Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Some Old Alabama Matchbooks

Recently my brother Richard and I were visiting mom in Huntsville. Her house is full of family treasures and memorabilia that we often dig into. This time we found a box containing mostly goodies related to a visit to the New York World's Fair that dad and his parents made in August 1940. One day I might do a blog post on that material, but today I'm looking at a few other items that were in the box--some Alabama matchbooks

Comments are below.

Oh, and to answer your probable question--yes, there were matches inside each one. We didn't try striking any, thought.

The Birmingham Municipal Airport terminal was built in 1931 and in use until the current terminal opened in 1973. I've done a blog post with additional photos of that terminal; the photos were all taken by Charles Preston in 1946  and 1947  and found in the Birmingham Public Libraries Digital Collections. The Grill is not visible in any of them. I do see a sign for a coffee shop, though!

Here's the other side of that "Airport Grill" matchbook. The Cascade Plunge was a private swimming pool with covered grandstands that opened in the East Lake area of Birmingham around 1925. The pool closed sometime in the early 1970's. 

This 1929 postcard shows the entrance to the Cascade Plunge.

Source: BhamWiki

I have been unable to locate any information so far about the Central Finance Company. I did find an M. W. Smith in Gadsden in the 1920 U.S. Census whose occupation is listed as "loans and investments." A son named Ladell is also listed; he was three and a half years old at the time. The 1931 Interstate Directory Company's city directory for Gadsden [page 154] lists a Murray W. Smith working at the Smith Loan Office at 117 and a half South 4th Street. 

The "Old Times News Bldg." mentioned on this matchbook can be seen in the photograph below. The Gadsden Times-News opened the location in 1904, but by 1927 had moved to another building. Various businesses have operated there ever since. The structure was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1983. 

Gadsden Times-News building constructed in 1904

Photo by Carol M. Highsmith in 2010

Source: Wikipedia 

Interestingly, the back of the Central Finance Company matchbook opted for entertainment instead of another ad. Perhaps it kept the customers busy while waiting in the loan office.

According to this web site, the original White Palace Cafe at 504 Broad Street had been closed for many years and the art deco building empty until reopening in 2010. An interior photo can be seen here

 That venture, which even had a Facebook page, soon closed and was replaced by the Twisted Ultra Lounge. You can see a photo from October 2012 here. A comment on the Facebook page says the building housed the county Democratic Party headquarters for the 2016 election. 

Photo by Carol Highsmith on her 2010 trip through Alabama.

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