Sunday, July 15, 2012

Memories of Irondale, 1925 to 1942, Part I
by H. Bishop Holliman

In November 2010, also 91 years of age, H. Bishop Holliman (pictured below in the red sweater) who lived his childhood and youth at 2300 3rd Avenue North, Irondale, Alabama, returned to look once more at his home town where he grew up in the 1920s and 1930s.  These are his memories and photographs. - Glenn N. Holliman, his son

"Trains, trains, trainsAmong my earliest memories of Irondale are the trains that went through the center of town.  Four main lines that used five tracks – two for the Alabama Great Southern that ran from Birmingham to Chattanooga on to Washington, DC.  One for the Southern that ran from Washington, D.C. to New Orleans and one for the Central of Georgia that connected with the other line that ran from Chicago to Miami.  Finally, one for the Seaboard that came from Washington, D.C, through to Birmingham."

Above the Norfolk Southern freight pulls through Irondale with Bishop Holliman walking beside it in 2010.

"Long before ‘rock and roll’, music came on the scene, Irondale already knew how to shake.  It seems that a train was barreling through every few minutes – sometimes four at a time.  On summer evenings we would try to sit on the front porch to listen on the radio to Major Bowes or Bob Hope.  But about 8 o’clock, the Pelican on its way to New Orleans or the Robert E. Lee from Washington and Atlanta, plus a couple of freights, would create so much noise, we had to go inside.

Each day to and from school, to church on Sunday, to the post office and to the baseball diamond, we had to cross those tracks.  There were no warning lights and no guard rails to stop us – we crossed the tracks at our peril.  You can imagine the anxiety our parents felt every day that we went to school or to other placers, hoping and praying we would get there and back safety.  

Some did not make it.  I remember three deaths that occurred.  Usually an older student would lead first graders from school across the tracks in the afternoon.  About two thirty each afternoon we would hear the toot of the Seaboard train on its way to Atlanta and we would know then school would soon let out."

More in the next post on Irondale, Alabama from 1920s to 1940s.....

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