Trying to remember
Singer and entertainer Andy Williams recorded a song that became popular in 1966, “Try to Remember.” That is basically what this column is all about – remembering the past that leads us to the present and moves us forward to the future.
Remember when – stately oak trees hung over both sides of East Three Notch Street before the two-lane main street was widened to a four-lane. Old photos show picket fences lining the dirt sidewalks where people strolled along to visit neighbors and the walk to school or town. Sometimes the old newspapers reported about the difficulties some of the ladies had to encounter which was persons staggering out of the saloons in an inebriated state crowding the boardwalks around Court Square.
Remember when – the First Baptist Church downtown was located behind the courthouse and near the O’Neal, Law, & Co. Mule Stable. The sign on a Circa 1910 vintage photograph reads, “HORSES, MULES, BUGGIES, WAGONS. “Those mules had their heads out the windows facing the church every Sunday,” according to Judy Ward Buck. Their ears probably perked up when they heard the singing of “Bless Be the Tie That Binds…”
Remember when – the mules arrived on the Central of Georgia RR trains. The story goes that they were unloaded and then driven around the Court Square over to the O’Neal building on the other side of the First National Bank bldg. that later became the Paramount Theatre (and afterwards the Martin Theatre). Can you imagine that scene and sound? After all, Andalusia and Covington County was a farming community and most transportation was by mule and wagon with only a few affluent families in town who owned horse and buggies. Even as late as the 1950s, farmers and their families would come to town on Saturdays by mule and wagon to take care of courthouse business and trading in the downtown markets, hardware, grocery, and clothing stores.
Remember when – the main city streets were East Three Notch, South Three Notch, River Falls Street, and Church Street. Historic accounts show that the town of River Falls was subdivided, prepared with streets, and ready to be the county seat at one time until the railroad didn’t come through there after all but was extended instead into Andalusia from Searight after the trestle was built across the Conecuh River at Gantt. That $5,000. prize money offered by Andalusia businessmen to the railroad lines was quite an incentive to build the line into downtown Andalusia.
Remember when – the Consumer Ice House was located behind the Martin Theatre and north of Andalusia Motor Company on Church Street. The coal company and a sausage plant were back there, too. The Coca Cola Bottling Company operated on that same block, too, after they moved from Church Street. The ice house smelled of ammonia. When I went with my daddy to get crushed ice, a block of ice would come down the chute, and it would go through a grinder which was dumped into a thick brown bag. It was loud and interesting to a youngster. That crushed ice was used to ice down drinks and for making homemade ice cream in the back yard around the barbecue pit.
Remember when – ladies wore hats to church. It was a sight to behold on Easter Sundays. Some were whimsies, some pill boxes, some wide-brimmed. Years and years ago, a hat trimmer lived on River Falls Street. She could decorate a hat with flowers, lace, feathers, and ribbons.
Remember when – window ac units were invented and families sometimes cooled just one room where the family all slept. That was reminiscent of the old fashioned “sleeping porch” where there were a lot of beds and windows where the breezes came in. Most main street early 20th century homes had “sleeping porches.”
Remember when – the new Chevrolets, Fords, and Dodges were displayed in the showroom windows of the downtown car dealers (Count Darling Co., Andalusia Motor Co., and Merrill Motors). Have you heard that new country song by Billy Ray Cyrus and Johnny McGuire, “I come from a long line of Chevys and Fords?” The last line of the lyrics is priceless – “And on the day I get called back to the Lord, I bet there’s a long line of Chevys and Fords!”
Remember when – those red Coke machines were located around town where one could put coins in and get a Coca Cola in a green glass bottle. Often the name of the town where the drink was bottled is embossed on the bottom. At the Three Notch Museum in the bottle collection, there are several of those with ANDALUSIA, ALA.
Remember when – in the 1950s and early 1960s, the youth canteen on the corner of Crescent and Burnett Streets was the hang-out for teenagers after the Friday night home football games. The juke box provided the musical entertainment for dancing along with the boys who usually showed out to keep the girls laughing. That was one of the last teen facilities until Mr. D’s Disco on Church Street came along in the early 1980s. Mr. Dan Shehan, a former popular AHS teacher, was the owner. The disco dancing stars were amazing as was the atmosphere complete with strobe light! A popular football coach, Donnie Sharpe, kind of set the stage for disco dancing at AHS.
Remember when – teenage boys delivered the early morning newspapers all over town on their bicycles. They would first have to roll them, load them in their baskets or bags, then throw them on the porches of the subscribers. Later, probably once a month, the news boys would go from door to door collecting change for their route. Each boy was assigned a certain neighborhood, and, believe me, they knew the dogs on each street!
Remember when – cheerleaders of the 60s and 70s wore red and white saddle oxfords called “Rah-Rahs.” Before and after that fashion craze, the girls wore black and white saddle oxfords. There needs to be a revival of Rah-Rahs!
Remember when – “prom parties” were hosted by the mothers of early teenagers. Upon arrival, girls and boys were given a pencil and a “prom card” numbered about 1 – 8. When the signal was given, boys invited the girls to “prom.” Girls would hope for their card to be filled with boys’ names. When the bell would ring, the couple would walk around the neighborhood sometimes holding hands until the bell would ring again indicating the time to return to the starting point and swap partners for the next “prom.” Sometimes “Spin the Bottle” game was played after the promenading was over! I don’t think the host mothers knew about that!
Remember when – boys sported those “crew cut” and “flat top” hairdos! Vitalis and Brylcream (“A little dab’ll do ya’!”) were “in!” Reminds me of that song, “Do-lang, do-lang, do-lang, He’s so fine!”
Remember when – little girls wore those starched full petticoats to make their dresses poofy! My sister would turn round and round in circles to be captured on our fathers’ home movie camera!
Remember when – young ladies’ fashion for sleepwear was the nylon or chiffon gown and peignoir set. A bride had to have that as part of her trousseau collection!
Remember when – loafers were the rage. One could insert a penny in the top, and they became “Penny Loafers.” Bass Weejuns, cordovan, of course, were the “thing” when this writer went to college. It was important to be in style and wear no socks so, as a result, blisters on the heels and toes were the result of walking around the campus!
Remember when – a shoe store adjacent to the Martin Theatre owned by Bill Rue would use an x-ray machine to determine if the shoes were a good fit – a good enticement to get customers! That is a memory from a social media friend.
Remember when – all of those early tv commercials on Saturday mornings convinced children (and their parents) that buying Keds could assure the kid that he could run faster on the playground that his friends.
Remember when – roller skating on the city sidewalks was fun, fun, fun. Wonder how many broken arms were set by local doctors because of roller skating? One could adjust the roller skate to fit the size of the shoe. Skating on the sidewalks always involved getting over the “cracks” in the sidewalk. Coming down the hill on the sidewalk from the Radcliff house past “Miss Nannie Belle” Waits house to the end of the sidewalk on Three Notch Court was a challenge. Picking up speed was fun and, thank goodness, thick grass was at the end of the run!
I guess this is the “end of the run” for today’s column. Lots of excitement with high school class reunions coming up so readers, keep posting your memories on social media. Some friends can remember more than others, but it is always interesting and enlightening to Remember When.
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 email@example.com.
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