Remember when: Thinking back to the ‘50s

Published 3:22 am Saturday, February 24, 2018


Don’t you just love thinking back to the 1950s? Even if that was not your hey-day, you probably enjoy watching the singers of the “oldies” shows on PBS with those stylish flared corduroy skirts lined in satin, bobby socks, rah-rah shoes, pony tails, and white dinner jackets. I was not even a teenager yet in 1958, but I remember some song hits of that year that are still two of my favorite all-time songs – “All I Have to Do is Dream” by the Everly Brothers and “Sugartime” by the McGuire Sisters. My family was always tuning in to the Saturday night “Hit Parade” back then! Bet you were, too – at least those of you who read this column.

From The Andalusia Star News February 27, 1958, edition – “Bobcats Claw the Bulldogs, 55-51 – Opp and Andy have been swapping basketball victories all season.”

“At Western Auto, a City League ‘catch’ ball with genuine leather cover costs 79 cents (Reg. $1.10); Fielder’s glove is $5.95; a Semi-Pro baseball with ‘Major League’ design costs $1.14.; a ‘Sand Lot’ field glove costs $3.79.”

March 6, 1958 – “Key Clubbers are shaping plans for their annual ‘Go to Church’ Sunday. Youths are enlisting the assistance of members of the Kiwanis Club, their sponsor. Bill Palmer is Kiwanis president; Jimmy Bruce, Andy Hi athlete, is Key Club president. Key Clubbers have been attending morning and evening services in various Andalusia churches to accelerate interest in the project.”

“The American Legion Post will host a mammoth birthday party cake and coffee for all war veterans and their wives. All WWI, WWII, Korean War veterans, and Legion Auxiliary are extended an invitation to the party. The 1958 membership drive will be Andalusia’s part in the 39th anniversary of the legion (established 1919). Similar birthday celebrations are planned coast-to-coast by the more than 17,000 posts of the American Legion.”

“Just off the City Square, a small crowd watched two youths engaged in some unscheduled fisticuffs! One observer remarked, ‘The youths expect to be on a televised ring event as seen on a TV fight!’

IN THE ANDY SWING – “Editor Ed Dannelly loves to kill rumors! ‘Somewhere, somehow the word has been circulating that Tom Jay, local contractor, is leaving Andalusia.’Tain’t so,’ Tom says firmly. ‘Have a lot right out yonder in Memorial Cemetery, and I have no intention of leaving Andalusia even after I die!’”

March 13, 1958 – “Ground was broken on March 12 in the initial steps of erection of buildings to house retail establishments of F. W. Woolworth and the Kenwin Shop at the location of the old bus station. The site is just across the street from the Count Darling Company (on East Three Notch). The announcement was made through Roger Prestwood of Prestwood and Prestwood Attorneys for Arnold Merrill, president of the First National Bank of Dozier. Low bidder for the buildings was Waller Construction Company of Andalusia. An over-the-counter restaurant will be a feature in the Woolworth store. (And the rest is history!)”

“Every school in Andalusia has received a new high fidelity recording of the National Anthem from the American Heritage Foundation. It was announced today by J. H. Johnson, Superintendent of Schools. Although Hi-Fi was introduced in 1947, this is the first rendition of ‘The Star Spangled Banner’ to appear on a single disc. It is hoped that the foundation’s new Hi-Fi recording will instill in the 41,000,000 young Americans attending our schools and colleges a deeper appreciation of our National Anthem and a greater understanding of the rights and responsibilities of our treasured American heritage.”

April 3, 1958 – “Batter up! Baseball in the Air! Officials of the Little League and the Minor League met Wednesday afternoon at the First Methodist Church with league president Albert Rankin. It is planned for both leagues to hold tryouts jointly for prospects at the same time. Some 250 boys participated in the youth baseball program last year when there were six teams in the Little League, four in the Minor League, and four in the Babe Ruth League.”

“The Federate Church Women met Monday, March 31, at the Covington County Training School at 3:30 p. m. Rev. Powers McLeod gave the opening prayer. Mrs. Bertha Parker was in charge of the program. The choir of the training school sang two beautiful religious songs. Mrs. Kate Young, wife of the Rev. G. R. Young, Jr., pastor of the Whatley Street First Baptist Church, gave an inspiring devotion on ‘God’s Workmen.’ She stated, ‘God’s vineyard is large enough for all of us to work in our chosen field – our church, our school, our community, our homes. We should strive to know where we are best fitted to promote the kingdom of God in harmony and unity.’

