Our History: Snapshots From the 50s and 60s

A time of rapid growth for Douglasville. Every Now and Then is a column featuring a little piece of Douglas County history.

Editor's note: Lisa Cooper's newest work can be found at douglascountyhistory.blogspot.com.

When I was a tween and teen in the 1970s we were in love with the 1950s.  My girlfriends and I loved to look at our images from that time and fell in love with the clothing and the music. The long swinging skirts, the bobby-sox and saddle oxfords, the pony tails for girls and the slicked back hair for the boys seemed like great fun for us. I can remember having days set aside at school to dress in the 50s style. The music was fun and reminded us of a time when boys and girls touched hands while they danced and girls were twirled this way and that. Our generation was so in love with the 50s we heartily welcomed movies like American Graffiti and stage shows like Grease followed by the very popular Happy Days television show. I realize now those Hollywood productions were just romanticized versions of life back then, but based on our hurried, frenzied, gadget filled lives today I think a short visit to that time is in order. 

[During the 1950s] the city of Douglasville could boast a hospital, a bank, bus and rail transportation, cafes and a fairly large selection of local businesses. The county had a new water plant, a new post office, and a health center. 

Five hundred people worked out at the Glendale Mills on Highway 78 and further down the road in Lithia Springs the drive-in theater opened in October, 1952. Today, you can barely make out where the entrance to the drive-in was.

Take a quick view through the pictures I offer this week. They show the city of Douglasville from 1947 through the early 1960s–a time when our city made leaps and bounds from being a place mainly centered on agriculture to an economy more in line with a modern urban Atlanta suburb.

Image number one is an advertisement from the Alpha Theater owned by Alpha A. Fowler, Sr. and later by his son, Alpha A. Fowler, Jr. The theater was located at first on Broad Street. Later it moved to the corner of Church Street and Price Avenue where O’Neal’s Clothing Store was located and where some of the city government offices are located today.  

Sources indicate, “Saturday afternoons found the Alpha packed with excited children, ready to see the ‘double feature,’ always ‘westerns’ packed with the exploits of cowboys and gunmen. Then too there were the ‘serial’ adventures which, weekly, took the audience from one breathless cliffhanger situation to another. To top all this off was a slapstick comedy popular with children and grownups alike.”

Many folks would show up at the Alpha on a Saturday with a sack lunch and sit through a double-feature twice from 1 until 9:30 p.m. “Admission to the Douglasville Alpha Theater for children 12 and under cost a nickel and both ends of a margarine carton. ‘Capitola’ flour tokens (cardboard rounds enclosed in 48-pound bags of flour were also accepted as ‘coin of the realm’ for movie admission; two tokens or 9 cents sufficed for hours of high entertainment.

After Fowler’s death his son, Alpha Jr., ran the theater. Both Fowler, Sr. and Jr. served as legislators for Douglas County and served on the Georgia Public Service Commission.

Image number two is an advertisement from the Bomar Watkins Store….when you look at the advertisement notice the phone number, and the prices for their merchandise are quite interesting.

Image number three is the business district along Broad Street. In the left hand corner of the picture you see a see the sign indicating the official bus stop for the city. Notice one of the women has an apron around her waist–a sight rarely seen today along a city sidewalk.  Also notice way up the hill you can see the spire of the old courthouse building that eventually burned towering over the city. In 1954 after a rest of 10 years the Douglas County Courthouse clock was electrified and able to chime the hour. 1954 was also the first time women were drawn to serve as jurors.

In 1950, Broad Street had parking meters except for the courthouse block.  They were gone by 1953 because citizens complained a great deal, and the City Council heard their cries. W.S. O’Neal, Mayor of Douglasville reported in June, 1953 the city had several newly paved streets including Strickland Street and Rose Circle. He also reported the city had a new police car–one of the latest models, geared for high speed when high speed is necessary.

Image number four is the interior of the Economy Auto Store along Broad Street.

Image number five is Kirkley Chevrolet where a new Chevrolet could be purchased in Douglasville for $1,595. 

Image number six is an image from a Fourth of July parade during the early 1960s. The United States went through rapid changes during the 60s and Douglas County saw rapid growth as well. The county’s population began the decade hovering at 16,731, and by 1969 it had ballooned up to 28,600. and were built, and a new public library was built on Bowden Street in 1967. 

Look at the image. Notice the B & W Rexall sign. That location today is the Irish Bred Pub. Back then the B stood for “Boggs” as in Glenn Boggs and the W stood for “Warren” as in Freeman Warren the owners of the store.  

Image number seven is also from the same Fourth of July parade but the camera is looking west down Broad Street. Notice the policeman is standing at an intersection. It was the intersection of Broad Street and Price Avenue except today the intersection doesn’t exist because takes up that section of Price. I have it on good authority Boggs wasn’t exactly happy about Price Avenue being closed because many of his elderly customers could navigate the parking and curb along Price better than they could the curb along Broad Street which is extremely high in certain sections including in front of the drugstore/pub location.

I want to thank Bob Smith of Douglasville for providing the pictures I’ve published along with this week’s post. I also want to encourage readers to share their pictures and memories of Douglas County history.  

susan brantley August 27, 2012 at 12:25 PM
How can I get a copy of the ad from Bomar Watkins store? My husband and I live the the Watkins' home and I would love to have a little bit of the Watkins' history to be a part of our home.
Lisa Cooper August 28, 2012 at 05:33 AM
Hi Susan......I will check with my source regarding the ad and see if what can be done. Please send your email address to me at historyiselementary@gmail.com :)


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