Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Birmingham Photo of the Day (55): Rosenberger's & More

This 1939 photograph by W.B. Phillips shows businesses on the south side of Second Avenue North. Visible are the Strand and Capitol theaters, Rosenberger's Birmingham Trunk Company, Vogue Beautry and a Kinney Shoe Store. 

The Strand opened in 1915 and operated until 1962. The building was demolished the next year. Several other photos can be seen on the BhamWiki site. The Capitol opened as the Alcazar during the silent film era, and became the Newmar in December 1948. Rosenberger's has operated several stores in the Birmingham area beginning early in the 20th century. This store opened in the 1920's. 

More information is below some of the images. 

Here are Rosenberger's listings in the 1945 Birmingham Yellow Pages. 

Theatre listing in the 1945 Yellow Pages

The Vogue Beauty Salon appeared in the 1945 Yellow Pages, but I did not find Kinney Shoes. However, Kinney Shoes was a national chain with over 300 stores in 1936 and lasted until 1998. A Kinney Shoes store was one of the original tenants at Birmingham's Eastwood Mall when it opened in August 1960. 

Friday, February 24, 2017

Dad & the USS Errol

When Pearl Harbor was bombed in December 1941, Dad was fifteen years old. He tried to sign up after his eighteenth birthday, but he had pretty bad acne, and the military would not take him. He did work in the Goodyear tire plant in Gadsden, an essential part of the war effort.

After the war he tried again with the US Navy and was accepted in July 1946. Most of the memorabilia we have on his service is stored at mom's; I'll be digging into that one day. We also have dad's rather lengthy written memories of his Navy stint; I hope to transcribe and post that material also. He includes lots of detail and some fascinating stories.

In the meantime, here is just a bit about his Navy years and especially the ship on which he served in the South Pacific, the USS Errol

The light cargo ship was originally built for the US Army during the war. The Navy acquired it in April 1947 while the vessel was at Apra, Guam, and commissioned it on July 9. The Errol displaced 550 tons, was 177 feet long and had a crew of 42. The ship was named after Errol Shoal in , Louisiana. 

Wikipedia's entry has this to say about its duties in the Pacific:

"Errol throughout her naval service carried passengers and cargo among American islands and those of the Trust Territory of the Pacific, calling at Guam, SaipanTinianTruk, the Palau IslandsUlithiChichi JimaKwajaleinPagan IslandAgrihan, and smaller islands in the Caroline Islands. From September to December 1949 she was overhauled at Pearl Harbor, the only interruption to her constant operations in the Pacific."

The Errol was decommissioned in July 1951 and loaned to the Department of the Interior. In January 1952 that transfer was made permanent. The final fate of the Errol is unknown according to the Wikipedia page and NavSource Online

Dad was a member of the original crew. You can see the entire listing below. During its career in the Navy, the Errol had several captains. A listing is here. The first captain was Lieutenant Russell Quartus June, who served until September 14, 1948. 

This post, by the way, is my 300th on this blog. Further comments are below some of the photos.

Here's dad's photo of the USS Errol; I've been unable to locate any others online. Mom says dad once told her one of the only times he was really scared during his Navy service was the first time he had to climb to the crow's nest.

Here's the Navy's notice of commission of the vessel and the listing of the first crew. Dad is the next to the last name given.

On the back of this photograph dad wrote, "AJ Wright Jr and his friend Ackuos on board the USS Errol SW Pacific 1947".

The caption reads "Basic Engineering Class B11-1".  That's dad in the back row, second from the right. I presume this photo is a class at the Naval Station Great Lakes, north of Chicago, where dad did further training after boot camp in Bainbridge, Maryland. 

This photo may have been taken in Chicago while he was on leave.  

Dad is buried in one of the newer sections of Maple Hill Cemetery in Huntsville. 

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

A Quick Visit to Montgomery (3)

In August 2012 son Amos and I made a trip to Montgomery to see some historical sites. Along the way, as I've covered in previous blogs, we happened upon a great Alabama ruin, the Clanton Drive-In, and made a trip through Tuskegee on the way back. 

Downtown Montgomery was quiet that day, since the legislature was not in session. The previous two Montgomery posts are here and here. Comments are below some of the photographs. 

