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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38 Years in Newspaper Production: Last 28 Years At Alexandria Town Talk

Page being built using cold type composition.

When I returned to Alexandria Town Talk, after working for Monroe Morning World for two years it was back to cold type composition again. I negotiated a raise to $190 a week, when I returned, which amounted to a little over $4 an hour. Ten years of experience and making $4 an hour was not exactly making me rich.

This paragraph from Farm Collector tells more about the cold type composition Town Talk had been using since 1972:

Beginning in the 1960s, hot type began to give way to cold type, which is technically neither cold nor type, but rather phototypesetting. Machines generate text printed on photographic paper. Every piece of text is then run through a machine that applies hot wax to one side (wax allows items to be repositioned multiple times), hand-trimmed and positioned on a page-size template.

Once a page layout is complete, a film negative of the page is created. That negative is used to expose the image of the page onto an aluminum plate, and the plates are applied to a printing cylinder on the press.

It was tedious work to place the ads on a page and then wrap the type and photos around the ads, since we had to cut the type to fit the page, according to the page layout. Sometimes a page would be built and an ad, for example which was 3 columns by 8 inches might actually be 4 columns by 10 inches. We then would have to re-do the page moving type and/or photos to make the ad fit the page. This was not easy to do working with paper, since we had to use an X-acto or razor blade, to cut the type where needed to fit the page.

Town Talk Starts Morning Paper

The Town Talk ended their afternoon paper and started a mornings only paper in 1981. The Town Talk missed by 2 years of having an afternoon paper for 100 years.

Some employees left the paper, when the morning paper was announced, since the composing room work was mostly done in the evenings.

The night work was tough on families, in which both spouses worked, especially if one worked days and the other nights.

 

Historic marker telling of history of Alexandria Daily Town Talk

 

Since we worked in the composing room building up pages we had a lot of interaction with editors, wire desk and sports desk employees.

Adras Laborde was the editor when I started working there and sometimes I had to take proofs of his column for him to read and check for errors.

Wallace Anthony was a longtime wire desk employee, that died four years ago. He might not have been the fastest at designing pages, but he was a perfectionist intent on producing an excellent front page.

Bill Carter was an excellent sports editor, who I enjoyed talking to in coffee shop many times about baseball.

Nelder Dawson was the first person I talked to, when applying for work at Town Talk and he was there for 50 years.

Helen Derr was the religious editor and often worked with her making any necessary changes to her Saturday church page.

Ron Grant was another editor and former photographer, who checked page proofs and was always willing to help, with any problems having to do with an editorial page.

Ethel Holloman was very particular about how her society pages looked. This was back in the day when society editor would attend weddings. She is even more famous for her investigative reporting about mistreatment of mental patients at Central Louisiana State Hospital. It would be interesting to check the Town Talk archives, so I could read her articles about the abuse of mental patients.

Jim Butler left the Town Talk way too soon, since he was an excellent editor, who was great to work with and enjoyed our conversations about baseball over the years.

Elizabeth Roberts Martin – She made the news herself when writing a review, of the Elvis Presley concert in March of 1977, which was less than 5 months before his untimely death.

 

 

This is the review reprinted by elvisconcerts.com:

 

 

CONCERT DATE: March 29 1977 (8:30 pm). Alexandria LA..

Elvis Concert Termed “Entertaining”
by Elizabeth Roberts
Alexandria Town Talk
March 30, 1977

There’s a show on stage at the Rapides Parish Coliseum that is staged very professionally – that’s with a capital “P” as in Presley. And it’s Entertaining – that’s with a capital “E” as in Elvis. But it’s not a grade A performance, I’ll grade it a B minus, but as I said, it’s entertaining.

There’s no need to rush and push tonight and there’s not a chance of seeing Presley other than on stage. He won’t begin singing until about 10PM (his plane doesn’t arrive until at least 8.30 tonight) and when he does here, he’ll be driven inside the coliseum so there’s no need to stand outside. Once you’re in your seat, you stay there. No rushing the aisles for picture-taking or for a closer look. The guards see to that.

Tuesday night Presley was on stage less than an hour; he was impossible to understand when (or if) he talked between numbers; his How Great Thou Art should have been How Loud Thou Art; he never said one word to the audience or mentioned how nice or not nice it was to be in Alexandria or said “hi, how are you, we’re going to have a good time tonight and hope you enjoy the show.” He came on stage, did a few numbers and then dashed off – no encores, no extra bows, no nothing.

He relied heavily on his back-up group and when one of the singers dropped a microphone after singing O Sole Mio, he made the guy sing it again. There were false starts on a number of songs and his repertoire was mostly 1950’s early-EP songs.

Yes, that’s how he got his start and those are the songs we screamed over years ago, but times have changed and so has Elvis. He’s not the skinny young man from Memphis by way of Tupelo and the Louisiana Hayride. He’s a good singer and a showman but neither talent showed up in Tuesday night’s show.

He should update his performance and add more contemporary numbers. He’s certainly capable – his version of Early Morning Rain was outstanding. The rest was pure early Presley: Jailhouse Rock, Blue Suede Shoes, I Got a Woman, C.C.Rider, It’s Now Or Never.

In between, a lackey followed him around, draping scarves around his neck, so Elvis could toss them to admiring fans. I’ll give The Man credit for consideration, though. He did remember there were hundreds of people sitting behind him and tossed a few scarves in their direction and did a couple of bumps and grinds. Of course, that set off the screaming masses who saw for the first time a bump and grind from the rear.

