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'Your Memorable Years at Good ol' West End High'

Updated  01/23/24     Email  weonline@westendhigh.com     Contact Me  Here

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Our Memories - Page 3
Updated 01/23/2024

Shirley Wilder and I, both 8-year graduates of Central Park Elementary, often had lunch side-by-side. And occasionally, she would give me a bite or even swap her Buddy Bar (a waffle shaped cookie covered with peanut butter and chocolate) for whatever I had in my lunch sack, usually a homemade sugar cookie. At the time I thought I made the better bargain as we seldom had store-bought foods! So, wherever you are now, thank you, Shirley, for sharing. One of my favorite memories at WEHS was vocal with sweet Mrs. Davis, our teacher of the all-female vocal class. I sang with the altos, sitting beside Betty Carolyn Duncan maybe three semesters. In the soprano area, Margaret Cobb had her place. Both Betty Carolyn and Margaret had very nice singing voices. To make up for that lack, I added volume:):):). We would sing popular songs; I think mostly from Mrs. Davis’ youth. She had us write the lyrics in a brown spiral notebook which I no longer have. The only song I’m certain was included is Red Sails in the Sunset, one I still enjoy hearing. If anyone still has her notebook or remembers other songs, I’d love to know what you remember. Last and perhaps most meaningful!   When Harry and I married September 19, 1959, I was 16-years old and just beginning the second half of my junior year. Memory, the first of 3, was born October 21, 1960. So the last semester of my senior year was completed exactly a year after it would have been. Leaving the line in the lunchroom the first day of the semester, wondering where I could sit, where I would ‘sort of’ fit in, was intimidating. Fortunately, sweet Gwen Bryars, a friend from Central Park Methodist Church, invited each to join her table with her friends. Sometime we don’t know what our actions mean to another person. I’m sure Gwen had no idea what her kind invitation meant to me. Gwen, I hope you’ve enjoyed and are enjoying a good life. And a very belated huge thank you to you!

I chuckle to myself sometimes when I think of the business math class that I attended in the basement of WEHS. The pipes were exposed and the floor was dirt. Coach Short taught class and when we got bored or needed a stall tactic, we asked him something about football and that took up the rest of the class. Maybe it was his influence that makes the game of football so exciting for me now!

I remember with much love Central Park, the neighborhood and the elementary school; hot-fudge sundaes from Lane's Drug Store at Five Points West; Friday nights at Lowe's skating rink, Sky Castle with Tommy Charles and 2-door '57 Chevys!

A little remembrance for one of WEHS more unique teachers. There probably has been only one time in all the years Mr. Baughan terrorized chemistry students that everyone managed to pass one of his quizzes. We're all sitting there, scratching various parts of our anatomy, trying desperately to figure out just what a molal solution was, when divine intervention occurred. We had a fire drill and all got to stand around outside for about 15 minutes before going back in to finish the exam. It must have been the sun shining on our heads that caused knowledge to grow that time! I went to Hemphill and at Tuscaloosa and 13th was the WE Theater, Donna Jean’s Candy Store, library, Alley’s Drug store and Spivey’s. The theater didn’t have a snack bar, so we first went to Alley’s for popcorn, then to Donna Jean's for a snow cone, then off to the movies: a news reel, cartoon, serial (where the hero always found a way to escape from an impossible situation) and then maybe a double feature. Spivey's had a mezzanine with all kinds of model “stuff.” They later moved across the street and focused on models. In '68, my oldest sister's husband was big into radio controlled airplanes which he was mail-ordering from Mr. Spivey. When they first dated and he first came to B’ham to meet the family, he was more excited about visiting “the temple of modeling,” (his words) and meeting Mr. Spivey. Also, across from WE Baptist, was a hardware store operated by the Brett family, a bakery, an A & P, a post office and a small jewelry store. On Fridays after school, we would stop at the jewelry store for free bubble gum. Across the street was a beer joint, Mickwee’s. I felt like a real adult when I turned 21 and went in for a beer. That part of West End, in retrospect, was a great place to grow up. None of the families had money, so there was little peer pressure. Everything we needed was within a few blocks of our house and there were tons of children around. My mom commented that she and dad came home one Saturday afternoon to find 17 kids on the front porch (about 40’ X 8’) of our 1,100 sq ft house. We had 8 people living in that house, 5 children, my parents and maternal grandmother. Just read through the memories. I especially appreciated the Cantrell comments about chemistry. John and Bill were in the same boy scout troop I was in and the same dorm at Alabama so I knew them quite well. As the chemistry comment went I give it a big amen. I made it through a quarter of chemistry at Birmingham Southern, two chem classes at U of A, made A’s to everyone’s amazement, including mine. But after all the afternoon tutoring we had with Mr. Baughan, college was a breeze, at least chemistry was.

At Central Park, in Ms. McKinney's class, I remember going on field trips on a regular basis. What a great teacher she was. Friends I remember there were Resheda Sharbel and Patsy Haynie. Others were Tommy Ponder, Sandra Ogletree, Nancy Spurrier, Barry Gilliam, Stewart Hassler; at Jackson, June McGinnis, Glenda Perdue, Nina Southard, Carlene Suttles, Barbara Pochran.

My most vivid memory of WEHS is Mr. Baughan’s chemistry class and his notes on most of my test papers (see me GCB). This was usually not a good sign!

I remember trying out to be majorette and never getting that lucky! I remember cherry cokes, delicious pralines from the Candy Kitchen, swimming pool at Woodward Park and those great drive-in movies that provided another learning experience! Wish I could relive it all once again!

I never thought I would live this long after growing up in the Iron City of Birmingham! I use to tell the story about my mother washing clothes and hanging them out to dry before she went to work at Loveman's. She would come home after work and the clothes would be covered with soot from the steel mills!

My fondest memory at WEHS was in study hall. Annie Pearl Whaley passed around a legal pad for the roll. Someone (I'm 99% sure it was Larry Vincent) signed Conway Twitty's name. The next day, Ms. Whaley called the roll and got to Conway Twitty and the class broke up laughing. Ms. Whaley said, "Ya'll are so rude. Conway, please stand up". God rest her soul. They don't make them like her anymore!

In addition to the great WEHS recollections on these pages, I have great memories of growing up in Central Park. My brother, Don, and those of you that lived in CP are sure to remember the community center, library, football and baseball at the little and big triangles, the creosote plant, Saturday morning serials and movies at the CP Theater, ice cream at Howard Johnson's after church, going to the 3 nearby drug stores (Herring's, Bowen's, Weaver's) for root beer floats, malts and banana splits. And a little beyond to Five Points West, Kiddie Land, Lowe's Skating Rink, tutti-frutti at Grayson's Spinning Wheel and going to the Alabama State Fair every year. Riding the bus on Saturday mornings down 3rd Avenue to Birmingham's many downtown theaters, then to either Pete's Famous Hot Dogs, Krystal or to the hot tamale street vendor. We were lucky to have lived in an area with so much to do, most of which we could easily walk to. We had lots of kids in our neighborhood and played capture-the-flag on many a summer night. And who could forget that in the evenings, the northwestern sky glowed pink and orange from the TCI furnaces in nearby Fairfield (unhealthy, but beautiful). Do you remember that at Vulcan, a green torch indicated that no one had died on Birmingham roadways in the past 24 hours and the feeling you had when the torch was red? I remember just about all of the places listed at the Memory Lane pages, most of which are long gone ... but will forever live in our memories!

Continue to Our Memories Page 4, click here

Updated  01/23/24     Email  weonline@westendhigh.com     Contact Me  Here


 Online February 2001     By Cliff Walker     Copyright© 2001