Remember when: Even horses had ice route memorized

Published 2:37 am Saturday, November 17, 2018

Some deep thinker once said, “We must always have old memories and young hopes.” Another famous quote goes like this, “The best prophet of the future is the past.” Others say that “the past is just a bucket of ashes!” Nostalgia is often defined as a return to home and yesteryear. Longfellow reminds us that our lives are “footprints on the sands of time.” So, you readers made up of several generations, let’s see what you can remember or learn about Andalusians who once lived on the city streets some of you now reside.

Remember when – there was a large two-story home on the corner of Crescent and River Falls Street. The Burnettes lived there. Mrs. Burnette was a Bellingrath whose family owned the Coca-Cola franchises in Alabama and the local bottling company in Andalusia that Mr. Burnette ran.  Mr. Will Coleman worked for the Burnette family for many years as chauffeur and manager of the family kitchen. Coleman was later employed by the J. G. Scherf family in much the same capacity.

Remember when – there were horse drawn wagons that traveled the streets of Andalusia delivering ice to homes on a regular schedule. This was before the days of the electric refrigerator. Large blocks of ice were kept under heavy canvas to prevent melting. The ice man would saw the big blocks with an ice saw. Young Sidney Waits and his boyhood friends would catch the “snow” under the saw for a snow cone. Waits said that the horses were so familiar with the routes, they knew exactly where to stop. The driver knew the size of everyone’s “ice box.” He would take a block of ice, the correct size, to the back porch of a house and place it in the “ice box.” Waits grew up on the Lorraine curve on East Three Notch. 

My great maternal grandmother Amanda Borom Mathis perished the thought of purchasing an electric refrigerator. Her grown son Gordon Mathis had other ideas, and he insisted that she buy one downtown at the furniture store and get used to a modern convenience! For as long as she lived, she kept that refrigerator plugged in until it got real cool then she unplugged it for a time. Plug and unplug! She liked her “ice box” best! It must be true – You can’t teach an old dog new tricks!

Remember whendowntown grocery stores made door to door deliveries.  A small truck with a flat bed made the regular deliveries, but if you were in a hurry, you could request a rush delivery and that would be by bicycle. A nickel loaf of bread wrapped in wax paper would cost you a lot more in this day and time, according to Waits who wrote many sketches of life in old Andalusia.

Remember whenBob Burgess worked for Editor Oscar Duggar as Advertising Salesman. During the Depression years, Burgess supplemented his newspaper earnings by writing detective stories which were published in several detective magazines. Byron Vickery and Bo Locke worked the paper during the Duggar years and purchased the paper operating it for several years prior to the coming of Editor Ed Dannelly. The Covington News and The Andalusia Star enjoyed by a host of subscribers were both weeklies  and published on Thursdays. When Dannelly came, the two papers were combined and became The Andalusia Star News. The late Robert D. (Bob) Burgess’ son John Alwyn Burgess born in 1939 recently passed away in Opp. He was a former editor and publisher of The Opp News. I always looked forward to his annual Old Home Folks Edition.

     Remember whenmilk was delivered in glass bottles to one’s front porch early in the mornings. The milk and the cream bottles had cardboard stoppers that were easily removed. According to old timers, there were several local dairies in Andalusia – the Dykes Dairy, the Turner Dairy, the M. O. and Dewey Moore Dairies, and the Riley Dairy. Those clear glass milk and cream bottles are now collectibles and can be found at most estate sales.

Remember when –there were several movie theatres downtown, maybe not all at the same time. These have been mentioned – The Paramount Theater, The Fox Theater, and later the Martin Theater. Probably no one is living that remembers the silent movies. It is said that the early films were highly flammable. G. S. Waits says that there were at least two projection fires that he remembers in the projection booth. Mr. Z. D. Studstill was the owner of those two early theatres.

Mail carried from Montezuma Post Office to Andalusia Post Office by Pony Express at the celebration of the Sesquicentennial of Covington County in December 1971

Remember when – early photographers operated in and around Andalusia.  Mr. C. C. Moon of the Dixie Studio had an upstairs studio in the Prestwood Building on Court Square. Many of the “old Andalusia” photographs still in existence are the work of this man. Mrs. Moon assisted her husband in the work which according to Waits was “high quality.” Before Moon was a George W. Cumming. After Moon was Mr. Randolph Watson in the 40s and 50s who photographed many a post WWII baby in their stroller or on their stomachs in the middle of their parents’ bed. After Watson was Mr. Cliff Moulton of the 60s and 70s whose studio was located across the street from the shoe shop on South Three Notch. School class and club pictures, wedding photos, portraits – he was the man! His wife Pearl also assisted him in his business. A vintage camera collection is on display at the Three Notch Museum on Historic Central Street. I remember the Brownie camera that most of us “baby boomers” took with us to summer camp and other community activities in the 1950s and 60s.

     Remember when – the Andalusia Post Office used to be located on South Three Notch. It was completed around 1925 at a cost of fifty thousand dollars. That building is now the Andalusia Public Library. Prior to the S3N location, the post office was situated “down in the bottom” on South Cotton Street about where the James Store was located. Waits noted that Andalusia was one of the first post offices in the area to have motorized rural mail carriers which began in October 1916. This replaced service by horse and buggy.

On December 7, 1971, the Sesquicentennial Year, when there was a commemoration of the 150th birthday of Covington County, the Montezuma Branch office was officially opened by the Post Office for one day out of the Courthouse lobby. Mail was mailed in special envelopes with Alabama Commemorative stamps and carried by horseback from the Courthouse to the Main Post Office for dispatch. Lydia Ann Carroll, daughter of Mrs. Rudolph Carroll and granddaughter of Mrs. Sam Carroll and Mrs. J. K. Burke, carried the mail on her favorite horse in authentic saddle bags. Many citizens dressed in period costumes that day. The cancellation stamp showed “Montezuma Station.” This event was sponsored by the Covington Historical Society. In December 1821, the Alabama legislature established Covington County two years after Alabama became a state in 1819. We will celebrate Alabama’s Bicentennial statewide next year in 2019.

Much of the information above I have obtained from George Sidney Waits, Jr. books he authored on Andalusia history. I will always Remember When he told me this and that – always an inspiration. Here is how he often summed up his “golden” remembrances – “Some folks say it is silly to live in the past or look back to yesteryear. I have always thought you had to have a good knowledge of the past to be able to adequately plan for the future. Anyway, casting my thoughts back a few years is a nice past-time, and I enjoy learning little tidbits of new information about those happy years gone by.” I couldn’t agree more.


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