View Issues‎ > ‎2019 Issues‎ > ‎1903 March 2019‎ > ‎

190304 March 4, 2019

 Lakewood Today as Defined by Neighborhood Scout

Lakewood Subdivision
Glenn James
LHS ‘65

    Since we have been bringing back our memories of the areas we grew up in while we attended Lee, I thought I would tell about Lakewood Subdivision, and a few of my memories.

    My Mother, my two brothers, my six-month old baby sister and I, moved to Huntsville in the fall of 1957. My Daddy was already living in Huntsville for over a year. He was employed by the Army Ballistic Missile Command and later transferred to NASA. He lived in boarding houses around town until he found us a house on a farm at the corner of Winchester Road and Hollow Road for us to live in. There was a major housing shortage then.

    The house we lived in is long gone; Windsor Manor subdivision has been built there. It was two stories, made of concrete block, and heated by one electric space heater downstairs, one electric space heater upstairs and a fireplace. The owner of the farm let Daddy and I cut firewood to help heat the house. Cutting firewood was my first exposure to real physical labor. We used a crosscut saw that was 7 feet long to cut down trees and then cut them up. We would haul the firewood home in the back of Daddy’s 1954 four door Ford. Daddy had taken the back seat out of the car and we stacked the wood in there. 

    The house was in the county at that time, so my two brothers and I had to go to Pulaski Pike School on Pulaski Pike. I was in the 5th grade when I started to school at Pulaski Pike. My brothers and I had to walk to the corner of Winchester Road and Blue Spring Road to catch the school bus. If the weather was too bad, Mother would take us to the corner in her car.

    Pulaski Pike School was a wooden building, built in the 30s with a concrete addition. As I remember, the addition had the boiler room, the 5th grade classroom, boys and girls restrooms, and the lunch room/auditorium. The old outdoor toilets were still there, but not used anymore. We were told not to go in them or we would get the paddle. The school was located where the empty field, with the baseball back stops, across from the new Jemison High School on Pulaski Pike. We had no air conditioning and in the summer the windows were opened. The heat was supplied by steam registers in each room and never got warm if you were too far from the steam register.

    The 6th grade was in the old part of the building. My teacher was Mr. Bert Murphy, who was the principal of the school. He had many stories of the hardships of being a teacher when he started teaching in the 1920s. He taught at some schools where he was the only teacher for 6 grades. And sometimes, he had students older than he was.

    I have many fond memories while at Pulaski Pike, some of which are getting to be friends with Craig Bannecke, Tommy Faulkner and others that I cannot remember now. Another thing was once a month we would get to see a movie in the lunch room/auditorium. I think it cost a dime to see the movie. Also at 9:00 o’clock, we would get milk. It cost a penny for white milk and 2 cents for chocolate milk. (After Marie and I married, I found out her Mother helped start the county milk program for children. She was a nurse and saw the need for all children to have the nourishment milk would give to young children. She and Tommy Esslinger’s mother were also instrumental in the Polio Vaccine Program.)

    My Mother and Dad built a house in the “New” part of Lakewood in 1958 and we moved to town. That is when I started at Lee Jr. High School in the 7th grade (the second graduating class of Lee High School).

    Lakewood consisted of 3 sections; the “Old” section, the “New” section, and Lakewood Manor. The “Old” section of Lakewood was built first on the east side of the Parkway. I don’t know when it was built. The “New” section is west of the Parkway to Pinhook Creek (or The Creek) and north of Mastin Lake Road to Meadow Hills Subdivision. The “New” section was started around 1958. Lakewood Manor is west of Pinhook Creek between The Creek and Blue Spring Road and north of Mastin Lake Road to Meadow Hills Subdivision. It was built about 1962 or 1963.

    The name Lakewood came from Mastin Lake, which the Mastin family built by damming Pinhook Creek. The dam was located about where the VFW Post 2702 is now. The main area of the lake is where the John H. Steigerwald Field and Lakeview Drive is now. This was all filled in when the “New” part of Lakewood was started. A part of the lake still exist today, it is at the Harris Spring on Timbercrest Drive in Lakewood Manor. I found where the lake was by checking old Madison County maps and Madison County history.

    The Creek was a large part of our summertime activities. We attempted to dam up the creek several times at Lakeview Circle as way to get to the other side of the creek. The dams made the creek low enough that we could cross. We wanted to get to the lake at Harris Spring to go swimming. The water in the lake was so cold on hot summer days that we would turn blue. The dams were torn out by the city or by heavy rains. There were many dams built along the creek by other kids too.
Another memory was the Big Fire. Before Lakewood Manor was built, it was a field, a farmer planted corps on and a part of it was in hay. Some kids (their names will remain a mystery) set fire to the hay field from a camp fire. I think every fire truck in Huntsville at the time came to put out the fire. I think it took the firemen all day to get it extinguished.

