Days Gone By - stories from the past

What is your favorite memory of living in Birmingham, Alabama?

RECALLING BIRMINGHAM MEMORIES

by

Jean Butterworth

Most people enjoy sharing their stories. I was in a group of Hoover Historical Society members and guests at the Hoover Historical membership tea and in this group the conversation turned to memories of Central Park in western Birmingham.


Joyce Strickland recalled going to West End High School and even now some of the graduates of West End High get together for lunch. It seemed that the students at that time could choose which school they wanted to attend…West End or Ensley. It was amusing to hear that streets in this area were assigned to the alphabet. i.e. “Court F” or “Avenue O.”

West End High

West End High

Harold Fisher told us that originally the streets were named after trees i.e. Chestnut Street or Beech Street etc. There were some problems with directions and Central Park streets were changed to Court, Terrace and Avenues. Harold said that the “Boys of Central Park” get together once a year and talked about West End High School and Ensley High School and the students who went to both schools.

Ensley High SchoolEnsley High School

Statue of Vulcan

vulcan on statue

Joyce and Harold remember the Statue of Vulcan when it was first brought to Birmingham and located in the Fair grounds.

Harold at age five years old participated in the ceremony on Red Mountain when the Vulcan was moved again. He and his aunt dressed as Indians of Jones Valley for the occasion. He had on an Indian costume and a black wig. (He wore the wig on Halloween for years) Mable wore an Indian Princess costume. He remembers that George Seibel was dressed as the Vulcan. George later became Mayor of Birmingham.

 

Boy Scout Camp named Camp Andrews

The Boy Scout Camp named Camp Andrews was located off Hwy 150. It was in the area of Patton Creek where Harold would walk across a cable swinging bridge. Paradise Lake is there now. It was an exciting place to go in the summertime when Harold was a small boy. A 1928 brochure stated, “Camp Andrews was more than a Summer Camp—It was an Adventure!” “Your Boy Needs Sunshine and Fresh Air after a Year in School.” In 1934 the cost was $11.00 for two weeks.

What is your memory of early Birmingham?

Chinaberries and Other Memories of Alabama by Jean Butterworth

Chinaberries and Other Memories of Alabama


By (author): Jean Butterworth
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Kindle Edition: Check Amazon for Pricing Digital Only

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About Jean Butterworth

Jean Champion Butterworth is originally from Tuscaloosa County, graduating from Tuscaloosa County High School, Druid City Hospital School of Nursing and The University of Alabama. She is a retired nurse. Working 27 years at The Children’s Hospital as Department Director, Specialty Clinics. She has traveled extensively in Europe, Africa, The Middle East, and Eastern Europe. You can contact Jean at [email protected]
See additional stories by Jean Butterworth on www.daysgoneby.me

She also now has a Kindle Ebook Chinaberries and Other Memories of Alabama

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92 comments

  1. Golden Rule BBQ, not much else.

    1. I like The Vulcan Great food

  2. Michael Hyatt

    BIR. Birmingham International Raceway. It’s only a memory now because those dumbshits tore it down.

    1. BIR Barney points Baptist school spiveys toy store and cruising Eastwood mall. Lol that’s it.

  3. Kathy Holland Jones

    When I was very young I can remember a sign with a puppy and it’s tail wagging. I remember going to visit my aunt and we would look for the Vulcan and that sign with the puppy. I know it’s silly but it was the first thing that came to my mind.

    1. I believe the puppy you’re remembering was taken down and moved to Regions Field. It was reburbished and looks brand new. I drive by it every day going home from work.

  4. Scott Smith

    The Alabama Theatre: The Showplace of the South

    1. OH how I remember Rick Wood Field. I have a baseball that was hit into the bleachers where me nd my dad sat. I was about 6 years old and the adults were fighting to get to it and couldn’t. Dad told me to just reach down under the set and get. I did and I still have the ball. I am 64 now and my dad has passed, but those were the best memories being with my Dad at a Barron’s Baseball game.

  5. I went from kindergarten and graduated eighth grade at Central Park Elementary. We lined in the Central Park area, walking distance to the school and to Central Park Baptist Church. The church bought houses around it to house Sunday School classes. When we moved from there Central Park Baptist Church had a membership of 3,000 in 1961. There was a member we called “Cigar”, a middle-aged man that scared us silly. We would accuse him of getting under his car motor, not to work on it but to look up little girls dresses as they passed by. He was always alone. He was at church whenever the doors were open. Always had a stubby cigar hanging out of his mouth; hence the nickname. I, too, remember the Vulcan, Five Points Shopping Center, the year-round fair next to the center with fun rides, and the many baseball games held adjacent to the elementary school.

