greetings from Sandtown!
greetings from Sandtown!
The first annual Community Day and Back To School Event was a huge success! Summer giveaways were just in time for the first day of school on Monday, August 7, 2023. Following is a listing of our sponsors, partners, and exhibitors: Mobile Co. Health Dept., Stand Up Mobile, Goodwill Gulf Coast, Accordia Health, The Area Agency on Aging South Alabama, Vivian's Door, AEI Educational/ Tutoring Services, Enroll Mobile, AltaPointe, Author Melody A. Patterson, & Gina Gregory, Mobile City Council V.P. & District 7 Representative. Thanks to their generosity, the Chief and firemen of the Spring Hill Fire Station and that of so many members of Sand Town Community Action Group, the President, other officers and the board of directors our first effort resulted in a spectacular event!!
Sand Town Community Action Group, (STCAG), is a 501(c)3 organization. We are focused on preserving our rich history and perpetuating the family friendly, safe and residential/R1 zoning of Sand Town through education and citizenship involvement. Presently, the finance committee of St. Ignatius Catholic Church, which is located less than a block away from Sand Town, is attempting to sell a 5 1/2 acre parcel of land located in the heart of Sand Town to Spring Hill Animal Clinic. The relocation of Spring Hill Animal Clinic into Sand Town would require that the 5 1/2 acre parcel of land be rezoned from residential (R1) to business (B1). The pastor of St. Ignatius has advised that they would use the proceeds from the sale of this land to help fund the tearing down and rebuilding of their church under the Building Something Beautiful For God Capital Campaign. While we have nothing against St. Ignatius and their $20 Million new church, the members of Sand Town vehemently oppose rezoning to accommodate any commercial business. Under the proposed development, the animal clinic would be sandwiched between two homes, and directly next to the historical, 145 year old AME Zion church. Our voices are united under the Sand Town Community Action Group. We request that the Mobile City Council votes NO to rezoning. Save Sand Town!
UPDATE- 11/14/19 - Mobile City Council Votes No
Letter To The Greater Spring Hill Community:
On Thursday November 14, 2019 the Mobile City Council voted to deny rezoning the property on Spring Hill Avenue located next to the historic Mt. Hebron AME Zion Church. Thank you to the neighbors on Bristol Court, Tuthill Lane, Knowles Lane, Calderwood Drive, Sheips Lane, Mordecai Lane, Stein Lane, The Cedars, Springhill Avenue, Kimberly Circle, McGregor Avenue, Dilston Court and a host of others who fought this rezoning fight with us. We also want to thank those of you who provided us with places to meet, encouragement, guidance and support.
Our coming together evidenced a long held belief that I am my neighbor’s keeper and marks a new era towards a spirit of cooperation. We share a common interest in seeing that our quality of life in this historic, peaceful, residential community is preserved. Your concerns are all of our concerns.
While this may not prove to be the end, this is an excellent place to forge a new beginning. We are eager to launch an ongoing positive exchange of ideas and a dialogue of inclusivity for the better.
Sand Town Community Action Group
Juneteenth is a holiday celebrated on June 19th to commemorate the emancipation of enslaved people in the U.S. The holiday was first celebrated in Texas, where on that date in 1865, slaves were declared free under the terms of the 1862 Emancipation Proclamation. In the aftermath of the Civil War, freed people continued to be enslaved for three years until that momentous day.
This holiday has lived on through rich traditions, including lively celebrations in the form of parades, storytelling, picnics and barbecues. Traditionally, red drinks and red foods are a staple at these barbecues and celebrations with red symbolizing resilience. Juneteenth became a national holiday when it was signed into law by President Joe Biden in 2021.
The Residents of Sand Town Say "NO" To Rezoning!
Happy 4th of July everyone! With many areas across the U.S. seeing a rise in Coronavirus cases, experts are advising against our traditional outdoor large group gatherings, be it for parades, fireworks, concerts and the like. But, a family can still cook up a feast at home; and a family can enjoy some virtual events together!
Below are a few ideas that might help you and your family to truly get into the spirit of July 4th while celebrating in a healthy and safe way:
1. Watch PBS "A Capital Fourth".
The live programming can be seen at 7:00 p.m. on Alabama Public Television but, to
stream from your computer or other device, click here:
2. Stream Hamilton, the Broadway Play Megahit.
The hit musical will be available to stream on Disney Plus beginning Friday, July 3rd, to the delight of mega fans and newbies who are aching to watch the smash Broadway hit. It can be watched on any digital device, but one must have a Disney Plus subscription.
