My Hometown: Growing Up In Pineville, Louisiana

Pineville, Louisiana is located across the Red River from Alexandria, Louisiana. It has a population of 14,555 according to the 2010 census.

Front of Alexandria Hall the main building at Louisiana College. 

Louisiana College where my father Dr. Paul R. Godfrey taught chemistry for 24 years was founded in 1906 and is now 108 years old. 

I was one year old, when our family moved to Pineville, Louisiana from West Lafayette, Indiana in 1946. Our first home was located on 110 Lawrence Boulevard if I remembered the correct house number. We later moved to 1608 Holloway Drive and then moved to 313 Burns Street in February of 1952.

We started attending College Drive Baptist Church on College Drive in Pineville in 1948. The church was originally comprised, of Army barrack buildings moved from Camp Livingston. I remember apple boxes being used as pews in the early days of the church, before the modern building shown in the photo was built. The church was founded in 1947 and is now 67 years old. I can remember driving home for supper one night and the Masters V gospel singing group had their bus in front of the church. This was when James Blackwood, Jake Hess, J.D. Sumner, Rosie Rozell and Hovie Lister comprised the Masters V. We attended College Drive for many years and I later led the music there, from 1997-2007, before we moved to Tennessee.

The home at 1608 Holloway Drive was unusual, in that our home was only separated by only a ditch, from the railroad track that ran next to us.

My first year at Pineville Elementary started in 1950 and remember walking to school, with my older brother for about a mile to school each day. I can still remember the 10 cent school lunch back then. The price has probably gone up over the years since then.

Moved To 313 Burns Street

I can remember living at 313 Burns Street. We had a cow, some sheep and chickens back then. It was like living on a farm inside the city limits.

Radio Hall of Fame disc jockey Dick Biondi once worked for KSYL in Alexandria, Louisiana.

Dick Biondi lived in the house behind us for a while, and he worked for KSYL radio station. He would later become famous, as a disc jockey in Chicago and was inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame in 1998 and is now 82 years old. His main claim to fame is that he was the first disc jockey to play a Beatles song according to his Hall of Fame page. This is his Radio Hall of Fame page, which includes a very short clip of his radio program.

http://www.radiohof.org/dick_biondi.htm

 

I can remember going to see Roy Rogers dock his motorboat on the Red River and he stayed at Hotel Bentley.

Earl K. Long once gave away free chickens at a political rally at the Trailways station in Alexandria.

Faith Ford

Kelly Ripka and Faith Ford

The best nationally known person from Pineville would probably be Faith Ford. She attended Pineville High School many years after I attended there. She is best known for playing Corky on Murphy Brown television show. She also appeared in Hope and Faith.

The middle building is drugstore where we bought our prescriptions.

Veteran’s Hospital where I still go for medical services many years after this photo was taken.

Vincent Price

I can remember the time Vincent Price made an appearance at Louisiana College, with protesters carrying signs that were protesting him appearing in a liquor commercial.

This photo was taken from the Pineville side of the Red River, that was adjacent to Alexandria, Louisiana. The pedestrian walkers going across the bridge had to be careful, to see if there were any missing planks, to avoid falling into the river. I walked across the bridge for many years as I walked to job at the Alexandria Daily Town Talk. One time I was walking across the bridge to work early in the morning, when I was stopped by police and questioned by police, since a murder had just been committed at a night club in Alexandria. I convinced them I was not a murderer and they let me proceed on to work.I never saw the Red River look as blue as depicted in the photo.

I attended this school from 1950-1958 and it burned down in 1959.

I can remember finding out about the fire that night and rode my bike the mile to school. A Town Talk photographer had climbed up the fireman’s ladder, that was attached to the fire truck to get a photo looking down into the fire. I was a sophomore in high school the night of the fire. Had a lot of memories over the years at Pineville Elementary School and it was sad that the building only lasted one year after I started high school.

