Remember when: Neck-and-Neck in ‘55

Published 12:51 am Saturday, June 23, 2018

“It was a “jackpot” week for the stork in Andalusia from January 10 through January 18, 1955,” Star News Editor Ed Dannelly wrote. “A total of 18 babies were born at the city’s two hospitals. There were 3 Carters, 2 Davises, and 2 Smiths arriving or leaving for home during the week.”

“In directing the routing of gifts, flowers, and well-wishers, not to mention the proud fathers and other kin, the hospital staff members had their hands full according to Mrs. Sara Howell, receptionist, and some of her colleagues who were working overtime because of the wave of new babies with the same names!”

January 20, 1955 – “The mammoth inauguration of James E. Folsom as governor in Montgomery, the most gigantic political festival Alabama has ever known echoed and re-echoed into the far reaches of Covington County and Andalusia on Monday. Bands from Andalusia, Opp, and Florala marched in the parade. Just as the Andalusia and Florala bands were marching into the limelight, there was an interruption for a tv commercial. By the time the announcer got in a few fleeting words about the bands, the Andy band was pictured only in the distance. The Florala band was never shown. Hundreds, even school children watching tv at school in the auditorium, bore the slight with keen disappointment. Numerous tv watching parties were staged to witness the inauguration.”

February 10, 1955 – “The 2nd verse to that refrain ‘Ya’ll Come’ is now being written. It’s just a couple of words, too, ‘Ya’ll Pay!’ This 2nd verse is not proving so popular as was the ‘Big Jim’ Folsom campaign jingle. Over at Opp, a gasoline distributor reported that in less than 2 hours last week, he secured 750 names to a petition protesting a 2-cent gas tax proposal to build roads. With the whooping landslide Folsom recorded in Opp in 1954, we doubt if it is possible to find among any group of 750 people some who did not mark an ‘X’ for ‘Big Jim!’ ‘Ya’ll Pay’ are words that should be followed by a mouth-washing!”

I always remember hearing that Governor “Big Jim” Folsom is credited with paving all of the farm-to-market roads in the state of Alabama. I was a child then but his legend lives on! Does anyone remember when the Folsom band wagon came to town with a lively band playing on a trailer parked in front of the courthouse? I always heard that “Big Jim” had one of those cardboard church fans and a fly swatter in his hand as he danced around! We have some of those church fans down at the Three Notch Museum! A 45 record was made of the campaign song, “Ya’ll Come,” and I happen to be the proud owner of one of those, now a collector’s item, it could be called! Don’t know where it came from and don’t know where it will go one day – not to the yard sale, please, children!

In “Society” news in ’55 (almost 10 years after the end of World War II), the Rook Club, the Pastime Club, the 13 Club, the Mentor Club, the Parnassus Club, the Cynosure Club, the Inter Se Club, the Rookers Club, the Study Club, and the Pine Hills Garden Club were entertaining ladies at card games, beautification endeavors, and other intellectually stimulating gatherings to entertain, enlighten, and better the community. Refreshments, hostesses, and door prizes were written about in the social columns of the day.

January 20, 1955 – “The Baptist churches of Covington County will inaugurate a monthly program of hymn singing next Sunday, January 30, at 2:30 p. m. in the First Baptist Church (downtown). Plans are for promotion of better church music for the singing of the great hymns of the Christian church. Special numbers will be given by the choirs of FBC, Andalusia; FBC, Opp; and FBC, Florala. Singers from the various churches over the county will direct the singing. Each church is directed to bring Broadman hymnals.” (Can we get that going again?)

RANDOLPH WATSON, photographer, doesn’t just ‘take pictures.’ Every portrait is a work of art, a masterpiece you’ll be proud to hand down through the years.”

January 27, 1955 – “Two elderly Andalusia unsuspecting ladies were bilked of some $500. In savings by flim-flam artists on Friday night of last week. Mattie and Mary Johnson, old maid sisters, who have resided for the past 25 years on Cotton Street extension were saving for one of the sisters to undergo cataract surgery, according to Sheriff Cliff Meredith.”