If you’re going to the show tonight and going only to see Elvis, there’s no rush. The “warm-up” program begins in the vicinity of 8.30PM. Tuesday, it ended at 9.27 for an intermission while we prepare the stage don’t forget the souvenir concessions outside.” At 9.57PM, the “Hot Hilton Horns” began playing the theme from “2001: A Space Odyssey” and the thousands of flashbulbs started exploding like strobe lights.

Then The Man appeared, dressed in gold-embroidered white jeans and jacket and a gigantic belt which he had to keep hitching up. Around his neck were two necklaces (a short neck chain and a gold coin on a gold chain) and on his left hand, a gigantic diamond ring.

There were the usual warm-up groups. Gospel singers in yellow-trimmed-in-black liesure tuxedos; the Jokers: an inspirational” comedian dressed in a denim jumpsuit embroidered with Walt Disney characters (On Gay Liberation: “If God had meant people to be that way, he would have created Adam and Freddie”); and a trio “The Sweet Inspirations” who were worth the admission price.

If you’re a people watcher, the concert is great fun. If you’re an Elvis fan, you might be disappointed. There’s more (and better) music on any record album of his you have.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       Courtesy of Scott Hayward

A few more of the people who I have worked with over the years:

Richard Sharkey was known for checking and double-checking pages, before they went to the press. Then after the press started he would check the first papers rolling off the press and have us fix any mistakes made.

Cecil Williams was another editor in editorial department, who was fun to talk to.

Al Nassif was not only a sportswriter and later a wire desk employee, but also published Church Today on the side. Al was one of the nicest people ever to work for Town Talk, and employed me as a page builder for the Church Today for 13 years. It is amazing he could work two jobs and have dialysis treatments for many years.

Bob Tompkins  worked at both the Town Talk and the Monroe Morning World like me. It was good to see someone I knew from Town Talk working there in Monroe.

John Marcase will always be remembered, for his hard work on the high school football section every year and those horrific Friday nights, during high school football season, when he would make order out of chaos.

Melinda Martinez in the Focus department knew it was trouble when I visited the department. Either there was an error on the page or an ad had come up the wrong size, which caused her to have to rebuild a page, which was not exactly a picnic for her.

Mike Branigan was the composing room superintendent and was a problem solver of the first magnitude. I don’t know how many times we had to call him at home, with some major problem and a few minutes later he would be in the Town Talk composing room fixing the problem.

 Note: I know I am leaving someone out, but there are too many co-workers over the 36 years at the Town Talk, to mention them all in one article.

Moved To Camera Shop

Will never forget 1993, since that is year I was moved from page makeup to the camera shop. It was a challenge for a non-mechanical person like me and it took a long time to get used to it. Had no idea how hard it was to register photos using register marks and toning photos didn’t come easy for me. We had to register cyan, magenta, yellow and black negatives and if they weren’t registered properly it would make for a very fuzzy looking photo in the newspaper.

I don’t think the other camera shop workers liked me being in the camera shop, since I was clearly a novice that was not mechanically inclined. Changing the rolls of film in the dark for the full-page negative camera was always an adventure for me.

Paginating Classified Pages

I was eventually trained to build the classified pages using page pagination. I would first place the ads in the page using the computer, according to the classified layout, then after all the ads were in place would flow all the other classified type consisting of automobiles for sale, garage sales, etc. After the pages finished filling would place the legal type in the pages. Sometimes, we had more classified type and classified ads, than would fit in the section, so would have to make adjustments to make it work out.

Double truck ads like we did while in platemaking.

The hardest thing in the 38 years was building double truck ads, or as we called them double trouble. Cutting the middle out of the two page ads and then matching, without overlapping the two sides was very time-consuming. Black and white ads were bad enough, since they only had one negative, but the color ads took much longer, since we had to perfectly match up all four color negatives. There must be a way to do these same ads by now with computer.

Plate Made With a Platemaking Machine

Moved to Platemaking

Not sure what year it was, but was moved to platemaking and started working across the street adjacent to the pressroom.

Full page negatives would arrive in platemaking, then we would place them over a metal plate in a plate burner, which would make an impression of the page on the plate. Then we would carry the finished plates to pressroom and they would be placed on the press.

This was very hectic work and we would take most of the night, to get caught up the first time.

It was during this time, that I experienced high blood pressure problems. I went to VA hospital in Pineville and found out my blood pressure was 232/108 and nurse told me I was on the verge of a stroke.

Retired On Halloween Night

My last night of work was on Halloween night of 2004. I didn’t want to retire, but was in a position, where I really had no choice but retire.

Leaving work for the last time knowing I was ending 36 years with Town Talk, and 38 years in newspaper production was not easy. The 21-year-old kid that walked in the Town Talk in August of 1966 was now 60 years old and only two years from being on Social Security.

I will be 70 next week, but still think of Town Talk often. In fact I dream about working on the paper and trying to meet the deadline, then wake up and realize that part of my life is over.

Thanks for the memories to all of those I worked with those 38 years in newspaper production.

Sad Aftermath

The Alexandria Town Talk as I knew it longer exists.

One of the more troubling changes is that the pages aren’t even designed in Alexandria, but rather 857 miles away in Des Moines, Iowa.

Guess the editorial department is relegated writing stories and taking photos, except I guess the editors of different departments still decide, which stories will be used in the paper.  The Town Talk is more of a news gathering company and ad selling company, since the pages are designed in Des Moines, Iowa, the paper is printed in Lafayette, Louisiana and last I knew the circulation department is in North Carolina. I have heard that subscribers have to call North Carolina, if their paper isn’t delivered.

So much for Gannett being a boon to the Central Louisiana economy. They are more concerned about the bottom line, than about the local economy.

