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Remember the Alabama at Shepherd strip center in the old days? It's still there, of course, and Trader Joe's kept the old Alabama Theater marquee, so that at first glance the strip center looks almost as it used to. But do any of you remember it from the old days? Left to right (i.e., south to north on Shepherd), it was Walgreen's, A & P Supermarket, Alabama Theater, Suzanne's Cafeteria, Wacker's, and Western Auto. When I was a child and a teenager, it was my great treat to be taken (or to ride my bike) to the soda fountain at that  particular Walgreen's for a big glass of chocolate milk -- or on more luxurious days, an ice cream soda. The A & P, AKA the Great Atlantic and Pacific Tea Company (just to the left of the Alabama Theater, I think) was, to my child-mind, merely a supermarket, nothing special, a place where we shopped if we happened to be in the area -- second choice after the Dunlavy Weingarten's (which had been the 1400-block-of-Richmond-Avenue Weingarten's in the earlier '50s). Next door sat the Alabama Theater, which lasted a long time, till the '80's, wasn't it?  To its right (north) was Suzanne's Cafeteria, a very good cafeteria of the same species as the Cleburne, Albritton's, or Luby's, run by a genial Greek gentleman called Mr. Gus. On Thursday nights it was sort of festive, and a pretty waitress would sing. Her specialty was "Moon River." We continued to eat there even after my mother was served a well-boiled grasshopper atop her bowl of spinach one evening. And next door to Suzanne's was my childhood shopping paradise, Wacker's:  a sort of mini-Woolworth's, where a child with a quarter could buy a small plastic doll with MUCH more strength of character than one of those snooty, new-fangled Barbies. Finally, on the north end, was Western Auto. My father would go there -- not to browse in dreamy joy as he did at Southland Hardware (at this writing, still sitting there, ageless, in its appointed spot at 1822 Westheimer) -- but simply to buy something for the car when the need arose. 

 

In 1969 I moved to Austin for college and for a long time didn't think much about the Alabama Shepherd Shopping Center and its various shops. I moved back to Houston in the mid-eighties. Venturing back to the Alabama Shopping Center, I encountered  Butera's,  Whole Earth Provision Company, Cactus Video, Bookstop, and Whole Foods . Roaming one day in Bookstop (constructed within the old theater) one day in the 1990s, I suddenly had a joyful flashback, among the bookshelves on the second floor: a sudden memory of having seen NO TIME FOR SERGEANTS  there in 1958 with my parents. Now, well into the 21st century, the A & P is Whole Earth, I think; the Bookstop is Trader Joe's; and Whole Foods is Petsmart.

 

I still enjoy driving past the new/old Alabama Shepherd Shopping Center, squinting a little. Out of the corner of my eye, I can almost see Walgreens, the A & P,  the Alabama Theater, Suzanne's, Wacker's, and Western Auto. It's a good feeling. 

Edited by Libbie
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I remember those stores well. We lived at 1525 Sul Ross. I think I frequented all of those stores at one time or another. My favorites were the Walgreens, Alabama theater and the Western Auto. I liked the Walgreens for the same reasons you did. Of course the Alabama theater was a Saturday morning given. The Western Auto kept my bicycle going and later my 55 Ford convertible. It was a great neighbor hood to be raised in. I also remember the Dunlavy Weingartens not very far from where we lived. The local schools were Poe elementary, Lanier Jr. High, and Lamar. Some choose to go to San Jacinto as it was closer.

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I also went to Poe, Lanier, and Lamar (1953).  I lived in Southampton near Rice U,  I rode my bike on Shepherd to the Alabama for the Saturday morning kids' movies... usually a cartoon or two, a comedy, and a western (Roy Rogers, Gene Autry, etc.).  After the show I would go to Chris' Coney Island on the SW corner of Shepherd and Alabama and have a couple of hot dogs @ 2/$.25, and then play the nickel pin ball machine there.  Often went with my cousin who lived in the 2000 block of Sul Ross. This was the late '40's. Good times!  Parents didn't worry about their children as much back then.

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On 1/2/2019 at 4:30 PM, 57Tbird said:

I also went to Poe, Lanier, and Lamar (1953).  I lived in Southampton near Rice U,  I rode my bike on Shepherd to the Alabama for the Saturday morning kids' movies... usually a cartoon or two, a comedy, and a western (Roy Rogers, Gene Autry, etc.).  After the show I would go to Chris' Coney Island on the SW corner of Shepherd and Alabama and have a couple of hot dogs @ 2/$.25, and then play the nickel pin ball machine there.  Often went with my cousin who lived in the 2000 block of Sul Ross. This was the late '40's. Good times!  Parents didn't worry about their children as much back then.

You were a few years before me. I graduated in 63. I have to agree with you those were some really great years to have lived in the area. I had friends that also lived in the Southhampton area. I had a cousin that lived on Wroxton Rd and a couple of other friends that lived on the same street. Had a good friend that lived at 2224 Albans and several more scattered through the neighborhood. I sometime wish I could go back to those days.

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I don't go nearly that far back, but some of my fondest memories from high school in the early 90s was driving into town from the suburbs with my friends on Friday or Saturday nights, browsing for hours in the Bookstop where Trader Joes is (we were artsy nerds who also went to foreign films as Landmark River Oaks and sipped cappuccinos at Dolce & Freddo on lower Kirby).

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I lived on Harold street, went to St Anne's for 8 years with all the lovely nuns. Walgreens used to have a bin of 45's and sometimes there were some treasures. The Saturday morning cartoon and b movie extravaganza were  highlights, and sometimes a yo yo contest.

Wackers had a tiny post office and can still picture the portly bespectacled woman who ran it...such treasures in the aisles as already mentioned. Western Auto was full of fragrances-new tires, leather mits, footballs and basketballs. I too enjoyed Coney Island, but across the street was the venerable Record Rack where  I bought my first Sinatra album, classical albums and so many more, the albums often with a plastic sleeve. a very friendly couple ran it...she had pointy glasses, a redhead I think. when I questioned the $4.00 price of an album the owner drolly commented-"You pay more for Sinatra." And I doubt if anyone remembers this, but just down the street on West Alabama, a funny little woman ran a record store out of the front of her house...you could sit on a stool and she'd play anything you wanted to hear...short cropped  hair with glasses, me and my pals loved this place. Across the street was Valian's Pizza, which was my meal of choice to watch Star Trek with.  On Harold and Shepherd sat tiny Toddle House where I would have a masterburger and hashbrowns. A few blocks down sat the Broiler Burger with that wonderful charcoal burger smell. Oh man,. i could go on, but as you say, it was an idyllic place to grow up and ride a bike and play football in the street, even if we didn't realize it till much later.

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