Living downtown, or nearby, was common at one time
in Albany, as is evident from interviews with 11
Albanians who give their insight into life in Albany
in the 1930s, '40s and '50s. The Depression and war
years, along with the times shortly thereafter, saw
life change very little in the South.
In some ways
it was a comparatively innocent and carefree period
and most kids were allowed to roam neighborhoods
with ease. Parents felt a sense of comfort. Everyone
knew everyone else and kids played out of doors
constantly. Doors were often left unlocked, and many
families had only one car, or none at all.
addresses are listed with each interview.
Lamar Clifton (1930s-'40s)
Evelyn Butler Clifton (1930s-'40s)
picture our former Mr. Chamber of Commerce
(executive director) Lamar Clifton walking barefoot
east across the river railroad trestle downtown,
going to the sand dunes to play with friends? He
did, and then would retrace his route to Hubble's
Restaurant in Sandy Bottom on North Washington
Street for a hot dog and Coke, all for 15 cents.
the hangout for Lamar and friends. No cars, so they
rode bikes or maybe hitchhiked to Radium in the
summertime. Going to the picture show meant
strolling two blocks and, for 10 cents, he could
spend all Saturday watching Flash Gordon, Tarzan and
cowboy movies. His family came to Albany in the
1920s and in 1936, at age 7, he had his first job --
hawking newspapers downtown by yelling "Allbeny
Heralldd," a sound that still resonates for many.
distance west on Flint Avenue, Evelyn was also a
downtowner. She grew up in a house built in the
1870s by her uncle. She remembers backyard carnivals
with costumes, pony rides and taffy pulls.
porch, with rocking chairs and swings, let my
parents visit with friends, while we kids played in
the yard," she said.
Julian "JuJu" Pace Jones (1930s-'40s)
Duggan family has been in Albany since 1939, I'm
proud to be a native. But Juju's family, the Paces,
were here about 100 years earlier, coming to Albany
in 1838, only two years after our founding.
enjoyed living at 520 N. Jefferson St., which is
still standing," said Jones. "A large front porch
was the favored perch, where we could people watch
everyone going to town on the busy thoroughfare.
generations were under one roof, and all schools
were within easy walking distance, as was everything
-- shopping, library, church, movies, YMCA and the
the Municipal Auditorium."
times she recalled:
Fireworks sales booths in the 100 block of North
Washington at Christmas;
at age 13 downtown and going around and around the
elephants being driven down North Jefferson Street
from the train station;
enjoying the downtown library, because you had to be
-- Going to
the movies, and then opening the exit door so
friends could slip inside'
-- Having a
downtown for just seven years, but he packed a lot
into it and remembers scenes vividly.
in a big old house that was heated by coal," Hall
said. "A truck would deliver it into a chute to
under the house, and carrying coal inside become one
of my jobs."
kitchen, an ice box was centerpiece, and the iceman
delivered several times a week. Running to the truck
in summer and begging for pieces on which to crunch
was common for Jim and his buddies.
friends, he said that one block further south was a
large vacant lot with a giant Mimosa tree. Kids used
to climb it for hours and hours of entertainment.
kept chickens and turkeys in the back yard. One
summer, some neighbors brought by a cow. Jim learned
to feed and milk the cow and to churn the milk for
butter and buttermilk.
of us, Jim's Saturdays were spent at the Liberty or
Clain Theaters, blowing a 25-cent allowance on the
ticket, popcorn, drink and candy, and then walking
Cardinals baseball team was popular in the summer
and, happily, Jim got to hang with some of the
players, as his Mom rented rooms to several.
Bobby Strickland (1940-'50s)
High School classmate of mine, Bobby and I share
high school memories, but childhood was something
else. He happily recalls growing up in a big
rambling house a few blocks from downtown. Along
with several brothers, they played in the shadow of
the still-present ice plant.
ages 8-12 (1948-52), he would walk to Tift Park's
otter pool for swimming and then go to its Wigwam
building for arts and crafts. Back home, he could
easily hear the lion roar from the park zoo.
times, he and friends walked to the Liberty Theater
on Saturdays for cowboy movies. Another favorite
boy-time activity was visiting the nearby city
abattoir to watch cows and hogs being slaughtered.
Afterwards, they would gather up the entrails for
fish bait and head straight for the Flint River,
which, of course, was within walking distance.
would've recoiled in horror had they known that my
brothers and I slipped out of bed at night on
several occasions to work at the nearby circus on
North Jefferson Street," Strickland said.
be back in bed by daylight," Strickland said as he
Frances English Fowler (1930s-'50s)
large in Ida's memory is Grandmother Royal's
boarding house, across from the bus station
downtown. With three family generations and boarders
always being fed, there was never a dull moment.
"It had big
rooms that made it cold in the winter," she recalls,
"so it was heated by fireplaces. But it did have a
big front porch where we could sit and watch
passers-by in warm weather."
in the '30s, her family located in the heart of
Albany. Everything was within walking distance --
retail, church, library, courthouse, school and Tift
Park for swimming. Jimmie's Hot Dogs was across the
street. Big Star Grocery was out the back door, and
Rucker's Bakery with its hot doughnuts was a mere
we went to the Liberty Theater, and for 9 cents we
could attend double-feature westerns," Fowler
She said it
was basically a residential neighborhood, so there
was always someone with whom to play. Names that are
familiar today were playmates -- Ann Oxford Hattaway,
Nancy Castleberry Garrison, Fred Sumter and Bill
Chandler Hornick (1940s-'50s)
506 and 510
arriving here in the 1920s and grandparents building
on Pine in the '30s, Hornick spent all of her
formative years just two and a half blocks from
central Albany, where she lived with her five
we played kick the can, hide and seek and even had a
fort under the Masonic Lodge (now Theatre Albany)
next door," she said, "and it was like a dungeon."