Summary:

68 years have passed since we first moved to Pineville in 1946. We used to ride our bikes out Highway 28, without encountering much traffic, but today Highway 28 is not the safest place to ride a bicycle, with so many businesses along the route now and many cars traverse Highway 28 today.

We left Pineville in 2007 to move to Tennessee, but it will always be home for us, since I spent most of my life here. It is the perfect size for me. Not too large and yet not too little. Pineville has a lot of businesses for a city of less than 15,000.

Maybe someday we can move back to Pineville. We do come back from time to time, for appointments at the Veteran’s Hospital. I have always been puzzled why the Veteran’s Hospital uses Alexandria as their address, when the buildings are in Pineville.

Thanks for the memories Pineville, since you will always be home to me.

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40 thoughts on “My Hometown: Growing Up In Pineville, Louisiana

  1. Great memories, Andrew. I’ll never forget that night of the fire either…all of Pineville must have been there. Thanks for this!

    • Jim, Pineville was a great place to grow up. I remember going to Jimmie Walker’s store at night, and watching television through the display window. Those were the good old days. Can’t believe 64 years have passed since you, and the rest of the PHS football team won the state championship in 1960. Shows how special it was, since it hasn’t happened again since then.

  2. I really enjoyed this story. You must be the only original member at College Drive. So that was old buildings they put together. No wonder the floor is spongy in places . If they ever have church reunions, you should be the Historian to speak. I doubt any one else knows all this. So the seats were apple boxes This is interesting, and very interesting about the animals your family had on Burns st.

  3. Your sharing about the Jackson Street Bridge, for some reason struck me as funny about the missing planks.. I also enjoyed the memories of others that remembers the events you talk about. It must be nice to have a home town. I don’t have any one place that I call my home town. Any where we had a booking was home while there. I really like the pictures of the old wooden building businesses. It must be nice for all of you to tour the town and know what used to be in the particular location.

    • Frances, We were fortunate to have lived in Pineville for many years. Traveling entertainers like you stay on the road so much, that you can’t call any one place home. It was sort of scary seeing the Red River underneath the missing planks. We had to look down, when walking or may have stepped into the place where a plank was supposed to be.

    • I used to have nightmares about falling through one of gaps in the planks. We walked across that bridge many times to shop on Third Street in Alexandria. We lived downtown right across from Mount Olivet, (where we also attended church), in a house that was later torn down to build apartments.

      • I too worried about those gaps in the planks. That should never have happened. It seems like safety factors would cause the gaps to be filled in with new boards immediately.

  4. We didn’t join College Drive till 1948, the year after it was founded. Mrs. Cardwell was the last surviving charter member, that I know of for sure. However, not sure when Mr. Albert Walker joined the church, so he may now be the oldest surviving charter member. One thing for sure is that my dad and Mr. Walker are the two oldest former members, that are still alive today. Anyone correct me if I am wrong.

  5. I married my little wife, Nellie, at Reverend Reynold’s Wedding Parlor in Pineville, just across from 1st Baptist Church on August 9th, 1964. My dad, Roy J. Stevens, was from Alexandria when McArthur drive was part of a swamp and fields. He was raised on Rapides Avenue. He died in 1969 while living up at Paradise community. He helped raise the bridge when he was a young fella way back in the 20s or 30s when they did it all by mules with ‘slips.’ Several years ago, I bought a couple of cemetery plots for my wife and I at the cemetery just North of Kingsville right near where her mother and father are buried. Before long we will be buried there. Good showing. Thank you for your efforts and sharing. Living in Northeast Texas right now.

    • Nickie, I remember walking by Reverend Reynold’s Wedding Parlor on my way to and from Pineville Elementary. I heard once that Colonel Walden once drove from Masonic Drive to Louisiana College with encountering another car. No way that will happen today. Thank you for sharing the information about Pineville and Alexandria.