The pressroom across the street from the main building lies dormant and the Town Talk is now being printed 88 miles away in Lafayette, Louisiana. I don’t think I will ever understand, why the papers have to be delivered back to Alexandria.

The bulletin board with photos of all the employees is no longer filled and not even sure if it is still there. If it is still there doubt there is more than two rows of photos.

The composing room which once had about 40 employees doesn’t even exist, because of technology advances.

The saddest thing about the downsizing is that many of my co-workers have been let go by Gannett over the years.

The beginning of the end was when the Smith family sold the Town Talk, to Central Newspapers for $62 million in 1996.

Then four years later Gannett buys Central Newspapers as the Town Talk had three different owners from 1996-2000.

Town Talk employees had received a $150 Christmas bonus for many years, but Gannett ended that tradition almost immediately upon taking ownership.

Nationwideadvertising.com lists the Town Talk circulation in a year, which is not shown:

Advertise in the Alexandria-Pineville Louisiana “The Town Talk” Daily Newspaper. Printed mornings. Circulation: 34,437; Sunday: 39,585. 

Wikipedia now list the following circulation for the Town Talk:

The daily newspaper has a circulation of some 19,500 daily and 27,500 on Sundays.

I am hoping that there will always be an Alexandria Town Talk paper edition, since reading news on the internet can never match unfolding a paper, to read the latest news and sports.

I don’t know what the future holds for the Alexandria Town Talk, but for the sake of the present employees I hope  it is a long one.

1,000th Post

 

This is the 1,000th post, since I started writing this blog in April of 2009. There have been some long gaps, when there were no articles written, due to financial problems, when there was no internet service and two or three months last year, when I had to have cancer surgery in Houston VA hospital.

I want to thank each reader, that has taken time to read, even one of the articles, which have been written in the last four and a half years.

The early articles had a more nostalgic bent to them, but eventually I started running out of nostalgic things to write about, so wrote more about what is in the news today.

I have tried to avoid writing about politics, since writing about politics is the fastest way to end a friendship. I have relatives who are polar opposites, when it comes to politics so try, to avoid angering any of them.

However, I have found writing about the JFK assassination has sparked some controversy. I am still not sure exactly what happened on November 22, 1963 when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in the streets of Dallas Texas or the circumstances surrounding the murder of Officer J.D. Tippit only about 45 minutes later in a Dallas neighborhood.

A certain author wrote a book about the Kennedy assassination saying the case was closed, that was published in 1993. Here it is 20 years later and I still have seen no concrete proof that Lee Harvey Oswald killed the president that day. I am not even sure he was in the sniper’s nest in the sixth floor, when the fatal shots were fired. Knowing the fingerprint of LBJ’s personal hitman Mac Wallace was found on a box in the sixth floor makes me question, if Oswald was there only to be seen and blamed for the assassination, while Wallace may have done the actual shooting.

Brought Back Memories

Writing about growing up in Pineville, Louisiana in the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s brought back a lot of memories. Memories like the railroad train set on top of our bed and the elementary school burning down one night and watching television in store front windows, before we had television. I have been enthusiastic about watching train sets in action since then.

Readers will find the bulk of the nostalgic articles posted in the first few months of the blog back in April and May of 2009.

Comments Welcomed

The comments of the readers have been valued and very interesting. I wrote an article about Max “Jethro” Baer of the Beverly Hillbillies and an actress who appeared with him wrote and mentioned that in her comment.

When I wrote about the film Battle of Chosin in Korea and the brutal conditions the soldiers experienced, one of the producers of the movie Chosin wrote and commented on the article.

Readership Stats

594,620 readers have visited this site as of this minute, since April of 2009. The most read article has been an article about Lizard Lick Towing Boss Arrested with 48,421 readers. 24,928 readers read an article about 1950’s Prices, which showed a newspaper ad, for a restaurant serving a Thanksgiving Dinner with all the trimmings for $1. Try finding that deal today.

17,555 read the Classic Television: Leave It To Beaver article. The most controversial article written was probably The Voice: Alright If You Like To See Bald-headed Women Sing, which 4,022 read.

This article was written about one of the nights that Elvis appeared in Alexandria, Louisiana late in March of 1977, which was about four-and-half months before his death.

https://nostalgia049.wordpress.com/2009/10/30/elvis-presley-in-alexandria-louisiana-march-1977/

I want to thank each reader, who has visited the website and want to encourage everyone, to continue reading the articles and all readers are welcome to comment on the articles. Only caveat is that no cursing or mean-spirited comments will be allowed.

Thank you very much for reading the posts and have a Happy Thanksgiving.

Andrew Godfrey

 

 

 

Pineville, Louisiana in the 50’s and 60’s

Entrance to Louisiana College campus in Pineville, Louisiana.

 

I was born in 1944 in West Lafayette, Indiana and moved to Pineville, Louisiana, before my 2nd birthday in 1946, so my dad could teach chemistry at Louisiana College.

My first memory of Pineville was starting the first grade at Pineville Elementary in 1950 and walking the mile to school. I did ride the bus in the second grade, until the day I didn’t get off, at my stop and wound up in Libuse, Louisiana, which was about a ten-mile walk back home. Needless to say I never rode a bus to school after that incident. The bus driver was Harold Price, who drove a school bus many years.

I remember being in the class of Mrs. Eva Price, if I recall her first name right. One of my best friends in first grade was Robert Cavanaugh, who would later run track for Pineville High School and LSU. Then later Dr. Cavanaugh would become the chancellor of LSU in Alexandria and was responsible for it becoming a four-year college.