    1. Remember this man at church. The CP Baptist Church had wonderful programs for all ages. Remember especially Vacation Bible School. Went for two weeks. Hundreds of children participated and my mother always taught. We were there all the time.

  6. My favorite memory of Birmingham was in the 50’s, and being at my grandparents house at night and marveling at how the sky was lit up by the steel mills, and wondering what color Vulcan’s torch was tonight.

  7. In the late 1940’s I lived in a small town 35 miles from Birmingham. I rode the Greyhound bus to Birmingham to take music lessons. Walked downtown (big city for me) all alone, took lesson and back to bus station and home. Would you let your little girl do that today?? Think not, but those were better days.

  8. Our family moved to Trussville in 1940 from Ensley when I was eight. We were so happy to live in “The Project”. A few years later, on Saturdays, my friend and I would ride the Greyhound Bus into town for the Mickey Mouse Club at the Alabama Theater. We would wander around downtown, eating doughnuts made in Kresse’s and then catch the bus home. Our brothers would spend their time in the used book stores across the street from the Bus Station. We were all very young. It was a wonderful life!

  9. Favorites – the toy windows at Loveman’s and Pizitz at Christmas – the street cars –
    climbing the stairs at Vulcan – original Shades Valley High School – buying evening dresses at the New Ideal – high school sorority leadouts – Grayson’s ice cream –
    Dale’s Hideaway in Homewood – John’s seafood downtown.

  10. How about Cascade Plunge? Tapawingo? Camp Cosby? Eastlake Pool? All were wonderful swimming places in the 40’s. Then there was the Cahaba River in Trussville. Had to watch out for snakes but we were all good swimmers. There was no lifeguard, only older teenagers who would say who could swim above the dam, in deep water, or stay below the dam in shallow.

  11. My first visit to Birmingham was in 1956 from the rural dairy farm in Lincoln. I graduated high school, in those days was a big deal to get thru high school. I went to Birmingham Business College, lived at the YWCA and ate many meals either at the Greyhound Bus Station or Woolworth lunch counter. The city was clean and we walked most places. Alto the street cars were fun to ride also. It was a safe and wonderful experience and I have fond memories of Birmingham. I lived in Birmingham until 1964. My husband graduated from Howard University with a degree and Pharmacy license. The last time I was in Birmingham was
    200l, sadly it was a scary place to visit. I am thankful for my memories!

  12. Gene Hocutt

    That sign with the dog wagging it’s tail was on the viaduct at Sloss Furnace (3rd Avenue North).

  13. Gene Hocutt

    The WVOK Shower of Stars… Boutwell Auditorium… Lovemans… Pizitz… Britling Cafeteria… Bruno’s… The Alabama Theater… Vulcan… Vulcan’s Red and Green traffic torch… WSGN… Kiddie Land… Joe Rumore’s Golden Flake bicycles and Golden Eagle Syrup… The “old” Alabama State Fair… Sergeant Jack… Cousin Cliff… Bozo… Benny Carle… Animated Christmas decorations in downtown storefronts… The Iron Bowl at Legion Field… Sportsmanship between fans at the Iron Bowl… A time when Legion Field, Rickwood Field and Five Points West were “safe” places to be… Joe Langston… TC and John Edd… WQEZ – Your “Q” to easy listening… The Drive-In Theater at the Fairgrounds… When the Bessemer Highway was “Super” … Traffic jams when US Steel changed shifts… and the list goes on…

    1. Jean McCaleb

      Those are all great memories and I remember them also. Wearing hats and high heels to go down town shopping was one of them, free delivery of your purchases. Good times.

  14. I loved visiting Vulcan, but I haven’t seen him in about 60 years.

  15. Valerie Lackey

    Spending it with my best friend at a Bama homecoming and looking forward to many more.

  16. Barbara Shelton Smith

    My grandmother lived in Acipco? (not sure of spelling)

  17. James Davis Sr.

    Walking up and down 1st and 2nd Ave. looking at the window displays during the Christmas holidays.

  18. Sandra Steagall Brown

    With no buses, I wonder how kids in Central Park got to either school. I went to West End with a lot of people from CP and never thought about this until today! The walk would have been several miles each way and back in the 50s, very few high school students had cars.

  19. Mary Anne Creel Peters

    Going to Alabama Theatre with friends…shopping at great department stores downtown.

  20. JoAnne Fryer Henderson

    I think there was a city bus from Central Park to West End.

  21. I REMEMBER GOING TO THE ALABAMA THEATER TO SEE (HERBIE THE LOVE BUG). IT SEEMED TO BE THE BIGGEST AND GRANDEST THING I’D EVER SEEN. I THINK I MAY HAVE BEEN 5. I VAGUELY REMEMBER SEEING (PAINT YOUR WAGON) BEFORE THAT, BUT DID NOT REALLY SEE THE GRANDER IN THE THEATER BUT REMEMBER THE PIPE ORGAN!!! WAS SO PROUD TO HAVE SEEN THE RENOVATION OF IT!

