Memories of a bygone era

Published 4:13 pm Thursday, March 15, 2012

By SANDRA THAMES / Community Columnist

This week, I will share some memories of days gone by here in Shelby County. If you connect with these, you might be getting old or you may have had the blessing of being a backwoods country child.

Thames’ grandparents, James Will Johns and Mary Ann Weaver Johns, in the 1930s in Brewton. (Contributed)

How many of you remember:

May Day festivities at your school or in your community.

Complete crepe paper costumes.

When your shoes got ordered or picked up with a cardboard cutout.

Two for a penny bubble gum.

Cokes in a freezing cold bubbling water chest.

Sweeping the bare yard with a yard broom.

Checking the chimney each fall for “critters.”

Real ice boxes.

Bathing in No. 2 tubs on the back porch.

Wood stoves, kindling boxes and cords of hardwood.

“Pie safes” for leftovers.

Wringing chicken necks.

Dinner on the ground at church and how everyone knew everyone else’s specialties.

Wearing “liners” in worn, thin shoes.

Head scarves of the ‘50s and ‘60s.

First time you girls ever had your ponytail cut off.

The smell of Cashmere Bouquet or Lilac Water on the older ladies.

Real tin roofs.

Rain barrels — they were good for hair washing.

Coral Lifebuoy soap — summer baths at the creek.

Washcloths or juice glasses (free inside Silver Dust).

Sitting in the back of a pickup in straight chairs to go to church.

Killing snakes and hanging them on the fence to “watch them dance” ‘til dark.

Having to go inside a root cellar or storm pit that hadn’t been used in years to avoid scary weather.

Chinaberry wars (those things hurt when blown through reeds.)

Sneaking in attics or barn lofts looking for treasures.

Washing clothes in a wash pot over a fire or scrubbing by hand on a washboard.

Kerosene lamps, no screens and doors wide open during the summer.

When you bought gas (22 cents per gallon in 1952) you had every window cleaned, brake fluid checked, oil, gauges, filters, battery levels checked, tires, belts all checked in about three minutes by starched uniformed service attendants.

When ladies “dressed up” to go shopping — with seamed stockings, dress, high heels, matching purse and costume jewelry.

When kids went barefoot everywhere.

When eating out was a rare occurrence.

When the movies cost 15 cents for kids and 25 cents for adults.

Community columnist Sandra Thames can be reached by email at