Memories of Cenla From 1950’s and 1960’s

We bought our prescriptions at the Berwick's drugstore on Main Street in Pineville and the store was so dilapidated that it probably couldn't pass building codes of today.

Am running this for the first time since last March for people who haven’t seen  it before with a few additional memories:

I can remember back in the 1950’s when my brothers and me would ride our bicycles out Highway 28 in Pineville when there was not much traffic and very few stores. We would see very few cars and the road was one lane.

I can remember the time my brother won a contest at KALB radio. The contest involved voting for favorite disc jockey for the contest and he and the rest of us five kids helped write hundreds of entries and flooded the entry box and he won a console stereo.

I can remember the time Larry McHale a KALB TV personality for some reason was advertising a certain brand of cigarettes and while he was talking started coughing but recovered quickly and said “Just thinking about those other brands makes me cough”.

I can remember Governor Earl K. Long handing out chickens in the old Trailways bus station on Bolton Avenue when campaigning for governor.

I can remember Louisiana College and Northwestern football teams battling to a 0-0 tie at the Bolton High football stadium.

I can remember the Town Talk staffers celebrating when John K. Snyder lost one of his bids to become mayor.

I can remember watching No Time For Sergeants with Andy Griffith and Don Knotts three times in a row at the Paramount Theater.

I can remember the ornate architecture of the Paramount Theater.

I can remember buying The Sporting News for a quarter at Jack’s on Military Highway when it was still a baseball paper.

I can remember when you could buy a 6 ounce coke out of a machine for a nickel.

I can remember when the Alexandria Aces played in the C Evangeline League back in the 1950’s and fans couldn’t keep foul balls.

I can remember when the Murray Street Bridge was still open and pedestrians would see slats missing on the walk across the river and see the river below where the slats were missing.

I can remember when Main Street in Pineville was lined by gas station after gas station…probably close to 12 stations…and now there are no gas stations on Main Street.

I can remember going to see movies for a dime at the Star Theater on Main Street and Pineville and still remember when it burned  that Chief Crazy Horse and Dr. Jekyll and Mr.Hyde were still on the marquee.

I can remember drive-in  movies in both Alexandria and Pineville. Now I don’t think one still exists in the state of Louisiana. I remember the Joy Twin Drive-In and the Kings Drive-In in the Kingsville area.

I can remember the time someone threw tomatoes at the screen at the Joy Theater on Jackson Street.

I can remember when the milk truck that delivered our milk had a four number phone number on the side of the truck.

I can remember the Big Bopper appearing at the KALB record hop.

I can remember when Sears and Penneys had downtown stores.

I can remember when the Don Theater had Pack of Fun club for kids on Saturday mornings.

I can remember Bishop Greco broadcasting his radio program on KALB TV.

I can remember Ethma Odum having her noonday show on KALB TV and her reading the Littlest Angel at Christmas.

I can remember our neighbor Jack McCall being Cactus Jack on KALB TV and later would be on KNOE TV in Monroe for many years as host of their morning show.

I can remember Commodore Clem on KALB TV trying to open a letter my brother sent that said to “Open Other End” on all four sides.

I can remember the Town Talk before it bought Wellans, The Fair Store, Hub City Hardware, Alexandria Feed Store, Penneys, Wellans, Bialy’s and a pool hall to become the huge complex it is today. Let me know if I left any stores out.

Walked over the Murray Street bridge many times on way to Town Talk before it was destroyed so they could build the Jackson Street bridge.

Author: Andrew Godfrey

Retired from newspaper work after 38 years. Had served in the Army in Hawaii and Vietnam in the 60's. Am now retired and living in Sulphur, Louisiana.

42 thoughts on “Memories of Cenla From 1950’s and 1960’s”

  1. I can remember when they dynimited this bridge . Aso remember driving around hoppers drive in on Mcarthur driver when I was stationed at England A.F.B. Also sneaking into the Drive in theater at the north circle and getting thrown out a we sneeked in under the fence and were walking. Better times with out the terrible shape the world is in now. wish our children could have seen the world like it was.

    1. Gregory, I agree those were better times back in the 50’s and 60’s. Was that the Showtown Drive-in Theatre? I walked over that bridge they dynamited hundreds of times over the years. I used to work on Tiger Talk newspaper for England AFB, when I worked at the Town Talk newspaper.

  2. I can remember the poboys from Herbie K’s. RC bottle tops to get into Paramount Theater. Christmas window displays downtown Alex. Swimming at Kee’s Park in Pineville.
    Thanks for these memories.

  3. I remember going to the Paramount for Popeyes theater, checking out wellan’s Christmas windows, Going down to SH Kresses and getting candy. Taking my moms car and driving down Hwy 28 not even old enough to drive, Swimming at Kees Park, loved walking across the old bridge that had a wooden walkway, visiting my Grandma on Riverfront.

  4. I remember going to popeye’s theater on Saturdays, looking at Wellan’s Christmas displays, going down to Kresses for candy, walking across the old bridge with the wooden walkway, swimming at Kees park, taking moms car (even though I wasn’t old enough to drive) and drive down hwy 28, going to visit my grandma on Riverfront.

