Remember when: School annexes were added in ‘51

Published 12:05 am Saturday, August 25, 2018

August 30, 1951 (The Andalusia Star News) – “Bells Ring for Kids on Monday – Over 1,500 children are expected to enroll for the 1951-52 term, an increase of about 100 over last year’s enrollment according to school Superintendent J. H. Johnson.”

Cafeterias in the three schools will be open the first week. Meals served in the grammar schools will be 25 cents. In the high school, the cost will depend on the food chosen.”

“All 1st grade pupils must bring birth certificates, and they must be vaccinated for small pox.”

I remember when I got that small pox shot. It was just a tiny scratch. That little round scar on my left arm is barely visible today. Maybe some of you “baby-boomers” remember your vaccination, too!

Diane Southwell in the hallway of the AHS annex.

“Open house will be held at the three city schools Sunday, September 2, from 3 until 5 p. m. Dedication of the East Three Notch addition (known as the ‘annex’) is slated for 3:15 while ceremonies at Church Street are scheduled for 4:00.”

“The ceremonies will begin when building contractor Bill Waller presents the key to the building to Mayor Tracey Wilder. Then Wilder will present the key to L. E. Brown, Chairman of the Board of Education. Mr. Lewis Chesser, East Three Notch P. T. A. president, will preside.”

“After a prayer of dedication by Rev. John Jeffers, Janice Ann Brown (now Mrs. Charles ‘Jan’ Morris), granddaughter of L. E. Brown, will unveil the plaque placed at the corner of the new structure.”

“At the Church Street addition (known as the ‘annex’), a similar dedication program will take place. Mrs. George Brewer, P. T. A. president, will preside. After the presentation of the building key to the mayor and the city school board chairman, and after a prayer by Rev. Max Milligan, the plaque will be unveiled by Joyce Wilder, daughter of the mayor. Refreshments will be served at the open house at all schools.”

“Although the high school addition (known as the ‘annex’) will not be dedicated until a later date, it will be open to visitors for inspection.”

Ed Dannelly editorialized about the three new annex school buildings – “Greeting school children of and at opening of the 1951-52 term will be new building annexes at each of the three institutions of the city system. The fact that these buildings have been erected stand as a testimonial to strong leadership of education head and the city fathers. Andalusia can point with pride, today, to school plants that are worthy to house our citizens of tomorrow during their most formative years.

September 6, 1951 – “Heart of Dixie – Placing a catchy slogan on Alabama automobile tags has been a promotion in which our state has dropped behind. While other states have adopted tags that grab the attention of the public when their citizens travel about, Alabama has been content merely to put ‘Alabama’ on the vehicle licenses. It has a noble ring. It is a lofty boast. We think it fitting the way Dixie is aflame with progress – and we mean growth and development – the state of Alabama will have to move at a speedy tempo to hold claim to the title!”

Ten waste receptacles – that is what Councilman and Jaycee Charlie Bass says call ‘em, not trash cans – were placed about city streets of Andalusia on Wednesday. It is part of the Jaycee project to help keep downtown Andalusia clean!”

Engineers are busy drawing plans and specifications for the new $3 million Gantt REA steam generating plant. The program for building is proceeding on schedule, Basil Thompson, the REA chief reports.”

“If your fishing luck is poor, you’ll have to blame it on something other than the nearby ponds. The Gantt and Point A lakes have been checked by a fisheries biologist of the Department of Conservation of the State of Alabama and found to be ‘well-stocked’ with young bream and bass. ‘Any additional restocking would not be recommended,’ the biologist stated. Alabama Electric Cooperative which operates hydro power generating plants (dams) at Gantt and Point A had planned to restock the two lakes if the survey showed that the ‘fish population’ had dropped to a low level.”

September 13, 1951 – “Favorite Pastime – Small-town Alabama this week turns to its favorite autumn pastime – high school football. Spirit among the Bulldog footballers as of this hour is at a high peek. This reflected among sports-minded townspeople. Boys are being built into men on the gridiron!”

“It’s Game Time – Friday Night – September 13, 1951 – 8:00 p. m. – Red Level vs. Andalusia – Don’t Miss It! Cheer the Teams on to Victory!”

’For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow’ was the tune as the band played tribute to new coaches, Bob Cochran and John ‘Red’ Williamson. The band spelled out on the field ‘Bob’ and ‘Red.’

September 20, 1951“Bench Strength Gives Andy Power to Roll Over Red Level 27-0.”

Sara Sasser announces the opening of her dancing classes at Dr. E. A. Ray’s Recreation Hall on Auburn St. (Ave.) on Tuesday, September 25, 1951 at 3:00 p. m.”

Call me a “hoarder” if you want to, but I still have my black patent tap shoes from Mrs. Sasser’s dance lessons. I still wish I could tap dance. Even Dorothy Rainer Sellers let me take tap dancing lessons for about two months when I was an adult. My daughter was ashamed of me so that dream was short-lived! Guess I’ve watched too many Ginger Rogers and Gene Kelley movies like ‘Singing in the Rain’ on TCM (Turner Classic Movies)! I often tell people that adults can learn to play the piano easier than children, but tap dancing – I guess not!

“Around 3,500, the largest to attend an all-night singing in Andalusia was attracted to the Lions Club sponsored songfest at the Municipal Stadium Saturday night. It was a hot dog eating crowd, too. More than 2,800 were prepared and sold by Lions Club members operating the concessions. Hordes of Covington Countians turned out to enjoy the performances of the Statesmen Quartet, the Happy Two, the Melody Boys, the Blue Ridge Quartet, and the Crusaders. The proceeds of the singings go to charitable organizations and projects in Andalusia.”

October 4, 1951“Ab Powell Goes to Bed as Bama Takes It On ChinAbner Powell, Jr., a pillar in the Fellowship Class of the First Baptist Church, and Andalusia’s most vocal University of Alabama football follower was absent from Sunday School on Sunday. Reason given was illness.”

Score of the Alabama-LSU game on the Saturday before was LSU 13, Alabama 7. Deeply concerned over Powell’s health, members of the Sunday School class sent flowers to their bed-ridden member. Bedecked in white ribbons, the posies carried the inscription, ‘Our hearts bleed for you.’

“To prove it, red ink was squirted on the white ribbons. Then some jokester printed on the ribbons the Alabama game score and Auburn 24-Vandy 14.”

“It was enough to get Powell out of his bed by Monday and out to the Quarterback Club meeting on that night when he brought his flowers for a public showing!”

This weekend football season begins for many high school teams. College games are not far behind. Some will win, some will lose. “The Boys of Fall” and their coaches have worked all summer running laps, lifting weights, drinking pickle juice! Yes, it’s that time of year when the evening air will resound with ‘2 bits, 4 bits, 6 bits a dollar, all for my team, stand up and holler!’

I hope we will all Remember When our favorite hometown football team won and when they lost; when extraordinary plays were made; when the cheerleaders mostly wore corduroy and satin (if you are a ‘baby-boomer,’ that is); when peanuts, popcorn, and hot dogs were the best; when the band played the school’s fight songs over and over; when the referees were unmercifully yelled at; when the mama’s held their breath on every play; when the fan’s thought the players could-a, would-a, should-a done something different; when the daddy’s took so much pride in their sons’ accomplishments.

It is inspiring to look back at the beginning of school and football season from another era. A lot changes, but much is the same in this wonderful fall season!

Sue Bass Wilson, AHS Class of 1965, is a real estate broker and long-time member of the Covington Historical Society. She can be reached at