Remember when: Take me out to the ballgame

Published 12:00 am Saturday, September 9, 2017

April 13, 1950 – Front page headlines of The Andalusia Star News was “TAKE ME OUT TO THAT BALLGAME! The Arrows of Andalusia start shooting for that 1950 All State League Baseball pennant next week, and the town is being swept by plans for celebrations that will move the opening game here next Tuesday night at 7:30 p.m.”

“The first league game will mark the official opening of the new $120,000. athletic stadium. Every merchant, citizen, business and professional man in Andalusia is behind the movement to ‘Pack the Stadium.’”

Mayor Tracy Wilder has proclaimed Tuesday April 18 as ‘Baseball Day’ in Andalusia. Bellaire Krudop, civic generalissimo, has set as Andalusia’s goal the establishment of a world’s record for opening day attendance of a Class D baseball club.”

“A mammoth parade is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. on next Tuesday afternoon. Arrow players will dress out in uniform to ride in the line of march. Climax of the parade will be the Baseball Jamboree that will be staged on a platform in front of the courthouse. At that time each member of the Arrows squad will be introduced. Invitations have been extended to mayors and city officials of every town in the league to attend the Arrows opening game. The Andy Hi band will participate in the flag raising ceremonies that will mark the formal opening of the league season. Mayor Wilder will pitch out the first ball.”

July 13, 1950 – “ALL-STARS COMPELLED TO SPARKLE TO STEAL SHOW FROM STEAMBOAT Southern League Umpire ‘Steamboat’ Johnson just about stole the show in the East-West All-Star Game of 1950. He had the ballplayers hustling through the first three innings he worked behind the plate. As the game opened, home plate in the new $135,000. stadium received its first dusting at the Steamboat’s hands.”

“The West’s bat boy from Dothan and the West’s manager both felt Steamboat’s tongue early in the scrap. It was ‘Hurry, hurry, hurry’ all the way by ‘Steamboat.’ The game took only two hours because of Johnson’s rushing things while he held the gavel. The threatening rains that held the crowd to 1,920 almost caused some headaches in the 2nd inning and again in the 6th and 8th. But the showers never materialized. Much interest was shown in Bibb Jones, Charles Little, and Carnell Booth, all of whom have diamond promise.”

Umpire Johnson drew a heavy round of laughs when a foul tip just grazed him. He took his whisk broom and gave his elbow a working over. It was all in fun. He was not hit. But the 41 years the elderly gentleman has called ‘em is taking its toll. When back of the plate, he was backing up two steps in every pitch. In the old days, he just hid back of the catcher!”

“Andalusia’s radio station WCTA this week launched its FM broadcasts, station manager, Dige Bishop has announced. He reported that big league baseball game are broadcast each afternoon over FM. Reception in the first week of FM has been reported highly satisfactory.”

“Complete all-electric kitchens and home laundries duplicating those found in prize-winning homes have been placed on wheels for a tour that will take them into thousands of towns and villages across the nation. The electric range, the front opening automatic dishwasher, the 2-door refrigerator will all be demonstrated by home economists who will accompany the exhibit from Chicago’s Hotpoint factories. The pilot run is being made to 50 farm shows and county fairs in Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi, and Tennessee.”

“Well-groomed women demand the finest in dry cleaning. Our modern methods protect all fabrics from the most rugged to the most delicate. SPICER CLEANERS.”

County draft boards throughout the nation are being alerted to set in order their records for placing in uniform men who may be needed in ranks of the Armed Forces. Selective Service Headquarters in Washington have set September 30 as a deadline when each draft board will be asked to meet its quota of the first 20,000 men who will be placed in service. Alabamians have already given their lives on the fighting fronts in Korea. This was is beginning to hit at home.”

May 1950 – “The Senior Class was honored last Saturday evening when Jimmie Thompson and Riley Taylor entertained with a hillbilly street dance on East Three Notch Court. Bill Thompson and William Shreve dressed as hillbillies served bottled drinks from an old fashioned well. Peanuts and potato chips were also served.”