3. Cheer for the Annual Hot Dog Eating Contest.
This event can be seen live, July 4th at 11:00 a.m. CST on ESPN. For more details visit:
4. Watch Macy's 44th Annual Fourth Of July Fireworks Spectacular.
Macy's will host it's annual fourth of July Fireworks event. You can watch it on NBC at 7:00 p.m. live, For more details, check out this link: https://www.macys.com/social/fireworks/
5. Tune into the "Let Freedom Sing" concert from Nashville.
This virtual show will feature performances by John Hiatt, Lilly Hiatt, Keb’ Mo’ and Tenille Townes. For more information and how to stream live, visit: https://www.wbwn.com/2020/07/02/nashvilles-let-freedom-sing-virtual-concert-on-july-4-to-feature-tenille-townes-john-hiatt-keb-mo-more/
6. Tour and Discover National Parks Virtually
Happy Father’s Day! I hope. It may be a little bit different this year due to the Covid 19 pandemic and other global unrest, but as a parent you’re already used to making adjustments and dealing with challenges in a creative way. So kudos to you for parenting, working and teaching in our (prayerfully) temporary “new normal”. (Yeah I’m tired of that expression too but it kinda fits… ).
Unfortunately, the way we celebrated Mother’s Day and are celebrating Father’s Day this year might feel a little strange— especially since we won’t be able, after celebrating the day with the kiddos, to call up the sitter, get all dressed up and have a special night out on the town at our favorite spot with or without our adult friends. Hopefully your favorite spot isn’t temporarily or permanently closed for business now.
On the plus side, we all have more family time and that’s a wonderful thing. As a funny aside, after getting a little stir crazy I wrote a rap song about being in quarantine. The kids thought it was terrible. I thought it was pretty good even if I do say so myself….Ok it was bad, but the point was to be funny and bring some levity to the situation.
So for Father’s Day, maybe the kids can cook for a change or you can just order your favorite food for delivery—if you’re not already tired of doing that after being closed in all these weeks. It’s so funny that I can recall as a child wanting to be an adult because I would have all this freedom, autonomy etc. Covid has changed a lot of those things for all of us in a short amount of time. But considering the circumstances, I’m just glad and grateful for each additional day we all get to celebrate, see each other and be together, for those of us who can. And God bless the rest.
Written by Erica Jones, a daughter of Sand Town.
Father's Day is a holiday of honoring fatherhood and paternal bonds, as well as the influence of fathers in society. Father’s Day celebrates and honors the men who have embraced the essential role of fatherhood. On this day, we also thank fathers and father figures for the sacrifices they make, for embracing the responsibility of nurturing and raising children, and for devotion to their family. Father’s Day will be celebrated on Sunday, June 20. This happens to be the same day as the summer solstice (June 20 at 11:32 P.M. Eastern Time), which makes it the perfect time to kick-off the summer season with a father-focused barbecue, camping trip, beach day, or other outdoor activity!Father’s Day is celebrated annually on the third Sunday in June in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, India, and a number of other countries around the world.
This information was copied from the Old Farmer's Almanac https://www.almanac.com/content/when-fathers-day
Six degrees of separation. That’s the number of social connections conventional wisdom says we are apart from each other. To some degree that must be true, (no pun intended). I always knew that Sand Town was a special place, but I never guessed that it was the birthplace and home of a renowned hero. Theodore Johnson was a member of the Tuskegee Airmen “Red Tails”. He was born in Mobile, Alabama, on March 22, 1924 and passed away February 16th of this year in San Antonio, Texas. He grew up as a youth in the Sand Town Community of Spring Hill on Knowles Lane. Airman Johnson was the only son of five children born to Mr. and Mrs. Theodore Roosevelt Johnson. Johnson’s father worked in maintenance at Spring Hill College where he eventually retired after 66 years. But for the younger Theodore Johnson, life had other plans. A product of the Mobile public school system, he graduated from Dunbar HS in 1941. Two years later he was drafted into the WWII selective service and became one of the original Tuskegee Airmen as an airplane mechanic. During his time in the service he supported the flying fighters and accompanied them to many places around the world including Scotland, France, England and Germany.
