Friday, July 28, 2017

Once a Baptist Church, Now a Fabric Store

I worked at UAB from 1983 through 2015 and often left campus going down University Boulevard and then Green Springs Highway [Alabama State Highway 149] to enter I-65. Thus I passed this building, on the right just before the U.S. Army Reserve location, many, many times. Recently I decided to investigate.

The structure, obviously built as a church, has been home to King Cotton Fabrics since 1993. Janet and Bill Haas had opened The Cloth Patch in Tuscaloosa in 1968 and then expanded to this location. You can see interior photos here. There is also a Montgomery shop; the Tuscaloosa shop is no longer open. 

The structure has a Jefferson County Historical Commission sign noting the building's original use as Green Springs Baptist Church. I presume the two dates given are the congregation's organization and then construction of this building in 1905. The interior retains the original hardwood floors. A couple of other buildings are located on the property to the right in this photo, but I have no idea about their construction. 

Below the recent photos is a 1949 newspaper article about the church and the city's right of way on Green Springs Highway. Initially paved in the 1920's, Green Springs was partially rerouted and became a divided highway in the mid-1940's. The building has been changed very little since then. The article notes that the church had recently built a basement and would like to make an addition onto the back of the church. 

I have so far been unable to find any more information about the church. Two large histories of Baptists in Alabama, A. Hamilton Reid's Baptists in Alabama [1967] and Wayne Flynt's Alabama Baptists [1998] do not mention it.

Perhaps one day I'll stop by again and make some inquiries about further details. History just pops up all over the place, doesn't it? 

Friday, July 21, 2017

Strange Things Found in Alabama Stores (1)

Going through some photographs recently I came across a couple of examples of the random things I encounter here and there in stores and other public places. When I do I take photos. I've decided to share some of them in a series of posts on this blog.

These images may strike many as just silly, and some are, but I prefer to call them strange, weird, unexpected, something different springing out of the halls of American commerce. Or whatever. Let's begin. 

Feel free to tell us about your own strange finds in the comment section!

Well, obviously I didn't photograph this 1964 grocery store promotion from the Alabama Cattlemen's Association. I found it via Alabama Mosaic for one of my "Holidays Past in Alabama" postings on Father's Day. The ad just seems to set the right tone for this series. Beef, beef, beef! Oh, and Father's Day!

This little cutie made an appearance at the most recent Pelham Palooza last May. Blind in one eye, she is a permanent resident of the Alabama Wildlife Center located in Oak Mountain State Park. If you've never been to the AWC, it's well worth a trip--and your support. 

I turned a corner in a Pelham consignment shop and there it was. I did not check the price. 

This image is one of several delightful coffee signs decorating Kai's Koffee in Pelham, a place Dianne and I visit often. 

I found a pile of these on the book table at the Hoover Costco. I leave it to readers to unpack the multiple ironies. 

I spotted this delicacy at a Tuesday Morning store in Huntsville. I probably should have bought it even if the market for Elvis memorabilia is falling

Stories about medical people and places form a major genre in publishing just as they do on television. One subgenre is nursing stories and that includes titles like this one for younger girls in the Sue Barton series. This first title in the seven-book series was originally published in 1936. I found this paperback reprint in a Pelham consignment shop. 

Tune in next time boys and girls for another adventure in strange encounters!

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Alabama Authors Babs & Borden Deal

Babs and Borden Deal were one of those rare couples among writers--two very successful novelists from the 1950's through the 1970's. And since then they have both slipped into obscurity. Let's investigate their Alabama connections.

Babs Hodges was born in Scottsboro on June 23, 1929. After high school graduation she worked in Washington, D.C. as clerk/typist and as typist at Anderson Brass Company in Birmingham. She received a B.A. from the University of Alabama in 1952. Both she and Borden studied under legendary author and professor of creative writing Hudson Strode, although not at the same time. Strode taught at UA for more than 25 years and his students went on to publish over 50 novels and hundreds of short stories. 

She and Borden married in 1952 while both were in Tuscaloosa; Babs was his second wife. They divorced in 1975. The couple had three children, son Brett and daughters Ashley and Shane.

During much of their marriage they lived in Sarasota, Florida, where they circulated in the company of other writers including well-known crime and suspense novelist John D. MacDonald. Rumors of an affair between MacDonald and Babs resulted in MacDonald writing a letter to Borden denying it. [See Hugh Merrill's biography of MacDonald, The Red Hot Typewriter, 2000]

Borden was born in Pontotoc, Mississippi, on October 12, 1922. After graduation from high school he joined the Civilian Conservation Corps, where he worked on firefighting crews in the Pacific Northwest. He served in the U.S. Navy from 1942 until 1945, and then entered the University of Alabama and studied under Strode. He graduated with a B.A. in 1949. He moved to Mexico City College for graduate work; there he met his first wife. They had one child, but soon divorced.

The Deals remained in Tuscaloosa for a couple of years after the marriage and spent their time writing. Future author Wayne Greenhaw often watched the children so the pair could work. By 1954 the Deals were living in Scottsboro. While there Borden received a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1957 and a residency at the MacDowell Colony for artists in New Hampshire in 1964. That same year the family moved to Sarasota. By that time Borden had published eight novels and Babs her first two. 

Deal published over 20 novels and around 100 stories during his life. Some were published under pseudonyms. After 1970 he also wrote a series of erotic novels published anonymously, a practice many authors have used to supply quick funds. Two of his novels appeared posthumously, They Are All Strangers (1985) and The Platinum Man (1989). Babs published twelve novels.

Borden died of a heart attack in Sarasota on January 22, 1985. Babs, who lived at the time in Gulf Shores, died in a Montgomery hospital on February 20, 2004.

