Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Alabama History & Culture News: December 31 edition

Here's the latest batch of links to just-published Alabama history and culture articles. Most of these articles are from newspapers, with others from magazines and TV and radio station websites. Enjoy!

Tasked with bringing America to the forefront of that race was Dr. Wehrner von Braun, a technological genius who came to Alabama after developing ...

Book highlighting beauty, stories of historic Auburn structures to be released on Jan. 15
Auburn is well known as a college town and as a historic Southern village in central Alabama. The architecture that presently constitutes Auburn's built ...
New species of fossil shark named for beloved Birmingham volunteer
A new species of fossil shark from southern Alabama has been discovered, a team of scientists led by Jun Ebersole, director of Collections at the ...

Author Tim Dorsey to speak at New Smyrna Beach Regional Liubrary
The new book is set for release on Jan. 7. A former newspaper reporter and editor in Alabama and Florida, Dorsey has published 21 humorous crime ...
[Dorsey attended AU & edited the university newspaper, also worked for the Montgomery Advertiser https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tim_Dorsey]

The year's most memorable book-to-film releases
The movie: Much like the book, the bulk of the adaptation directed by Destin Daniel Cretton ("Short Term 12") centers on Alabama death row inmate ...

Alabama's 200 years in 200 images: Freedom fighting from Iwo Jima to Selma
... class of African American pilots in history of the United States to get their wings at the advanced fly school on March 7, 1942 at Tuskegee, Alabama.

A decade of women's history in Alabama
The 2010s brought historic gains for women in Alabama, including the Equal Pay Act. 2018 was deemed the “Year of the Woman,” by many national ...

Alabama's population: 1800 to the modern era
Alabama was a sparsely populated wilderness by the time the first census was taken ... Only one Alabama locale of 1830 — the town of Mobile — qualifies as .... and was collected by the Alabama Department of Archives and History.

In early December 2019, Donzella Washington made history at Alabama A&M University by becoming the oldest person to graduate from the school.

Meet the new ancient shark species found in southern Alabama
The Red Mountain Expressway's exposed rock showcases 190 million years of history, more than any other road cut in America! You can find fossils ...

'Just Mercy': An Earnest, Effective Legal Drama
It tells the true story of Stevenson's efforts to free a poor black man in Alabama, Walter McMillian, who spent six years on death ... of the original case, but writer-director Destin Daniel Cretton (adapting the book with co-writer Andrew ...

Gardendale resident amasses 40000 postcards of Birmingham, Jeffco
“I bought a book for a dollar, and it had a postcard. ... Avenue North and 18th Street, showing the Lyric Theatre before the Alabama Theatre was built.

'Chasing The Bear' is worth your time
It was both fun and interesting for me to read Lars Anderson's newest book Chasing ... This book is a fun, interesting, entertaining and informative read. ... of the Year Bruce Arians told about his first tenure at Alabama under Bryant.

... he received a master's degree from the University of Alabama in 1951. ... Services will follow at noon at the church with burial at Oak Hill Cemetery.

BLUES FOR AN ALABAMA SKY To Ring In 2020 At Falcon Theatre
The play is a brutally honest and candid examination of an array of issues--including race, gender, sexuality, and cultural intolerance--in the historical ...

UA sculpture professor influences future generations
The ceramics foundry on the University of Alabama campus is the hottest place to be most days as UA faculty and students use fire to sculpt and cast ...

Quilters sew, share Underground Railroad history
She found the tattered quilt in Montgomery, Alabama, while killing time and was somehow drawn to the familiar pattern she had seen before.

'Just Mercy' Review: Echoes of Jim Crow on Alabama's Death Row
Bryan Stevenson's “Just Mercy” is a painful, beautiful, revelatory book, the kind of reading experience that can permanently alter your understanding of ...
Alabama Department of Archives and History. The grave of Michael Krafft, founder of the nation's first Mardi Gras mystic society, in Magnolia Cemetery ...

