Thursday, January 29, 2009


I had a 1965 Navy Blue Chevy Nova that I inherited from my mother. I loved that car, and still to this day associate driving a car with a feeling of freedom that no other activity in daily life can match. I can still hear the songs on the radio, and feel the steering wheel. There was nothing fancy about it but it was classy and reliable and mine.

For sheer thrills, riding with my friend Shirley in her Red Mustang was the ultimate. In high school she sometimes drag raced the Vestavia cops behind the bowling alley. They showed me the trunk of their patrol car and how it was weighted somehow. The mustang did not have any safety net- it was sheer out there audacity.

Driving around town, going over the mountain by Vulcan with the view of the city- ah, it still is one of my favorite drives. Another was curving up Cliff Road, then going along Altamont and its beautiful view Birmingham. Another was driving from one end of Shades Crest all the way to 150. All you could see below was a sea of trees. Just driving along Highland Avenue was an adventure. There are different ways to drive it, and I could take side trips down mysterious streets that dovetailed and merged in most interesting ways. I love curves.

My car was taken away from me at some point, I think related to an unannounced trip to the beach at Christmas in 1970. I woke up one day and it was gone. I remained carless until I bought a brand new Opal Kadet when I was finishing nursing school via government grant. Thanks for the wheels Federal Government, but there was no comparison between the Chevy Nova and the Opal Kadet. It crumpled like aluminum foil the first time it came up against something immovable and never recovered. The Chevy was a solid piece of Americana for sure.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Byron (2nd Atlanta) Pop Festival

I left for the Byron Pop Festival Friday night July 3, 1970 from Southside. I had actually bought a ticket for $14 and talked a friend into going so I could catch a ride. All my friends had already left but I had to work Friday evening. We planned to meet at the festival, but I never saw them. There were about 500,000 people there- the site was a racetrack surrounded by peanut fields and it was totally the coolest thing ever.

We arrived early Saturday morning on the 4th of July and it was soon about 104 degrees. We slept in the shade of some pecan trees. It was like a gigantic living carnival, full of characters, sounds and vibes that seemed to come from another dimension. I set out on my own to procure some things needed for the evening, and then found the person I came with again- miraculously. We got situated near the stage and stayed put. I remember hearing the Chambers Brothers sing "Time". Mostly I remember Hendrix. Yeah, I was there. The whole thing. The Star Spangled Banner AND fireworks and the real Jimi. Something in my 18 year old soul told me to be there. I have trusted my instincts ever since.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Social Life

My first adventures on Southside involved going to visit my friends at the Misses Howard's School. They were crazy fun. They were also very "cultured and refined". We rode around Birmingham in a red Mustang or an MG Midget. We sang a lot of Temptations, Tams and Supremes songs. So when I got out of high school and went off to college at Auburn, I found every opportunity to get back to the scene on the Southside. One of my friends had a sister who lived at the Penthouse Apartments on Red Mountain overlooking the city. Those were memorable parties for sure.

This is a picture of the very stylish Parliament House where we had proms and fancy events when I was in high school. It has been torn down now.

At the end of Spring quarter 1970, I got a job in Birmigham at Parisian, and stayed with my cousin on 29th Street in a one bedroom apartment. I was so happy and free. I made enough money to do just about whatever I pleased, and at that time, did not want anything that involved much expense. I remember being introduced to honey on cereal as a natural alternative- my first initiation into alternative lifestyles. Other things followed.

Sometimes we would just need some sustenance, and would venture down to the Social Grill for a big meal.

Mammy's Pancake house was on Highland Avenue where we went late nights to see other night owls and assorted Southsiders..............I have a Mammy's glass ashtray to prove I was there.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009


So I begin this project with a lot of trepidation and anticipation. I have only some memories to start with and I am not particularly skilled at finding things at libraries, online,etc.. I do have a curiosity about a time in my life and the rich texture of that time. I was spurred on in this pursuit when my son found a video of Jimi Hendrix performing at the Byron Pop Festival in 1970 (also know as the Second Atlanta Pop Festival)that I wanted to see. The video brought back many feelings, and also validated what I hazily remembered about how fantastic that performance was when I saw it at age 18. Maybe there are many more images and memories to be discovered.

My daughter Liz helped me do some quick looks online yesterday before she left town. I found out there was a reunion of folks a couple of years ago that got together to reminisce about this very subject, and just the article helped me remember people that I had forgotten about.

Today I am reminded of a band called Clinton, The Cadillac Cafe, Morris Avenue, Mammy's Pancake House, volleyball games at the park on Highland, a commissioned work of art by Howard Cruse...

So if anybody reads this and can remember I would like to start with local bands, places where music, art and street theatre were happening. It's time to remember.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Today is my first post. I will be searching for stories, photos, personalities, books, and events from 1970 to 1975 to compile a history of Birmingham's Southside.