  22. Tommy May

    Riding a city bus from Homewood into downtown on occasion when I was kid… AND everything at Eastwood Mall.

  23. Rhonda Daniels

    Being at A.H. Parker High School

  24. Frank Coggins

    Eating at Morrisons cafeteria.

  25. Macy Frost

    West End High School

  26. Mike Bradford

    Home for 6 years. Where I met my wife and made our first home. Went to college there. Always feel good when I think of Birmingham

  27. Charles Rice

    Visiting the Vulcan Statue.

  28. Julie T. Maly

    it’s my hometown – I remember my Dad driving us past the Sloss furnaces to watch them “make pigs” by pouring the molten iron and then he’d take us by the Merita Bakery downtown to smell the bread baking – a big treat would be going to Waite’s for a treat on weekend afternoons

  29. Leon O

    Back in the sixties there was a drug store downtown that was open 24/7 . I could get medicine for my kids anytime!!!

    1. Douglas Hall

      It was Tutwiler Drugs.

    2. Leon O

      That drug store was a blessing. I could medicine for a fever for my kids no what time !!!

  30. Lillian Kelley

    Leaving it and going back to my home town Montgomery

  31. Kathy Teer

    Lived in Prattville and my Mom would take a car load of us to the Zoo every summer and we would stop for Jack’s Hamburgers on the way.

  32. Bonnie Rodgers

    In 1937at the age of 3/12

  33. GailandRay Brown

    The windows of Pizitz and Loveman’s stores at Christmas.

  34. Martha Hopper Reeves

    Dad taking us all to see the Barons play. It was along ride down old 31 from Hartselle ,but lots of fun!

  35. Tim May

    The tackle box in Eastlake

    1. Born there 1929 learned to swim in Eastlake

      1. Loved the street car ride out 1st ave. to Eastlake

  36. Becky Mitchell

    Alabama theater Saturday mornings. Me and my friends would go to the Mickey Mouse Club show.

  37. My older sister took me to Mickey Mouse Club at Alabama Theatre…….

    Having dates that took me to the Vulcan…..

    Mom would take me and my baby sister downtown to eat at Woolworth’s…..we would ride the bus from North B’ham where she parked the car…….

    I worked in Birmingham when a teen……

  38. So many wonderful memories remain, but for a kid growing up in Birmingham who loved trains, Terminal Station was like a Pizitz Christmas window year round. From the overwhelming spaciousness of its soaring some, to the cathedral-like solemnity of its vast marble waiting room, the station was a mecca for a young rail fan. And the flashy trains, with exotic names like the “City of Miami” “Sunnyland,” and “Silver Comet” whisking passengers to far-off places I’d only read about. Uncredibly, the station and the trains that we’re once a vital part of Birmingham’s “magic” have now been gone for nearly a half-century, but the legacy of Terminal Station will always be with us.

  39. My family moved from Atlanta in 1978 to work for the Progressive Farmer Company. My job was to sell advertising space in Progressive Farmer and Southern Living. We bought a home in Hoover where we lived until 1983 when we moved to Montgomery, Alabama. Pleasant memories of Birmingham.

  40. Patricia Camp Mullis

    Never lived in Birmingham but as a child traveling to visit grandparents I loved seeing the Vulcan!

  41. MIke Armstrong

    Driving under the train station,pouring “pig iron” at Sloss.Store windows downtown at Christmas.Oh,and a lower homicide rate.

  42. Bobby King

    Seeing the Barons play at Rickwood Stadium.

  43. Debby Lewis

    Cascade Plunge, The Cloud Room, the Spinning Wheel, Vulcan. Alabama Theatre. Alabama/Auburn games at Rickwood Stadium, Kiddieland, Shoney’s at Eastwood Mall, the Star in Homewood at Christmas, Berry High School

  44. Wendy Craft

    A must read is Fannie Flagg’s book about living in Birmingham.

  45. In the 1940’s, my Aunt Ora worked for Young and Van Supply. I was a small child at that time. I lived in Walker County. A big treat for me was going on the bus (alone) to B’ham and spending the week-end with her. She took me to Brittilines (sp) to eat, to the Alabama Theater and to church on Sunday. A big adventure for me.

  46. Lowe’s Skating Rink – where I spent many hours while my parents attended ballgames at Rickwood Field.

  47. Kathy Teer

    Lived in Autauga Co and Mom would fit as many kids as possible in the car for our yearly summer trip to the Birmingham Zoo. We would stop on the way at Jack’s Hamburgers ………………. yes, I still remember the little song that would get you a free burger…lol!! We always loved going to the zoo.

