Editor’s Note: Russell County has a long history that is important to the State of Alabama and its evolvement from an area described in the book “Russell County in Retrospect” by Anne Kendrick Walker as a “barbaric land” to what it is today. Many of the people who set their roots in the county in its early days including the state’s first Territorial Delegate to the United States Congress, important Native Americans who paid with their lives to cede land that created the county, a family that started a place of higher learning in south Russell County that later led to the establishment of one of the state’s most known institutions of education today and a former slave who placed a monument to honor his former owner, are very much important to the formation of Alabama. The story that follows is another of a series to inform you – our readers – about the history of Russell County.
The following are some headline stories from the 1951 Phenix-Girard Journal newspaper’s editions:
Martins Give Airport and Land to Phenix City
Deeds to the Phenix City airport and 100 acres of land next to Idle Hour Park were turned over to Roy Smith, Phenix City attorney, Monday by the Martin brothers in a second gift to the city.
Mr. Smith said he received the deeds without any formality. E.D. Martin and Roy Martin Jr. already had given Phenix City Martin football and baseball stadiums.
New Class Rooms Toured By Phenix City Board Members
An extensive inspection tour of 14 new classrooms was made Thursday by the Phenix City board of education.
The new classrooms and equipment were built at a cost of $125,000 in various schools throughout the city. The classrooms are built of tile with individual gas-heating units for each room as well as modern lighting fixtures.
Money for the new rooms came from extension of a $125,000 bond issue that built Central high school in 1928, explained School Superintendent L.P. Stough, who added that the bonds are being paid-off by a 2-mill school tax.
Leading the tour was A.L. Patterson, chairman of the school board. Other members of the board present were W.B. Mims, S. Lauderdale, Joe Smith and I.I. Moses.
Appointed to teaching posts were Mrs. Dot Grimes, Kindergarten; Mrs. Helen Richards, second grade, and Mrs. Lucy Owen, fifth grade.
The board voted to authorize immediate remodeling of the Central Elementary school annex where necessary, and also passed a resolution praising the building committee for the work on the new classrooms.
Phenix Puts Closing Hours On Night Clubs
Phenix City Mayor J.D. Harris announced that police started last Saturday, enforcing earlier closing hours at all Phenix night clubs.
In the second edict aimed at night club operators within a week, the mayor said the clubs must close by 2 a.m. on week nights and at 1 a.m. Sunday morning. The clubs have been staying open until 3 and 4 a.m.
Last week the mayor ordered the night spots to stop staging strip tease shows and exotic dancers.
Mayor Harris pointed out the new closing hours do not constitute a new law but are existing provisions of Alcoholic Control board regulations.
The mayor said he felt like it would be “better for the town.”
John Patterson, Phenix City Attorney, Called to Service
John Patterson, prominent Phenix City attorney, is back on active duty with the Army.
A member of the reserves, Mr. Patterson last week took up his duties with the Fourth division at Fort Benning after he was called to active service.
A veteran of six years in service, Mr. Patterson holds a captain’s rank. During the last war, as a member of the 17th Field Artillery, he took part in the invasions of Africa, Italy, France, and Austria.
His father, A.L. Patterson, is chairman of the Russell County draft board and a former state senator.
Phenix City Broadens Plans To Improve Martin Stadium
Central high school officials were told to proceed with plans Tuesday after they told Phenix City Commission it would cost about $30,000 to give Martin football stadium the kind of treatment that will make it a modern plant on par with those of other similar-sized schools.
W.F. Darnell, Central high principal, said the $30,000 price tag would pay for an improved lighting system, moving and raising the stands, resodding, fencing, and repair of seats.
In submitting plans, Mr. Darnell said Central is too large a school to play small outfits, and large schools balk at playing on an inadequate field.
Spectators complain because they cannot see the games, he said.
The plans he submitted were drawn up without charge by Architect Lorin D. Raines, he said.
The lighting system included in the overall improvement plan was approved last week by the commission at an estimated cost of $11,800.
Tuesday the commission instructed Mr. Darnell to get exact costs from contractors and asked him to come back with contracts.
Commissioner Otis Taff asked that after improvements are made there be no rodeo and races at the ball park.
“We’re going to have to protect it and keep it in shape if we’re going to have a decent football field,” he said.
Meantime, bids also were called for on the stadium lighting job at the insistence of Commissioner A.L. Gullatt. Bidding for this job was decided upon after W.W. Hunt of the Alabama Power company told the commission that contractors had expressed objection to arrangements that called for the power company to do the contracting work for the lighting.
“We are not soliciting business. I want to make this clear for the record,” said Mr. Hunt.
Commissioners Roy Greene and Mayor J.D. Harris both agreed that the commission had requested the power company, as a favor to the city, to carry out the contracting work.
Correction: Oops, I did it again. In a recent story about the history of the Morgan-Curtis Mansion, I said, “(Steve) Abbott purchased the house in 2000 from V. Cecil Curtis Jr. after the death of his wife, Faye.” According to Steve Abbott, Faye Curtis assures him she has not seen her obituary in any newspaper. Mrs. Curtis is still with us. I regret the error and send apologies to Faye Curtis.