Remember When: Jingle bell rockin’ in Andalusia 1957
Published 2:52 am Saturday, December 23, 2017
In 1957 Elvis’ Christmas Album was revolutionary at the time. Irving Berlin, the author of “White Christmas” was so scandalized by Elvis’ 1957 version of the song that he tried to get it banned from radio. Instead, the album featuring his country and gospel roots topped the billboard charts for a month and went on to sell nearly 20 million copies. The classic song on the album, of course, was “Blue Christmas.” I wonder if anyone around here still has that album in their collection of LP’s. It probably has a surprising monetary if not sentimental value today!
From the December 1957 Andalusia Star, sixty years ago, the newspaper office archives reveals some interesting goings-on in our community.
“Speller Moates is anxious to learn more about the ‘ball of fire’ he saw in the sky last Saturday night while driving south on the Brewton Highway, some four miles south of Andalusia. He spotted what he thought was a bright star. He and his wife, Lois, observed the ‘ball of fire’ moving at a speedy pace for several minutes before it dropped from the horizon. He reports that he would like to hear from any others who observed the phenomena. His interest was stirred after a highway patrolman at Hattiesburg, Mississippi reported seeing a ‘ball of fire’ on Sunday.”
“Christmas music will fill the air in Andalusia on Monday night, December 16, when the AHS Band and the Glee Clubbers will join in a musical presentation that is annually a highlight of the Yule season. Miss Merilyn Jones, the Glee Club instructor, and Lacey Powell, Jr., the Andy Hi bandmaster, will direct the musicale in the AHS gymnasium starting at 7:30 p. m.”
“In addition to the Jr. and Sr. Glee Clubs, there will be special music by the Girls’ Ensemble and ‘The Downbeats.’ Featured in the program, the chorus will sing ‘Gesu Bambino,’ ‘Ye Watchers and Ye Holy Ones,’ ‘Birthday of a King,’ ‘Go Tell It on the Mountain,’ ‘Carol of the Drum,’ ‘What Child Is This,’ and ‘Jingle Bell Calypso.’”
“’The Downbeats’ consist of Roy Chisum, Robert Anderson, Kenneth Cook, and Donnie Sharpe. The Girls’ Ensemble is made up of Jenelle Godwin, Linda Dale Bishop, Pat O’Neal, Lulu Waller, Betty Renfroe, Linda Brogden, Bebe Merrill, Margaret Mason, and Mary Mabry. The ensemble will highlight the program with ‘Mister Santa.’ The band will play ‘Christmas Fantasy’ and selections from ‘The King and I.’”
“Andy’s high-stepping Bulldog band has been selected to represent Alabama high schools at the Senior Bowl in Mobile on January 4. New uniforms have been purchased for this occasion. The band is made up of 65 students. Tommy O’Neal leads the way as drum major. Majorettes are Butch McDonald, Suzanne Brown, Barbara Meredith, and Margo Russell.”
“Gunter-Dunn Christmas Sale – Reclining Lounge Chairs, $79.95; Desk Sets, $39.95.” (I think that Jimmy Krudop’s parents and my parents must have bought our maple school desks there in 1957. We were about 10 years old. Once when I was visiting the Krudop house, I spotted the desk and chair set at his house that looked just like the one that I had in my room growing up. That desk is now in my oldest grandson’s room!)
“E. E. Anthony, Sr., bank president and civic leader, was named ‘Man of the Year’ by the Andalusia Kiwanis Club at the annual Ladies’ Night Dinner held at the Point A Lodge.”
“Visit Your Western Auto Associate Store – Mahogany Baby Grand Piano and Bench, $9.95; Betsy McCall Pretty Pac, $2.98; Winchester 73 Replica Rifle, A rootin’ shootin’ smokin’ hon’ of a gun! A rifle that won the West! Perfect for little scouts and injun fighters! – $3.88; 18” Miss Peep Baby Doll, $5.98.”
“An organizational meeting of the DAR was held on Monday, December 2, 1957 at the home of Mrs. Richard Cobbs on Sanford Road. There were 15 charter members present for the first meeting.” (Congratulations to the Old Three Notch Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution on their 60th anniversary this year of 2017!)
“The Book and Card Shop at Christmas, the Perfect Gift – the Revised Standard Version Bible – E. 3-Notch St.”
“Andy Churches Slate Carol Services, Hymn Festivals, Pageants, and Communion Rituals.”
“Skinners Furniture – Chrome Dinettes, $69.95; Chenille Bedspreads, $3.95; Children’s Roller Skates, $3.95 up.”
“Bootleggers Bomb Officers With Jugs of Moonshine – The most exciting phase of the Monday night chase of two bootleggers through the northeast residential area of Andalusia was at the intersection of Sanford Road and East Three Notch Street. ABC Officer W. O. Catrett and Deputy Roy Free in a 1956 Ford were right behind the rum runners for a distance of some 7 miles. Highway Patrolman W. S. McGaughy along with Chief Deputy C. E. Thompson were also ‘hot on the wheels’ of the bootleggers. A good tip had been received by the law officers that moonshine was being transported from Sanford down to Florida.”
“All the way from the Midway Drive-In area of Sanford to Andalusia, the two cars of officers were racing within sight of the bootleggers on at least half a dozen occasions, officers fired pistols aiming at the tires. But whenever Catrett and Free would pull to the center of the highway, the bootleggers would dump 5-gallon jugs of moonshine whiskey right in the path of the officers’ cars. Whiskey splashing upon the windshield of the officers’ autos almost blinded them.”