I never met Borden or any of the children, but I did meet Babs in the late 1970's. She was living in Auburn while her daughters were in school there. She and Dianne were friends when I met my future wife, who hadd met Babs through daughter Ashley. I remember Babs as a funny, earthy lady. 

Borden has entries in Wikipedia and the Encyclopedia of Alabama; Babs has neither. In his 2001 book Vanishing Florida, David T. Warner includes a memoir of Borden whom he knew in Sarasota. Babs does have an entry in the Alabama Literary Map and like Borden appears in various reference books covering Southern and/or American authors. Borden's papers are in the Howard Gotlieb Archival Research Center at Boston University. That collection includes sculptures of Babs and Borden by Sara Mayfield, a fellow Alabama writer. 

Alabama has had at least two other couples who were both widely published authors, C. Terry Cline and Judith Richards and the Covingtons, Dennis and Vicki

Further comments follow many of the images below. 

This novel, Babs' fifth, first appeared in 1968. The following year she received the Alabama Author Award from the state library association for the book. Dianne has told me Babs once informed her that the book was loosely based on real Tuscaloosa events.

On December 3, 1979, NBC broadcast a TV movie adaptation of that novel under a new title. The film featured an all-female cast that included Paula Prentiss, Tina Louise, Loretta Swit, Stella Stevens, Shelley Fabares and Sondra Locke. 

A TV-movie tie-in reprint of the novel appeared in 1979.

Her first novel appeared in 1959.

Babs' second novel, originally published in 1961, was reprinted by the University of Alabama Press in 1990. That is the most recent reprint of any of her works. In its review of the reprint, Library Journal declared, "This is a southern writer who can be appreciated by all." (15 September 1990, p. 105)

This thriller was published in 1973.

She is buried in Cedar Hill Cemetery in Scottsboro.

Source: Find-A-Grave

Her 1969 country music novel is dedicated to friend, fellow writer and onetime baby sitter Wayne Greenhaw, who has left a remembrance of the Deals in his essay in The Remembered Gate: Memoirs by Alabama Writers. The book was "really about Hank Williams" she told Clarke Stallworth in the article discussed below. 

In this 1962 novel, Deal's characters all work at night. 

This novel appeared in 1975.

Other novels include The Grail (1964), Fancy's Knell (1966), Summer Games (1972), The Reason for Roses (1974) and Goodnight Ladies (1978). The Grail was a football novel in which the star quarterback falls in love with the coach's wife. The book is based on the legends of King Arthur; for background on football she consulted Bear Bryant and Gene Stallings. 

This article by Clarke Stallworth appeared in the Birmingham News 26 March 1982. In it she laments the "bestseller" mentality of publishers and notes that after 25 years her publisher Doubleday doesn't "want me any more." She mentions the completed manuscript for a thirteenth novel. Perhaps it is among her papers, also at the Howard Gotlieb Archival Research Center at Boston University.  

Her published short fiction includes:

On June 27, 1961, an adaptation of her story "Make My Death Bed" appeared on the Alfred Hitchcock series. The thirty-minute program was broadcast in the show's sixth season. As of this writing a video of the episode is available here

This 1976 novel was adapted as a two-part movie for television and broadcast in 1988. 

Borden's second novel was published in 1957 and explores the coming of the Tennessee Valley Authority to north Alabama. This book and one by fellow Alabama author William Bradford Huie served as the basis for the 1960 film Wild River  starring Lee Remick and Montgomery Clift. 

This anthology published in 1976 contains Deal's story "A Try for the Big Prize" that first appeared in Hitchcock's magazine in May 1961.

This 1959 novel about southern hill country music served as the basis of the Broadway musical A Joyful Noise in 1966.

This novel appeared in 1965.

This novel was published in 1974. 

The Advocate (1968) is the middle novel of a "political trilogy" that also included The Loser (1964) and The Winner (1973). 

As he had done with the early novel Dunbar's Cove and the TVA, this 1970 book explored the effects of massive change on the South. In addition to that theme in his novels, Deal also wrote about basic human characteristics such as ambition, lust, greed, infidelity and a young man's coming of age.

This photograph on the back cover of Interstate was taken by fellow author John D. MacDonald. 

The first part of this Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color episode was  broadcast on March 8, 1964, and the second part a week later. The film was based on a story by Borden, probably "Watermelon Moon" first published in Argosy (UK) in February 1963.

Borden's published short stories include:

DEAL, BORDEN; [born Loysé Youth Deal] (1922-1985); (about) (chron.)

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Sunday Afternoon on Cloverdale Drive in 1959

I was born in Gadsden in 1952, but we only lived there a couple of years before dad got a job at Redstone Arsenal, and we moved to Huntsville. The house on Cloverdale Drive in these photos is the first one I remember from childhood. We lived in Redstone Park after first moving to Huntsville.

We lived at the Cloverdale house from about 1956 until 1962. I've previously written about the 1958 snowfall we experienced at Cloverdale. You can read that post and see better photos of the front of the house here. This time there's no snow, and it's apparently a sunny Sunday afternoon. We've probably just returned from church, and mom or dad decided pictures were in order before everyone changed clothes. 

Comments are below some of the photos. 

In these photos the parents take turns with the kids. Isn't there an eerie sense of unfamiliarity to old photographs of people you know, even yourself?

Here's the obligatory cheesy smile photo of younger brother Richard.

The alien ship landed over there, Daddy!

Just two brothers chillin' in their fashionable duds. 

I'm trying for an angelic look, I guess.

These final two photographs feature mom and I in relaxed and formal poses. 

I'm thinking, "Where are my sunglasses?"

Here's a recent view from Google Earth. I think our house may have been the one in the upper left on the corner of Cloverdale and Franz Avenue. I remember a big lot and the driveway on the right side of the house.