After the war, he returned to Mobile where he married, started a family, re-enlisted and worked at, among other places, Brookley Field using the skills he had honed in his military service. Here is where I, personally, can attest to the six degrees of separation theory as mentioned at the beginning of this story. Even though we were both raised in Sand Town, I was born decades after Mr. Johnson. However; his years at Brookley Field were spent working alongside my Uncle Richard (Jackson), Grandmother’s oldest brother; both of whom were also born and raised in Sand Town. Additionally, Johnson’s daughter, Sandra, and my cousin Nikki Dorsey, (who lived next door to me), remain lifelong close friends to this day. Airman Johnson and his family left Mobile and eventually landed in Texas where he spent the rest of his days. Mr. Johnson didn’t really talk about his military service until later in life when he joined the San Antonio chapter of the Tuskegee Airmen, according to his daughter, Sandra Johnson. After that, she said, it was like a badge of honor. She went on to say that he would wear his military cap every day before going out, and it always served as a conversation piece when meeting people. Most notably, President George W. Bush honored the Airmen with the Congressional Medal of Honor; and, President Obama flew them to the White House for an honors ceremony and an appearance in the nationally televised all star tribute, “Taking the Stage: African American Music and Stories That Changed America”, produced by the legendary Quincy Jones. At the event, General Colin Powell introduced Mr. Johnson and other surviving Original Tuskegee Airmen, on stage, to a rousing standing ovation. Though Johnson was only one of three original surviving members when he died a month shy of his 96th birthday, it was a surprise to the family and those closest to him. Johnson's daughter remarked about how mentally clear and fiercely independent her father was up to his last days, saying that “even as a 95 year old man he lived alone and was up at 5 or 6 o’clock every day cooking for himself.” She also said he would busy himself regularly with Airmen chapter activities including speaking publicly or engaging with other members. “His memories were always very sharp. That Saturday before he died, he was at an event speaking and signing autographs (with his group)…that’s what kept him going,” she said. Mr. Johnson left a legacy for future 2nd and 3rd generation Tuskegee Airmen. We are forever indebted to him and the Red Tail Airmen who bravely flew to defend our country in World War II. Thank you for your service, Mr. Johnson, and may you rest in peace.
In photo from left to right: Mr. Theodore Johnson, left, Dr. Eugene Derricotte, and Mr. James Bynum, Original Tuskegee Airmen
For more information about Airman Theodore Johnson and the Tuskegee Airmen, visit: https://www.redtail.org/
Written by Erica Jones with contributions from Sandra Johnson, daughters of Sand Town.
Every year around this time I am reminded of the historical significance of St. Patrick's and the festivities surrounding this highly celebrated day in many places around the world. But for me, March 17th is special because it’s my wedding anniversary. In fact, I was married in Saint Joseph's Chapel, a historical landmark on the campus of Spring Hill College, (SHC), near Sand Town. This was prior to the Chapel's renovation, by the way, which tells you how long it’s been -though still in this century. Ironically, I had always envisioned myself getting married at Saint Ignatius Church because that's where I attended kindergarten through 8th grade and had been a lifelong parishioner. It's where my cousins were married, where I had taken my first sacraments of Penance, Communion, Confirmation, and worshiped so frequently during school, Holy Days, and weekends growing up - and it’s where, eventually, my children would be baptized - (but that’s jumping the gun a little, as that would come years after the wedding...)
As for jumping the broom, unfortunately, due to time constraints and another scheduled wedding, it would not be possible for my fiance and me to get married at St. Ignatius on March 17 of that year. So we started looking for the next best thing. We needed to find another available location in the nearby vicinity. Of course there were several options but none that felt like home. Then someone mentioned St Joseph’s Chapel. It was a perfect option and our designated priest, Monsignor Wall, was available to perform the ceremony. That left only one problem: a stipulation that either the bride or groom had to be a graduate of SHC to get married there. My sibling is an alumnus of SHC; however, I am not, (Roll Tide!). Close, but no cigar.
Luckily for me, I had literally forgotten that my husband-to-be was a Spring Hill College graduate! (Go figure. I mean I just never thought about that when I agreed to marry him.) Nevertheless, problem solved. And it made for a great transition of resources, planned activities and space for about the same number of anticipated attendees—including the spatial accommodations gained by using the Gautrelet Room located right next door to the Chapel for our reception.
Let me tell you that as amazing as the Chapel is now, it has always been beautiful and very traditional. With the simple addition of white flowers and white candles it was transformed into my dream wedding location. I couldn’t have found a more perfect place, literally, a few blocks from my childhood home. I will never forget the proud faces of my mother and grandmother, other cherished family members and close friends from Sand Town and greater Mobile who attended our ceremony in that lovely chapel. Their presence made that day such a happy one for us.
Right now with the Coronavirus outbreak, it's a crazy and uncertain time. But, here’s wishing you good health and a Happy St Patrick’s Day. May you find a reason to celebrate it this year and every year, no matter the circumstances.
Written by Erica Jones, a daughter of Sand Town.