“At one point, Catrett’s car ran off the shoulder of the highway before the windshield wiper could be turned on. At another point, the officers were driving so close to the bootlegger’s car, the vehicles were almost bumper to bumper while traveling at an estimated 100 MPH. McGaughy was so close behind that his car was bathed with moonshine.”
“As the chase started in Sanford, Andalusia city police were notified via radio. City Sgt. Charles McCord with officer, Joe Finkley drove to the Sanford Road – East Three Notch Street intersection to establish a road block. As they hit the Central of Georgia RR crossing, sirens were blasting and tires were screeching as the bootleggers’ car swung around the police cars, maneuvered the curves at the Texaco Center and at the Lorraine home on the curve, circled back on 4th Avenue and College Street back to the Gantt Highway and thence to the Harmony Road.”
“The rum runners were compelled to abandon their vehicle at Cedar Grove near Sasser’s Store after it jumped a curve! The vehicle shot off the road, ran into a pile of coal, and narrowly missed a tree. The vehicle was abandoned in the yard of the Rev. W. J. H. Sasser, a widely known Baptist minister.”
I REMEMBER WHEN an inebriated driver missed the curve on East Three Notch Street in the middle of the night. It rolled over and over in the Lorraine yard. My daddy, Charlie Bass, who lived in the first house on the East Three Notch Court phoned the police and said, “Come quick to the Lorraine curve! There has been a wreck!” It was 1980 something or another by then, and no one knew where the Lorraine curve was! Watching the scene from the upstairs window, he called police headquarters again. “Hurry, the drunk is staggering away!” Mr. E. D. Lorraine who had once lived there was once a successful wholesale grocery merchant/businessman in the old Andalusia days. History is so quickly forgotten!
“The wind was brisk and the thermometer had dropped when Santa Claus arrived in Andalusia last Saturday to officially launch the Christmas season from the Covington capitol city situated in the ‘heart of South Alabama’ trade area. On hand to give Santa a warm welcome were a host of youngsters including 3-year old son of Mayor Leland Enzor, Lee, and Turner’s owner, Sol Rosen, chairman of the Chamber of Commerce Xmas Committee, along with Dige Bishop at the (radio) microphone! Santa will be a special guest at the annual Xmas movie sponsored by the Jaycees and the Martin Theatre.” (I don’t really like spelling Christmas that way, but Editor Ed Dannelly did on many occasions – for standard newspaper brevity, I am sure!)
“Town and Country – Lingerie by Henson and Rogers; Gowns and Peignoirs, Bed Jackets, Slips, and Pajamas in a selection of breath taking styles and colors; Holiday Dresses; Jeweled Collars and Sweaters; Evening Bags and Gloves; Phone 840.”
According to Patricia Thompson, the Fashion Shoppe owned by Martha Cook and the Mal-Fran Shop, stores for ladies’ fashions, preceded Town and Country which opened in the Fall of 1950. When Merle Jones’ daughter Patricia headed off to college at Auburn University, Merle Jones and Lois Caton partnered up to establish Town and Country. In his airplane James Caton flew them to market in Dallas and New York City to purchase merchandise to open the high-end store for the ladies of not only Andalusia but also loyal customers that came regularly from the nearby cities. Zola Lee Brawner, Nell Wood, and Lena Caton, expert seamstress, were among the original employees.
The first fashion show was held at the Andalusia Country Club where a runway ramp was installed across the swimming pool. Local ladies modeled the latest fashions, and Town and Country was off to a remarkable start that has lasted all these years. Lois Caton later sold her interest in the store that was first located on the O’Neal Court. The growing business later moved to South Three Notch Street in the historic home occupied previously by Foreman Funeral Home. Daphne Posey purchased Patricia and John Thompson’s interest in 2010 and relocated the store to the West By-pass at the “TRIO” Shopping Center.
“Spicer Cleaners – Trust Your Fine Clothes to Experts – Look Your Best This Holiday Season.”
“Those ‘walking mumps’ have crossed the hall at the courthouse from the office of Tax Collector, Jack Jay, over to the suite of Mrs. C. F. Hart, Tax Assessor. The malady has marched right down the ‘Cotton Street bottom’ and invaded the premises of the Andalusia Star News office. The thing has now gone beyond the laughing stage!”
“Rip to shreds that heart-warming thought that any person who had wisdom teeth removed is immune to the mumps. Tain’t so! Ray Murphy is minus his wisdom teeth, and this did not slow up the mumps when they embarrassed the lawyer! If those ‘walking mumps’ are transformed into ‘running mumps,’ look out what might happen to the folks on the square by Christmas!”
“We (according to Editor Dannelly) have a business neighbor on whose door hangs some bells. Open the door, and the bells chime warning those at work in the back that a customer is ‘up front.’ The ring is cheering! It can put customers and friends in the mood for Christmas!”
REMEMBER WHEN “Jingle Bell Rock,” an American popular Christmas song, was recorded by Bobby Helms in October 1957 and released that Christmas. It has received frequent airplay on radios across the America and beyond every Christmas season since that time.
Those lyrics certainly apply to our Court Square Candyland this Christmas season – “What a bright time, it’s the right time to rock the night away – Dancin’ and prancin’ in Jingle Bell Square!” MERRY CHRISTMAS, readers! Shop Andalusia and after Christmas during the holidays, visit the Three Notch Museum!
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.