Remember When: Andalusia in the 1936 era
In March 1936, The Andalusia Star newspaper reported on the activities and happening s of the day including sports, business, recreation, social, civic, and church gatherings. To peruse the particular issue that was recently donated to the museum by Robert Anderson, one would not suspect that there was the Great Depression going on at the time. This March 3, 1936 edition still had a mailing label attached with the name of his relative, Mrs. W. R. Tisdale.
A typical family in the 1930s might be enjoying themselves after supper as they all sat in the living room listening to the radio, the only entertainment over the air waves at that time. One of the hit songs of 1936 was “Pennies from Heaven,” an American popular song introduced by Bing Crosby in the “film” of the same name. That movie might have been playing downtown at the Paramount Theatre which establishment ran an ad in that newspaper. The song was also recorded by Jimmy Dorsey and his Orchestra, Eddie Duchin and his Orchestra, and many other singers in later years like Dean Martin, Tony Bennett, and Dinah Washington.
“Every time it rains, it rains pennies from heaven. Don’t you know each cloud contains pennies from heaven…You must have showers. So when you hear it thunder, don’t run under a tree. There’ll be pennies from heaven for you and me.
I can Remember When my mother would play her 78 RPM (revolutions per minute) heavy black records with those record labels of RCA, Capitol, Columbia, and Decca. She would say, “Billy Avant and I went down to Wood Amusement Company after school to listen to the new record hits. He bought me this one, “Embraceable You,” that I still treasure.” Or she might recall another boyfriend like Warren Merrill who accompanied her to the record shop on South Cotton Street and say, “Warren and I used to love to play this one, “I Can’t Give You Anything But Love, Baby,” over and over on the Victrola.
The 78’s were replaced a few years after World War II with the 33 vinyl records that played a number of songs on one side versus just one song per side on a record. The 45’s came later. I’ve still got a stack of 45’s that I will never part with. Do you?
Let’s see what was going on in Andalusia in the spring of 1936.
“Twenty Andalusia businessmen are cooperating in a financial way this season to start the baseball organization rolling. These men have pledged sufficient money to pay off some obligations from last year. Andalusia will play night games this season beginning the first part of May providing the fans will cooperate in this effort.”
“The plan is to sell each family four tickets good for any four games to be played on the local field at a cost of two dollars which money is to be applied on equipment for night games. This equipment will cost approximately $3,000. According to George Proctor, chairman of the ticket selling committee.”
“Businesses and clerks as well as the ladies of Andalusia are kindly asked to assist in disposing of as many of these tickets as possible in order that night games may be a reality. It simply means that many can appreciate the games after work hours who otherwise would be compelled to miss them.”
“Dr. E. R. Nodine and Mrs. Nodine and small son of New York City have removed to Andalusia where they will make their home in the future. Dr. Nodine is an eye, ear, nose, and throat specialist, a graduate of Tulane Medical School, and has spent ten years in practice in NYC. He is taking over the office of Dr. E. R. Smith who on account of his health has found it necessary to retire from the practice. Dr. and Mrs. Nodine have leased the Presbyterian manse where they will be at home to their friends.”
“Successful Business Men look their best in freshly cleaned and pressed wearing apparel. Gents Furnishings. Cleaners. Hatters. Dyers. Call Phone 21. The Taylor Shop.”
Luther Taylor once reminisced about The Taylor Shop at the historical society meetings. He said that his father usually received early Sunday morning phone calls. It never failed. Someone had always forgotten to pick up their suit. He and his dad would have to go open up the shop before Sunday School!
“Balance Your Daily Diet with Milk, Cream, and Butter. Turner’s Dairy. Phone 236-J.”
A number of milk and cream bottles, quart and pint, are on display at the Three Notch Museum.
“Beauty Spots on Church Street – The beauty and variety of blooming flowers and shrubs in Miss Maggie Mae Robinson’s garden make it a joy to look upon. Her borders of blooming iris, her beautiful azaleas, her pink magnolias for the centers of attraction at this season.”
“Mrs. McDavid’s garden had for your observation and admiration pink magnolias and red bud. Mrs. John Sessoms’ azaleas are now in full bloom and are lovely to look upon. Mrs. Hiram Brogden should have blue ribbon honors also for her beautiful lawn and her blooming iris.”
“Home Furnishings for Your Inspection at Patrick Furniture Company – Chifferobe – Mirrored doors and roomy. Every family needs one of these for their wardrobe. $19.95. Ice Refrigerator – And now comes the streamline ice box that has been scientifically built to give you the best refrigeration. $24.50.”
“Permanent Wave Special – $1.29 – Call Zipp, Swirl, Curl Beauty Salon for appointments. Phone 549. 2nd Floor Commercial Bank Building.”
