What has changed about our city?

Published 8:08 am Monday, June 10, 2013

Over the years changes have been a natural activity for our city, from way back before the sawmill days. Many older folks don’t like changes but overall our changes have been for steady improvements.

When you drive around town now the street improvement project will remind you of the old days when a lot of our streets were still gravel roads that seemed to be rough all the time. The scraping of the blacktop roads seems rough, but they are a lot better than back in the 1930s and ’40s. Speaking of years gone by, the population of Bogalusa was a lot greater in our early years, but there were not nearly as many cars going around and you didn’t see but a few teenagers driving. Another thing that was not present in those days was people driving with a cell phone in their ear. There were no driver education classes and the parents would show the youngsters the basics of driving but the rest was learned by observing the parents or just learned the hard way, known as the school of hard knocks.

Cars were a lot different in our young days. The main vehicles you saw around town were Fords or Chevrolets, with a few Pontiacs, Buicks or similar cars. They were all manually shifted cars — no automatic transmissions or power steering. No one had seat belts, there were no outside mirrors and you signaled your turns with your hand out the window, as there were no turn signals. Most motors were either 85 or 90 horsepower, compared to the 300 and 400 horsepower engines in the much lighter cars of today. No one even thought of owning a car made in Japan, China, or similar Asian nations, but then the little German car, the Beetle started the trend to foreign-made vehicles. Now some foreign cars are made in our country by foreign companies.

A lot of other changes have taken place in and around our town, like our shopping areas. Columbia Street has undergone several changes over the years and is in a new arrangement now with the city making plans for the future. We grew up with several families that owned the stores in that area and big companies like JC Penny was where we did our own shopping when we were older. This is still a lively section of town and a lot of shopping and trading goes on every day. Many things are missing that we all remember, like the Ritz and State theaters, or the several drug stores along with a couple of barber shops and a café or two.

Parts of town are changing in a big way with the new Walmart store now taking over a large section that was a good rabbit hunting pasture. Some smaller businesses finally settled in that area and a few homes were built. That area of town, including Superior Avenue, has grown into a more business-like section all the way down to the Bogalusa Creek Bridge.

The Pleasant Hill area is another part of town that has been adding businesses in the last few years and has improved shopping in that area. The avenues that run north and south and crossed by streets that are numbered are one example of the smart folks who laid out our city. As you drive around this area you notice all the old “company houses,” some built back when the sawmill was the job producer here. Many of these old homes are still in good shape as they were built with the old yellow pine from the sawmill days. A lot of families were residents in these homes and a lot of children were raised there. The YMCA was relocated after a fire, the football stadium has been relocated and now the high school has been moved from the “North Side” to this area and it all seems natural.

It takes a lot of memories to bring back all our younger days but we have been blessed; may He continue to bless us all.