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.

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.

 

 

 

 

Hanging Jail: DeRidder, Louisiana

The DeRidder jail became known as the "hanging jail" after two murderers were hung there in 1928 for the robbery and murder of a taxi cab driver.

DeRidder, Louisiana is a small city of 9,000 (according to the 2000 census) but is known for its hanging jail. The jail is now 97 years old having been built in 1914.

The double hanging took place on March 9, 1928 some 83 years ago, when  Joe Genna and Molton Brasseaux hung for robbing and murdering 45 year old J.J. Brevelle, a taxi driver.

The jail was closed in 1984 which is 27 years ago, but it still is drawing interest from paranormal groups.

LA Spirits is a paranormal group that explored the facility. After setting up their equipment they said they heard footsteps, heard a shower running and could smell pipe smoke.

There is a website that give many details about the jail, the crime which caused the two murderers to be hanged and how they were apprehended.

This website also features a video taken inside the jail and the webmaster is to be commended for their research.

http://itsphotography.wordpress.com/

Going Home Again To Pineville, Louisiana

Pineville, Louisiana may not have dilapidated buildings like this still standing on Main Street but after being away from Pineville since October of 2007 there weren’t as many changes as I thought there would be when returning to the city I have spent close to 60 years of my life.

One of the biggest changes in Pineville was the new Lowe’s store that was built where the old Wal-Mart store had been unoccupied for many years.

The new football stadium at Louisiana College probably was the most striking new structure in Pineville. After sharing D.C. “Bill” Bates Stadium with Pineville High School for many years Louisiana College finally has a stadium which is on campus and the football team no longer has to ride a bus to Pineville High School for their games.

There were some cosmetic changes to some stores like the KFC restaurant on Highway 28 but for the most part there were very few noticeable changes that caught my eye. Since I didn’t see some parts of Pineville there may be some changes that readers may want to inform me about.

Pineville will always be home for me even though I am living in south Louisiana now after having lived in Tennessee for the three years and four months prior to moving to Sulphur, Louisiana.

My memories of Pineville go back to the first day of the first grade at Pineville Elementary in 1950 and playing Little League baseball for Bates Insurance, Jimmie Walker and RC Cola and then later playing for Bert Dennis Realty in the Pony League at the Sandy Canyon baseball field.

One tragic memory was the night we were playing in a game when someone yelled “that plane is going to crash” and we saw a plane crashing in downtown Pineville into the National Cemetery grounds.

Another tragic event was seeing Pineville Elementary destroyed by fire in 1958 and seeing Tommy Kohara the photographer climbing the fireman’s ladder to take photos of the fire from above.

Four years later after graduating from Pineville High in 1962 I said goodbye to Pineville to join the Army and started basic training at Fort Polk, Louisiana. Will never forget marching to this song in basic during the height of the October missile crisis:

I don’t know but I believe

I’ll be in Cuba by Christmas Eve

After returning home for a couple of weeks after basic training ended once again it was time to bid farewell to Pineville again as I boarded a train for Fort Benjamin Harrison, Indiana for postal training in January of 1963.

When ending the six months duty for the Army Reserve I decided to go ahead and join the regular Army in May of 1963 and boarded a plane for San Francisco and landed in Hawaii in June of 1963.

After serving in Hawaii from June of 1963 to January 1966 I boarded a troop ship heading toward Vietnam and four months later when I fulfilled my service obligation in May of 1966 it was exciting to gain altitude over Saigon knowing we were safe from enemy groundfire and on the way to Pineville as my ultimate destination.

It would be eight years later after working those years for the Alexandria Town Talk before moving from Pineville to Monroe, Louisiana in April of 1974 to work for the Monroe Morning World for a couple of years returning in March of 1976 to Pineville.

For the next 31 years Pineville would be home till moving again in August of 2007 to Knoxville, Tennessee and living there till December 20, 2010 when we moved to Sulphur, Louisiana.

While this visit was a very short one I hope there will be many more in the future and hopefully for a longer duration.






The Capris from Pineville, Louisiana

The Capris band that started in a neighborhood home in Pineville, Louisiana.

I was unaware at the time but a local band named The Capris were practicing at a neighborhood house in Pineville, Louisiana during the years I attended Pineville High School in the late 50’s and early 60’s.

The band went on to have one of their songs Here I Stand rated on Dick Clark’s American Bandstand. The kids at the show rated it higher than a Rolling Stones song by 93 percent for Capris and 86 percent for Rolling Stones.

I am not sure which Capris group was first but another group was calling themselves the Capris in the 50’s and had the hit song There’s A Moon Out Tonight.

The Duane Yates website which is still online despite his death tells of the early days of the group:

http://duaneyates.com/EarlyYears.htm