Augusta’s Bell Auditorium on Telfair Street has seen it all – from Billy Graham to Elvis, from James Brown to Barney the purple dinosaur.
It was dedicated as the Municipal auditorium on March 31, 1940, with great fanfare, as many of our town’s religious and civic leaders turned out.
It wasn’t the biggest thing in Augusta that week, which included a Masters Tournament (won by Jimmy Demaret), and a cattle show addressed by New York Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia.
But in the long run, it’s turned up pretty big.
Elvis played there twice in 1956 before his career really took off.
Graham brought his evangelical crusade to Augusta in 1948 and spoke to more than 60,000 that October. Religious historians say the local crusade was a turning point in Graham’s emerging ministry – the first time he made his message more ecumenical.
The Bell has seen that and dances and socials and even basketball games.
DO YOU REMEMBER?
What do you remember about the Bell Auditorium? Share your memories in an e-mail to Bill Kirby at email@example.com.
– From staff reports
Last week we asked readers about Augusta in the 1960s.
Catching the bus
One of my favorite memories was catching the bus in front of the Cardinal Motel (Deans Bridge Road or Highway 1) and riding downtown. Got off at the bus station and walked to see a movie at the Imperial Theatre … but not before stopping in Snappy’s for a burger, fries and a Coke. Then another Coke and popcorn or a candy bar inside the Imperial. Seems to me I was able to do all this for less than $1.
– Paul Adams
And here are some other memories.
Allen Park pool
I had my 12th birthday party at the Allen Park clubhouse. Oh what fun. If you ever saw the movie The Sandlot you could relate to the pool scenes. Allen Park Pool was exactly like that. Towels laid out on the concrete and a meeting place for friends over the summer.
What a great time to grow up. It was so hard to accept they were tearing it all down.
– Brenda Remkus
Recalling Miss Sullivan
Miss Dorothy Sullivan was the “voice of authority” away from home for all of us kids at Allen Park. I always thought she had a direct line to my mother’s ear and if I did not behave properly, the news would beat me home.
How could you ever forget the wading pool ritual she performed before we were allowed to put one foot into it?
“One arm, other arm. One foot, other foot,” she would repeat as you obediently lifted that part of your anatomy for her inspection and permission to get in the pool.
As teens, she was our constant chaperone as we danced to the music of the ’50s on Teen Night with our “sweetie”.
Allen Park was a safe place for kids to gather and share good times while we were growing up. What sweet memories!
– JoAn Kent
Julian Smith barbecue
As a member of Eastern Star, our chapter would serve the many barbecues for Mrs. Barton. We would serve a lot of out-of-town people during the Masters Tournament.
There was one man who was at every barbecue. He must have thought he was supposed to eat the whole three hours, like the ticket stated, because he ate for three hours.
Mrs. Barton, whose barbecue could not be challenged, wouldn’t give me the recipe for the sauce, though.
I don’t blame her one bit.
– Betty H. Eubanks