AUTHOR SUNDAY: Curb Market Day – Do you remember this time?

(Saturday was an important day for grocery shopping in Alabama’s past.)

Curb Market day in Tuscaloosa, Alabama ca. 1935

Allen Jemison building is visible in background

Curb Market day in Tuscaloosa, Alabama ca. 1935

Long before daylight the cars and trucks traveled

Saturday was curb market day.  Long before daylight cars and trucks loaded with produce would travel down gravel roads to the highways and into Tuscaloosa.  Behind the big gray two story courthouse there was an open plaza where tables could be rented and farm goods sold. Chickens fresh killed and packed in ice sat by trays of green onions, yellow squash, field peas,  butter beans, and okra. Tomatoes and roasting ears were displayed beside Gladiolas or wild flowers.

Each month was different

Each month had its own ripening time and there was always something tempting. Even in winter there would be canned green beans, homemade muscadine jelly, or jars of honey with the comb intact, homemade Caramel cakes, or fried crescents filled with cooked dried apples.canning

In the shade of huge oak trees on the Allen and Jemison side of the courthouse along the street bordering the courthouse, itinerant preachers exhorted the crowds that flocked to the market.  Their companions often strummed guitars or banjoes to the haunting invitation songs designed to rescue local sinners who wondered by.

Prisoners looked out on the crowd

Prisoners in the county jail that backed up to the market plaza looked down on the crowd below hoping for a familiar face that might be persuaded to buy cigarettes or carry news to family members. Hat hid faces that did not want to be hailed from the second story cells.

On hot summer days sellers might cross the street to Fred Robertson’s Service Station and Wrecker service to cool off in the air conditioning. There at the long dining bar they drank tall glasses of sweet tea and sprinkled hot sauce on hamburgers grilled in front of customers.  Revived, weary farmers returned to their market after a busy morning that had started at 3 am.

Home cooked vegetables for Sunday dinners

On an especially good day after the regular customers had made their purchases and were home cooking fresh vegetables for Sunday dinners, a seller might choose a bought lunch as a special treat.

Grandma might leave her table under the watchful eye of a neighbor and walk up to Woolworth’s where the unchanging menu featured staples like meat loaf, creamed potatoes, and green beans with fluffy yeast rolls. Perhaps a club sandwich with ham and cheese, lettuce and tomato would be a new choice. A steaming slice of buttermilk chess pie completed the meal.

Packed up by 3 pm

By 3 pm farmers were packing up for the return home. Even prosperous famers knew that nothing was to be wasted, not even time. When they got home there would be cows to milk, hogs to feed, and chickens to feed and divest of their eggs for that day.   All the animals had to be seen to before the family could have hot supper and weekly allover baths to prepare for Sunday School and worship the next morning.


Check out all Alabama Pioneers books

Discordance: The Cottinghams (Volume 1) = A novel about the ancestors of the Cottingham family in Bibb County, Alabama



  1. Everyone went to town on Saturday. Farmers also went to town if it was raining.

  2. My Daddy was a Chiropractor. He would have patients come as early as 5AM and expect him to be at work.

  3. Love curb markets !!

  4. I was born later than this picture but remember going to the Curb Market with Dad and Mother to purchase from the farmers. We parked along the street as these cars are and my favorite treat was ribbon cane with someone (probably dad) stripping the outside and cutting little chew strips from the sweet and juicy cane. Miss those days. Zoe

  5. Two of the best years of my life were spent in a cabin in fosters ala!!!with my wife –making art—-1987 88!!heaven and wonderful people

  6. I remember it in the ’60’s.