Today we present our final installment of Remember When, a monthlong series about the places and traditions of Augusta's past.
In response to our request for essays, several Augustans sent us letters about favorite hangouts from their youth. They reminisced about skating rinks, theaters and drive-in restaurants.
Vesta Peterson recalled weekends with her girlfriends. They manicured their nails during slumber parties, then showed off their new paint jobs the next day while sunning themselves at Anderson's Pond.
Hubert Anderson opened Anderson's Pond in west Augusta in the mid-1950s because "there was no place for the kids to go." The 30,000-square-foot pool had a sandy bottom and was fed by a well. There were four concrete water slides, including one that was 30 feet tall. After 30 years, the Anderson family closed the recreation center because insurance rates got too expensive. Two years later, in 1987, they sold the land bordered by Bobby Jones Expressway and Davis Road to Wyatt Development Co. of Aiken. A shopping center anchored by Sam's Club and Wal-Mart stands there today.
Former Augustan, now living in New Berlin, Wis.
I grew up in Augusta and went to Tubman High School, which was all girls back then. One of my favorite memories was the Augusta Roller Rink on Broad Street. I skated there every night. This was back in the 1940s, when our city was filled with soldiers from Camp Gordon. The bus to take me into town was 5 cents. Skating was 25 cents for an hour. I spent many wonderful hours going 'round and 'round that rink. I met many terrific servicemen whom I kept in touch with after they had left the city. I have many fond memories of my growing-up days spent in Augusta.
Born and raised in Augusta
On Friday night, Mama and Daddy would load us (their four children) into the station wagon and take us to Greene's Drive-in and Restaurant on East Boundary. I would always order fried shrimp - the best shrimp I've ever had. We would usually eat in the car. Occasionally, we would eat in the restaurant.
When I was 13, Daddy told me to be in the house when he got home from work. I worried all day long what I had been caught doing wrong. After supper, he told me to get in the car. I thought I had really done something bad. He was going to take me away from the house and punish me.
We drove to Greene's Drive-in. We parked, ordered a beverage and he gave me the birds-and-bees talk. What a relief!
I will always remember Greene's Drive-in.
Augusta native, now living in Harlem
I am 37 years old and remember that when I was 9 and 10 everyone at school would have their parents drop them off at the Gordon Highway skating rink at 10 a.m. and pick them up at 5 p.m. on Saturdays. We would get in for $3, and Mom would give us a couple of dollars for a Coke. If you ran out of money, you had to drink from the water fountain. Arby's next door would run a 5 cent potato cake special, and everyone would leave the skating rink to go over and get as many as they could. For most kids, that and ketchup was their lunch. Black and blue skate covers were very popular, along with a comb in your back pocket.
I also can remember going to Anderson's pool every chance we could. When Mom was off, she would surprise us. The surprise was usually Anderson's Pond. Because the price was $1 or $2 a person for all day, we could afford this outing.
We would pack a picnic basket and blankets and be there when it opened at 10 a.m. and stay until it closed. It was always so much fun.
When we got to the pool, Mom would lay down the ground rules and would give us 50 cents to play the jukebox. The most popular music that was always playing was Elton John. At the snack bar, they always sold the largest pickles! The pool had the cement bottom with sand, and if you weren't careful, you would scrape your foot on the bottom. Nowadays, you have these curvy slides and all the new technology. Back then, all you had was the high slide, low slide, high dive and the low dive.
The Andersons had twin boys - I believe they were twins - and they would sit at the wooden shack and collect the money. I still wonder what happened to the family. They were all so very nice.
Augusta native, living in Martinez
I remember as a teen-ager, on a hot summer day, my friends and I would go to Anderson's Pond. We would get a few dollars, and we would be set for the day. It didn't take a $20 bill. No, you could go flirt with guys, get some sun and go home feeling you had the world at your feet. This freedom is something my children did not experience.
Nancy K. Hickman
Former Augustan, now living in Cobb County
I remember the teen hangouts: the Varsity Drive-in, which was across from Paine College; Greene's Drive-in, down on lower Broad Street; and the Pig-N-Whistle, where Kroger is now on 15th Street. The Varsity was the first one I remember being built. Greene's Drive-in had a little more class to it, in that you could go in and eat just as if you were in a fine restaurant. The Pig-N-Whistle had a disc jockey who would play your favorite tunes. The teen-agers would get out around the place where the disc jockey was and dance to the tunes of the 1950s.
One of my most enjoyable times was going to the Miller theater. It had plush, green velvet seats. It was so beautiful inside that you felt as though you were right in Hollywood. I went to see Gone With the Wind when it finally came to Augusta. To me, the Miller was the prettiest of all.