March 12, 2021


I loved my summer visits to Atlanta!  Spending time with Aunt Della and Juanita in their West End neighborhood was always busy and interesting.  And early on I gained quite a reputation for my city shopping sprees.

This photo was snapped by a street photographer one summer day when the three of us hopped on a trolley and went downtown for some serious shopping.  I’m holding Juanita’s hand and look like I’m really focused on the details of this shopping trip.  I wonder what is in the package I’m carrying.  Chances are that it is a book.

We would spend the majority of our time in the awe-inspiring Rich’s Department Store, riding escalators to visit every floor. Usually we would eat lunch there, too.  Other favorite stops always included Davison’s department store (later Macy’s), some shoe stores and my favorite, the stationery stores.  

If Mother was with us, there would be a mandatory stop at some of the hat shops. If she wasn’t with us, we often took in an afternoon movie matinee at the Roxy or Loew’s Grand (where the Gone With the Wind movie premiered in 1939). Mother didn’t care for movies.  For special movie only outings, Aunt Della and Juanita took me to the Fox Theatre which seemed like a palace and had a realistic starry night ceiling. 

From age seven (about when this photo was made), I went alone on the train to Atlanta.  Uncle Richard worked for the railroad, so they were always happy to meet me at the train station.  My parents would drive me to the L&N Depot in Etowah to catch the train.  The first time I went they said they cried when the train pulled out of the station. I loved every minute of the trip—and started up conversations with fellow passengers. 

Daddy always gave me some spending money for my Atlanta shopping, and Mother tucked it inside my socks for safe keeping.  Of course, I told everyone on the train about my sock money! When I was in sixth grade, I wanted to buy an instrument to play in the school band.  We went to a used musical instrument store and I selected a beautiful coronet.  It came with a velvet-lined case and smelled of the oil cleaner. Daddy sent the extra money and I lugged it home on the train.  After a few frustrating weeks, the band director concluded I didn’t “have the lips” for my cornet.  We donated it to the band and I just never wanted any other band instrument.

After the first super markets opened in West End and the Underwoods got a television set (which we didn’t have), I loved watching all the cooking shows.  I wrote down all the recipes and used my spending money to buy ingredients for them at the Big Apple Super Market, since of course we wouldn’t have those in Athens.  I got on the train to go home with two bags of groceries and my suitcase.  The passengers were naturally curious so I pulled all my finds out and gave them the television commercial spiels.  When we got to Etowah, they walked me to the door to say goodbye and watch my parents’ faces when they saw the groceries! Soon I was cooking up my new recipes.  One used Ballard’s Corn Bread Mix to make sautéed mush. Delicious!

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