  5. I remember Burger Chef on McArther drive and riding our bikes to Castor Plunge,Shorties PO Boy on Bolton Ave and A and W root beer

  6. Remember Anna Richard’s “Search For Talent” on KALB…Also when Cactus Jack departed, he was followed by Montana Slim…also the Palm’s drive in (car hop) on North Bolton or was it Upper Third?

    1. I remember Anna Richard’s Search for Talent well and I will never forget her promoting the upcoming Search for Talent roadshow in Mamou, Louisiana. I was on the Cactus Jack show once and Jack McCall who was Cactus Jack lived on Holloway Drive in Pineville, which was about 2 blocks from where I grew up on Burns Street. He later went to KNOE-TV and had the morning show and played the organ on the show sometimes.

      Jack McCall died 22 years ago in 1994 at about the age of 68 depending if he died before or after his birthday that year. This is the Wikipedia listing for Jack McCall:

      Jack E. McCall (1926-1994)[25] – reporter and host with Keith Babb and June Taylor of local programs, such as Good Morning Ark-La-Miss; formerly the character “Cactus Jack” at KALB-TV in Alexandria

  7. The drive in on Bolton Ave was called Fuzzy’s not shorty’s. There was a midget who car hopped at Fuzzy’s. the Palm’s drive in was on Upper 3rd. I met my husband there 54 yrs ago!

  8. I worked at Downs Furniture and Appliances in 1958 before going in the Navy. Ate lunch at every place on Bolton Ave.

    1. That brought some memories back when I saw your mention of Downs Furniture Store. I still remember seeing Mack Downs on television commercials. Was Johnny Downs part of the same family? Sadly, the last I knew there are very few if any eating places remaining on Bolton Ave.

  9. In your picture above of the Murray St bridge, that must have been a very old shot. I don’t remember the little fenced in area off to the side, or the railroad tracks on the top of the levee. I wonder when that was taken.

    1. Jim, I don’t remember the bridge having the fenced in area or the railroad tracks. We lived on Riverfront Street in 1970 for $75 a month. The landlord allowed us to pay it in 2 payments of $37.50. I was only making $3 an hour at the time after 4 years of working at Town Talk. Walked across the bridge a lot, since we only had one car back then, and my wife needed the car.

      1. I am thinking that must have been from no later than the 30s. I do remember that concrete slab on the Alexandria side of the bridge and I remember that area of the bridge quite well. We tied onto it several times to pull cars up the ramp when it was iced over, my brother and I 2 bucks a car or 3 bucks for a pickup.

  10. In your picture of Berwick’s Drug Store, the small building to the right that my parents, Clifford (Dick) and Marjorie Lawrence, had their first café after they got married in 1937. They later moved their café across main street next to the shoe shop. Times were still tough back then, right after the depression and thru the war years.

    1. In the 1960’s, I remember shopping at A&P every Friday night with my parents. We would then go down to this little barbecue restaurant and have a sandwich and a bag of chips and a Coke. It was our Friday night treat! I still remember the sandwiches were very good, a toasted bun finely chopped beef and it seems like coleslaw. The lady that worked there and made the sandwiches was very nice! I am sure that was your mom! I think they lived in the house in the back? Did your family also own Dick’s Bait Stand right across the street from Pineville Elementary school on Main Street?

  11. Yep, and my dad was in the National Guard and was one of Huey Long’s drivers. Any time Huey came north of Alexandria, he and one other driver from Beauregard would take him where ever he wanted to go, mostly Winnfield.

      1. His favorite story was when his BR driver got stopped and given a ticket for speeding down Murray St. Long was on the back seat and raising all kinds of hell with the City Marshal. One of the things he said was that he was going to build a new highway completely around Alexandria so that nobody would ever have to come thru this dump again. 2 days later there were surveyors staking out the route for the new McArthur Drive and O.K. Allen Bridge. It was all built in record time and it took Alexandria a VERY long time to grow out to it. Dad said he ordered that to begin immediately while they were changing drivers at Camp Beauregard that night.

  12. Jim, Thanks for sharing such an interesting story about Huey P. Long and the O.K. Allen bridge. Come to think of it is was not anywhere close to downtown Alexandria at the time. Rule of thumb is never anger a politician, or they will do what Long promised to do and followed through with it. Long probably had a part in creating the horrific North and South traffic circles. That was the coup de grace by Long to punish that city marshal.

    1. It was the 60s before Alexandria finally expanded out that far. He saw to it that Hwys 71, 165 and 167 would all bypass Alexandria completely to get from south to north Louisiana. He also made all of his cronies prevent any growth in Alexandria.

      1. Yep, that was his temper. To this day Alexandria is still behind the 8 ball. Look at I-49, They put it right thru the heart of Alexandria with no reason for cars to stop in town. The only gas stations are away from downtown, on Airbase Rd to the north or hard to get to on the south. All of the state power is in the south, and they don’t care for Alexandria a bit.

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