One thing I remember about the first grade is the ten-cent lunches. The price has probably gone up to 15 cents some 63 years later.

The second grade through fourth grade years sort of ran together, with no standout memories from those years. I do remember my second grade teacher being Mrs. Frankie Reed, third grade teacher being Mrs. Clarice Ellis and fourth grade teacher was Mrs. Effie O’Neal.

My fifth grade teacher was Mrs.Mabel  Powell and my main memory of that year was that I played my first Little League game the last day of school. I played for Bates Insurance Co. team that year and made a shoestring catch in that first game off of a ball hit by Luther Richardson. Think I was more surprised, than  anyone else that I caught the ball.

Mrs. Scivique (sp) was my sixth grade teacher if I remember right, but can’t remember her first name. Grady Harper was my seventh grade teacher and I think Robert Cespiva was my eighth grade teacher, but not sure of that.

1957 was a year that stood out, since that was the year Hurricane Audrey hit the Pineville area that June. I can remember Jim Gaines of KALB radio giving the latest reports about the hurricane. One memory is that we had no power for three days and my dad went to Jimmie Hoyt’s to buy some dry ice.

1957 Trip To Maine

My most vivid memory of 1957 didn’t take place in Pineville, since my dad and my older brother took a trip to Maine that summer. The trip was an education in itself, as we stopped at tourist stops like Rock City and can remember the signs saying SEE ROCK CITY on the roofs of barns along the way. We also saw many Burma Shave signs on the trip.

Stopping at Mount Vernon was one of the highlights, while  Washington, D.C. was the place that I remember best. We went inside the Capitol building and saw Congress in action, saw the U.S. Mint making bills and visited the National Archive building. We also visited the White House, Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument. The Smithsonian Institution was particularly interesting, where we saw the Spirit of St. Louis hanging from the ceiling. The last place I remember seeing was the Library of Congress.

Having been an avid baseball fan it was a thrill to see a major league game in Connie Mack Stadium, which was my first game to ever see. Saw future Hall of Famers like Roberto Clemente and Richie Ashburn in the game that, plus another Hall of Famer Bill Mazeroski hit a home run that landed on tin roof above us in left field bleachers.

We also went to the planetarium in the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia and saw the Liberty Bell.

New York City was a place I will never forget and have not been there in the last 56 years. The main thing I can remember is seeing drunks lying on sidewalk in the Bowery District. That is something a 12 year-old kid always remembers.

We drove on to Beverly, Massachusetts, which was our next destination, since my Dad was there for the American Chemical Society convention there. I remember stopping at a Howard Johnson’s Restaurant with the famous orange roof and was impressed that they had 31 flavors of ice cream.

While in the area we were able to see the House of Seven Gables and Cape Cod.

The convention dealt with such topics as radiocarbon dating of trees and many other topics, that a 12 year-old would never comprehend.

Then we went on to Maine to see my Uncle John for the first time and I think the only time. It would be the only time to see my Maine relatives, since my cousin Jim would die in Vietnam in the 60’s, while piloting a helicopter and was shot down.

We stopped in Millville, New Jersey to pick up my Dad’s mom and while there saw my Grandpa Godfrey for the first and only time, while he was in the hospital. That reminds me of the times pranksters would call his grocery store and ask if he had Prince Albert in cans and then when he said yes, they would say then let him out.

The first and only stop on the way back home was Warsaw, Kentucky and Dad drove almost non-stop from there to Pineville, since school started the same day we got back home.

Random Memories

I don’t remember this but my mom told me I had gotten out of the A&P Grocery store at the age of three and walked down to the Murray Street Bridge. George Huffman a Pineville policeman, according to my mom said when he took me off the bridge that he was going to put me in jail, if it ever happened again. I probably didn’t even know what a jail was at that time, since we wouldn’t even have a television till six years later.

We didn’t have a television till I was about 9 years old and the only reason we got one was because, of my sister’s eye doctor prescribed it for her, so she could use both eyes and we had a polaroid screen on one side to make her use her “lazy” eye.

Being on Cactus Jack with Jack McCall hosting the show on KALB TV was one of my memories from this period and being in the Cub Scouts was another and I can remember riding in the Alexandria Christmas Parade one year.

George Huffman was part of another memory, when we thought our cat may have had rabies, so he tried to shoot at it with a shotgun under the house, but missed and the cat lived happily ever after.

My folks liked to go to Berwick’s Drug Store in downtown Pineville. The dilapidated building was not like Walgreen’s stores of today, but they must have had good prices on prescriptions.

Plane Crashes During Little League Game

One night we were playing a Little League game at Sandy Canyon, when I heard someone say “That plane’s going to crash” and we could see the plane heading downward and it landed near the Memorial Cemetery for veterans about a block from Main Street in downtown Pineville.

Pineville Elementary Burns Down

Pineville Elementary burned down shortly after I finished the eighth grade. This photo shows the firemen battling the blaze:

The story as it appeared in the Alexandria Daily Town Talk the next day:

Will never forget riding the mile from home to the fire that night. News traveled fast back then, even without any media coverage to speak of.

Fast Thinking Commercial Spokesman

Will never forget Larry McHale of KALB TV, who was ordinarily a newsman, but was advertising the virtues of a certain brand of cigarettes. Then in the middle of the commercial he starts coughing and thinking fast said “Just the thinking of those other brands makes me cough”.

Daredevil Over Red River

One memory that stands out is when a motorcyclist ran across the Red River on a some kind of contraption, that enabled him to ride a motorcycle. Anyone there that day is welcome to give their version of what happened that day.

