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If you have memories you'd like to
submit, please email to
are memories or questions submitted from graduates of Albany
High, especially during the 50's, in response to an article
published in The Albany Herald. Responses are arranged in
reverse chronological order by date submitted - the newest
appears at the top. If you have not read these before - please
start at the bottom!
Eileen Edwards Wray ('68): I
was searching for Albany High school
photos of Paula Hiers Deen (of which
there are none???) and came across this website.
As a young child and into my teen years, my
sisters and brother all spent days 100s of days
at Radium Springs. It was the place to be!
Everything that people have written about it on
this website is true and are vivid pictures
still in my mind. I can't describe it better.
I do remember that you had to be a teenager to
go to the pavilion and dance to the jukebox. I
remember Jerry Hollis and his sister,
Paula, teaching everyone to do the shag. I
loved the music and you could hear it away from
the pavilion. I have home movies of my oldest
sister Geralene going to her sixth grade
dance there. We used to pack picnic lunches but
we loved it when our Mom gave us money to buy
one of the juicy hamburgers!! Yum!
One special day was when my younger sister,
Michelle, and I met Little Joe and Hoss
(Bonanza) while they were staying at the
Casino. They were in town for a telethon.
Anyone remember those?
Does anyone remember renting those huge inner
tubes and soaping them up so you couldn't hold
on as it was rocked furiously back and forth?
I bet one of my sisters probably still has some
rocks or shells from the spring.
The kids of Radium Springs (the
surrounding neighborhoods) loved that place! We
were happy, safe, and exuberant. Many of us
learned to swim there. The place was indeed
magical. And where else could you go and spend
all day swimming, playing, etc for 25 cents!!
~ Leslie ’Williams ('58):
I was born in Albany in 1939 at Phoebe Putney hospital and
didn't leave Albany until December 1958.
(mother and I) used to drive out to Radium every summer to swim
and sometimes we had a family gathering there. Usually my dad
was working as he was an engineer for the railroad. But
sometimes he would be there or meet us there later.
grandmother and grandad lived in the Putney estate home, in
Putney Georgia, south of Radium and before you got to River bend
skating and swimming pool. They would meet us at Radium for the
used to take watermelons and put them under the platform and
leave them for hours until they got cold, then slice them open.
YUM!!! (sometimes they were stolen!!). I would spend all day
there from 9am to 6pm, dropped off by a parent when I got older
(12 yrs old), and usually went with a friend and just had the
best time. Then, when I got my driver’s license, I would go as
often as I could during the summer.
lived off Slappey drive on First Avenue, but during my Junior
year,1958.we moved to Radium, about 4 blocks from the entrance.
I loved that.
remember going to the Jr/.Sr dance upstairs in the ballroom when
I was a Senior. Our theme was "Deep Purple" as that was the
popular song that year. I remember seeing the underwater lights
in the "boil" and in the moss-draped trees, and the gentle
breeze blowing it. What a wonderful memory.........one that I
will cherish forever.
will also remember the days (literally) spent there swimming,
the music from the pavilion, the snack bar. I will also remember
all my school friends that gathered there, just as they were
grew up in the BEST of times and the Best place to be … Radium
Springs in Albany, GA.
~ Tommy Greenstone (’54):
There isn't much on TV or
XM on Sundays so I've had the fifties channel on today.
They are not
playing the usual redundant songs you hear over and over.
Instead, I have been bombarded with memories.
I was reminded
of a night, when I was home on leave from the Army. Ted
Cahill ('55), Ponniehoochie (Ponny Manuel - '55), and I were
out for an evening of Bacchanalian carousing. About 0300 in
the morning, we decided to go skinny dipping at Radium. It
was fall and the night was cool and rainy. Radium was
probably closed, for the season, but the dance pavilion was
still open. When we got ready to leave, we decided it
wouldn't be any fun, if nobody knew we had been there. We
decided to play a song, on the jukebox. I climbed the fence,
back to the car, and returned with a coin for the jukebox.
By this time, I was exhausted from climbing the fence three
times. We had to take a vote on the song to play. We decided
on When I See You , by Fats Domino. As we
left, they gave me a head start, since I was tired. I got to
the top of the fence when the music started and I laughed so
hard I fell off the fence and got covered with red clay mud.
Those were the good old days.
~ Brian Kelly (’67):
I grew up in
Albany Ga. And my memories of the times I spent at Radium
Springs growing up are some of the best memories I have of my
whole life. For some reason that place was magical to both me
and other members of my family. I will never forget going there.
I would have
graduated from Albany High in 1967 but my family moved away when
I was 13. We moved to Cincinnati, Ohio but I never forgot
growing up in Albany. I had the best time there. We lived on
Highland Ave. back in the days when that was still a dirt road.