Riverfront Park was a pretty place on a hot August day. Close to The Alley and other locations around the capitol, the park has an amphitheater for concerts, the Harriott II riverboat and other facilities. The Montgomery Biscuits minor league baseball team play at Riverwalk Stadium nearby.

Amos and I had lunch at a restaurant at this venue. I don't remember the name, but we enjoyed it! The Alley is a complex of shops, eateries and bars near Riverfront Park. 

Located near the state capitol is the First White House of the Confederacy, and we did spend some time here. This house served as residence of President Jefferson Davis and family while the capital of the Confederate States of America was located in Montgomery. That period only lasted from February to May 1861, when the capital was moved to Richmond, Virginia. During that time, however, Mrs. Davis hosted many parties at the residence. 

This photo shows the house, built in the 1820's, at it's original location several miles away. Efforts to preserve the house began in the late 19th century, and in 1919 the legislature appropriated money to have it moved to the capital complex. 

The house is filled with furniture of the period and personal items of all sorts belonging to the Davis family. 

We encountered a fascinating example of the ironies of history that day. Apparently the only staff member working there when we visited and who greeted us as we entered was an African-American woman. In talking later we realized both of us had been tempted to ask her what it was like working in this temple of the Confederacy.  

Friday, February 17, 2017

A Quick Visit to Montgomery (2)

In August 2012 son Amos and I made a trip to Montgomery to see some historical sites. Along the way, as I've covered in previous blogs, we happened upon a great Alabama ruin, the Clanton Drive-In, and made a trip through Tuskegee on the way back. This post is the second of three devoted to Montgomery. Part one can be found here and part three here

Downtown Montgomery was quiet that day, since the legislature was not in session.

Comments are below some of the photographs. 

The front steps and entrance of the Alabama State Capitol at the end of Dexter Avenue. This Greek Revival building was constructed in 1851 on the foundation of the previous capitol, which had burned. The side and rear wings were constructed later.

All three branches of government were located here until 1940, when the Supreme Court moved to its own building on Dexter Avenue. The state legislature met here until moving to new quarters at the State House in 1985. The governor's offices remain here.

The Alabama Department of Archives and History has a number of historical photographs of the capitol in its digital collections.

These are two backside photos of the Alabama State House.

A shot from the balcony down into the Senate chamber. 

Stand in the rotunda and look up and this is what you see at the top of the dome. 

Artist Roderick MacKenzie painted eight panels depicting state history that hang in the Rotunda. Mackenzie began these panels in 1926 and finished in 1931. He also designed the plaster frames around the panels. 

MacKenzie, born in London, spent his youth and many adult years in Mobile. His long and fascinating career included art studies in Boston and Paris and periods in working in England and India.  He returned to Mobile in 1914 and painted many works with Alabama themes until his death in 1941.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

A Quick Visit to Montgomery (1)

In August 2012 son Amos and I made a trip to Montgomery to see some historical sites. Along the way, as I've covered in previous blogs, we happened upon a great Alabama ruin, the Clanton Drive-In, and made a trip through Tuskegee on the way back. In this post and two more I'll share some of the photos from the Montgomery trip and make a few comments. Downtown Montgomery was quiet that day, since the legislature was not in session.

Montgomery is one of Alabama's most history-filled cities. Much attention has been paid to the Civil War period and the Civil Rights era; many articles and books have been published on those periods and individual participants. A recent book on the antebellum period is Jeffrey C. Benton's Through Others' Eyes: Published Accounts of Antebellum Montgomery, Alabama [2014]. 

We saw both the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church and the ministers' home, although we did not have time to go through either one. More comments are below a couple of the other photos. More sites to come in parts two and three of this series. 

Benjamin Moore Hotel and Majestic Cafe served many prominent African-American visitors to Montgomery. 

If the Smithsonian is the "nation's attic", then the state archives is Alabama's "attic." However, like the Smithsonian, the place has better organization and staff than most attics. 

Friday, February 10, 2017

Medical History in Birmingham: The List

I recently worked on a blog item fitting this general topic, and it dawned on me how many such posts I've done since I start this blog in March 2014. I've also published relevant items in other venues. I decided to bring them together in a single posting with links; perhaps I'll be doing something similar in other subjects. I'll try to keep this one updated as well.

So here we go....

Hektoen International series on "Famous Hospitals: Hillman Hospital

Profile of Dr. Lloyd Noland 
Important to public health in Birmingham for many years