“SKATING – The Skating Rink will open Saturday, March 5, Riverside Inn, River Falls, Ala. with new finish floor. Skating hours, 8 p.m. – 10:30 p.m. Admission 25 cents plus tax. R. L. Hart, Proprietor.”
“Your Earnings Depend on Your Efficiency to See – P. Lewis, Jeweler and Optometrist. Court Square.”
“The Methodist Circle of Women’s Auxillary will meet on Monday afternoon. The topic for study is ‘Spring Cleaning.’”
“Our New Fount Has Arrived – Refresh yourself with a sizzling cool drink at our fount where the seats are comfortable and the service a pleasure. A plate lunch is 35 cents. The tired business man or woman who wants to relax during lunch will find just the spot in one of our booths where the food served is delicious. LET US FILL YOUR PRESCRIPTION. J. D. Riley Drug Company. Corner Prestwood Building.”
“Mrs. G. L. Wood entertained The Study Club on Wednesday afternoon at the regular meeting. Mrs. T. J. Hayes, the president, presided over the business meeting. Under the leadership of Mrs. A. R. Powell, one of the most interesting programs of the year was heard. ‘WE, THE PEOPLE’ was the subject and based on the U. S. Constitution. A handsome facsimile of the Constitution, a gift to the high school by Mayor J. G. Scherf was loaned for the occasion. A dramalogue under the direction of Mrs. George Adams of the enacting of the signing of the Constitution was presented. A quiz was followed by a skit. Mrs. Wood as Columbia bearing the ‘Stars and Stripes’ gave effectively ‘I Am the Flag’ which was followed by the salute to the flag. Mrs. Powell read Longfellow’s ‘Building the Ship,’ and the program closed with the singing of ‘Star Spangled Banner’ by the club. During the social hour, the hostess served a tempting fruit salad with hot tea and salted nuts.”
“The Baptist W. M. S. (Women’ Missionary Society) of Andalusia will hold a week of prayer beginning next Tuesday in the Baraca Hall at three o’clock. It will come under the direction of Mrs. W. E. Hardin. All Baptist women are urged to attend.”
“CALL FOR BLUE BIRD BREAD – Do you know that there are 20 delicious slices in every pound of Blue Bird Bread – 10 cents. Andalusia Bakery, South Cotton Street.”
“Service and Quality make our store the most popular store in Andalusia. Tasty Foods at the Taylor Market and Grocery. Phone 224.”
“Fertilizer! Good Mules and Horses – Milk Cows on Hand at All Times. I will appreciate your business. D. R. Culbreth.”
“YES, WE CAN Straighten Your Axle and Frame –
Expert Mechanics. Brawner Motor Co. East Three Notch Street. Day Phone 169. Night Phone 400.”
It is certain that the advertisers of 1936 were hoping for “pennies from heaven” during those depression days where most people in the Andalusia area had vegetable gardens in their back yards as well as chicken houses and sometimes a milk cow. Andalusia did not have the dust bowl problems like Oklahoma. Mothers often sewed rick rack on the hems of the girls’ dresses to extend the length to get another year of wear.
Lots of gravy and grits and biscuits made for a good breakfast and supper in some cases, that is, at the Rankin house on East Three Notch where the school marms boarded! A penny saved was a penny earned.
Many dresses were homemade instead of store bought. Mothers were industrious and skilled with their sewing machines back then. Lunch for the school kids was often taken in an empty syrup bucket, especially for those who lived too far from home to walk home at lunch time. Children were expected to eat everything on their plate at supper time. The boys were taught to keep a pile of wood chopped and the coal bin full for the fireplaces – even in town. There was no natural gas in Andalusia until the early 1950s.
However, there was still much fun to be had. Have you ever been to a taffy pulling or a scavenger hunt? Have you ever rolled a hoop around the yard or played marbles and skated on the sidewalk? Have you ever climbed a tree or built a fort in the woods? Have you ever jump roped? Have you ever danced in a May Pole dance?
Those baseball night games the town people were going to in 1936 were not held on the Andalusia High School grounds on Third Street. John Chapman’s farm was probably still on that lot. They probably were playing baseball and football games on the playground area behind the Church Street School for the high school was still located on that campus until around 1939.
You had better believe that those business men, city officials, educators, ministers, and parents alike were all thinking hard about the future of its young citizens soon to be the town leaders in a matter of just a few years. Their progressive decisions resulted in decisive action to build up the town little by little that we have today – schools, churches, homes, neighborhoods, business blocks – the heart of South Alabama!
Yes, we can Remember When and take pride in what has been accomplished in the years since 1936 and before. May the progress continue – A Proud Heritage, A Promising Future!
Sue Bass Wilson, AHS Class of 1965, is a local real estate broker and long-time member of the Covington Historical Society. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.