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Looking Back -- June 17, 2012

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.

Several local folks have shared an experience or two about growing up in the 1950s in Albany, especially during the summer breaks. For those readers, and others of that time, here are some tidbits from the first half of the decade just for you.

1950

U.S. Census Bureau numbers for 1950 placed Albany as the sixth largest city in Georgia, up from ninth place in 1940. Population in the city was 31,002.

The Albany Board of Education approved a budget of $608,679. Discussion was also held regarding the need for a second high school.

The Igloo Girl, an ice cream drive-in, opened at the Triangle Corner just east of the Broad Avenue bridge. Single dip cones were 10 cents.

Albany/Dougherty County’s “family buying income” well exceeded the state average. Locally the per capita income was $4,474 while the state’s per capita income was only $3,356.

Belk’s celebrated its 12th anniversary with a big sale. Among the specials were: nylon hose — 88 cents per pair; gold-trimmed table lamps — two for $5; men’s blue chambray work shirts — 98 cents, and chenille scatter rugs — 79 cents.

1951

Sears had tennis rackets for $5.98 while tennis balls were 38 cents each.

The Herald softball team became the first of the season to defeat the Methodists in City League Softball. Some of the other teams in the league were the Turner Airmen, Hobby Depot, Keenan’s and Simmons Construction.

A week-long Girl Scout day camp was held at Chehaw Park. Participation jumped from 68 the previous summer to 118.

A womanless fashion show was held at the Albany Municipal Auditorium to benefit the Albany Optimist Club. Attire included evening wear, bridal party and bathing beauties.

Hundreds of farmers and others turned out at the Albany Airport to see a demonstration by the Civil Aeronautics Administration. The attraction was a specially built agricultural aircraft for spraying and dusting crops.

1952

The summer reading program at the Carnegie Library attracted 300 youngsters. The summer goal for each reader was 25 books.

Slap-Happy Carpet Golf provided family fun daily from 4 p.m. until midnight as well as on Sunday from 2-7 p.m.

Ice cold watermelons were available for home delivery from Home Owned Ice and Cold Storage on West Broad. The companies trucks were equipped with two-way radios for prompt delivery.

As a part of the local school system’s extended summer programs, junior life-saving courses were available at the YMCA for boys and girls ages 12 and older.

Early back-to-school shoppers could find real leather saddle oxfords for girls at Penney’s for $3.98.

1953

The opening of Carver Pool by the city recreation officials was declared “a complete success.” Total attendance on opening day was 124 adults and 225 children.

Byne Memorial Baptist Church had 305 children and workers on opening day of Vacation Bible School. City transit buses made specific pick-up stops to bring children to church then return them afterwards.

All the popular records were available at Stewart’s Radio at 212 N. Washington St.

Each weekday morning, youngsters were invited to participate in badminton, horseshoes, shuffleboard, miniature golf and volleyball at Tift Park.

A great source of city pride, the Merry Acres Motel opened on Dawson Road. All rooms featured carpeted floors, luxurious beds, air conditioning and a telephone and radio.

Miss America Neva Jane Langley made an appearance at the J.C. Penney’s in downtown Albany.

1954

The Albany High School band, which continued practices in the summer, performed several free concerts at Tift Park.

Summer movies included “Beneath the 12-Mile Reef,” “The Great Jesse James Raid” and “Creature from the Black Lagoon.”

Saturday afternoon television programs included “Kit Carson,” “Six Gun Theater,” “Lone Star Lawman” and “Raiders of the Border.”

Dairy Queen celebrated its 14th birthday with regular sundaes for just 14 cents.

Many people, including children without an adult, rode the Trailways bus to visit relatives in neighboring communities. Fares from Albany: to Camilla — 38 cents; to Leesburg — 18 cents; to Sylvester — 29 cents; to Americus — 54 cents and to Thomasville — 87 cents.

With bottles returned for deposit, a six-pack of Coca-Cola cost 19 cents at just about any store, big or small.

1955

The brand new A&P Supermarket opened at 252 E. Oglethorpe Blvd. with free refreshments, food samples and “prizes galore.”

Walt Disney’s “Lady and the Tramp,” in Technicolor, opened at the Albany Theatre. Matinees were 50 cents for adults and 25 cents for children.

New to the local television lineup was “Roy Rogers, King of the Cowboys” on Fridays at 4:30 p.m.

Although not popular with residents, drag racing was a summer favorite for teenagers. The streets most used were Pinecrest’s circular course off Eighth and Sixth Avenue, both west of Slappey.

One of the seven-week-old lion cubs born at Tift Park was available for children to pet. In addition to lions, the zoo included an elephant, monkeys, bears, snakes, alligators and a variety of birds. On the zoo’s weekly grocery list was 1,200 loaves of bread.