Originally created 11/06/01

A Broad view of the past



Once upon a time, long before the Soul Bar and the Pizza Joint opened shop, Broad Street was bustling with business.

Department stores such as J.B. White and dime stores such as H.L. Greene's lined the sidewalks.

Police officers blowing whistles would help direct bumper-to-bumper traffic and crowds of pedestrians.

JoAnn Mullis of Harlem remembers her first visit to downtown Augusta on such a day.

"We stopped to admire the lavishly decorated window displays," she said. "Shoppers with bags of newly purchased items were bustling from store to store."

In addition to shopping, people came to Broad Street to eat. The dining counters in Woolworth's, S.H. Kress and Co. and other stores were as popular as free-standing snack bars and cafeterias.

And the smell of hot, buttered popcorn lured passers-by into theaters such as the Modjeska, Miller and Imperial.

The Augusta Chronicle asked readers to send in essays with their fondest memories of Augusta's past. On this page we present essays recalling Broad Street's heyday.

Julia Holiday grew up in Belvedere and now lives in North Augusta.

My family lived in Belvedere. A city bus would come to our front door, pick us up and deliver us to the back door of J.B. White's department store.

After we shopped together for a while, my mom would let me go alone, agreeing to meet at the bench behind the store in one hour. With the $2 I had to spend and all the toy stores to explore, I started my adventure. There was no fear of being a little girl walking Broad Street alone during those days.

I was never late meeting my mom at that bench, for I was looking foward to doing this again on our next shopping trip.

Thursday nights were for family trips to Broad Street! My brother, sister and I had the choice of places we wanted to eat, and it was almost always Kress. We would sit at the counter and order Salisbury steak, mashed potatoes, coleslaw, and angel squares for dessert. There was never a thought given to fat content, calories or cholesterol on family night, even though my mom was a nurse.

We would stroll the street after dinner and admire all the bright lights from the store windows and greet strangers with a word and smile. There was no fear walking the streets at night. It was another time in history.

Forty years later, these times spent with my mom and family are special memories I will always cherish and remind me of a time that was filled with love and wonder.

Betty Davis grew up in Lincolnton, Ga. She now lives in Thomson.

As a young girl, about 10 years old, I remember the excitement of hearing my mother and aunt making plans for our trip to Augusta on Saturday during the holidays. We would leave early Saturday morning and park on Broad Street between Eighth and Ninth. We shopped in every store up and down Broad. Lunch was always a special treat with a trip to Woolworth's lunch counter. The food was always delicious, and the service excellent. I would get to shop at Lerner's for more school clothes. This was special and exciting for me. Sometimes my grandmother and cousin would go with us. We would sit in the car and people-watch and play games. Mother would stop by the What-A-Burger and get dinner for all of us. Usually it was the most delicious hamburger and fries. After an exciting and exhausting day, we would head home to Lincolnton. Good times like these, with wonderful memories of good clean family fun, are always cherished.

Sylvia Jenkins lives in Augusta.

Every Thursday morning was the highlight of our week. My husband and I would go to Woolworth's and H.L. Greene's, which both held all the treasures I could possibly want at the price newlyweds could afford. The five-for-a-dollar trinkets were more precious than those $100 things of today.

We would end our morning with dinner at Kress's. Knowing the menu by heart, I would still always pick the roast turkey and dressing and bring home a tasty treat from the bakery counter.

Jill Barker-Morgensen grew up in Augusta, mainly the Harrisburg area:

"Growing up, I looked forward to all the parades downtown on Broad Street, mainly because of one store, Bowers, which later became known as Sky City. Now there is a flea market there.

Everybody in the Augusta area who shopped at Bowers/Sky City knew that it had the best hot dogs in town! That's right, I said, hot dogs!

There was a snack bar in the back of the store, and it was always packed once the parade was over! There was nothing so satisfying after a Christmas parade than a hot dog from Bowers/Sky City. My mother, Betty Barker (who is now deceased), seemed like a kid herself because she knew it time for the city's best kept secret, a Bowers/Sky City hot dog!

I remember a lot of times my mother would say, "I'm going to town," and all us kids knew she was going to Bowers/Sky City. And we'd all come running because we knew she loved the hot dogs from there and we were bound to get one! It eventually became a Sunday tradition. So I guess you could say the Christmas parade still comes down Broad Street, as do many of the Bowers/Sky City hot dog fan club!

Send your memories of favorite place, food, or event from Augusta's past to Remember When series, Newsroom, The Augusta Chronicle, PO Box 1928, Augusta, GA 30903. Or you may fax to 722-7403 or e-mail to lisalohr@augustachronicle.com.

Please include your name, address and daytime and evening phone numbers. For more information, call Lisa Lohr at 823-3332.