If it hadn't been for several internet writings, I would never have learned about Alabama's “graveyard” history and grave shelters in particular

Friday, December 27, 2019

A Grapico from Gadsden

On our annual pilgrimages to St. George Island, Florida, we usually spend at least part of one day in Apalachicola. The small town is a working seaport with lots of history and charm. Most of the commercial and residential buildings date from the 19th or early 20th centuries. Naturally, the place is also full of shops and galleries, a bookstore, a brewery and such. 

On our most recent visit the week of Thanksgiving, we made our trip into town on Black Friday so our grandson Ezra could see Santa arrive by shrimp boat. Before that we did some shopping at various places including the Apalachicola Sponge Company. There I found the Grapico bottle. 

The drink was first developed and sold by J. Grossman's Sons in New Orleans in 1914. In 1917 a businessman in Birmingham, Raymond R. Rochell, purchased the soft drink's syrup from Grossman's Sons and began distribution in Alabama. By 1929 Rochell had expanded the business beyond Alabama to Florida, Georgia, Mississippi and Louisiana. He also began distributing Orange Crush in 1926 and 7-Up in 1933. Birmingham's independent Pepsi bottler Buffalo Rock purchased the company in 1981 and continues to distribute Grapico in the southeastern U.S. A Diet Grapico was added to the product line in 2005. 

More comments are below. You can read about some of Birmingham's other early soft drinks here

I bought this bottle for $8. Too bad it wasn't a little less; I'd have bought the one from Birmingham also.

Rochell's company became the Orange Crush-Grapico Bottling Company by 1953. The name was shortened to the Orange Grapico Company in July 1957, so this bottle appeared before then at a bottling operation in Gadsden.

The town has special meaning for me since I was born there. My dad was also born there, and we used to visit often until my grandmother died in 1997. 

The Orange Crush, 7-Up and Grapico bottling company in Birmingham in the 1940's. 

Photo by O.V. Hunt

Source: Birmingham Public Library Digital Collections 

"Older than dirt but a whole lot sweeter" says the company's web site

Monday, December 23, 2019

Alabama History & Culture News: December 23 edition

Here's the latest batch of links to just-published Alabama history and culture articles. Most of these articles are from newspapers, with others from magazines and TV and radio station websites. Enjoy!

Claretta Humphrey's New Book “Front Porch Love From The House That Built Me” Is a Touching ...
Claretta Humphrey, an Alabama septuagenarian, has completed her new book “Front Porch Love From The House That Built Me”: a story of the ...

There's Nothing Festive About a “Plantation Christmas”
Earlier this month, a coalition of Alabama activists sent a letter to officials of the Alabama Historical Commission, protesting a “Plantation Christmas” ..

The Echoes of 'Just Mercy' in Montgomery, Alabama – and Beyond
Walking down a moonlit main street in Montgomery, Alabama, a sign beside a ... Montgomery is small but holds a powerful place in American history.

DON NOBLE: History book contains much food for thought
There are recipes in “The Story of Alabama in Fourteen Foods,” even one for Sunday school punch, which is iced tea, muscatel and rum, but this not a ...

Remember When: Historic postcards from the Three Notch Museum collection
With the Alabama Bicentennial celebration (1819-2019) now over, I hope that you ... This bustling new metropolis on the banks of the Alabama River soon ... is included in a 1977 book, “Dead Towns of Alabama” by W. Stuart Harris, ...

Take a look at every way the Alabama Humanities Foundation helped our state this year + what's in ...
Alabama History Day (AHD) training and curriculum assistance during free summer workshops in Montgomery, Huntsville, Birmingham, Livingston, ...

Pinson Council approves 2019 audit, recognizes historic status of PHCC, breaks ground on storm ...
21, 2019. Sanders presented Palmerdale Homesteads Community Center President Barry Wilson with a copy of the letter from the Alabama Historical ...