    Lakewood Church of Christ was in an old mansion by York Road facing the Parkway. It was a beautiful two story house with white columns. It had a big barn behind it that the subdivision builders kept their supplies in. Also there was a house, were Lakewood Elementary School is now, that had walls made of brick. The walls were three layers thick. There was a large round hole in one wall, that all the kids in the neighborhood, said was caused by a cannon ball from the Civil War. That shows what kids imagination will do.

    One of the greatest things about back then, was that we could ride our bicycles anywhere we wanted and have fun without fear of being kidnapped or worse. We did get in trouble for some of the things we did, but the things we did were minor compared to what kids are doing now.

    There are many things about growing up in Lakewood that I miss, such as being in the Boy Scouts, cruising Shoneys and Jerry’s, the sock hops, the football games and especially all my friends I made while growing up there.

Found on the Huntsville Schools Website

The History of Lakewood Elementary School

    Lakewood Elementary is a Pre-K through sixth grade school located in the northeastern quadrant of Huntsville, Alabama.   Lakewood is on approximately twenty-one acres, bound on the west by the twisting, turning Pin Hook Creek.  In 1955, a wealthy farmer and businessman, Carl Thomas, sold the land to make room for homes and a school in a growing town. The Lakewood area grew much faster than was expected. Construction of Lakewood Elementary School began in 1958. The first classroom wing of the building, offices, cafeteria, and library were completed for the school opening in September 1959 for grade 1 through 3. Students in grades 4 through 6 and the Lakewood faculty attended Lincoln school until the beginning of the second semester, January 1960, when they moved to the second wing of classrooms.

        Memphis, TN - Thanks to Glen James and Curt Lewis for their work on the stories in this issue. I really appreciate those who are willing to open up and share their own stories for me to publish in Lee's Traveller. 
    I am working on a solution to being able to use the email program on my iPad to send out each week's notification when I do not access to my desktop for any reason.

Curt Lewis
LHS '66

    My dad was the consummate do-it-yourselfer.  He personally took care of anything (electrical, plumbing, painting, auto repair ) that needed doing the entire time I was growing up.  I was unfortunately only a marginal student.  

    In September 1966 I loaded up my 1960 Studebaker Lark and headed to Las Cruces, NM, some 1400 miles away and the site of New Mexico State University, where I had a band scholarship.  Mechanically I was armed with a set of combination wrenches (purchased by my mother with Green Stamps) and a very excellent Studebaker Shop Manual.  The Studebaker unfortunately died (spun a rod bearing) in October.  My dad, fully aware of my mechanical inadequacies, said let it be and we’ll tow it back to Alabama and fix it in the summer.  

    In spite of my dad’s advice, a friend of mine had an off-campus apartment with a garage, which he offered me the use of.  I knew the combination wrenches wouldn’t do the whole job, so ordered a set of socket wrenches and a torque wrench from the Sears catalog counter in Las Cruces.  I towed the car over, rented an engine hoist, removed the 259 V8, removed the components, and took the heads and crankshaft to a machine shop.  Fortunately for me, the woman (!!!- this was 1966!!!) that ran the machine shop knew everything there was to know about engine rebuilds, and took me under her wing.

    Following the machine work and lots of advice from the machine shop lady, I took the engine parts to my dorm room for reassembly.  The Studebaker shop manual was wonderful (the car, not so much); it had many photos along with instructions on how to plastigage the bearings while reassembling (to ensure clearances were correct).  The reassembly activities (along with scholastic pursuits) pretty much consumed the rest of the school year; the engine was reinstalled but the car still not on the road at the end of the term.  The engine would turn over, but simply wouldn’t start.  I finally resorted to towing it to a local garage where, for $30, they correctly reinstalled the distributor after which it ran like a top.

    I loaded up and left for Huntsville the next day, full of anxiety.  I drove straight through except for a couple hour stop at a Little Rock gas station for a nap.  I was amazed and delighted when the car actually got me all the way home (and subsequently a lot further).  I believe my dad was proud of me for pulling it off (not to mention saving him the inconvenience of towing the car back to fix).  In hindsight, I probably should have followed his initial advice to leave it alone, but he always left me a lot of slack to do things my way and learn as I go.  I probably learned as much about automotive repair that year as I did in my college studies.


From Our Mailbox 


Subject:    The Big Ditch

Cecilia Watson

    I  lived at 710 McKinley near the big ditch. I remember kids walking across a pipe or swinging on a rope like Tarzan to get to the other side. McKinley  will always be home and the kids I grew up with my family. Every year we have lunch at Galen’s to catch up and swap stories. The next get together will be April 8 at Galen’s . Come on down at 11am to swap some stories and visit.  Y’all come now, you hear !!!




Join the Mailing List to Receive Notification When New Issue is Available 


 Email Me