Remember when: Lost in 1958

Published 2:33 pm Saturday, October 21, 2017

Finally, this is Homecoming Week at AHS. Class reunions are being celebrated beginning at the Friday morning brunch and assembly when alumni from the classes of 2008, 1998, 1988, and 1978 will be honored with skits presented by the Freshman, Sophomore, Junior, and Senior classes. Class members and teachers alike will be impersonated on stage as “old times there are not forgotten!”

Members of the Class of 1968 will gather for their “Golden Year Reunion.” I hear through the “ivy” vine that class members from the 1958 and 1948 classes may be in attendance to be recognized and asked to shout out their class yell if they can remember it! There are often things not remembered about school days, but class yells are hardly ever forgotten!

I have chosen the year 1958 to research in The Andalusia Star-News archives for this column since many of you readers grew up in the 50s and are “lost in the 50s,” a great decade to remember and reminisce about especially for the popular music of the day.

Locally, Andalusians in that era were very industrious attempting to raise families, start businesses, construct homes and churches, and build up the memberships in the various civic clubs – all with much success and enthusiasm as flamboyantly reported regularly by Editor Ed Dannelly.

“Mrs. Smith has gone under the knife at St. Margaret’s in Montgomery” or “The Jones have motored to Atlanta to visit relatives.”

“WEATHER FREEZING – POLITICS A-BOILING” was a newspaper headline in early January 1958.

January 9, 1958 – “For the first time in history, Andalusians by the score will appear on a nation-wide tv broadcast on Saturday. The AHS Band decked out in their new West Point style uniforms will march in the pre-game show at the Senior Bowl football game at Ladd Stadium in Mobile. The pre-game ceremonies will be broadcast over NBC-TV nationwide. The Andalusia bandsmen will leave the Covington Capitol city on Saturday, January 11, for Mobile where they will be under the direction of Lacey Powell, Jr., bandmaster. Numbers to be played on the field will include ‘Stars and Stripes Forever’ and ‘The Star Spangled Banner.’”

October 2, 1958 – “Andy Hi’s high-stepping majorettes have a new name, ‘The Andalusia Andettes’ is what they call them, twirling is their fame!”

November 27, 1958 – “Always in the limelight of affairs at the Andalusia High School, the Bulldog Marching Band was again in the forefront at the Homecoming celebration last weekend. Pictured during the parade in downtown Andalusia are the colorful music makers headed by Drum Major Tommy O’Neal. The band twirlers in the front line of march are Margo Russell, Butch McDonald, Betty Alderman, and Suzanne Brown.”

November 13, 1958 – Andy Hi Bulldog Band of ’65 to Perform Tonette Musicale (at football game)!” (Yes, I remember playing in this exhibition as a 6th grader, and many of those tonette players ended up being in the Bulldog Marching Band in 1965!)

October 23, 1958 – “HOOLA HOOP BRINGS A BROKEN ARM TO SISSY STUDSTILL – The ten-year old daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Jack Studstill, Sissy, fell while skipping with her hoola hoop fracturing two bones in her right arm. The fall was at the new home under construction on Valley View Drive. She is a fifth grader at Church Street School in the room of Mrs. R. L. Wyatt.”

October, 2, 1958 – “GRAND OPENING – Sale of Sales – 203 East 3-Notch St.F. W. Woolworth Co. – Fast Check-outs – Store Completely Air Conditioned for your Shopping Comfort”

October 23, 1958 – “The Andalusia Shopping Center on the corner of Three Notch and Oak Street developed by John D. Riley is staging a formal opening this week with Kwik Chek and Village Center (drug store) opening their doors to the public for the first time.”

August 28, 1958“MONDAY A HOLIDAY – THEN BOOM! SCHOOLS TO OPEN – In accordance with long-standing policy of the Scherf companies, Labor Day will be a paid holiday for Alatex!”

December 4, 1958 – “The public is invited to the Open House that will mark the formal opening and dedication of the new Commercial Bank on Church Street. The modern new bank, an eye-catching structure of glass, steel, and brick provides two drive-in windows at the rear and adjoining parking spaces for 45 cars. Officers are E. E. Anthony, Sr., president; E. E. Anthony, Jr., J. B. Simmons, and Tom Little, vice presidents. Simmons is the only individual now connected with the Commercial Bank who was in the employ of that institution when it was established on July 1, 1933.”


