Remember when? Seems like just yesterday

Published 2:08 am Saturday, November 18, 2017

Brainstorming with my husband Jimmy on the way out of town one day this week, we came up with some remembrances of our growing up days in the 1950s and 60s that you the readers might enjoy thinking back on.

Remember whenshoe shine boys were on the sidewalk in front of Brooks Shoe Shop. Hillary Trawick will shine your shoes in that shop today, but just to see shoe shine boys again would be reminiscent of older times.

Remember whenrummage sales were held on the square on the seat walls in front of the courthouse. Those turned into the garage and yard sales of today.

Remember when – the shoe shop clerks like Baxter’s and Dale’s would measure your foot so you could be fitted for pairs of shoes that the salesperson would bring out from a back store room.

Remember whenbusinessmen who worked downtown would take a coffee break about 10:00 in the morning and go to places like O’Neal Drug Store, Rooster’s Café, Young’s Café, or The Pit.

Remember whencity street markers were the black and white kind; later the concrete type that finally evolved to the green and white ones of today’s streets, lanes, courts, and roads.

Remember whenBrooks Shoe Shop would not only repair shoes and boots but also saddles and bridles. Maybe they still do!

Remember when – a man or young boy could buy Tuf Nut jeans that came with a free knife at Covington Stores, Levis at The Taylor Shop, and Liberty overalls at The James Store.

Remember when – the candy counters at V. J. Elmores, Christos, L. M. Wests, and Woolworths drew shoppers to those areas of the dime stores, because you would smell popcorn popping.

Remember when mailmen like James Rabren and Leamon Hudson would deliver the mail on foot. They had a big brown leather bag full of mail as they made the stops at the home mail boxes walking around the neighborhoods.

Remember when – mothers mostly cooked three meals a day. “Come home, it’s suppertime!” That was the norm. That’s probably why my mother posted a cute sign on the kitchen wall in her golden years, “KITCHEN CLOSED DUE TO ILLNESS. I’M SICK OF COOKING!”

Remember when – students would sometimes carry lunchboxes to school. Some of those now are collector’s items such as “Superman,” “Mickey Mouse,” “Cinderella,” to name a few and can be found in antique shops!

Remember whenpalm trees adorned the median on Church Street. Don’t know if bugs or the wintertime caused them to die! The replacements, crepe myrtles and Indian hawthorns, look good today!

Remember whenLadies’ Sunday dresses were not complete without the Jackie Kennedy style hats of the 1960s.

Remember when – the windows at East Three Notch and Church Street Schools were raised soon after the radiators heated up the classrooms in the wintertime. A bee might fly in and land on some student’s arm raised to answer a question which was a reasonable excuse to cause a disruption by a class clown!

Remember whenSacred Harp singers brought contrast to the upstairs courthouse courtroom from harmonious singing to trial room dissonance.

Remember when – the present S & D Garage car lot on River Falls Street was once the parking lot for Alatex workers. They would park, cross the railroad track, and walk up some steps that led to the various shirt factory buildings.

Remember when – the Variety Store on River Falls Street sold everything except the kitchen sink including kites, wood airplanes to put together, bubble gum with baseball cards, tops, ball and jacks, yo-yos, funny books, and miniature plastic cowboys and Indians as well as soldiers and tanks.

Remember when – the first managers of Little League ball in Andalusia were William “Chick” Earle, Rev. John Jeffers, Rev. Powers McLeod, and Manny Russo. Mr. Bernard Simmons of The Commercial Bank helped to organize this league with the support of (Was it…?) the Lions Club. (I stand open for corrections and additions!)

Remember whenfallout shelter signs were posted prominently on several public buildings around town. The courthouse is the one that comes to my mind. A sign was on the front of the building near the “Cancer Can Be Cured” sign. Do we need to mark sites of possible fallout shelters again in this day and time?

Remember when – the District Attorney was known as the Solicitor. The Revenue Commissioner was known as the Tax Collector. The Sheriff’s office phone number was 255. That office was also in the courthouse. Don’t forget the spittoons that were placed around those marble floors in strategic places! One of those spittoons is on display at the museum. Are there any more around not being used?

Remember when – the circus fairgrounds were located at the top of Devereux Hill on Highway 84 West/River Falls Road. That was in the day of the high trapeze acts with nets and elephants.

Remember when – news of moonshine whiskey still raids were pretty commonplace in the local newspaper. Wish we could find some artifacts out in the woods or in someone’s barn to set up a display at the Three Notch Museum. We can keep the donor anonymous! Is anyone out there reading this that can contribute the vintage equipment for this project? Oh, yes, we are still looking for an authentic “Little Brown Shack out back (outhouse)” to go with the Clark family log cabin!

Remember When – children used to get switched with those switches that grew on the hedge rows! I was one of those children along with other neighborhood kids such as Kathy and Bill King, Jimmy and Ballard Krudop, and Ivan Bishop. That was in the McRainey Loop, Doyle Street, Faircloth Street neighborhood.

Remember when – parents would punch a hole in the bottle cap of a Coca-Cola with an ice pick, and the children would delight at drinking a fizzling Coke from the top of the glass bottle.

Remember when – there was a bowling alley on the new West By-pass at the time where Harper Electric is now located – then another one next to the present Sears store. That bowling alley turned into the Alatex outlet and later converted into a bowling alley again.

Remember whenteenage boys about the age of 14 drove motor scooters around town. Many of them delivered early morning and afternoon edition newspapers.

Remember whentv cable came to town. A lot of “rabbit ears” ended up in the landfills. I’ve heard of recent the “rabbit ears” and the “outdoor antennas” may be coming back!

Remember when – the telephone numbers used to end in “W” and “J.” An example of that was my parents’ phone number which was “571-J.” I don’t know how I remember that, because I can’t even remember what I am supposed to do next week!

Remember when – everybody had to know how to drive a “stick shift” car or truck. Some autos had automatic transmission, but stick shift was pretty common. It worked pretty well if you had to learn to drive in your own back yard like some of us! Don’t forget the fun of coordinating the “clutch” and the “accelerator!” We would call that multi-tasking today!

Remember when – the Gables Apartments had a good many widow women living there. When someone like a visitor would drive up and park especially at night, the curtains in many of the windows would part!

Remember when – there were a lot more early morning revival services than there are today. Do we not still need to be revived early on to get the day started right especially since they served chocolate milk and doughnuts to the students headed for school!

Remember whenHolloway Drive between Dunson Street and Church Street was called Hixon Drive. Harold Hixon whose shop was located there was a sign painter. He painted some of the first real estate signs in the 1970s – maybe even before that. Berry O’Neal was also a popular master sign painter just like his son Duane is today. The computers have stolen the sign-painting market for the most part.

Remember when – there were two skating rinks downtown, maybe not at the same time. The first rink was in a tent with a wooden floor in a spot behind a service station that one could drive in from Church Street or River Falls Street. That station was run by Mr. Russo and later by Mr. Seales. The other skating rink was across from The Commercial Bank on Church Street in the Scherf building now occupied by Michael Jackson’s health and fitness gym. Mr. D’s Disco occupied that building during the late 1970s.

Remember whenschool children were taught cursive handwriting in the subject name of “penmanship” just like little Charles Eugene Brawner in his third grade class at East Three Notch taught by Olive Cofield. Brawner’s report cards of the 1930s were recently sent to the Covington Historical Society for preserving history. This is thanks to his daughter Leisa Barton Taylor of Huntsville.

When we think back and REMEMBER WHEN our lives and our town were so different in past eras, we are reminded that change is inevitable! A certain amount of pride and satisfaction is achieved by taking a backward look! I hope you’ll agree.


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