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Regular Dinner: 1936

1936. "Cafe -- Alabama" is all it says here. 8x10 inch nitrate negative by Walker Evans for the Farm Security Administration. View full size.

1936. "Cafe -- Alabama" is all it says here. 8x10 inch nitrate negative by Walker Evans for the Farm Security Administration. View full size.


On Shorpy:
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Tuscaloosa: 1936's US 43 and Today's US 43

Thank you, GlenJay for the helpful information about River Hill, which is about one mile from my home in Northport, Alabama--across the Black Warrior River in Tuscaloosa!

It's led me on a search to pin down the location of this great Walker Evans photo, which heretofore I did not realize was shot in Tuscaloosa. Incidentally, this spot is not far from where yesterday's Shorpy pic ("Tuscaloosa Wrecking: 1936") was located.

One small correction to GlenJay's useful comments:

In 1936, the road that is now Greensboro Ave (formerly 24th Avenue) led down River Hill to a lift bridge across the River. Thus, US 43 followed that route at the time of the photo. When the Hugh Thomas Bridge replaced the lift bridge in 1974, however, US 43 was shifted a few blocks to the west and became Lurleen Wallace Blvd (formerly 25th and 26th Avenues) in order to feed into the new bridge more efficiently.

I've got some pals working on identifying the photo location and will update my comment if I come up with anything.

Buffalo Rock, my favorite!

Buffalo Rock was a brand of ginger ale that was popular in the northern part of Alabama in the 1940s. We lived in LA (lower Alabama) so when we were in Birmingham, we would swap a case of empties and bring a case home. Those didn't last long! There was so much ginger in it that it burned your nose!


People's eyesight must've been a lot better back then or they went a lot slower to see and read those signs.

More random observations

No date is given but this is summer. Having spent most of my life in the south, I recognize those clouds, and can practically feel the heat and humidity sitting here at my desk in winter.

At first glance this is a lonely-appearing photo, but then closer observation reveals a worker at the counter, diners at the window table, and even the photographer (or assistant) in a selfie.

The spiderweb motif is an odd choice. Not sure how that would attract diners. Probably has some specific meaning to the owners.

The front door will not open all the way due to the slope of the sidewalk. Maybe 90 degrees max. Probably reduced the lifespan of the door with customers trying to shove it past its limit.

Nice shiny new bicycle!

OK I'm done.

Knob and Tube

Still have that kind of wiring inside a few of my outbuildings (considered okay by my insurance broker). Exteriorly I've removed all of it because of degraded insulation
as a result of decades of exposure to the elements.


Before Bucket Trucks/Cherry Pickers

The condition of the surface of the utility pole indicates many scalings with traditional lineman's climbing spikes/spurs. I can remember when a lot of poles looked like this, not any more.

Among the last people using them these days are big tree loggers in remote locations. Most of our local arborists seem to have switched to using aerial platform lifts (and more than doubled their prices to pay for the things).

River Hill, Tuscaloosa

River Hill is an area of downtown Tuscaloosa. In a 1945 photo caption from the Tuscaloosa Area Virtual Museum, it is described as the north end of Greensboro Avenue, south of the Black Warrior River and north of Broad Street (now University Boulevard). US 43 and Alabama state road 13, identified in Evans's photo, carried traffic north over the river. (That stretch is now named Lurleen Wallace Blvd.)

The area is now the center of Tuscaloosa's Civil Rights History Trail.

D-time in T-town ??

This is what, our third offering of no-nonsense dining? The '30s must have been tough on people seeking mealtime excitement.

The cafe was located at the top of the Hill on the corner of 4th Street - that's the L&N station glimpsed off to the side (see below) - being replaced by the Temerson Building a few years after this picture. The latter currently houses a restaurant: the cycle is complete !

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