College Drive Baptist Church Founded in 1947

Think we were living on Lawrence Boulevard, when College Drive Baptist Church was founded in 1947. It is now 66 years old and was located close to Louisiana College. I can remember J. Taylor Walworth as the founding pastor, when we joined in 1948. He is one of the few people in my life that never changed and looked the same shortly before his death many years later.

Can remember when Harvey McGraw was the education superintendent and a Sunday, which had 237 people present in Sunday School. It was a different time back then when fewer Louisiana College students had their own car, so they naturally walked to the church, which was closest to the college. As the years went by and more students had their own vehicles attendance started to fall. Students then could drive to the bigger churches in Alexandria and Pineville.

Starting Pineville High School in 1958

It was a huge change going from elementary school to high school and it took time to get used to moving from class to class all day at Pineville High. Went to summer school for three years, but graduated from Pineville High in September of 1962.

State Football Champions in 1960

The highlight of my high school years was when the Pineville High Rebels won the state football championship in 1960. Coach Jimmy Keeth and assistant Coach Vernon Beall led the team to a year, that the coaches and players will never forget. I think Coach Gene Millet was also a coach that year, but not positive. There has not been another championship football team from Pineville High School in the last 53 years making that year even more special.

Said Goodbye to Pineville in October of 1962

I joined the United States Army Reserve in 1962 and went to Fort Polk, Louisiana for basic training. Finished basic shortly before Christmas, then about two weeks later boarded a train at the Missouri Pacific station for Indianapolis,Indiana and headed for the brutal Indian winter, with snow on the ground in Indianapolis, when I arrived in January of 1963.

Returned home again from the Adjutant General School in Indianapolis in April of 1963. It didn’t take long to get tired of going to Army Reserve meetings, so joined the Regular Army for a three year enlistment in May of 1963 and would only come home in October of 1964 and 1965, before being honorably discharged in May of 1966 after a tour of duty in Hawaii and Vietnam.

Town Talk Employment

It was later in 1966, when I would be employed by the Alexandria Daily Town Talk, not having any idea that I would be working there for 36 years with two years working for the Monroe Morning World from 1974-1976 leaving Town Talk for an $8 a week raise, but Monroe paper had me working so much overtime, that I earned $5,000 more than I had earned with Town Talk the year before. Elvis Presley, indirectly helped me get the job in Monroe. We were in Monroe to see Elvis Presley and happened to drive by the newspaper and I wound up mailing in a job application, which was accepted.

More Memories of Pineville in the 50’s and 60’s

I remember we didn’t worry about how hot it was, because we didn’t know what air conditioning was and didn’t have one till the late 60’s. We only had one television station the first few years, before Alpine Cable came to town.

We would go out Highway 28 on our bicycles, since there was not much traffic. Nowadays it would be foolish to try to ride a bike on that same road today.

I can remember the Star Theater on Main Street catching on fire and Chief Crazy Horse and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde were on the marquee that day.

Think it was still in the 60’s when Louisiana College ended their football program, due to lack of attendance at the games. I can remember the names of some players from back then like Clayton and Harry Bullard, Bill Mount, David Corley, Harry Ingalls, Frank Mobley, Gene Southern, Jim Jossick and Moose Munyan and of course Hamburger Harrison.

I remember George Huffman and Gus Perry from the Pineville Police Department and for some reason those are the only names I can recall.

Will never forget T.C. Brister who owned a sporting goods store letting me pay $6 for a $6.50 Nokona baseball glove, because that was all the money I had with me.

Can remember going to the display window of Jimmy Walker’s Appliance to watch television at night. I can remember visiting neighbors who had a television, which only got a New Orleans station and the picture was mostly snow, but a better picture would appear from time to time.

Trips to A&W Root Beer stand in Alexandria were a special treat. Those frosty mugs filled with root beer always hit the spot.

It is good to know that the same Martin Library we used to go to in the 50’s and 60’s is still operating many years later.

Remember well walking to Jack’s to buy the Sporting News baseball newspaper for a quarter on way home from high school.

Can remember the KALB radio record hops with the Big Bopper appearing a year or two before his death in a plane crash,which also killed Buddy Holly in Iowa.

Who can forget Mr. Pendergrast walking down the street with his top hat? There were rumors that he was rich, but not sure if he was or not. He sure didn’t live like a rich man.

Hope this article revives memories of what it was like growing up in Pineville in the 50’s and 60’s.

 

 

 

 

Memories of a Lifetime: 2001-2005

Grandson Mark Geisel who was born one day after my birthday.

 

2001 – Mark Geisel was born on October 15, 2001 in Sulphur, Louisiana, while his father was the manager at the Domino’s Pizza place in Sulphur.  Mark has done very well in school and loves to read. He plays goalie and other positions on his soccer team. His red hair goes back a long way in family history. My mom had a red-headed brother, that was born in the 1920’s or 1930’s. My mom had two red-headed sons and a red-headed daughter and a daughter with auburn hair. I was the black sheep of the family with black hair.

We moved to Gibbons Street about this time and then moved to Linda Drive later that year in the Kingsville area.

September 11, 2001 – A day that will live in infamy.

 

September 11, 2001 was a day that none of us will forget. I had called the mechanic that morning checking on our car in his shop. He asked me if I had the television on and that is when I found out about the horrific events of that day. The memory of those planes slamming into the twin towers of the World Trade Center will forever be ingrained in my memory.

I couldn’t comprehend how four planes could be hijacked the same morning and that day let us know how lax our airport security was at the time. The nation was in chaos at the time, with aircraft being grounded all over the country. It was eerie hearing about passengers on these planes talking to loved ones, on their cell phones telling, about the horrors of what they were experiencing and then knowing those same people on the cell phones died a violent death minutes later.