In the early fifties, my father, Willie Means, built a home for his family at 406 McGregor Avenue. Willie Means was one of the first Black American entrepreneurs in the city of Mobile, and the first black man to build a home by his own hand on McGregor Avenue / Springhill Avenue.Willie Means was a master brick Masonry who created a unique style of brick homes and mail boxes that he took pride in constructing throughout the county of Mobile. To name a few, my father built homes for Mr. Paul McMullan, Mr. J.F. Pate, Mr. Milton Green, and Mr. Bobby Ryles. Willie Means was well respected and well-known in Mobile County, and everyone loved him. My father was such a well-known person and business owner that men consistently lined up to work for him.
Willie Means showed such integrity and loyalty to his employees that not only did he provide transportation to and from work for them every day; he also hosted Thanksgiving and Christmas parties each year for them. He supplied his employees' families with turkeys and hams every holiday season.
My mother and father, Willie and Ruby Means, were married in 1942, both at the age of 19 years old. They bore 16 children together; 11 boys and 5 girls. They instilled in us the tenacity of hard work and good ethics. Together they built a family business and raised their family until his untimely death in 1978, at the age of 54 years old.
Late last year, The Means Enterprise at 406 McGregor Avenue was demolished. It should never have been stripped away. Willie Means and his crew poured blood, sweat, and tears into building the Community and should be remembered as the pioneers they were. McGregor Avenue is a historic site, and the destruction of the family house and architecturally unique structure is hurtful to the Means family and a loss to the history of Sand Town.
Written by Mary Means Cummings, a daughter of Sand Town.
When my husband, Charles, and I moved into our home on Knowles Lane forty-four years ago, we immediately felt a part of the community as the old established families on the street greeted us and shared the warmth of Sand Town. One person in particular stands out in my memories. Her name was Ernestine Allen, the former owner of the property that my yard backs up to – the same property where the proposed veterinary clinic was to be built.
As I sought to landscape the backyard of our new house, I would see Mrs. Allen dutifully working amongst the trees and bushes on her property. She and I would often stand at the fence and talk. I recalled once asking her if she was afraid of snakes back there and she answered, “No, I just off their heads with my shovel and keep working." Another time I asked what she was doing out there in the woods every day. Her response was that she was creating a walk-in garden where people could come and admire her beautiful flowers.
Mrs. Allen had so many plants on her property that I was sure her project had to be expensive. During our conversations, however, I learned that she propagated her many plants from cuttings she would take from mature plants at specific times of the year. She planted the cuttings in various cans and flower pots using a special mixture that has long since left my memory. She would then transfer the young plants to her yard after they had grown to a certain point. Mrs. Allen taught her method to me and I tried to employ it, but was unsuccessful. It took patience that I didn’t have. So, needless to say, I ended up purchasing plants for my yard.
Mrs. Allen is gone now. She never finished her walk-in garden. But, every winter I look over my fence and enjoy the beauty of the camellias she planted and in the spring, I enjoy her azaleas. Those plants are her legacy! It is my hope that whatever happens to the land that used to be hers, at least a part of her unfinished walk-in garden will be preserved.
Written by Yolanda Henson, a Sand Town neighbor.
I have fond memories of growing up in Sand Town and always feeling safe there. We knew our neighbors and fellowshipped with them. I can still remember the many holidays and celebrations. I also recall hearing the stories of my grandmother and my great-grandmother and my great uncles and aunts raising their families there and helping to build a real community vertically from Knowles Lane up to and including Mordecai Lane and everything south of the historic cemetery back to Three Mile Creek. Sand Town families, too, once populated that area.
…The Spring Hill Sand Town Community residents have been peaceful – it is virtually a crime-free area--even to this day. At some point, Christian missionaries started a school and a church in the middle of Sand Town and eventually, many of these Christian minorities peacefully integrated St. Ignatius Church and School in the early 1960’s -- before the more tumultuous 1965 Civil Rights Movement events, which took place in other US cities. In addition, those who remained Protestant have been in faithful attendance to the historic 145-year old church that is located in the heart of Sand Town. Utilizing hard work and education, we have always been able to matriculate through local public and private schools and the college systems to become well-educated and upstanding citizens of the world.
(Sand Town residents have) plans to enjoy golden times on quiet grounds where families settle to raise their children, and others whose children and grandchildren come to visit; places where they can still walk down the street to the corner church where they baptized their little ones, watched the annual Easter program, enjoyed the weekly fish fry dinners, and where their friends and family members got married or loved ones were eventually buried in the adjacent historic cemetery. Sand Town is where people banded together to help each other when storms like Hurricane Frederick blew trees down into their living rooms; and where little children, men and women walk and run without fear because it is their neighborhood. They belong here; they know each other’s names and shared memories...
