Remember When: Andalusia celebrates Alabama Bicentennial

Published 11:30 pm Friday, September 6, 2019

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Maybe in another 100 years, unless the Lord comes before then, Alabamians will be celebrating their Tricentennial in 3019. If the 2019 Andalusia Star News editions have been micro-filmed or preserved by whatever advanced technology has been invented, those history buffs who like to delve into the past will discover as they Remember When the events that

took place in Andalusia where the citizens celebrated the Alabama Bicentennial.

Formed as a territory on March 3, 1817, Alabama became the nation’s 22nd state on December 14, 1819. This year 2019, Alabamians are commemorating Alabama’s 200th anniversary of statehood with a myriad of events across the state celebrating our state’s progress as a citizenry and our rich history.

On August 29, 2019, Andalusians held the first official Alabama Bicentennial event sponsored by the Covington Historical Society, endorsed by the Alabama Bicentennial Commission in Montgomery, and supported by the City of Andalusia – the “Old School Sing-a Long.”

As those in attendance sang their hearts out to the old standard songs such as “Comin’ Round the Mountain,” “Wait for the Wagon,” “The More We Get Together,” “School Days,” “The Church in the Wildwood,” “Oh, Susanna,” “Marching Along Together,” and many others, songsters reenacted the old days of school assemblies and reminisced about those brave and courageous pioneers who first entered the Alabama territory and later the state. They were songs sung by folks in the hills and valleys, in the prairies and frontiers, in the corn fields and cotton fields, on the Indian paths, on the streams and rivers, on the railroads, and on the battlefields.

Some came into the sparsely settled wilderness on covered wagons, some riding horses, mules, and oxen, some leading goats, some carrying crates of roosters and chickens, and many on foot where the opportunity for farming, land, and business was great!

A display of old Andalusia and Covington County postcards along with other artifacts from the Three Notch Museum were on display in the Andalusia City Hall lobby where attendees enjoyed this memorabilia after the completion of the sing-a- long in the auditorium.

Some of the artifacts included the following: a one-room schoolhouse black slate and chalk pieces; America Sings and Alabama Sings (1954) songbooks; “Blue Back Speller”, Swinton’s Word Book of English Spelling (Circa 1876); a Jew’s harp; a xylophone; a Coca-Cola wooden ruler with “The Golden Rule,”; “New Baptist Hymnal,” Broadman Press (1926); a miniature Alabama state flag; a vintage Alabama and Camellia commemorate tray (Circa 1950s); “The Golden Book of Favorite Songs” songbook; “McGuffy Reader,” and “My Alabama Home” (sheet music by Ellie Snead-Prestwood-Circa 1921).

Those who participated in the musical program were Dwight and Sonia Crigger, Christy and Hamp Clanton, Hannah Cross, Paula Sue Duebelt, Dr. Steve Hubbard, Diane Johnson, Charlotte Rogers, Sue Wilson, and the First Baptist Church Faithful Notes Barbershop Quartet (Jerry Andrews, Billy Beech, Glenn Cook, Dwight Crigger, Dr. Jim Krudop, Dr. Morgan Moore, Casey Thompson, Jimmy Wilson, and William Worley). The Andalusia High School Ambassadors (Rosemary Bass, Haden Jackson, Dawson Kennedy, Bay Merrell, Chloe Mikel, and Cameron Woodard) and their sponsor Jerri Stroud greeted, handed out programs, and assisted with refreshments.

Brenda Gouge led in the pledge to the American flag while Cameron Woodard led in the pledge to the Alabama flag. Programs were expertly designed by Norma King. Electric keyboard was provided by Tripp Bass. Jan White and Nancy Robbins, society members, served as hostesses. Michele Gerlach, Director of Communications for the City of Andalusia, played a significant role in the success of the evening as did Melanie Ray in the Planning and Development office. Jeffery Johnson and Rebecca Elmore videoed the event to preserve this memorable occasion. Wynne Glenn and Jimmy Wilson were overall “master helpers” in this grand event. Blaine Wilson at WAAO Radio/TV gave much air time and publicity for days prior to the sing-a-long. Andalusia Star News Editor Kendra Majors along with Ruck Ashworth and Christopher Smith publicized the event as well as Chrissie Schubert, Maggie Jones, and Jan White (Impact) at the Andalusia Area Chamber of Commerce. Much appreciation is also extended to John Jay at WKNI and all of these individuals listed above.

Everyone in attendance minded their p’s and q’s. No one

got out of line and had to be sent to the cloakroom!

The postcards shown in this column were especially enjoyed by those who perused the table of old postcards. One of the cards had a one cent stamp affixed. These pictures are thought to be typical likenesses of Andalusia citizens in the early 1900s or over 100 years ago. It is thought that the people in the covered transfer wagon were headed on an out of town trip. It must have been cold weather since the driver appeared to have a lap robe and the ladies wore wraps. Wonder how much dust they breathed, how many mud holes they drove through, and how many broken wagon wheels they had to repair on those dirt roads?

In the picture with the group of young ladies being pulled by “the old gray mule,” the girls appear to be enjoying a Sunday afternoon ride. This was way before the 1920s, because the long dresses and the corsets and those hair-dos with buns were still in style before women decided to bring the hem lengths shorter and bob their hair with finger waves and curls.

In conclusion, here are the words to a song sung by the song leader, Dwight Crigger. It is found in the little yellow handbook, “Alabama Sings,” a song I was not familiar with but very appropriate for the occasion.

     “I like to live in Alabam’, Mobile, Selma, Birmingham, Anywhere in that old state, Where good neighbors congregate; I like to live in Alabam’, Mobile, Selma, Birmingham.”

     “I like to eat in Alabam’, Hot corn bread and country ham, Grits and gravy, nice fresh beans, Black-eyed peas and turnip greens; I like to eat in Alabam’, Hot corn bread and country ham.”

     “I like to work in Alabam’, Friendship here is not a sham; In a hole, just give a shout, Someone’s mule will pull you out; I like to work in Alabama’, Friendship here is not a sham.”

     “Here is the right spot where I am, Home, sweet home, old Alabam’, Where folks live and work and play, In the sun most every day; Here is the spot right where I am, An-da-lu-sia, Alabam’!”

As the event concluded, refreshments were served having been prepared by those who know the art of good Southern hors d’ oeuvres. These goodies featured an Alabama Bicentennial sheet cake with the official logo and iced Camellias, the state flower, baked and decorated by Carolyn Hart, master baker; state of Alabama shaped cookies by Michele and Tommy Gerlach; cheese straws; pimento cheese finger sandwiches; an assortment of mixed nuts; party crackers with cream cheese and red pepper jelly; and apple cider punch.

The program was dedicated to those teachers, principals, superintendents, and school board members long gone but long remembered!

Many thanks to those who made this fun time possible. The evening was enjoyed by citizens from the ages of 8 to 94 years. We welcomed those who came from neighboring counties. Someone still smiling and singing as they departed stated, “Why don’t we have an annual summer sing-a-long?” Great idea! Something to think about!


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