Remember when: Andalusia History Pageant 1949

Published 2:13 am Saturday, October 14, 2017

On Tuesday, October 10, 2017, the first program celebrating the upcoming Bicentennial of the State of Alabama (1819-2019) was presented to the entire 4th and 5th grade classes at Andalusia Elementary School. The PowerPoint presentation, “A History of Old Andalusia,” featured pictures which were scenes of days gone by beginning with the first inhabitants of Alabama, the Indians, and concluding with the official Andalusia city flag. After my departure from the school, I later visited The Andalusia Star-News archives to research information for this next column. It was there on the front page of the October 27, 1949 edition that I coincidentally discovered the following article:

EAST THREE NOTCH 5th GRADERS STAGE PAGEANT DEPICTING CITY’S HISTORY – It all began because 5th graders and East Three Notch School wanted their teacher to learn about Andalusia. “

“At the opening of the school year, Mrs. Frances Gates had told her class that she knew plenty about her native heath, Butler County, but she wanted to learn more about Andalusia.”

“The pupils were equal to the challenge. Some of them called on Mrs. A. W. Donaldson who dug up some old newspaper for relating important developments in the city’s history. The class then decided to present a historical pageant which the children themselves wrote and developed.”

“The program was staged Friday of last week before all the East Three Notch School pupils. The playlet opened with Sylvia Pound taking the role of Mrs. Donaldson and Pat Powell as the school girl calling on her for information about Andalusia’s history.”

“At conclusion of the pageant, a corsage was presented to Mrs. Donaldson as a token of appreciation for the help she had volunteered to the school children.”

“In addition to Mrs. Donaldson, special honored guests were Mrs. Oscar Duggar and Mrs. Joe Jones, widows of Andalusia Star editors and a representative of The Andalusia Star News. (I am certain that that representative would have been Editor Ed Dannelly!) These individuals were linked with the recording of Andalusia’s history of the present era.”

“The pageantry pictured the days of Andalusia when occupied by the Indians, the days when the Spaniards came here, the hardships of the early settlers, and the happy life of the colonial life.”

Henry McElreath played the role of J. G. Scherf in the scene depicting steps that led to the industrialization of Andalusia.”

Wayne Thames read the 24th Psalm at the program’s outset portraying the theme, “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof.”

Mary Emma Moates directed the class in singing ‘Baby Boats,’ ‘The Silver Moon,’ and a minuet for which the class had authorized words.”

“All class members participated. They included:

Indians – Jerry Eubanks, Donald Ray Hutcheson, Donald Lawson, Billy Mancil, Hubert Williams, Donnie Mancil, Dewayne Dozier, Gail Wiggins, and John Rodgers; Spanish Gentlemen and Ladies – Joel Kink, Max Mathews, Buster Carmichael, Bill Perrett, Bonnie English, Emogene Hartzog, Easter Dreading, and Peggy Tucker; Early Settlers – Peggy Blackwell, Mary Sue Teel, Barbara Bozeman, Gordon Baily; Chattanooga Choo Choo – Mary Ruth McFall; Citizens – Johnnie Castleberry and Larry Jackson; Colonial Ladies – Mary Emma Moates, Dorinda Duggan, Rebecca Robbins, Barbara Ann Strickland, and Marolyn Smith.”

In 2010 when Governor Bob Riley designated that year, “The Year of the Small Towns,” a play was presented depicting the history of Andalusia in song, dances, costumes, and skits. Over 200 citizens and students participated in that presentation which was held at the Dixon Theatre on the LBWCC campus.

In the same October 1949 Andalusia Star News, I came across another front page article about the upcoming Covington County Fair. Much earlier newspapers reported news of county fairs in Andalusia in the 1920s and 1930s, but I am almost certain that this particular 1949 fair was the first one to be held after the end of World War II. Read the following news and editorial that follows and decide for yourself!

“They’re going to mix ‘politics’ with ‘spangles’ to get the crowds out for the Covington County Fair that will be staged at the Livestock Coliseum October 17-22. Marion Boyette, Jr. President of the Covington County Fair Association, announced this week he has received a telegraphic confirmation from former Governor Chauncey Sparks that he would be present Monday night to formally open the fair. 65-year old Sparks announced this week he would enter the 1950 gubernatorial race.”

Exhibits will include latest model tractors, farm implements, and trucks in an 80 X 100 foot tent. A 60 X 120 foot tent will house a modern display of high quality furniture, refrigeration, heating and cooling equipment, and home appliances of all types.”

“Displayed under this same area will be exhibits by Straughn High School, Covington County High School, Pleasant Home High School, Rawls, Opp, and AHS, Boyette has reported.”

