Changes continue through the years

Published 6:42 am Tuesday, October 1, 2013

A lot of things have changed over the years, and sometimes it takes some time to remember how much has changed. One of the really pretty places our Magic City had was the big hotel located on the area that is now the Winn-Dixie parking area. This hotel was the Pine Tree Inn, a real popular stopover for visitors to our town, especially sales people and officials who came to visit the old Gaylord Paper Co. The building was several stories high and had a water sprinkler system on the roof that helped keep the rooms cool back before air conditioning. Where the parking area is now used to be a big lake with fish and ducks and a lot of birds and other creatures coming in and out. Many people, visitors and local people, would sit on the benches and watch the ducks and things in the lake back in a time when we all liked to take it easy and enjoy what was there to see.

This was a time when very few cars were available and most younger people walked and spent time visiting different parts of town, just to see schoolmates or friends. Many of us walked two and a half to three miles to see the movies at the State or Ritz theaters and then walked back home that night. That’s hard to believe now when every family has at least two cars and many teenagers have their own car. When our daughter was 16 years old we carried her to a dealer in Alabama and she ordered a car. Six weeks later the dealer called and said he had her car. We went down to pick it up and it was a pretty little Dodge coupe with a standard shift and no air conditioning. When we asked why she ordered a car without the air and with a standard shift she said so mama and daddy would not be wanting to drive it. She kept that car for many years, even after she was married, and used it daily to go to and from work.

Back in the early days in Bogalusa a lot of young, newly married couples had a hard time making ends meet with the small income that was normal at that time. With the wife’s salary from the drug store and a weekly check from Gaylord the total came to something like $62. It seems impossible to live on that small amount of money, but this couple bought a house for $32 a month and paid $9 a week for their furniture. A new car was bought for $16 a month, and the utility bill was usually under $10 a month. When the money ran out this couple and several others would go park on Columbia Street at night and watch the people going in the Acme Café or one of the theaters. That seems boring now, but it was interesting and killed some time until the next check came along.

A lot around this area was interesting, like the weekly football games. It was fun to watch the games and really fun to watch the high school band march during half time. Professor Fendlason was the band director and teacher of the band. He figured out a march routine, and it took some practice to get it right. With him directing you got it right or you kept practicing until you did get it right. It was fun to be in the band and go to a lot of out of town games, or other occasions, like Mardi Gras parades in New Orleans. That was done for several years until some of the band members got frost bitten fingers during a cold snap during the night.

One of the fun times was a celebration in Slidell to raise money for the USO for service men. Bing Crosby and several other Hollywood stars put on the show. The local band even went to the Hammond airport and played for the march to the field. Some of us were invited to go for a ride in the helicopters, a scary experience. Back then, we all enjoyed what we had and thanked the good Lord for His blessings during those times. Let’s remember to thank Him now.