Saturday, March 27, 2010

downtown today

Gina woke me up this morning.  She said that she was taking Kelsey and the only car not in the shop to Chuck E. Cheese's.  I asked her to please drop me and Katie off at the office at the office so we wouldn't be stranded at the house.  Around noon the two of us decided to stroll downtown for lunch together.  We decided to have lunch at the place that used to be the old White Palace Cafe'.   I had noticed last week that someone had opened a restaurant in there again. We had a great little walk to and from the place, but the food we ordered was a disappointment.  

It was kind of funny that the tomato slices on both sandwiches were the size of a silver dollar.  Katie took only one bite from her sandwich and decided to eat the fries.  My sandwich tasted like a burger that had been reheated in a microwave.  They didn't have two items that I tried to order and the meat on my burger had been nuked.  Restaurant business is a tough business.  Service and quality are a must.  I paid the folks and left.  I'm not going back while under the new management.  The business won't be around long because, quite frankly, their food sucks.

I would like to see someone get in that old building and actually make it.  It's a great atmosphere that easily transports the mind back in time.  I remember my last visit to the original White Palace, shortly before it closed.  My dear old friend Doug Moore and I went in there for lunch and a long conversation back in the eighties.  I don't remember the year, but it was just before he left town for seminary.  Walking into the White Palace was always like into a time machine.  Every time I've walked into that old building (when opened) I always hope that someone's there running it with the right idea.

Katie and I did have a nice conversation while there.  I always enjoy being in the old place.  I told Katie about coming to the White Palace with my uncle Murdoch back in the 60's.  Murdoch would often ride the bus from Columbia to Gadsden to visit his brother Westbrook.  During his visits, he would often take a city bus downtown and walk around.  He'd always stop for a cup of coffee.  He invited me to go with him on several of his walks downtown.

I really wish someone would take that old building and make a real restaurant out of it.

On a positive note, the Downtown Gadsden Inc, just renovated the Runt's Place' and I look forward to checking it out sometime.  No, it's not a restaurant, but nice to see a community appreciating and treating a classic piece of architecture like it should be treated.

Other than a lousy lunch, Katie and I had a great father-daughter stroll around town together.  Katie, since she was a little thing, has always loved walks downtown.  She's thirteen and a young lady.  I hope she never gets tired of our strolls, and listening to her old man ramble.

By the way, there are some great eats downtown.  Jefferson's has incredible wings.  The Courtyard has incredible plate lunches, the best in town.  The Gadsden Variety Store (formerly Nelson's) has great sandwiches.  I'm sorry they no longer serve reuben sandwiches.  It was bad news that we lost The Choice.  They had great plate lunches and one of the best burgers in town.  Both of my girls enjoy it when I treat them to a hot-dog from Connie's Coneys. Is there any good food downtown that I have failed to mentioned or have have yet to taste?

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

nutshells & wagons

Mother sends an occasional email out to her children and grandchildren, sharing stories about her life.  This is  her most recent Nutshells email.  Dad, Westbrook, was born and raised in Cheraw, S.C.  and mother right here in Gadsden, AL.  The stories come from two different places, but both recollections pulled aboard childhood wagons.  Enjoy! -David

February 13, 2010

Westbrook was born on July 14, 1916.  His mother, Jennie Wait Foster Finlayson, taught him at home the first few school years since he was handicapped and unable to walk.  When Wes was a little boy he often used a wagon for transportation, and small crutches, with which some of you have played.  When he began attending public school in the third grade in 1924, for a while someone pulled him in a wagon to school and then home again.

Before and during World War II, neighborhood friends and I used a Red Ryder wagon to collect scrap iron for the war effort.  I lived in the Alabama City area during the early preparation for the war.  Houses at that time had back alleys almost as large as a street.  People put their scrap iron and metals behind their homes in the alley to be picked up.  It was an adventure to see how much scrap metal we could collect for the truck.  Even at the age of nine or ten we realized we were helping prepare for war, but we had fun since we friends worked together and were paid a few cents a pound, which we used to buy treats at Herndon's Grocery Store.

When I was ten, we lived at 204 Campbell Court in East Gadsden.  On December 7, 1941, on a Sunday morning, I was sitting in the living room on the floor near our Philco radio reading the comics when I heard that the Japanese had bombed Pearl Harbor.  Soon after, President Franklin Roosevelt pronounced America at war with Japan.

I don't recall being deprived of much during the war, except because of rationing by the government, we could not get candy or sweets as sugar was one of the items rationed.  Mom managed well, as others did by improvising, such as coloring oleo with a small amount of red powder to give the creamy color of butter.  I look back and realize how much we trusted Mom with our food.

Most children lived in a child's world, we saw all of the Shirley Temple movies as she was every girl's movie idol; and boys read all the comics they could get.  We would buy song sheets and sit in the yard and sing songs with such words as "Don't sit under the apple tree with anyone else but me 'til I come marching home".  We thought we were being patriotic.

I had two brothers in service, Floyd Presley (Pete) Davidson, in the Navy, and Frelin (Jack) Davidson, in the Army.  Pete was a gunner on a battleship and fought in the Pacific.  Jack was honorably discharged during his first year due to a heart attack.  I regret that I didn't talk with Pete about his war experiences.  I did hear that once when the ship was under attack, he saw Grandfather Covington (the preacher) standing by him and knew that all would be well.  When I was twelve or thirteen and Jack came home, he put his arms around me and cried, he was so grieved because his younger brother was in the fight without him.  It changed his life.  Jack was a casualty of war in another way.

Jesus had a family he loved, and friends with whom he fished.  Jesus helped his fishermen friends catch 153 fish with one net, built a fire on the shore, cooked some of the fish and then called them to have breakfast with him.  All that when He was supposed to be dead!  Lord, help us to have more faith in what You will do.

God planned that we have family, friends and neighbors, and that we love and care for each other.  I see things about my mother and father, sisters and brothers that I would have changed (and visa versa).  I can't go back and ask about my brother his war stories, nor thank my sister, Millie, for bringing home a box of Baby Ruths from the Camp Sibert commissary where she worked during the war, but I can encourage my family to love your family and have empathy and helpful compassion for their needs, and others, also.  You may never know what a telephone call can do, and a hug when you see them.  You not only will bless your family, but it also blesses God.

Be sure to hitch your wagon to the Family of God so He can take you safely home.

Esther Finlayson

Monday, March 15, 2010

mom before she was a mom

This is my mother, Esther Davidson, spending some time with some friends in Biloxi.  She was just 16 years old when this photo was taken.  I cropped a shot of her head so you all could recognize her.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Thursday, March 11, 2010

my father in-law

This is another photo of my father in-law, Walter Hale.  In this photo he is strolling next to his father, Howard Hale, who served in the Salvation Army here in Etowah County.  This photo was taken on Broad Street in downtown Gadsden.   I can't recall the name of the street photographer, but he photographed countless images of downtown pedestrians.  You can see enlargements of  many of these photographs up and down Broad Street today.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

happy birthday betty

Betty Hale is my mother in-law.  She turns 80 today. Sad that she's a democrat and Jimmy Carter's biggest fan.  So she's not to sharp when it comes to politics, but the greatest mother in law in the whole world.  Happy Birthday Mrs. Hale.

Monday, March 1, 2010

look alike

A few weeks ago, most of my facebook friends were posting images in their profile of famous people they've been told they look like.  This past Saturday the same idea was used during a party for my sister Cindy.

Today I've been scanning images of Gina's side of the family.  The image above is of my father in-law Walter Hale.  There are many images of him as a young man that he looks like John Wayne.  This is one of those images. What do you think?