“Prominent in the educational exhibits will be displays by the Andalusia Chamber of Commerce, Red Level Chamber of Commerce, the Alabama Crop Committee, the American Cancer Society, American Red Cross, the U. S. Air Force, and the Alabama National Guard.”

Dodson’s Imperial Shows will have the midway concessions at the fair according to Boyette who said the shows and rides would come to Andalusia in 40 railway cars. The Dodson Show includes personnel of more than 800 people.”

“On School Day set for Thursday, October 20, all children of school age will be admitted free as guests of the fair. Ride and show tickets will be sold to the kids for 9 cents.”

This next editorial by the late Editor Ed Dannelly is as timely today as it was then. Please read these words from the past and know that everyone’s participation is important to make our upcoming 2017 fair this coming week a 100% success!

     “What is required to make the fair a 100% success is many a strong and colorful exhibit that will establish in the public eye a powerful medium to boost civic drives, business, farming, and schools. The measure of success or failure is not going to lie in the size and scope of the carnival program, but the ‘proof of the pudding’ will be in the local response to the exhibits that are displayed.”

     So as that old song goes, “Hi, Ho, COME TO THE FAIR!”

     Some of the younger citizens don’t remember that The Andalusia Star News office used to be located on South Cotton Street in the little building just past the present Alan Cotton Flower Shop and the alley.

Editor Dannelly wrote, “Being situated as our newspaper shop is directly across from that store painted with a Green Front (the liquor store), we are witnesses quite often to amusing incidents.”

“Most recent we feel is worthy of mention in these columns. One of our local pastors is spurring attendance by having displayed in show windows colorful blue reminders that all should be in pews at the church of their choice on the Sabbath.”

“Prominently placed near the front door of our Green Front neighbor is one of these placards. It’s smart merchandising. We just don’t know whether the card was put at the liquor store to remind church members buying spirits of their obligation or if it was so placed to win converts among the whiskey purchasers who don’t go to religious services regularly!”

     1949 ads sought to offer their special prices to consumers. “Advancing prices of coffee have compelled us to raise the price per cup to 10 centsYoung’s Café, Bob’s Grill, Osteen’s Café, Pelham’s Walgreen Agency, M. H. O’Neal Drug Co.”

Other coffee shop owners fired back in the next newspaper issue at their competition. “Our coffee is still 5 centsB & B Café, Runt’s Café, Montezuma Café.”

October 1949 – “Students of the Covington County Training School (CCTS) are enthusiastically going about the task of equipping a football team. This will be the first football team to represent the school in a generation. Team members are asking friends to make a financial donation toward the purchase of uniforms and other equipment needed. About five games are to be scheduled for this season. Within a few days, a complete schedule will be issued.”

I REMEMBER WHEN CCTS played their games in the City Municipal Stadium. Am not sure where they played before the new stadium was completed in the spring of 1950. Especially memorable are the cheerleaders who cheered “CCTS – All the Time!” That was probably in the late 1950s or early 1960s. There was always an admirable attendance at those games!

Well, in the next issue or two of the Star News, I read that “The pouring of the first concrete in the new Andalusia Athletic Stadium for which a $100,000. bond issue has been approved was accomplished Tuesday (November 1949). City Engineer W. B. McDonald is making the announcement.”

Folks, it has been almost 69 years, come April 2018, that the stadium was completed. There have been “band-aid fix-ups” through the years, but more major work is required at this time. If you have not yet made your personal or business contribution to the Public Educational Building Authority of the City of Andalusia, “Now is the time to come to the aid of your country (your city),” a familiar phrase that we all learned in typing class. A one-time contribution or an annual pledge will make you part of this important project by joining in the spirit of Andalusia to perform major structural upgrades in order to provide the environment needed for our current and future athletes, students, alumni, spectators, and visitors. We want to be really proud of our facilities!

In addition to the stadium, the building project includes renovation and refurbishing of the AHS Auditorium completed in December 1963 over 50 years ago. Many events are held in this facility each year including choral and band performances, plays, skits, beauty pageants, dance recitals, assemblies, homecoming and graduation ceremonies. Andalusia’s interest in entertainment of song, dance, and drama goes way back in history to the days of the McArtan Opera House on South Three Notch Street in the early 1900s.

One may show support by sending checks “In Memory Of” or “In Honor Of,” if you like, payable to the Public Educational Building Authority to P. O. Box 429, Andalusia, AL. 36420.

I can’t REMEMBER WHEN our citizens, former residents, and AHS alumni did not come through and rally to the cause when the call went out for the needed assistance to build on a tradition of excellence in Andalusia, “the heart of South Alabama.” The city and the school are both counting on you!

     Sue Bass Wilson (AHS Class of ’65) is a local real estate broker and long-time member of the Covington Historical Society. She can be reached at