  48. The Alabama Theater and the State Fair in the fall.

  49. Cindy Cates Roper

    The old train station. Of course it’s been gone for many years.

  50. Steven Skeen

    Sloss, Vulcan, Oak Mountain

  51. We lived in Pinson in the early 1950s. Always enjoyed going downtown at Christmas time to see all the store windows decorated at Loveman’s, Pizitz and others.
    Liked riding the streetcars also. One of my great-uncles was a streetcar conductor and it was fun when we got to ride on his streetcar.

  52. Chris Otts

    Leanne Champion Otts

  53. Jeff Taylor

    The Veteran’s Day Parade

  54. Meet under “the clock” go to Petes for hot dogs . If you have a date meet at Salems

  55. Melanie Combs

    Kiddie Land and shopping downtown with my Grandparents.

  56. George McCluskey

    Going to movies and the WVOK “Shower of Stars” shows in the1960s.

  57. Joel Holladay

    Wvok and Joe Rumore and the shower of stars not to forget Catfish King

  58. KIDDILAND PARK..

  59. Couple of the Greek owned hot dog diners and get a couple of “specials” with a Grapico. The Cane Break. Forbes Piano when it was downtown. Likewise Smith and Hardwick on 20th Street with Allen and the Prater sisters selling literary sophistication. Lawrence Stereo at 5 Points South and listening to those big MacIntosh speakers. The Lowenbrau in Homewood and listening to “Three on a String”. Driving by the newspaper late Saturday night and picking up a Sunday morning paper to read.

    1. Frog Price

      Fix your account name.

  60. Both of my grandmothers lived in Birmingham. One was on 9th Ct. South and the other across the street from Birmingham Southern College.
    My memory is driving from one grandmother’s home to the other grandmother’s “over the mountain” as my parents called it. We would get a glimpse of Vulcan and find out what color was lit. We would drive by the big homes and see inside to their huge living rooms. Going through town we passed a lot of people walking who didn’t have cars. We went through neighborhoods that lined the main streets and see children playing in their “yards” like we would play in ours.. Christmas time was really great with all the lights on on our trip through the woods !
    On special occasions, for lunch we would drive downtown to the Chinese restaurant, Joy Young’s, and eat in one of the separate dining rooms they had. It was such fun and we could all get around one table.We would have gone to the Methodist Church on the corner near’ Southern because my mom , dad, and sistr all went to ‘Southern, so it was a special place to all of us.

  61. Frog Price

    If you went to Boston on your 50th anniversary from the Terminal Station that would have been 50 plus years ago. Your numbers don’t jive.

  62. Frog Price

    Watching the slag pots dump at night at Vulcan And US Steel Fairworks.

    1. Ronnie W Harless

      I have actually dumped a slag pot. Foundy at night is all night fireworks

  63. Jeff Pollard

    BIR. Watching the Alabama Gang race, hearing Tom Gloor on the PA. Eating at Joy Youngs.

  64. Jennie Jolly

    I was a child in the fifties. Mom and her sister would take me and my brother, by train, to spend the first part of the day shopping and the afternoon at the state fair. We would return by Greyhound, about 60 miles. I remember the electric street cars

  65. Jean McCaleb

    1. Jean McCaleb

  66. Jean McCaleb

  67. I remember and regret seeing it go was the old Terminal Station, one of the most beautiful buildings in Ala. It took a lot of stupidity to tear that down, but I also remember 5 Points West, the Spinning Wheel on 3rd Ave. Kiddie Land with my kids, the zoo, Vulcan, street cars that were connected to a cable, Christmas displays in all of the downtown stores, The Alabama Theater, where I first saw “Gone with the Wind”. Swimming pool in Ensley, We moved to Jefferson County when I was 12 years old, we still had gasoline rationing, food stamps, shoe stamps, etc. and much, much more. I saw my first TV in a furniture store in 5 Points West, that was in 1950 when I was hunting my first job after graduation from high school. We had hand operated calculators, typewriters, and no one had ever heard of a computer.

  68. I went to many double header football games at Legion Field when either AU or UA would play in the afternoon followed by the other team playing a night game. Several times the Jets (Joe Namanth) played exhibition games there. We always rode the bus downtown then rode the stadium special to and from the game.

  69. I went to many double header football games at Legion Field when either AU or UA would play in the afternoon followed by the other team playing a night game. Several times the Jets (Joe Namanth) played exhibition games there. We always rode the bus downtown then rode the stadium special to and from the game.

  70. Meet under the clock and eat hotdogs at Petes or Krystal
    If you. Have a date afterwards meet at Ed Salems or Loujacks

    And playing at Legion Field

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