Mr. Adams, the principal of CCTS, talked on the progress made in the school which has been approved by the Southern Association for this year. Mrs. Mary Bryant is a new teacher added for those who need special help. Mr. Brown is a new science and math teacher. Mr. George Grubb is teaching a class in brick masonry. Mr. Samuel Washington is the new band director. 600 books for the library are needed to be eligible for approval next year. Rev. Palmer of the Methodist AME Church closed the meeting with prayer.” (Coach Richard Robertson just stopped by my office and said he was in about the 9th grade at CCTS in 1958. Mr. C. C. Baker was the coach then.)

April 10, 1958 – “Andy Landmark Being Altered – The John D. Riley home, stately 19-room structure that has stood since 1904 as an Andalusia landmark is being moved back from its present location. Columns and porches are being removed from the house situated at the corner of East Three Notch and Oak Streets for the ‘moving’ program. There will be no announcement for at least a week relative to the possible development of this key downtown business site, Mrs. Riley said Wednesday afternoon. The Riley home will be restored after it is moved to an area near the apartment at the rear of the house. Some months ago, John D. Riley (real estate developer), announced that he planned the erection of the buildings for a trade center at the (main street) location. (Riley is credited with building the first shopping center in Andalusia now home to Darby’s Pharmacy and Cost Plus Food Outlet. Additionally, I remember when the columns were shipped to Pine Bluff, Arkansas to be installed on the Riley’s daughter’s new home under construction – the home of Barney and Peggy Riley Graves. My family traveled out to Arkansas that summer to visit the Graves and see the new house. I remember it well!)”

“Guest teacher for the Baraca Class of the First Baptist Church on Sunday will be Ed Dannelly, Editor of The Andalusia Star News. Col. Guy Wilder, the Baraca Class president, has announced that the class program will be held at 9:45 a. m. at the Martin Theatre. (Dannelly and his wife Elizabeth known affectionately as ‘Twinkle’ later researched and wrote in 1973 a booklet on the history of the Methodist Church in Andalusia.”

April 24, 1958 – “The dean of the Covington County Bar, one of Andalusia’s most widely loved and esteemed citizens, observed his 81st birthday on Sunday, April 20. Kin and friends of J. L. Murphy, a practicing attorney in Andalusia since 1913, saluted the honoree at a reception at his home (on River Falls Street). Children, grandchildren, brothers, sisters, and a nephew joined Mr. and Mrs. Murphy for their Sunday luncheon.”

“Later some 50 guests called during the afternoon at a reception when ‘Lawyer Murphy’ was showered with gifts. The luncheon and reception was a highlight of the 35 years in which Murphy has practiced law and resided in Andalusia.”

J. L. Murphy was born in Herbert and was one of 12 children. He was born in a log cabin. His father, John Allen Murphy, was an extensive land owner and farmer. Murphy attended school in Evergreen and the Agricultural Academy there before going to Auburn and later the University of Alabama where he received his law degree. He is married to the former Lillian John Walker of Brewton.”

The 1958 Star reports, “Off and on since ‘Alabama Industry Days’ were first observed in 1950, Andalusia and Covington County have joined in the project. This year, new interest in this campaign is being ignited with numerous exhibits being placed in show windows of business enterprises on the Andalusia City Square.”

Isn’t it interesting that through the decades and years, the Andalusia Square has been referred to as the ‘Public Square,’ the “City Square,’ and now the ‘Court Square?’ Those in the know say its design is representative of a Spanish plaza, fitting for a town with a Spanish name!

So much has happened on that square – horses tied to hitching posts, whiskey parlors and their patrons stumbling out of the doorways, shootouts on the sidewalks, horse and buggy rides on Sunday afternoons, arson attempts to public buildings, watering troughs being replenished for the animals of transportation prior to the days of automobiles, celebrations of the New Years Eve events and other important occasions with excited citizens and their caravans driving the wrong way around honking their horns at midnight, traffic tickets being written for minor violations of the parking meter days, Saturday morning rummage sales on the courthouse seat walls, mule and wagons circling on Saturdays when country came to town, club ladies protesting at sit-ins in their rocking chairs when there was the threat of cutting through the landscaped park of chinaberry trees, blissful newlyweds rushing out of the courthouse after saying their “I do’s” as they jumped in the cars and raced away, and parades celebrating wars end, patriotic occasions, and the Christmas season with fire trucks of all vintages and horses always bringing up the rear!

Do any of you REMEMBER WHEN Editor Dannelly penned these words in 1958? “Andalusians are proud of what industry does for our community. Most thinking citizens subscribe without reservation to the motto: ‘WHAT ANDALUSIA MAKES, MAKES ANDALUSIA!’” Isn’t it the still the truth!


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