It is difficult to believe that September 11 of this year will be the 12th anniversary of that horrific day.

The “War on Terrorism” begins with the invasion of Afghanistan.

Dale Earnhardt dies during a crash in the last lap of the Daytona 500.

Richard Reid known as the “shoe bomber” attempted to blow up an American Airlines plane.

The first iPod was released and Wikipedia was launched on the internet.

The average rent jumped $40 from $675 in 2000 to $715 in 2001. The price of a gallon of gas jumped from $1.26 in 2000 to $1.41 in 2001. A loaf of bread cost $1.82.

2002 – My favorite memory of this year was the 40th class reunion of Pineville High School. I had never attended a reunion until 2002. If I was scheduled to work on the day of reunion, then I would usually work, but this year I made sure I had that week off, so I could attend. It was great seeing classmates from the 1962 class, for the first time in many years. I hadn’t run into some of them even though they had never left Pineville. The saddest part of the reunion was when the members of our class that had passed on were mentioned in a Power Point presentation, with Duane Yates singing the Lord’s Prayer in the background. Sadly Duane died before our 50th reunion in 2012. Seeing the teachers and students from 1962 again made this a special time in my life.

The price of gasoline escalated to $1.61 a gallon, a 36 cent a gallon rise since the $1.26 gasoline of 2000, which was two years earlier.

 

2003 – This turned out to be the last full year that I worked at the Alexandria Town Talk newspaper. The paper was never the same, after it was acquired by the Gannett Corporation. The Christmas bonus we had received while the paper was owned by the Smith family and the Central Newspapers chain was the first thing to go, under the auspices of the Gannett mega corporation. That $150 we had received each Christmas was now a thing of the past, as was the free newspapers for employees.

Iraq is invaded on March 19 by the United States military.

Saddam Hussein is captured by the U.S. 4th Infantry Division.

Gasoline prices jumped to 1.83, a jump of 57 cents a gallon since 2000.

 

2004 – My 36 years at Town Talk and 38 years in newspaper production ended in 2004, when I retired with my last day of work being Halloween night. I spent most of my working life at Town Talk. In fact it was my first job after returning from Vietnam in 1966. I had seen my pay go from $1.40 an hour in 1966 to $13.50 an hour in 2004. Still I never took home more than $28,000 in any year, that I worked for the Town Talk.

We had a traumatic event  this year when my stepson Justin was sleeping in the den and was woken by a burglar, who was rifling through cabinets and drawers, while looking for painkillers. Neither Justin or the burglar knew anyone else was in the house. Thankfully, Justin thought the burglar was a relative, who told Justin he was taking stuff because his mom owed him money.

A few days before the burglary a man had knocked on our door and wanted to know if anyone lived in the trailer next door. Evidently, he was casing the house and had a timeline of when my wife Rhonda and me would be at work. Anyway he had left, about 30 minutes before I arrived home from work that night.

Justin followed him from room to room and the burglar told him to tell his mom, that he would return the next night. The burglar did have an encounter with our cat, when the cat bit him and the burglar said “ouch”. The burglar would be later caught due to his own stupidity. He overdosed and the paramedics noticed painkillers all over his trailer, which included some painkillers my wife had in our house, after having major surgery. He lived only about five houses up the street from us and was arrested for burglary and sent to prison.

Facebook was launched in 2004 and was originally only for students at Harvard University.

Strongest earthquake in 40 years hits near Indonesia and the earthquake and resulting tsunami would take 290,000 lives.

Martha Stewart is convicted of felony and sentenced to five years in prison.

Gasoline continued to skyrocket to $2.10 an increase of 84 cents a gallon from the year 2000. Oil peaked at $50 a barrel in 2004.

 

2005 – I returned to work in 2005, when I was hired as a caregiver by Louisiana Community Care in Ball, Louisiana. Sometimes I would start a shift at 8PM and would finish the shift at 8:30 AM the next morning. It wasn’t hard work, but it was detail work, that required a set schedule of administering medicine. I found out later in Tennessee, that anyone administering medicine in Tennessee was required to take a course and pass a test to give meds to a client. However, Louisiana required no certification to give meds. I was giving meds my first night. There was a voluntary meds certification, but it wasn’t required at this time.

Later that year I went to work for Plasti-Pak in Kingsville area and I learned how much work is involved with factory work. I operated a box making machine for Procter and Gamble products the first night there. We went to work at 6:45 PM and the shift would end at 7:15 the next morning, so we would get a full 12 hours per shift, with a half hour break to eat. It was tiring and exhausting work and dangerous work. I back over my foot with a hand truck, which resulted in losing two toenails. I bought steel-toed boots the next day. It was a temp job with Westaff and the job played out soon and I was one of first laid off, since I was one of the last ones hired.

Then I went to work for Coastal Culvert operating out of Eunice, Louisiana. It was the easiest job of my life, after working the hardest job of my life at Plasti-Pak. My job was to be the manager of a new Alexandria branch for the company. My main job was to check inventory of the culvert pipes outside the office. I had to call the Eunice office each morning, to verify I was at work. Then I would read the paper, listen to old-time radio shows or watch Andy Griffith shows on the DVD player till it was time to go home that afternoon. The job lasted from November till February of 2006, before they decided to close down the Alexandria office, since there was little to no business.

I can’t say enough good things about the Coastal Culvert executives. They invited me to their annual Christmas dinner and they gave me a $100 Christmas bonus, even though I had been there less than a month.

Some of the damage from Hurricane Katrina seen the day after.