One of her
earliest memories was attending Mrs. Doty's
Kindergarten on Tift Street just a few blocks away.
time for the Chandlers was family night on Fridays
at the YMCA, which was, naturally, only a block and
a half away. They hoofed to the park, church,
drugstore and to Kinnett's on Flint Street, where
Sunday afternoon ice cream cones were a tradition
for many in Albany.
We all know
that girls learn to shop early on, so it's no
surprise that Kay would traipse to Churchwell's on
North Washington Street, where she was allowed to
take a dress home on approval -- no problem.
Not to be
forgotten is one of her funniest memories -- hearing
Albany's downtown fire engines pulling out and
blaring, with all the kids running to the door to
Wilhelmina Dye Hall (1930s-'40s)
Iceman" being announced through the neighborhood is
one of her most vivid memories of childhood.
As he rode
the sandy streets in his mule-drawn wagon almost
daily, housewives would exit homes and place orders.
Then, ice would be wrapped in newspapers and placed
in the homes' wooden ice boxes.
Reared in a
genteel neighborhood that included nurses, teachers,
florists, entrepreneurs, doctors and contractors,
Wilhelmina and her sister were encouraged to read by
teacher parents. Assuredly, this led to her own
until much later, so the family walked everywhere
including Bethel AME Church, Gray's Ice Cream Parlor
at Jackson and Highland, Mercer and Hazard Schools
and to nearby friends' homes.
memories include listening to country music on
Saturday morning and Benny Goodman's big band sound
that night, plus enjoying Joe Louis fights in the
memory," she says, "was of a man named Dan employed
by the Albany Cardinals baseball team. Just before
each summer evening game, he would stroll the
blocks, megaphone in hand, announcing the upcoming
game along with various player details."
Jack Hall (1930s-'40s)
As a child,
little did he know that childhood friend Wilhelmina,
living two blocks away, would one day be his bride.
Neither could he have envisioned moving in 1995 from
512 Mercer Ave., owned by his family since 1915, to
which he'd taken his new wife and in which they
raised a daughter.
to live on his bike starting soon in life. He
delivered groceries to earn spending money. Often,
he went into homes with no one present to put up the
food, all with permission.
He and his
boyhood buddies did love to roam.
north to the Kinchafoonee Creek and swim around the
old railroad trestle," he said. "And all we had to
do was be home before sundown.
not fear for their children, especially, boys, to
stray far from home.
memories for Hall include:
and his grandmother's vegetable garden;
on South Madison Street;
dad's 1930s Rickenbacker automobile;
by the sinkhole that was to become Mills Stadium;
a nearby traveling minstrel show in the 1930s;
dates to dances at Hollywood Hall on South Jackson,
always with plenty of mother chaperones.
Landau III (1950s)
occupied the home at 511 W. Oglethorpe in 1856 when
the house was constructed. It's gone now, but the
Landaus still own the site after 155 years.
he's affectionately called by close friends, grew up
living with two older generations. This included a
grandmother, who died in the same bed in which she
was born, and a great aunt and uncle who lived to
the rear of the house.
father Edmund walked home for lunch from his
downtown office, and the family strolled to the
nearby temple, movies, library, post office and
grocery store. For school, Ed footed to nearby Broad
Elementary. The family walked to the New Albany
Hotel on Pine Avenue downtown for family meal
brought suburban growth to Albany, but the Landaus
stayed downtown and Ed continued to play in his
neighborhood. But commercial activity eventually
proliferated on Oglethorpe, so at age 11 his family
moved to North Harding Street. He continues to
reside there, but his glimpses into early downtown
life are revelatory.
a family story of a once well known young man who
had a garage apartment across the alley from the
Landau home. Seems the bachelor pad was at the rear
of his own parents' house, but the Landaus
considered the scene as scandalous in the
reported that the young man entertained women
there," Ed says, with a grin.
Mariellen Johnson Bateman
hand-crank doorbell was at the front door, but
everybody just walked in," Bateman recollected. "We
slept with the window open in the summer, and built
fireplace coal fires in the winter."
summertime morning memory is waking and hearing
women walking down the street yelling
'Blackberries,' which were picked and ready for
now in its sixth generation in Albany, had four
generations then living in the house with a big
porch. Her grandmother sometimes rented a backyard
apartment to Cardinal ball players.
up to 12 people on the premises, and they all used
the one bathroom.
summer, all Cardinal players would exit neighborhood
boarding houses and have a morning muster at the
YMCA for their ride to the ball park. Being a half
block away, Mariellen would marvel at the number of
young ladies who would also show up.
Grocery was just around the corner on Monroe Street,
so orders and deliveries were common. At 10 years of
age, she phoned and placed an order for coke and ice
operator chimed in to say, "Mariellen, you know your
Grandfather Warren doesn't approve of that."
Duggan is an Albany native and retired banker.