January 2, 1958 – “The sale of the First Baptist Church buildings and property that adjoin the courthouse has been approved. The buyer is the Covington County Board of Revenue whose offer of $70,000. for the property was accepted by a vote of the congregation in a vote taken on December 22 without reluctance.”

“The offer and acceptance provides that the Covington County Board of Revenue takes over the Baraca Hall on January 1, 1958. It is planned for this building to be converted into offices for the welfare and pension department of Covington County in the immediate future.”

“The initial negotiations for transfer of the church property to the county was undertaken by a special Baptist committee including Robert Anderson, Oscar Hipp, and Henry Merrill, the chairman of the Board of Deacons.”

“The FBC is now erecting a new sanctuary costing some $240,000. at a site on East 3-Notch Street that adjoins the Baptist pastorium. The Baptists plan to expand their building program in the near future in a program that calls for the erection of additional buildings that will bring to approximately $500,000., the cost of their new plant.”

“The Covington Baptist WMU meeting will be held in the Baraca Hall on Wednesday, January 8, since county officials have indicated there will be no rush to take over the hall as it will be mid-January before renovations can be launched to place office partition walls in the building.”

August 14, 1958 – “Andalusia is growing in leaps and bounds. An extra ordinary number of births were recorded in Andalusia hospitals last week.”

January 2, 1958 – “B. H. (Bud Hamilton) Zeagler, age 90, a pioneer Andalusia resident who spearheaded hotel development in Andalusia and Troy died in a local hospital after several months of declining health. Zeagler, a one-time Andalusia city councilman, was a civic leader in the 1920s who had an important role in bringing the late J. G. Scherf, Sr. to Andalusia to head the Chamber of Commerce here.”

“Widely known throughout the South, Mr. Zeagler was the owner and builder of the old Dixie Hotel situated across from the L & N Railway Station on South Cotton Street on the site now occupied by J. M. Merrill Motors.”

“For some 50 years Mr. Zeagler had made his home at 508 East 3-Notch Street until March of 1954 when his wife died. Since that date, he had made his residence with his daughter, Mrs. O. P. Banks and Mr. Banks (on Third Avenue).”

“In 1900 Mr. Zeagler moved to Andalusia from Troy where prior to the turn of the century, he operated the first hotel ever established in Troy. In operating the Dixie Hotel for more than 20 years, Zeagler erected a structure that was long an Andalusia landmark. Zeagler was the first South Alabama hotel man to install bathrooms in his hotel. At the time, Mr. Zeagler was censured by his hotel colleagues for this radical departure from established practices.

“The late J. J. Moates, patriarch of another pioneer family, came to Andalusia to lease the Dixie Hotel from Mr. Zeagler about that time of his retirement from the hotel business. The hotel was razed by fire after Mr. Zeagler retired.”

An old-timer once told this story at the historical society meeting“Coming back to town from deer hunting one Thanksgiving morning, we saw the smoke from a long way off. It turned out to be the Dixie Hotel burning!”

Mr. Speller Moates, son of J. J. Moates, once told me that the Dixie Hotel did not have a Room 13! He also recollected a story of a prank he and another kid played on the pigs behind the hotel. His mother was cooking a large pot of figs on the stove. When she left the room momentarily, he scooped up a container of the hot figs and threw them out behind the hotel where the pigs were penned up. You can guess what happened next– the pigs swallowed the hot figs and started running around oinking loudly all at once. His mother looked out the back door and said, “Wonder what’s wrong with those pigs?”

“After selling the Dixie Hotel property, Mr. Zeagler purchased the adjacent property and erected a building on the site where The Andalusia Star News is now situated on South Cotton Street (in 1958), and for a time operated a grocery at that location. (That is the building next to the alley.)”

Mr. Zeagler and his wife, Katie, had been married for some 70 years. Funeral services were held from Christ the King Catholic Church with burial in Magnolia Cemetery.” ( A beautiful wrought iron fence surrounds the Zeagler family plot.)

