Friday, August 27, 2010

Alberta City, Alabama

Once there was a place, in another time and space,
called , Alberta City, Tuscaloosa County, Alabama. The borders of this hamlet were ill-defined, but known to all who lived there. It was bounded on the North by Holt, Alabama, the East by Cottondale, the South by Circlewood and the city of Tuscaloosa to the West. The actual division line depended on who was marking the line.
In the late forties about the only paved streets in the area were the Birmingham Highway( University Boulevard ), the Holt Road
(Twenty-fifth Avenue East) and Fifteenth Street to the South.
This area was developed after WWII and became the home for many returning veterans and their families. It was home to paper mill, foundry, Veterans Administration Hospital, and tire plant employees. There were few professional people in the area.
Basically it was “home folks” who made up most of the population. Home origin areas varied, rural Tuscaloosa County, surrounding counties, South Louisiana and a few Yankees accounted for most of the people.
Much of the area had no sewerage service until the very late 1940’s, so privies were a common sight.
Chickens and other livestock were kept by many people.
Many small businesses served the local area.
There were small family owned grocery stores in the community, Alberta Grocery, Armistead Brothers Grocery, Holcombs Store, Shelton’s Grocery, Yarbrough Grocery,Franklin's Grocery
J.B. Davis and Son,Daffrons Grocery and Jones Brothers Grocery.
Most of the grocery stores sold on credit and delivered to the homes. When one of the local industries laid people off or cut back on production these small stores carried the accounts until the customer returned to work.
There were two “ tourist courts” and one motel, the famous “Moon Winks”.
Alberta City was served by two Baptist Churches, one Methodist and one Nazarene.
This was small town America at its finest.
Children there grew up in a time when parents didn’t have to worry about deviates and all the dark and sinister things parents worry about today. There was one local pervert who was known by and taunted by every group of children in the area. No one really worried about him.
A youngster could leave his home shortly after breakfast and be gone all day with a group of friends. Mama’s knew they were mean enough to take care of themselves. There was one short two block section of seventh street that was home to thirty children under the age of sixteen at one time. Many other areas had a similar count.
Alberta City was served by Tuscaloosa County Schools until about 1950. The Alberta Junior High School had grades one through eight. Students then went to Holt High School.
In 1950 a petition was passed , a vote taken and Alberta City was annexed by the City of Tuscaloosa, Alabama. This was a cause of discord since many people feared the higher taxation and additional rules to be enforced.
The annexation vote was good for the area for it brought better services such as sewerage lines, paved streets, poli9ce patrols and street lighting.
Children from Alberta Junior High now went to Tuscaloosa High School in the city school system.
Alberta City maintained its identity as a separate community for many years after the annexation. Even today the area is called Alberta, with the City being dropped by those to young to remember.
This was a time when air conditioning was only to be had in downtown Tuscaloosa commercial businesses such as Kress, Woolworth, McClellands and the movie theatres.
All of Alberta City residences had window fans or attic fans for cooling.
The aromas from the evening meals wafted out and children would seek invitations for supper if the smell of a favorite dish came from a neighbor’s window. This was in the days of dinner at noon and supper in the evening.
Not everyone owned an automobile in those days but neighbors always made sure anyone needing a trip to the doctor or hospital had a ride.
There were many instances of people being carried for medical care in Birmingham,Alabama, Nashville or Memphis Tennessee by one of their neighbors, at no cost.
The city bus line enabled people to go to downtown Tuscaloosa at a reasonable cost.
Early ventures out of Alberta City for children was by city bus to the downtown Queen City Swimming Pool. Children as young as ten were allowed to ride the bus in a group. At times a ten year old might also have the responsibility of a younger sibling.
Most of the children didn’t have the funds for swimming lessons, so they observed a lady giving lessons to children who could afford them. Many of the Alberta City youngsters learned to swim before the paying students.
When the students left Alberta for Tuscaloosa High School they became known as the “Alberta Bunch”, a name many proudly answer to today.
The Alberta City children took advantage of the changing world they grew up in and entered many professions. Today they are scattered around the world but most still feel a connection to that place and the people they knew as youngsters.
It has been said that you can’t go home again, this is true in many ways for the home once known exists no more.
The paper mill and the foundry are gone, the people of the forties, fifties and are gone, Alberta City is gone. The Alberta City home is now only in the heart and minds of those who lived it.

1 comment:

  1. James, well put reading that seems just like yesterday. Eddie Goins