“A thief posing as a Methodist minister worked the ‘Bible trick.’ They had kept all of their money at home since they had lost all their savings when a bank at Gantt failed back in the Depression years of the 1930s. After the fake minister read their palms, the flim-flammer ordered them to bring out the family Bible. Turning to scripture, the “minister” read a few verses and directed that the women place ‘all their money’ in the open Bible.”

“The frightened women followed the instructions. With considerable arm waving and exhortations, the flim-flammer slammed the Bible saying that the book should remain closed until 11:00 a. m. Saturday when he promised to return. One or two men were waiting outside in a car. That was the last the ladies saw of the fake preacher, his accomplices, and their money!”

It was later discovered that the flim-flammer had been posing as a stove repairman all over town and had been “casing” potential victims.

WATSON’S – The store that constantly lowers your cost of living. On the Square. 800 pair men’s dress shoes. Values $14.95 marked to go at $6.50 to $9.95 pair.”

Do you remember that store that was located in the Prestwood building on the corner of Church Street? I recall it being very packed with hanging up clothes and pants and such stacked on tables. There was a pungent odor of new material, the kind of smell of dye that burns your eyes. They must have done a lot of business in those days because of their large inventory on hand.

“Taking notes from the Band Parents, officials of the Andalusia Public Library have sparked the organization of a group to be known as ‘Friends of the Library.’ It will function to help raise funds for the library.”

BARROW MOTOR SERVICETeddy Barrow, owner. Satisfaction guaranteed. Phone 100. Red Level.” (What the late Teddy Barrow, known far and wide, started up in Red Level many years ago moved into the furniture business line and that continues to flourish here in Andalusia and other branch locations.)

“Pages of history will be turned back on Thursday night when the P. T. A. members of Church Street and East Three Notch Schools join in celebrating Founder’s Day. The P. T. A. was founded in 1897 by a Congress of mothers in Marietta, Georgia. A skit, ‘Alice in Founder’s Land’ will be the highlight under the direction of Mrs. Gary Cumbie. The combined membership in Andalusia nears the 600 mark.”

SOUTHERN CRAFTSMEN FURNITURE STOREPete, Zig, and Bill Banks, owners. Just off Sanford Road. Manufacturers of Custom-built Furniture and Restorers of Old Furniture. Telephone 521.”

This local company that sold Victorian reproduction furniture nationally was located on Through Street in the building that recently burned to the ground. That structure was originally the home of the National Guard Armory and later occupied for a time by Builder Jack Jay and afterward by Pollock Plumbing Supply Company.

February 24, 1955 – “It was a neck-and-neck decision at the Jaycees Ladies’ Night on who came dressed in the most colorful tenant-farmer’s attire. The dinner was held on Monday night at the Amvet’s Club. Deputy Sheriff Harvey Wilson and Highway Patrolman Benny Gatlin both clad in one-strap overalls and old straw hats went into the finals dead heat.”

Dr. Dan McInnish called for a run-off. Wilson put down his hoe, stepped aside, and came forth from a croaker sack with a Rhode Island red hen. The deputy then proceeded to wring the chicken’s neck right in the middle of the dance floor to the consternation of some of the ladies. The hen began to dance. This put Gatlin on the spot. He had played all his aces.”

“Stuttering for a moment, Gatlin waited for the hen to die. Then he stepped forth and began plucking feathers of the dead fowl, scattering the litter all over the dance floor. The diners pushed the applause meter for each to 100 and both contestants were awarded duplicate prizes!”

More than likely, the band was playing “Rock Around the Clock” or “Dance With Me, Henry” while the chicken was dancing! What more can I say? If any of you readers were in attendance at that event and REMEMBER WHEN, then you know it was a memorable sight as I have often heard!

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