Remember When: Andalusia’s valentine season in 1923

Published 2:00 pm Friday, February 10, 2023

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It is always interesting to read about the social activities of Andalusia some 100 years ago. In perusing the old newspapers, I found that Valentine’s Day and the season of love was as popular in 1923 as it is today in 2023.

February 2, 1923The Andalusia Star – “Miss Leah Albritton was the charming hostess on Thursday when Mrs. E. T. Albritton, entertained for her daughter with a (bridal) Rose Bud Luncheon. Rose buds in a basket tied with pink tulle and four crystal candles with pink rose shades formed the central ornament of the table. The place favors were dainty pink powder puffs.”

February 16, 1923 – “The First Grade Teachers gave a Valentine party on the campus (at East Three Notch School) for the purpose of starting a fund to install drinking fountains at the primary building. Two hundred and twenty-five little people enjoyed playing games and singing songs after which punch was served. Prizes were awarded to the children finding the most Valentines.”

February 6, 1923 – “The lovely O’Neal home which for years has been the scene of many charming hospitalities again opened its doors on Tuesday afternoon for the Mentor Club and a number of guests when Mrs. Robert Reid entertained. The entire lower floor of the home was thrown open and presented a picture of cheer with baskets and bowls of red salvia and japonica placed on cabinets and tables. The Valentine idea was featured in a clever “heart” contest. Dainty and delicious refreshments were served. The dining room table was centered by salvia and ferns attached with red ribbons terminating with red hearts bearing fortunes and favors drawn by each guest.”

This home was the stately residence on East Three Notch Street located on the present site of the First Baptist Church. The structure later burned after which the lot became available and the Baptists purchased it and relocated the church building from the downtown area to a prominent residential main street area.

February 20, 1923 – “One of the most enjoyable affairs of the season was the Valentine party given by members of the W. M. U. of the Baptist Church Wednesday night at the handsome new home of Mr. and Mrs. D. J. Foshee. The home was beautiful in its decorations of red and white hearts and cupids. In the dining room from a beautiful appointed table, coffee, sandwiches, and bon bons were served. Several clever contests afforded entertainment for the evening when ‘fortune hearts’ were fished for and the reading of them created much amusement.”

February 16, 1923 – “The elegant Moates home, No. 30, East Three Notch Street was the scene for a lovely Valentine party Wednesday night when Mrs. J. J. Moates entertained the Senior Class in honor of her daughter, Thelma, who is one of the forty-five bright girls and boys to graduate in May. No time or trouble was spared in decorating the home using Valentine decorations and cut glass vases of poinsettias. When the merry crowd arrived promptly on time, they were greeted at the door and led into the dining room where hot tea and wafers were served. At eight forty-five, the crowd was instructed to move forward to the Royal Theatre where Mrs. Z. D. Studstill gave them a ‘picture show’ in honor of Thelma. At ten thirty, they returned to the hostess’ home where bright fires and lovely Edison music greeted them. A Valentine conflab and a Misses Valentine contest furnished much merriment for the gay crowd. At a late hour, they drew strings from large hearts suspended from the French doorways. The boy and girl holding the same string were served refreshments together. The time for departure came too soon, but the best of delightful parties must end.”

The Moates house now occupied by insurance agent Tim Bryan was once the setting for a dinner entertaining the governor of Alabama. In later years Thelma Moates operated a business, The Book and Card Shop, in that same location. She sold a lot of Bibles with names engraved. Remembered as quite a conversationalist, she is one of Andalusia’s late colorful characters.

February 9, 1923 – “A beautiful wedding marked by simplicity of detail was that of Miss Mary Eliza McArtan to Mr. Marshall N. Doyle of Mobile which took place at the home of the bride’s mother, Mrs. D. A McArtan on Wednesday morning at 11 o’clock. The reception hall and living room were decorated with garlands of southern smilax, white japonicas, and narcissi. The improvised altar was formed of white carnations with a large tulle bow, and the base was ferns. Mrs. Plummer played the wedding march, and Rev. Robert B. Woodson, pastor of the First Presbyterian Church said the beautiful ring ceremony.”

“The color motif in the dining room where sandwiches and mints were served were pink and green. From the chandelier hung a shower of pink ribbons. Pink candles with burning tapers were nestled among lovely ferns and pink carnations.”

“The bride is one of Andalusia’s most attractive young ladies. She was educated at Flora McDonald College for girls following the completion of her high school. She is popular in church and social circles. The groom is a young businessman of sterling worth. He holds a responsible position with one of the leading business houses of Mobile and is a member of one of the oldest families of the seaport city. The many friends will be glad to learn that they will make their home in Andalusia.”

Now you readers know where two of our city streets got their names, McArtan and Doyle Streets. The unique McArtan Victorian home on Sixth Avenue is still occupied by the same family, proud fourth generation family, Winfield and Meredith Brady. Winfield is the son of Lucy Doyle Brady.

Ads in the February 1923 issue of The Andalusia Star include the new motor cars, a 1923 Studebaker Touring Car offered by the Riley Motor Company, John D. Riley, Manager and a Ford offered by the Andalusia Motor Co. “Pay us $107.50 and drive this Ford home with you.”

The First National Bank’s ad in February 1923 read “A pass book is the very best Valentine you can give your wife, son, or daughter. If you will teach them to save money, to learn business methods, your family will prosper.”

An editorial read “IS THE AUTOMOBILE DISPLACING THE HORSE? According to the Department of Agriculture, the number of horses on a farm decreased from 1914 to 1923 while the number of swine, cattle, and sheep increased.”

A typical classified ad read “Andalusia Real Estate Company, Farm and City Property, Allen Crenshaw, Manager, Milligan Building, Phone 329.”

An announcement ad read “Drs. W. C. Earle and Carr spent Friday morning at the school and gave the hook worm treatment to 84 pupils.”

Another item of news in the social column read “The Campfire Girls held their weekly meeting Thursday Afternoon at Mrs. Henderson’s. Valentine refreshments were served. A box of De Coty’s face powder was the prize for the contest. A visitor from Samson was presented some white and pink carnations.”

The old photograph included with this column is an early 1920s picture of the Brown and Broughton Drug Store on the east Court Square. There was a soda fountain inside where the business served sodas and other refreshments to their customers. In May 1917 my own grandparents were married down the hill on South Cotton Street in the family parlor at the City (Brunson) Hotel. They celebrated by walking up the hill to Brown and Broughton Drug Store where they enjoyed chocolate malts. They were very young. The town was quite small and growing. The drug store was where young people gathered and enjoyed the new Coca-Colas and milkshakes. In May 1967 Charlie and Foye Mathis Brunson celebrated their 50th anniversary at a party staged by their three grown children at the Andalusia Country Club.

Happy Valentine’s Day to all of our readers. May 2023 bring you much love and happiness.

Sue Bass Wilson, AHS Class of 1965, is a former choral music teacher and local real estate broker. She is a long-time member of the Covington Historical Society and can be reached at