Remember When: Stories from a century ago

Published 1:24 pm Friday, November 15, 2019

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It has been said that the story of America has been fractured into a thousand pieces. Every generation rewrites the past. One historian penned that we are driven by the written record of a pressing need to find the answers to the riddles of today.

     Wilfred McClay, author of “The Student’s Guide to U. S. History” stated, “In confronting the challenging questions of American history, there are deep lessons to be learned. Each of us is born into a world that we did not make, and it is only with the greatest effort, and often at very great cost, that we are ever able to change that world for the better.”

Without memory, without the stories of the past, we cannot learn, use language, pass on knowledge, raise children, establish rules of conduct, engage in science, govern ourselves, or dwell harmoniously in society.”

“When we remember the yesterdays that have come and gone, we can have a sense of the future tomorrows. When a day passes, it is no longer there. What remains of it is nothing more than a story. If stories weren’t told or books weren’t written, man would live like beasts. The whole world, all human life is one long story. Our lives find meaning with stories.”

Here are some stories from a century ago that can help us appreciate the present by seeing how far we have come from one hundred years ago. By looking into the history of Andalusia and Covington County through reading the old newspapers, we can get a glimpse of the past.

     September 5, 1919The Andalusia Star – “The Red Level High School opened Wednesday with the largest attendance on an opening day in the history of the school. New pupils are arriving daily and with the splendid faculty and cooperation that the Red Level people always give the school, this will be the most successful term of the school. The faculty is as follows: Professor E. L. Stough, Principal, Mathematics and Science; Miss Marjorie Pope, English and Expression; Miss Annie Huckabee, 7th grade and History; Miss Annie Cronin, 5th and 6th grades; Miss Rosa Patterson, 3rd and 4th grades; Miss Fannie Maronie, 1st and 2nd grades; Mrs. T. M. Vosten, Piano and Voice. County Superintendent Baker was present at the opening of school Wednesday and made a most excellent address.”

January 27, 1920 – “The enrollment at the Red Level High School has increased so much that it was necessary to add an extra teacher. Mrs. Vernon Powell has been added to the faculty and has charge of the 7th grade. Mrs. Powell has taught in the school before and proved to be an excellent teacher so the parents and pupils are delighted to have her as a member of the teaching force again.”

January 27, 1920 – “ MUD Mud in Andalusia. Yes, great hunks of it. We are looking beyond the mud to the great paved thoroughfares which Andalusia is to have as a result of the mud which has been made by reason of the laying of the sewer pipes and water mains as necessary pre-requisites to paving. When it gets on our shoes, we point to it with pride and joy for it is evidence of the fact that the thing for which we have so long strived – paved streets for our great and growing city – is soon to be an accomplished fact. Let there be mud and more mud! Let us look up through the mud to the higher level upon which Andalusia is to stand when we pass from the mud stage to that of paved city streets and a city square beautified.”

January 27, 1920 – “TO BEAUTIFY SCHOOL GROUNDS – The Civics Club of Andalusia (a ladies’ club) are making a canvass of the city to secure funds with which to plant shrubbery and otherwise improve the public school (East Three Notch School) grounds. The Star wishes most heartily to commend this action. In fact, we have been at a loss to understand why the work of beautifying the school grounds on the scale promised by the ladies has not been pushed more rapidly. We see now that it was delayed from lack of funds.”

     “The street paving is now going forward. To have paved streets will necessitate the toning up of premises and public grounds all over the city. To have the splendid high school building that we have (Built 1914) and to permit the grounds to look like a neglected old field is a sad commentary upon the civic pride of Andalusia.”

“We desire to see these grounds put in condition that will make our campus one of the real show places of Andalusia. We need to have grand walks and drive way that cars are permitted to enter the school grounds. A landscape gardener should supervise the work. Funds enough to place the grounds in creditable condition at once should be raised. We trust the ladies will set their stakes for a liberal contribution. For, if they ask for it, they will get it. Andalusia men folk never go back on the ladies when they ask for funds for carrying forward work of civic improvement.”

January 27, 1920 Editorial by Editor Oscar Duggar – “DON’T SPIT ON THE FLOOR – There should be a visiting committee from the Civics Club whose duty it would be to see to it that the hallways and rooms in the new courthouse are not stained up promiscuously by the fellows who use tobacco without any particular regard to where he ‘spits his tobacco juice.’ The interior (of the courthouse) is attractive and is a matter of pride to all who visit the city. It should not be allowed to be stained up, the walls and corners covered with tobacco juice, from the lips of those who would not mar the beauty of the interior if their attention is called to it. We speak for the ladies and the hearty cooperation of the county officials in case such committee is appointed.”

The Three Notch Museum Committee remembers when a spittoon was a relic from the courthouse donated to the museum along with several oak chairs formerly used in the original courtroom. Visit and view these items along with many treasures in the historic collection.

This writer remembers reading a letter written in 1924 by a visiting doctor to Covington County from the World Health Organization (WHO), Dr. Wilbur Sawyer, to his wife in New York City“You can build a marble courthouse, but you can’t keep off the spit!”


     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