put in a nickel and play a popular tune on the jukebox while waiting on service. The “Pit BBQ” was right across the street. Teenagers of the 1950s frequented that place as well as the Sanford Road “Idle Hour.” Chalmers Bryant’s “Pit BBQ” was later across the street on Thweatt Street where his wife Edith sent her famous homemade lemon, chocolate, and coconut pies daily to the eatery.

Remember when – the A & P Grocery Store was located in the building next to the Dairy Queen. The fresh ground coffee in there always smelled so good.
     Remember when – all of the roads around Gantt Lake and Point A Lake were unpaved and dust went flying as cars and trucks pulling boats went up and down the country roads! There used to be just mostly weekend and seasonal cabins, but now there are quite a few spectacular year round lake homes with scenic views.

Not too long ago only the Indians inhabited the areas around the many miles of Covington County streams, creeks, lakes, and rivers according to retired archaeologist and hometown boy, McDonald (Mac) Brooms, AHS and U of A graduate, formerly associated with Troy University and the Alabama Historical Commission.

Andalusia and Covington County could be on the map one day,” he commented once at a CHS meeting “with all of the Indian mounds and relics around. Maybe even the notoriety will be bigger than Moundville if the state ever decides to take over certain property! Twenty or thirty years ago, archaeologists did not believe there was so much historic Indian habitation in South Alabama until we started limited excavation in these areas. Now we know different.”

Visit the Three Notch Museum soon to view the Indian artifacts found in our county which items on display consist of not only weapons but also tools. If you are knowledgeable about these, help us label, categorize, and even add to our growing collection. Opening hours are Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, 9-2:00. Located on Historic Central Street and Tisdale Street, the museum is housed in the former Central of Georgia train depot, the oldest remaining wooden building in downtown Andalusia.


Sue Bass Wilson is a local real estate broker and long-time member of the Covington Historical Society. She can be reached at