The major event of 2005 in Louisiana is when Hurricane Katrina hit the southern coast of Louisiana and a break in the levee resulted in 80 percent of New Orleans being flooded. 1,577 died from Katrina in Louisiana. Many New Orleans residents waited five days for food and  water to arrive in the city. It was a colossal case of bad planning by government officials, who let people go for days without food or water.

Katrina didn’t cause much damage in Alexandria-Pineville area, but Hurricane Rita was a different story as many trees fell on houses in the area, with fallen trees closing roads.

Lance Armstrong won an amazing seventh Tour de France championship, as he demonstrated how he could live better through chemistry.

Video gamers saw the Microsoft X-Box 360 launched in 2005.

The price of gasoline climbed to $3.18 in 2005 an increase of almost $2 a gallon from the $1.26 price of 2000.

 

 

 

 

Memories of a Lifetime: 1996-2000

1996 – The Smith family sold the Town Talk to Central Newspapers for $62 million

The minimum wage was raised to $5.15, which was an improvement over the $1.40 minimum wage of 1966, when I was hired by the Town Talk.

March 13, 1996 – A gunman killed a teacher and 16 five and six-year-old children in Dunblane Scotland, which was eerily similar to the Sandy Hook tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut 16 years later in 2012.

Bomb explodes during 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia.

Ebay starts their auction website 17 years ago.

Gas cost $1.22 a gallon, which is about $2 a gallon cheaper than the $3.25 gasoline of today. A driver could save about $40 a fill-up in 1996 compared to 2013 prices, for a 20 gallon purchase.

Bread cost $1.15 a loaf.

1997 – Was chosen to be song leader at College Drive Baptist Church in Pineville, Louisiana and would remain in that position, till we moved to Tennessee in 2007.  I want to thank Rev. Charles Harrell and Paul Bonnette for letting me lead the singing during those years. I also want to thank Mrs. Frances Faulk for being the pianist most of those years. She had played for Governor Jimmie Davis for many years.

One of the major stories of 1997 was when Princess Diana was killed in a car accident 16 years ago. Mother Theresa also died in 1997 at the age of 87.

Microsoft became the most valuable company in the world and was valued at $261 billion.

Woolworth closes their last discount stores in 1997.

A gallon of gasoline remained steady holding at the $1.22 price of 1996. A pound of hamburger meat cost $1.38. Average rent climbed to $576 and a movie ticket cost $4.59.

 

1998 – Had a very short marriage in 1998 to a con artist, who left town with my credit cards and checkbook and our marriage license, plus ran my phone bill up to over $1,000 making calls to her boyfriend in Florida. The less said about her the better. Found out she had disappeared when I returned from family reunion in Gatlinburg, Tennessee and found the huge telephone bill waiting for me in the mailbox.

Think this was the summer that was so hot, that temperatures over 100 were common that summer. After not using the air conditioner since May of 1992, I was forced to plug-in the air conditioner, because of the extreme heat.

A gallon of gasoline dropped to $1.15 a drop of seven cents from the 1997 price.

Grocery Prices of 1998:

Loaf of bread – $1.26

Pound of bacon – $2.53

Pound of hamburger meat – $1.40

Dozen eggs – 88 cents

Average rent skyrocketed to $619 a month.

Grandson Matthew ready to travel to All Star game while playing for Ward 10 in Tioga a few years ago.

 

1999 – My first grandson Matthew Geisel was born on February 19, 1999 at Rapides Hospital in Alexandria, Louisiana to my daughter Debbie and son-in-law George. Matthew will be 14 next month and has done well in sports at the middle school in Groves, Texas and has played baseball in the Little League and Babe Ruth League. This will be his 11th season of youth baseball and he hopes to make the Port Neches – Groves high school team in 2014.  He has played football, basketball and track while in middle school. He played quarterback for the Groves Middle School 8th grade team. Matthew had runs of 18 and 50 yards in the game and totaled over 100 yards in the game. He played linebacker on defense and scooped up a fumble, while returning it to the end zone for a touchdown. Groves won the game 8-0 due to his fumble TD return.

Met my future wife Rhonda on the internet in 1999 and we would be married in 2000.

Lance Armstrong won his first Tour de France. We will never know if he could have won without steroids, because steroids were an integral part of his training regimen.

Two boys 17 and 18 kill 15 in the Columbine school shooting in 1999.

Mattel’s Barbie Doll turns 40.

MySpace, Napster and Bluetooth came into existence in 1999 and all are 14 years old now.

Average rent continues to skyrocket to $645 after topping out at $619 in 1998.

The cost of a gallon rises seven cents as it  returns to the $1.22 price of 1996 and 1997.

Grocery Prices of 1999:

Pound of bacon – $2.59

Ground coffee – $3.41 a pound

Loaf of bread – $1.49

Dozen eggs – 89 cents

 

2000 – Married Rhonda on February 18, 2000 in College Drive Baptist Church by Rev. W.E.Efferson. We will have been married for 13 years on our anniversary in February. We would live on Burns Street in Pineville till we moved to Gibbons Street the following year.

Lifespan in United States in 2000 is 77.5 years.

President Bush would win the 2000 Presidential election, due to few hanging chads here and there. Democratic candidate Sen. Albert Gore polled 543,000 more popular votes, but lost the election by five electoral votes.

2000 was the year that dot-com bubble burst, as tech speculators lost thousands of dollars on companies that went bust.

Y2K starts with no serious problems.

Barrel of crude  oil tops $30 a barrel, while a gallon of gas rises to $1.26 a four cent increase, over the 1999 price.