      • Thank you, Andrew. There I as a lot we could share but will give some others a chance. We live in Atlanta, about 25 miles South of Texarkana and are members of TRBC [Texarkana Reformed Baptist Church] I have been out of the pastorate a long time and my wife is now on hospice. Another time friend. God bless you.

      • Nickie, I drove through Atlanta about 100 times, in the 22 years I was married to my first wife from 1970-1992, who lived in Texarkana on the Arkansas side. We drove on Highway 71 We go to a Baptist church in Merryville, Louisiana now and I sing special music sometimes.

        Sorry to hear about your wife being in hospice. I had a scare a couple of years ago, when I lost 45 pounds and was throwing up blood over and over. Turned out I had duodenal cancer and tumore removed in October of 2012. So far have had 4 clean CT scans with another one on Dec. 11. Duodenal cancer has a history of returning, so am taking it one CT scan at a time.

        My health problems seem minor compared to what your wife is going through. God bless you both.

  6. Hi Andrew! I really enjoyed your Pineville Retrospective. I think we were probably classmates at Pineville Grammer — I also had Grady Harper, Richard Cespiva as teachers. My name was Dianne Rabalais. I remember Robert Cavanaugh, David Bates, Malcolm Price, Elsa Frieman and I think I remember you, too. We moved to Alexandria when I was in seventh grade and I graduated from Bolton High School in 1962. Thanks for sharing. Good memories!!!

    • Hi Dianne,

      I remember your name and remember Richard Rabalais, if I remembered his first name. Someone saw Mr. Cespiva recently at a funeral. He has to be in his 80’s by now. I saw Robert Cavanaugh and David Bates at our 50th Pineville High School reunion a couple of years ago. If you are on Facebook type in Robert Cavanaugh, and you will see a lot of posts about him living in the mountains of Arkansas. Thanks for writing about your time at Pineville Elementary. The fire that night will never take away our memories, of the years in that building.

  7. Thanks so much for replying, Andrew. I really enjoyed the site. You are good at it. Are you familiar with the Alexandria Retrospective? It is a great site and will bring back many fond memories. I am on FB and will definitely look up Robert Cavanaugh. Wasn’t the 50th class reunion fun? I had the Bolton High School , Class of 1962 a couple of years ago. I am a retired high school principal and live in Baton Rouge. I moved here in 1966 so it is home to me. Do you remember how we used to play games on the Pineville playground? I remember “jump the stick” — seems like recess went on forever. I also now remember that I had Mrs. Stuart, Mrs. Costello and Mrs. Cambre. Mr. Beall was the principal. Did you know that Grady Harper became President of Northwestern University in Natchitoches? I had him for art. He was a great teacher!!! Have a great day!!!

    • Thank for replying again. I have been to the Alexandria Retrospective page many times over the last few years. I really enjoyed the 50th PHS class reunion very much. I had never gone to a class reunion, till the 40th reunion, since it was not easy getting weekends off from the Town Talk, where I worked in production for 36 years. Congratulations on retiring as a high school principal. I left Vietnam in 1966 after spending two and-a-half years in Hawaii and four months in Vietnam.

      I remember the marble games, where kids would carry a cigar box and if you could drop a marble into a hole in the box, then you would win some marbles. Interesting to know Grady Harper later went on to be president of Northwestern. So we had a teacher and a fellow classmate Robert Cavanaugh that went on to be administrators at Northwestern and LSUA.