Local author Lisa Worthey Smith pens third faith-based book
Local author Lisa Worthey Smith pens third faith-based book ... After publishing her first book, Smith said she began to network and joined ... She attended conferences and then became president of Word Weavers North Alabama.

Auditions set for 'Alabama Story'
Alabama Story” tells the story of Alabama state librarian Emily Wheelock Reed defending a 1958 children's book called “The Rabbits' Wedding.

Lincoln Presidential Library announces January auditions for 'Alabama Story'
It tells the story of Alabama State Librarian Emily Wheelock Reed defending a 1958 children's book called “The Rabbits' Wedding.” A local senator ...

“Bay Boy: Stories of a Childhood in Point Clear, Alabama” By: Watt Key
In that book we explore this geographically near but hard-to-access piece of nature and some of the odd folks who make it their home or their hide-out.

6 ways to become an Alabama native plant champion like Julia Tutwiler
Did you know that Julia Tutwiler, one of the most famous women in Alabama history, discovered a native plant found nowhere else on earth?

Many attend historical tour of downtown Jasper
Many attend historical tour of downtown Jasper ... Tour participants visited seven historical sites in Jasper to celebrate Alabama's 200th Birthday.

Community gathers to celebrate commemorative historical marker for Crabb-Stewart-Key-Dotson ...
Members of the Tennessee Valley Chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution help to unveil the Alabama Historical Commission historical marker ...

75 million-year-old sea turtle fossil discovery is a new genus and species that sheds light on the ...
... of James F. Parham, former curator of Paleontology at the Alabama Museum of Natural History, for his many contributions to Alabama paleontology.

Andrew Jackson statues in Jackson County to detail history as slave owner
"I was really impressed with Montgomery, Alabama. Their history is awful, but they own it," Peters Baker said. "And I thought, 'Well if they can do that, ...

“The Story of Alabama in Fourteen Foods” By: Emily Blejwas
“The Story of Alabama in Fourteen Foods” By: Emily Blejwas ... to talk about a bit of Alabama history or the contributions of a particular Alabamian, or to ...
Jamie Foxx Celebrates Birthday with Cast of “Just Mercy,” Michael B. Jordan Says: “This is the ...
The movie is based on his book about rescuing Walter McMillan from Alabama's death row. Jordan plays Stevenson in the movie, a young Harvard ...

New bicentennial park kicks off Alabama's third century
The morning began with a parade of more than 70 marching bands, city floats and living history on wheels. It concluded with a performance of the ...

Alabama tornadoes in December
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. —. Alabama has a deadly history when it comes to December tornadoes. 138 tornadoes hit the state between 1950 and 2018.

Alabama's 200 years in 200 images: Creek War, Civil War, and the KKK
In honor of Alabama's bicentennial, this is the first of four pieces compiling 200 notable images telling the story of our state's history -- good, bad and ...

'Alabama Creates' journeys through 200 years of Alabama artists
In “Alabama Creates,” Andrews unpacks the distinction and burden of the state's history. It's an upfront and honest primer, explaining that while ...

Alabama celebrates past 200 years, looks to its future
More: The defeated: A brief history of Alabama's first 200 years. The future is important, Gov. Kay Ivey said in her comments before the monuments ...

Friday, December 20, 2019

Exchange Bank Building in Five Points South Birmingham

Recently Dianne and I were in the UAB area and decided to have lunch at Makarios in Five Points South. That's one of our go-to eating spots when we are there, along with the Fish Market and Sweet Tea Restaurant. We had come to UAB for doctors' appointments, and before the meal we visited the Abroms-Engel Institute for the Visual Arts on campus to see the exhibit "Unfolding UAB: 50 Years of Photography from the UAB Archives".   

After that trip down memory lane [I worked at UAB from 1983 through 2015] we headed to Makarios. I've seen that striking building directly across the street many times, but never really thought about it until this visit to the restaurant. As usual, the wonderful BhamWiki site has an entry for what is known as the Exchange Bank Building. 