Average rent prices escalated to $675 a year. Average rent had been $619 in 1998 and $645 in 1999, so prices had increased  $56 a month in two years time.

Grocery Prices of 2000:

Pound of bacon – $2.97

Ground coffee – $3.44 a pound.

Loaf of bread – $1.72

Dozen eggs – 89 cents

 

 

Memories of a Lifetime: 1991-1995

1991 – Visited my sister Jane and her family during the summer of 1991 in Pueblo, Colorado. My son Kenny and brother Tom also were on the trip.  My brother Daniel drove us up Pike’s Peak and will never forget how cold it was at the top. The brakes overheated on the way down, so had to let them cool off a few minutes.

Driving through Raton Pass with an altitude of 7,834 in a four-cylinder Toyota was not easy as we gained altitude. Enjoyed the time with my sister and her family while in Colorado. Jane is an executive with the Pueblo Library and we had the chance to visit the library.

911 emergency number was being tested during the year and the airbag was invented. Gasoline was being sold for $1.12 a gallon.

1992 – This was a sad year as my 22 year marriage to Elaine ended, with her moving back to Texarkana, Arkansas. Had to file bankruptcy after she left, so I could pay bills. It would be the first of six years with no air conditioning. We had one, just never used it, since had to choose between air conditioning and eating and eating won that battle. Ate cheese sandwiches most of the time and can’t remember going out to eat during this time.

With the Town Talk garnishing my wages to pay the bankruptcy and paying child support there was little money left for anything, but the bare necessities of life.

The divorce was finalized and it was sad to spend Christmas without the family for the first time since 1972, the year when Steve was born.

Bill Clinton was elected president in 1992 and Miley Cyrus was born and will be 21 in November of 2013.  The cost of gasoline dropped from $1.12 in 1991 to $1.05 in 1992.

1993 – Flew to Knoxville, Tennessee this year with the financial assistance of my brother, to be present when Tusculum College in Greeneville, Tennessee honored my dad by naming a chemistry laboratory after him. Enjoyed hearing his students and others tell of my dad’s contributions to the Chemistry department at Tusculum. Then they served a dinner in his honor, which capped off a great evening.

My daughter Debbie missed by one word of making the National Spelling Bee in 1993. I was there that night in my alma mater Pineville High School auditorium, as she battled round after round before misspelling the final word.

I don’t handle change well and had a major change at Town Talk, when I was moved from composing room to camera shop, after having worked in composing room since 1966. I have to admit I was lost as I had to learn how to operate a full-page camera, tone photos and strip in negatives using the four-color process. The negatives had to have perfectly matched register marks, or the photos would be out of focus, which could be seen easily by readers if not aligned properly.

The price of gasoline rose to $1.16 a gallon, an increase of 11 cents a gallon compared with 1992 prices. Movie tickets had risen to $4.14 and a loaf of bread cost $1.57.

Harley Davidson motorcycles observed their 90th anniversary in 1993, which means they will observe their 110th anniversary in 2013. Beanie babies were first sold in 1993 and are now collector’s items twenty years later.

1994 – Remember watching O.J. Simpson and the low-speed chase by police as they followed him to his home. He was eventually arrested and charged with the murders of Nicole Simpson and Ron Goldman. This is the year that Tonya Harding had someone hit her ice skating opponent Nancy Kerrigan in the knee, hoping to gain an advantage over her injured opponent.

Can remember Bud Selig saying the dreaded words that there would be no 1994 World Series, due to a lengthy baseball strike. I had the feeling Selig almost enjoyed cancelling the World Series, as he seemed to be letting the players know that he was in charge.

The cost of gasoline dropped to $1.09 a drop of seven cents from the 1993 price.  The first satellite digital television service was launched in 1994 and Netscape was the leading browser that year.

1995 – College Drive Baptist Church lost their pastor Mark Norwood who had accepted another job with a church in North Louisiana, when Warren Steadman became the pastor that fall.

1995 was one of my favorite years since the Atlanta Braves, who I had been following since 1978 defeated the Cleveland Indians in the 1995 World Series. It was the first Braves win in a World Series, since the 1957 Milwaukee Braves defeated the New York Yankees in the 1957 World Series. The win over the Indians was only the second World Series championship for the Braves in the last 55 years.

Gasoline was still selling at $1.09 the same price as the 1994 price. Postage stamps were now selling for 32 cents. I remember back in 1963, when I was selling stamps for a nickel each and a book of 20 stamps cost only a dollar. 32 years later the same 20 stamp book sold for $6.40. Fast forward to 2013 and stamps are approaching 50 cents a stamp and a book would cost $10 for a 20 stamp book.

The biggest tragedy of 1995 was when a truck bomb exploded, while killing 168 people at the Oklahoma City Federal Building. Timothy McVeigh would later be executed for his part in the crime.

750 Chicagoans would die in a heat wave, when temperatures reached 104 degrees for five straight days.

Windows 95 is released by Microsoft and DVD’s are introduced.

O.J. Simpson is found innocent of the Nicole Simpson and Ron Goldman murders and vows to catch the REAL killer. He searched golf courses all over the United States looking for the real killer, but was unsuccessful in locating the killer. He could have saved all that time and energy by looking at the mirror and finding the REAL killer there.

Grocery prices skyrocketed in 1995 as bread was selling for $1.15 a loaf. The days of buying five loaves for a $1 at the bread thrift store were now officially over. Ground coffee could be purchased for $4.07 a pound.

Average income was $35,900 a month except for Town Talk employees. I retired from Town Talk nine years later and never earned more than $28,000 a year, while working for the Town Talk.