Monday, January 31, 2011

The Birmingham World

I was doing research on a subject not long ago. I decided to go to the Birmingham Public Library
Archives division. It's located downtown, in the basement of the old library.

After getting the info I needed, I went back upstairs to the third floor in the old library. I use the term old because it is the original building but is still in use.

On the third floor in Microfilm I was able to view pages from The Birmingham World. This was THE Black paper in Birmingham before integration really took hold.

I was absolutely fascinated by what I was reading. I spent over two hours reading and ooohing and aaahing to myself on what I read.

This was a world all together different from the way things are today. There are pros and cons to today and yesteryears.
I couldn't believe that on the first page I viewed there was a picture of someone I knew. She is about 15-17 years my senior. She has since passed away. It was a picture of her being presented at the Debutante Ball. Debutante Balls usually allow well-to-do families to present their high school aged daughters to society. The caption told about her achievements, her goals, community service and clubs she was a member of.
The Debutante Ball was always a big deal. If I'm not uncertain it later became known as the Jr. Imperials. The paper I was viewing was from February, 1959.

I won't go into the class thing that was a part of the Colored, Negro, Black, African-American (I'll be using these words interchangeably throughtout my post) community. No doubt someone will offended by my usage of the above but well...

Below you will see some of the ads that were in the Birmingham World. I'm sorry for the glare but these were on microfilm and I wasn't about to pay 25cents for each photo.

I'm sure you've heard of A.G. Gaston. He was a Black millionaire here in Birmingham. Mr. Gaston owned a number of businesses. There was the Booker T. Washington Business College where many secretaries learned their trade along with business courses.

Though it was not listed as a bank the lay community viewed Citizens Federal Savings and Loan Association as such. I opened my first bank account here at the age of eight with a whopping $5.00. My Grandaddy and I rode the bus to get there. I kept that bank account and added to it up until I was 26 years old. Over the years I accumulated a tidy sum. So you can see that I learned at a early age to be "frugal."

There were few public lodging places for a person of color. The Gaston Hotel and Gaston Restaurant both located together. The Gaston properties were known to be the cream of the crop for Colored. Both of these businesses are now defunct. There had been talk of reviving the hotel since it is located just around the corner from the Birmingham Civil Rights Museum. During a stay by Dr. Martin L. King Jr. the hotel was bombed. Dr. King had left a short while before the explosion.
There was also Booker T. Washington insurance company and Smith & Gaston Funeral Service.
I am probably forgetting some of the businesses but these are the ones I remember.

I only remember the Carver and the Famous theatres. Some of the white theatres allowed Blacks but they had to sit in the balcony and/or come on certain days.
The Carver theatre is now the Jazz Hall of Fame.

Hair care Products
For more Posner hair care products click here.
I saw no end to ads for products such as these.

Just another name for petroleum jelly.
Moroline can also be found on E-bay.
I couldn't find any information about this product.
Stein's was not an African- American business but obviously they wanted the business so they placed an ad in a Af.Amer. newspaper. They were considered one of the better stores.
I'm thinking Steinmart which is here may have originated from this store.
I'm looking at the prices.
That's quite a lineup.

The American dream available to Black people in 1959.

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