Excerpt from: “A Few Recommendations”—Heritage Tribune Newspaper, September 30th – October 5th, 2019, Mobile, AL. Written by Ramona E. H. Jones, a daughter of Sand Town.
As you are probably aware, we are approaching peak hurricane season.
An Alabama hurricane is a North American tropical cyclone that affects the U.S. state of Alabama. So far (as of July 2021) 83 tropical and subtropical cyclones have directly or indirectly affected Alabama since HURDAT began in 1851. Only four major hurricanes, the 1926 Miami Hurricane, Hurricane Fredric (1979), Hurricane Ivan (2004), Hurricane Sally and only one off-season storm, Tropical Storm Alberto (2018), has made landfall in Alabama. The key to weathering a hurricane even if there is a mandatory evacuation is preparation. Click here for ways to prepare for a dangerous storm: https://www.redcross.org/get-help/how-to-prepare-for-emergencies/types-of-emergencies/hurricane.html
Black History Month is an annual observance originating in the United States, where it is also known as African-American History Month. It has received official recognition from governments in the United States and Canada, and more recently has been observed in Ireland, and the United Kingdom. It began as a way of remembering important people and events in the history of the African Diaspora. It is celebrated in February in the United States and Canada, while in Ireland, and the United Kingdom it is observed in October. For more information regarding Black History Month and its origins, click on this History Channel link:
The Mobile Area Mardi Gras Association, (MAMGA), was formed by the city’s black residents in 1939, when it was called the Colored Carnival Association. It held its first parade in 1940, more than 2 decades before the end of segregation. Aline Jenkins Howard, who died in 2019 at the age of 97, was named its first queen.
This key to the City of Mobile was presented at the District 7 Holiday Community Celebration event held December 9, 2019.
Barbara Ann Smith, president, was in attendance to receive this honor. Congratulations Sand Town!
"Merry Christmas!" is a familiar phrase you hear at this joyful time of year. It's a time to reflect and a time to share. However, most importantly it's a time to celebrate the birth of Jesus, our Savior, who was born to absorb our sins, to stand in the crevice when we fall and return us on solid ground. So we celebrate His birthday by sharing stories and gifts. This is the story of Christmases past as we remember how the Sand Town Community celebrated Christmas.
My grandmother, who we all called Nina, raised us. My grandfather, Amos, died young so Nina was a widow. She was the mother of ten children, Richard, Lucile, Walter, Gilbert, Bernice, Vera, Joseph, Mabel, Andreta and, lastly, Amos, Jr. who died as a baby. Our parents worked long hours and a lot of double shifts. Nina was a no nonsense grandmother who was loving, kind and dedicated to her family.
You knew Christmas was just around the corner at my grandmother’s when the paint cans came out, all the interior walls got a fresh coat of paint and the windows and curtains were washed, starched and ironed. I really mean that every single corner was polished, reorganized and cleaned. My cousin recently said that you would think Christ himself was going to be a guest at Nina's house on Christmas Day. Fruit cakes were baked ahead of time so they could be wrapped and soaked with bourbon then placed in tins. You need not ask about a tree until all those chores and more were completed!
Christmas Eve was a magical time. The men and some of the older boys would go out in the woods to cut down a tree. The children excitedly discussed their wish lists, and the adults told stories, joked and laughed easily with each other. The Jacksons were a divided group when it came to religious denomination. Half of the brothers and sisters were Catholic and the other half Methodist. At midnight on the eve of Christmas, midnight mass was a must. The partying and fellowship really began after the mass. Friends who had attended midnight mass and others from the neighborhood would come together at Nina’s for gumbo, fruitcake and spirits.
I can remember it always being a very festive time; although children were not allowed, we could hear the music and laughter while we pretended to be asleep. Sometime during the night we would no longer be able to keep our eyes open. The next thing we knew it was Christmas morning and we would jump up and race to the tree.
I have not been able to quite duplicate the fragrances and aromas of those Christmases of long ago. Those smells…the kumquats, apples and oranges, roasted nuts, dinner being cooked and fresh baked cakes and pies, not to mention the scent of a freshly cut tree. Maybe it was the people and the love surrounding us that made those days so special.
While reminiscing about those years, I realize that I am now the age my grandmother was then. It is hard to put into perspective. Now, my home here in Sand Town is a place where we gather with my children, nieces and nephews during the holidays. Together we remember our loved ones no longer here to join us in this year’s celebration. But they left the memories to pass along. And they left us with the knowledge and the lingering spirit of the true meaning of Christmas. Happy Birthday to You, Happy Birthday to You, Happy Birthday Dear Jesus, Happy Birthday to You!
Written by Geneva Gayles with contributions from Angela Brown, daughters of Sand Town.