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Looking Back May 15

Photo by Vicki Harris

Photo by Vicki Harris

Each week Albany Herald researcher Mary Braswell looks for interesting events, places and people from the past. You can contact her at (229) 888-9371 or mary.braswell@albanyherald.com.

It was a privilege to recently give a brief talk about "The Day in the Life of a Colonial Dame in 1926" to the Albany Town Committee of the National Society of the Colonial Dames as the group celebrated its 85th anniversary. Here is a look back at that particular year in local history.

* The country was experiencing a post-war, pre-depression economic boom. Albany was no exception with businesses thriving and subdivisions being developed, including Palmyra Heights and Rawson Circle.

* In town, a 9-room bungalow in a "good residential area" went for $7,500.

* An estate outside of the city was advertised for $70 per- acre. This property included 610 acres, four barns, 3,500 peach trees, 25-acres of pecan trees and a seven-room painted house with waterworks, bath and telephone service.

* An outdoor roller skating rink, located on Washington Street on the lot of the old jail, was open in the spring and fall. From 2:30-6 p.m and again from 7:30 -10:30 p.m., ladies and children could skate for 35 cents while gentlemen were charged 50 cents. This price included skates and instruction.

* News from the world of radio comprised at least 1/2 of a page each day in The Albany Herald. A new Philco radio would set a buyer back about $40, not including tubes.

* The Yellow Cab Company was a regular mode of transportation for many in the city. A cab could be summoned day or night.

* The social event of the year was held at the City Auditorium (now known as the Municipal Auditorium). Sponsored by the Hospital Junior League, "The Follies" featured 22 scenes in two acts. Tickets for the must-attend event ranged from 75 cents to $2.

* In its seventh year in Albany, the Salvation Army held open-air services (weather permitting) on Tuesdays at Pine and Washington streets, on Thursdays at Broad and Washington streets and on Saturdays on Broad Street-each day at 7 p.m. Sunday services were held at 10 a.m. and 6:45 p.m. at Pine Street and at Broad and Jackson streets respectively.

* Thad Huckabee Auto Co. had the Hudson Brougham on sale for $1,569. This was the complete price, delivered. This particular Hudson featured a front and rear bumper, windshield cleaners, rear-view mirror, radiator shutters, combination stop and tail lights and much more.

* Furs, even in South Georgia, were a popular part of cold-weather fashion. Several local companies provided fur storage.

* McClendon Commercial College was located at the corner of Washington and Pine at what is now the parking lot for The Albany Herald. A female graduate could make as much as $225 per month if she was lucky enough to get a job in the office of a prosperous business owner or lawyer.

* Gasoline prices were on the rise and local service stations (they were all full service) charged as much as 18 cents per gallon.

* Wholesale grocers, ice cream parlors, drug stores and other merchants closed their doors at 3:30 p.m. on the afternoon of the opening game for the Albany Nuts baseball team. The move was aimed at increasing attendance for the game which was a big deal, especially on opening day of the season.

* Movies typically ran for three days in Albany. Films were silent while some of the "shorts" shown did have sound. The first film with a soundtrack, "Don Juan" came out this year. It was not technically a "talkie" since the sound was recorded on LP records which were played as the film rolled.

* An excursion on the Central of Georgia could be made to Fort Valley for the Peach Blossom Festival. Fare for a round-trip ticket was $2.

* City Barber Shop, a favorite gathering spot for the menfolks, charged 20 cents for a shave and 40 cents for a haircut.

* The 45-member Georgia Glee Club included Albany in its state tour. The event was held at the City Auditorium with the best seats costing $1.50.

* Relatively new on the market, Armstrong linoleum floors were being installed in many newly constructed homes. The building supply business was a very profitable one in Albany during this time.

* "Phantom of the Opera" with Lon Chaney was seen by a full house at almost every showing at the Liberty Theater. Matinees were 15 cents for children and 40 cents for adults. Prices went up to 30 cents and 50 cents after 6:00 p.m.

* Downtown was a bustling place with dozens and dozens of places to shop. There were department stores, hardware stores, specialty shops, home furnishings and much more.

* Most purchases, from furniture to fabric to shoes to clothing, were made in person and delivered by the merchant to the home. Ladies could literally shop all day without the burden of one package, if they so pleased.

* Department stores such as Rosenberg's, R.L. Jones, Churchwells and Globe were popular shopping venues. A good sale would find ladies' silk hose for $1.48 and three yards of printed dress fabric for $1.

* A rather special dress- such as a Crepe one with embroidered details- carried a price tag as high as $18. That would be in the neighborhood of $180 in today's dollars.

* There were many independent grocery stores in town, most took phone orders and delivered- charges were placed on the customer's account. Eggs typically sold for 33 cents per dozen, a half-pound of Hershey's cocoa was 20 cents, a one-pound box of hard candy was $1, an eight-pond bucket of pure lard was $1.65 and, for all those baking needs, a 48-pound bag of flour was $2.60.

* The Charleston was the dance of the day. People practiced at home to records then went to dances as often as possible. There were nightclubs, school gymnasiums and even churches held dances to attract young people. The dance marathon was extremely popular with participants and spectators.

* When not "cuttin' the rug" with the Charleston, there was always the Fox-trot, the Shimmy, the Tango and even square dances to fall back on.

* Hems went up and styles, for women especially, were bold. There were flapper dresses, long strands of pearls or beads, hats of every possible construction. Women actually left the house without gloves unless the destination was a formal event (or church).

* The largest construction project in Dougherty County in 1926 was to become a landmark for many years to come. A casino was being framed at Skywater Park. At least 100 men were on that job while another 70 worked solely on the new 18-hole golf course. Other additions to Skywater Park were steam-heated bath houses, a dance pavilion, a modern restaurant and improved and enlarged swimming areas.