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Remember When: The Fourth of July through the years in Andy

Andalusia has celebrated the 4th of July for many years at different occasions on Independence Daypicnics, parades, patriotic singings, barbeques, business, shop, and bank closings, public speaking contests, baseball games, pie-eating contests, potato sack races, bathing beauty contests, boat races, dances, fireworks, watermelon fests, and even old-time fiddler contests.

Browsing through old newspapers, July issues in 1946 (right after World War II), in 1936 (during the Depression), 1926, 1916, 1906, it was reported that some or all of those events were held in the Andalusia area on those years.

At Open Pond in 1946, The Andalusia Post of the V.F.W. sponsored a big celebration on this first 4th of July since the war. Transportation from the courthouse by bus was available beginning at 9:00 a.m., and tickets for the BBQ dinner was at a cost of only $1.00. It was announced that there was enough BBQ for 3,000 to be fed. All-day entertainment was provided culminating with the crowning of the “Queen of the Celebration” and prizes were awarded for the best fiddler. A band played on a platform for those wishing to dance, and motor boat races which were limited to 5 horse power were held. Games were held for the children. Fun galore was offered at the all-day outing for the general public. Andalusia and Opp semi-pro teams played on the baseball diamond made ready next to Open Pond.

A letter appeared in the July 9, 1936 edition of The Andalusia Star written by Inmates of the Covington County Jail.

“‘Breck Gantt for Sheriff,’ say the prisoners behind the bars of the CC Jail. Six fat hens were served along with a tub of lemonade and cake for dessert which was enjoyed by all with the exception of a few of the prisoners who wished it was some home brew. Pretty Boy Gunter could not hold as much as some of the rest. He never did anything to be put in jail to begin with. He just picked up a little piece of rope on his way to town one morning, and the Sheriff discovered there was a cow on the other end of the rope. Of course, anybody happens to an accident once in a while.”

“Among our star boarders, we have D. Deen, one of Rose Hill’s bad men. He is doing a year for breaking the peace of Rose Hill’s peaceable citizens. He said he was just here to enjoy the good eats, and he thinks he (most likely) won’t be here to enjoy another fourth.”

“Yes, we guess we got a lot to be thankful for with the exception of T. Norris who says he is the bad man of the jail, and well, we guess he is. There ain’t nobody disputing his word so far. He just likes to get up early in the mornings.”

We, the inmates, wish to express our gratitude and thanks to our jailers, Mr. and Mrs. Hudson and Sheriff Gantt, for the kindness and respect shown us, especially on the fourth of July.”

I Remember When there was a patriotic celebration held in the 1980s at the Andalusia Memorial Stadium under the covered area. It was sponsored by the City of Andalusia.  Everyone was donned in their red, white, and blue – those who performed and the many citizens who attended. There were patriotic songs sung and the First Baptist Church choir was featured in the song fest. The words of two of those memorable cantata songs from “This is America” have stuck in my mind. If you really want to enjoy hearing these songs sung, just Google the song titles highlighted below.

I am thankful to be an American and to live in the greatest land of all. In a nation blessed with the very best, I can stand with my head up tall. I am thankful to be an American and to live in a land that’s free. I am thankful to God for allowing me to be an American, an American!”

I’m just a flag-wavin’ American, a citizen I’m really proud to be. I’m just a flag-wavin’ American, liberty-lovin’, red, white, and blue variety. I love to sing the Battle Hymn and Yankee Doodle. I thrill to see Old Glory flyin’ high. Oh, I’m just a flag-wavin’ American who believes there’s no better land beneath  the sky….who believes this land is the best beneath the sky!”

Happy 4th of July to you readers, one and all!

— Sue Bass Wilson, AHS Class of 1965, is a local real estate broker and long-time member of the Covington Historical Society. She can be reached at suebwilson47@gmail.com.