December 4, 1958 – “Reviewing the more than half a century of the life of E. R. Merrill in Andalusia, only one word comes to mind as a summation of this man who is cherished in the hearts of thousands as a friend. E. R. Merrill was a builder!”

“There are scores of landmarks in this city that stand as monuments to his qualifications for that title. Every parent who has a child in school in Andalusia sends that child off daily to a building that was constructed under the watchful eye and supervision of E. R. Merrill, a pioneer in the building and construction field.”

“The interest in and love for E. R. Merrill touched areas far and wide during his final five weeks where he lay in a coma at home. During this period, passers-by and customers at the Andalusia Manufacturing Company would inquire of his son Reid Merrill of Mr. E. R.’s condition and comment, ‘If it had not been for Mr. Merrill, I wouldn’t have the house I live in.’”

“A pioneer and builder, in every sense of the term – that was Mr. E. R. Merrill, an Andalusia citizen and business leader since 1903. The imprint of E. R. Merrill on Andalusia will be lasting. His influence will echo deep into the years to come. (The late Mr. E. R. Merrill was the grandfather of John S. ‘Scotty’ Merrill who continued the family tradition of the building and construction business at Andalusia Development Co. until his retirement a few years ago.)”

January 26, 1958 – “ANDALUSIA BAKERY – Operating continuously since 1912”

PIGGLY WIGGLY – We give S & H Green Stamps!”

January 9, 1958 – “Ray Butler has purchased the interests of Paul Hildreth in the Hildreth Feed, Seed, and Fertilizer Store. Butler has announced that he will continue to operate the business at the present location at the corner of Pear and Burnett Streets near City Hall (on Opp Ave.). He is the husband of Irene Davis Butler, receptionist for the REA. The couple has two sons, Rhett Butler and Rex Allen Butler.”

August 21, 1958 – “SPEED, SKILL ADD VIGOR TO ’58 BULLDOGS GROWLCoach Grady Elmore expressed high expectations from the Andy squad. In his opinion, Andy will be sporting one of the best backs in the conference with Ashton Wells, Donnie Sharpe, halfbacks; and Tracey Hattaway, quarterback. Assisting Elmore on the coaching staff will be Paul Terry and Shelby Searcy.”

ANTS IN PANTS for Grid Men was something worse Lime Burns! Ashton Wells, a senior who has racked up 2 touchdown runs of 64 and 47 yards in Andalusia’s first 2 victories is hospitalized from ‘lime burns’(When rain washed the marble dust from the field, lime was inadvertently used to mark the lines on the field!).”

November 20, 1958 – “BULLDOG-BOBCAT BATTLE TO DRAW TOP CROWD – A record crowd of 4,000 is expected, the largest previous crowd for this traditional battle was 2,813 in 1950. Up for grabs will be the coveted crown of the South Alabama conferences.”

“The Opp Eleven, also undefeated in its first 9 games will come to Municipal Stadium on Friday night. Neither Opp nor Andy has ever captured this distinction. WHICH WAY WILL THE BALL BOUNCE?”

November 27, 1958 – “ANDY HI BULLDOGS ROLL TO CONFERENCE CROWN VIA 10 WINS Andalusia 14 – Opp 6. Miss Nell Raborn, comely brunette, graciously wore the crown as Miss Homecoming in the annual festivities last Friday night at AHS. It was the most colorful homecoming in the history of the school. The big event topped with a 14-6 victory over the traditional rivals. The Homecoming dance was highlighted by a floor show with the Gay 20s as the theme!”

The 1958 newspaper reveals citizen deaths, babies born, wrecks, house fires, accidents, engagements and marriages, commercial and residential building, advertising of businesses, local and statewide politics, history, new businesses opening, entertainment at the movies, and more. I REMEMBER WHEN Elba flooded and the downtown newspaper office personnel of The Elba Clipper and others had to scurry around according to our Star News Editor Michele Cox Gerlach and place equipment and their newspaper archives up high to protect their history and their newspaper business. I am grateful that we can access the old newspapers for accounts which give us glimpses of the past so we can preserve Andalusia’s proud history that leads to the future.


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