The Exchange Security Bank of Alabama was founded in 1928. The company opened this building in 1947; it was the first bank location in the state to have a drive-up window and a dedicated parking lot. In 1955 Exchange Bank had $200,000 in capitol, making it one of the smaller of the six city banks. William S. Edwards, Jr. was Chairman and President; H. G. Prickett was cashier. [Alabama Almanac and Book of Facts 1955-56, page 569]

On July 13, 1971, the bank merged with First National Banks in Huntsville and Montgomery to form First Alabama Bancshares. That company is now known as Regions Bank. At the time the merger creating Alabama's first multibank holding company was very controversial in the state, and followed a debate going on locally and around the country about banks branching beyond their county borders State law did not prevent creation of such a beast, however. Details of this major change can be found in Wayne C. Curtis' 2003 book, A Legacy of Distinguished Service: Reflections on Community Banking in Alabama in Three Centuries, pp. 171-181. 

Thus this interesting little building played significant roles in state banking history. 

Oh, that huge building under construction on the right in this photo? That's a 199-unit residential tower for UAB students. Completion is expected in the fall of 2020.

Be sure and check out Makarios if you get to Five Points and have never eaten there. You'll be glad you did. 

Update 29 February 2019: When I visited mom recently we made a stop at her Regions Bank branch. While waiting for her in the lobby, I found this book on a table and naturally picked it up. And what should I find but some Exchange Bank info....

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

A Dictionary for Two Generations

English language dictionaries labelled "Webster's" have been around since Noah Webster published A Compendious Dictionary of the English Language in 1806. In 1828 he issued a massive two-volume American Dictionary of the English Language that included 70,000 words. By the third printing of the second edition in 1845, after Webster's death, brother publishers George and Charles Merriam  purchased rights to publish the reference work. The company eventually became known as Merriam-Webster. Since then endless editions and permutations of the dictionary have appeared. 

One of the collections of family memorabilia at mom's house in Huntsville consists of some of dad's secondary and college textbooks. I've written before about one of those books, his high school Health Studies book. Also among the volumes is the item below, Webster's Elementary School Dictionary. This book actually has three family connections. 

My paternal aunt Beulah Vee Wright was the first person to use the dictionary. I've written about her extensively here. She died of what was probably leukemia in December 1939 just after her eighteenth birthday. Then apparently my dad also used the book several years after his older sister. My name is also in the dictionary; I'm not sure what that was all about. I don't think I used it much. 

More notes are below some of the photographs.

These dictionaries were purchased by the state for use in Alabama schools at a contracted cost of $1.14 each. I would expect they were supposed to be returned by students at the end of the school year, so who knows how it remained in the family. Perhaps the state allowed families to purchase it if desired. 

See a photo below for more about that mysterious reference to "page 54" under my dad's name. 

That's my name in the upper left, along with our address in Huntsville in the 1960's and early 1970's. I've done a blog post about some photos taken in that house here. A visit my younger brother Richard and I made to that old neighborhood is included in a blog post here.

On the back of this title page copyright dates of 1914 and 1925 are given, so I presume this edition appeared in 1925. The American Book Company was a textbook publisher formed in 1890 from the consolidation of several publishers. Beginning in the 1960's it passed through various owners until it was absorbed by D.C. Heath in the 1980's. Perhaps the company licensed rights to this particular dictionary from Merriam-Webster. 

OK, here's the secret about "page 54" noted above. That reference appears under dad's name, so I presume he circled these words. Hmm, I wonder why...

These sample pages show the neat little illustrations sprinkled throughout.

John S. Jones Elementary School still exists in Rainbow City, Alabama, although I would guess the building is not the same as the one Aunt Beluah Vee attended in the 1920's. My grandparents, aunt and dad lived on Rainbow Drive--what they always called "The Drive"--at that time.