“Mrs. James Caton issued an invitation to a senior party honoring her niece Miss Patricia Peavy on a brown paper sack tied with string. A hayride and hot dog supper at Open Pond was one of the highlights of the many parties honoring the AHS Senior Class.”

“A newly formed publishing company in Opp is planning to undertake the tremendous task of compiling and publishing a history of this section according to an announcement by Gus J. Bryan and L. F. Adams, heads of the new company. They stated, ‘Our primary purpose in publishing this book is to perpetuate the memory of those people who years ago slaved and worked to make it possible for us today to enjoy this great section in which we live. When the schools of the county are underway again (in the fall), the students will be given the opportunity to help give the publication a name.’ They invite correspondence from anyone who might have any knowledge that would be of use in the writing. An office has been set up in the Bryan Motor Company building for the transaction of necessary business pertaining to the venture and visitors are invited to drop around and talk over old times.”

May 1950 – “FIRST DIRT SPADED IN CONSTRUCTION OF J. G. Scherf Memorial Building – A moving ceremony was held for the new $85,000. structure that will rise across the street from Andalusia’s City Hall (on Opp Avenue). Assisting the widow, Mrs. Scherf was Bill Waller of Waller-Barnes Construction with whom a contract has been signed for the building’s erection. Mrs. Scherf stated, ‘This ground is being broken to commemorate my late husband, J. G. Scherf. On this land shall be erected a building in his memory to be used exclusively as a community house or center for the general enjoyment of the people of Andalusia and its trade territory in encouraging, fostering, promoting the art of living together with understanding, fellowship, and good will…’

“Funds for the community building were raised through public subscription with the Scherf estate and business enterprises he headed. Contributions toward the project will serve a broad cross-section of the public.”

April 20, 1950 – “The new $100,000. Coca-Cola Bottling Company building at the corner of Church Street and Baisden Streets will be formally opened on April 26 at an open house to which the public is being invited. Joe Hilson, manager of the local plant which serves a wide area of South Alabama, has made this announcement and invitation. “

“The Coca-Cola Bottling Company of Andalusia was formed by W. A. Bellingrath (of Mobile) and the late John S. Burnett in 1909 when its first operations were launched. Situated first in the Riley Building which stood where the courthouse now is, the company moved in 1914 to the Fletcher Building on Church Street and later to the site on Troy Street where operations were carried out until the new building was erected this year…Capacity of the new plant is 150 bottles per minute.”

“From the date of its first operation until September 22, 1928 when he died, Mr. Burnett was manager of the plant. Associated with him was his nephew George M. Etheridge, who became manager when Mr. Burnett died. Mrs. Burnett, Mary Elizabeth (Mamie) Bellingrath Burnett, widow of one of the founders died October 27, 1940. When Mr. Etheridge died in March 1939 (a young man at the time), Joe Hilson who had extensive experience with the Coca-Cola Bottling Company of Montgomery came to Andalusia to serve as manager, a post he has held for 11 years. Present owners of the company are Mrs. Mary E. Bellingrath and the W. A. Bellingrath estate.”

It is phenomenal the contributions that the Burnetts are credited with and remembered for during their time in Andalusia (some 30 years) especially in the field of education even though they had no children of their own. They led school tours of the bottling plant and hosted luncheons for new teachers. The Methodist Church was also the recipient of Mrs. Burnett’s generosity. Prominent headstones mark their graves in Magnolia Cemetery. Burnett Street (behind Clark Theatre) where the Troy Street plant was once located in conjunction with the ice plant is named for them. Several historic photos of the Coca-Cola plants are on display at the Three Notch Museum on Historic Central Street thanks to Sharon Torrontor Wales, great granddaughter of Ellie Sentell Etheridge.

When we REMEMBER WHEN, we often pay tribute to those businesses of the past which helped make Andalusia what it is today. Preserving the written word is so important lest we not ever know and lest we forget! I was delighted to find this Coca-Cola history in the Sta- News archives written by Editor Ed Dannelly as part of the announcement of the 1950 open house of the new plant! I am certain that he would have researched the old newspapers maybe even back to 1909 to find that history.

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