  8. Andrew, I am so glad you survived Vietnam and went on to have such a long and successful career with the Town Talk! Great newspaper! Jimmy Butler and I went to BHS together. He’s a great guy! Incredibly smart and talented. Another tidbit regarding college administrators — my brother, Dr. Michael Rabalais — now deceased — graduated from PHS. He was 7 years older than I am. He went on to become Vice-President of Academic Affairs at Hinds Junior College, Raymond, Miss. His best friend, also a PHS graduate, Jay F. Honeycutt, went on to become the director of NASA’s John F. Kennedy Space Center in 1995. Google him!!! You will be incredibly impressed with his contributions to the space program!!! Not too shabby for a Pineville lad!!! And, what about your friend Rut Whittington??? He has had an amazing career! Interesting info, although I have not seen or talked to Rut or Sandy for years we were, at one time, very close. My mother, Mildred Edwards Rabalais Wood, was married to Sandy’s father, Dewey W. Wood. So Sandy was my step-sister!!! Small world, isn’t it??? Rut will probably know me as Dianne Voinche. My first husband was Errol Voinche. Errol was from Marksville. We were divorced in 1985 . I have been married to my present husband for 24 years. I really liked Rut and Sandy and Sandy’s sister, Linda. Linda and her husband Gene Waalk were great. So sorry we lost contact through the years. I always remember them fondly! Rut was always so nice to my mother. She really loved him and was always so happy when he stopped by her house in Marksville to visit. It is amazing that your retrospective triggered so many long-forgotten memories for me!!! I even remembered that Jimmy Butler was my boyfriend for a while in high school and that I dated A.P. Laborde for a short time!!! His dad, your esteemed editor, did not approve at all !!! Thanks again for your site!!! Please have a Happy Thanksgiving and take care!!!

  9. Dianne, I was fortunate to return from Vietnam alive, since two months after I left the post office, in which I worked was attacked by a mortar shell and 2 were killed and 7 injured and I would have been there too. One of the soldiers wrote and told me about it or I may never known it happened.

    Jim Butler did a great job as editor of the Town Talk. I also played on the Town Talk softball team with him about 1967. I think Faith Hill went to Hinds Junior College and maybe even at same time your brother was working there.

    I just posted on Facebook about Jay F. Honeycutt being director of John F. Kennedy Space Center. Thank you for the info.

    Have known Rut Whittington a long time and he attended Pineville Park Baptist Church with us back in the 80’s and 90’s. You should find him on Facebook, if you are not already talking to him. He posts stuff on there from time to time.

    Did not know your mom was married to Sandy’s father.

    There is not much that Adras P. Laborde did approve of, so I am not surprised. He was not easy to work with, but I am sure Jim Butler had more than his share of dealing with him, since he worked in editorial department.

    You can find me on Facebook, if you want to write or by email at Niteowl049@msn.com

    Have a very Happy Thanksgiving!!

  10. I really enjoyed this blog. Glad you enjoy this town so much. I found you in round about way in comment about how Haley Rhinehart was treated on American Idol. Your picture is so nice.

    • Nancy, Thank you for the kind words. I really liked the singing of Haley Reinhart. She sang a lot of the songs, that I grew up with and really liked it, when she sang with Tony Bennett on American Idol.

      You have the same name as a famous singer Nancy Wilson, who recorded 70 albums in her career and I own a couple of those albums. Glad you enjoyed the blog and have a great day.

  11. I grew up outside of Pineville on Holloway Prairie Road, now I think mainly known as LA28, and where I lived is inside Pineville limits. I went to Pineville Grammar at the same time that you did. I remember the recesses playing basketball in the area behind the church next door and playing games in the woodsy area behind Pineville Grammar. When Pineville Grammar burned, I could see the light in the night sky.

  12. I’m sorry….couldn’t think of the name of C.L.’s sister. Besides I should have noticed that you lived out on Holloway Prairie Road. I thought you were referring to Prairie Street, where the Floyds lived.

  13. Andrew, I am Ann Farmers sister and sorry I have missed seeing this until now. I too attended Pineville Grammar School from 1947 to 1952. I wish I could find pictures from this time. This old school brings back so many good childhood memories. Mr. Galloway was our principal before Mr. Beall. I have several classroom pictures but don’t know where to send them.

    • Alice, I attended Pineville Elementary from 1950-1958, so was there a couple of the years that you were there. I don’t know where to send photos either. I remember Mr. Galloway and Mr. Beall and lived about 3 blocks from Mr. Beall, who lived at corner of College Drive and Prairie St. Thank you for sharing your memories.

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