My father owned Russell Kelly’s Heating and Air Conditioning and
before that they owned the laundromat on Slappey Drive and even
before that they had an appliance store downtown but I barely
remember that. My grandfather owned the drive in liqour store
and bar on Slappey Drive. We often ate at a place called the
Al-Joe’s and the Davis Bros. Cafeteria. I remember the neon sign
of the guy fishing with the string tied around his toe. If not
there then the Pig-n-Whistle. If we were real good or it was
real hot then we could got to the Arctic Bear. For ice cream. My
friends and I played at the hobo camp by the railroad tracks,
climbed all over the concrete piping made on the other side of
the tracks. We picked blackberry’s and pecans and sold what we
didn’t eat to buy candy over at a place we called the Little
Store on Magnolia. What a life for a kid.
~ Phyllis Lee Spier (’53):
I have followed with interest the progress and completion of
Jean Weiner's painting of Radium Springs. It has
stirred a host of memories of elementary school picnics (St.
Theresa's and the poor nuns in hot wool habits), high
school summers and the Junior-Senior proms at the
Casino and so much more.
There are family memories as well. My grandfather,
William Edgar Hickey, bought the Springs in 1916 when my
mother was about one year old. She was a beautiful swimmer,
which she attributed to growing up at the Springs. She said
that she was swimming by age four, and swam all over the
Springs. The family owned a collie that ran along the shore
watching her and her younger brother swim. One day he
started barking fiercely as she approached the wooden steps
to get out of the water. There was a water moccasin nearby
and when they later chopped down the steps, there were many
baby snakes underneath! My uncle "Brother" Hickey
dived in the boil and caves as a boy. I think it must have
been a wonderful way for the two of them to grow up.
My grandfather, William Edgar Hickey
My grandmother, Ethyl, ran the restaurant which I
understand was quite successful. She was a wonderful cook
and a brave, strong woman. Many nights she drove her staff
into town alone in an open car after closing the restaurant.
My grandfather was a large man (see attached photo) and I
don't think he ever drove. Too uncomfortable behind the
wheel. In 925 "Daddy Hickey" sold the springs and
moved his family into town.
When I married my husband, Bill Spier, in 1958 our
rehearsal dinner was held there as well as our wedding
reception. His family and our out of town guests stayed
there also. When our daughter, Fran, was born, she
was introduced to Radium and she has fond memories of
playing there with her cousins, Lamar, Scott and Lee
So many wonderful memories … Thanks again Jean!
Connie Thomas Pinkston ('50):
It was great fun to read the
memories of Albany High and Radium. Much of our time was
spent in both places. Some yankees came through while our
brother Jack (Thomas (’55) worked at Radium. They
asked him how they got that moss on the trees. Bud, as we
sisters (Joye Thomas Hadaritz (’54) called him), said
" We hang them one strand at the time."
Lee English ('57):
(This is) a copy of the
email I sent to Jean Weimer. “Your painting has
stirred memories of many good times when the casino and
springs were at their peak. The last remodel of the
casino was done by my uncles, Rushton Brothers Contractors,
and adds to the treasure for me. I would like to reserve one
of the Artist proofs. Thanks,
*** 11/01/08 ~
John Grissett ('44):
Radium is of great interest to me and my family since my
Grandfather, Mr. J.C. Hind, was the builder and strongly
involved in the design of the resort.
Hello. My name is
I attend Citizens Christian Academy in Douglas,
Georgia. I Am doing a project on Radium Springs.
I found your site and was wondering if you had any NEAT
facts or pictures you might could send or email me. Please
let me know. Thanks.
Hi Chelsee - what a wonderful project! Let me look through
the pages on the website - I am having problems with it
right now. It has become too large and that causes mega
problems. I saw that the buttons titles did not appear - and
that the picture did not expand - I am going to try and fix
that right now. In the meantime - you can navigate those
buttons by putting your cursor over the button and then
clicking - there are lots of pictures from when I was in
high school (the 50's). It was the place we hung out! There
was a pavilion with a juke box and we danced - lots of
jitterbug and "close" dancing! There are also reports from a
committee that tried to SAVE Radium ... to no avail ... and
pictures and newspaper articles on the destruction. I think
anything you would need would be there. So let me try to
"fix" it. I am in the middle of putting together our high
school newsletter - I'm going to add your letter - and your
email address ... and I'll bet people will write to you ...
RADIUM WAS VERY SPECIAL TO US!
Smith Herrington ('55)
*** 5/26/08 ~
I actually graduated that year from Druid Hills High in
Atlanta. But having spent my "real" high school years in
Albany, I consider myself a member of that class.
I even managed
an invite to the 30 year reunion, which was held at the
place of which we speak, Radium Springs.
We shared that
evening with the class of '64. You see, they had planned
theirs the year prior but got flooded out, literally.
could not have been better. Old friends, including the
casino and the grounds, were all in good shape. It was great
to see everyone again.
around, trying to explain to our wives about all the fun we
had there as kids. We took pictures of each other at some of
our favorite spots.
The beach, the
pavilion ( where you had to keep one eye out for a fight
between the military groups) the boil, the island and of
course, the beach area.
Many a great,
youthful, fun filled Saturday was spent there by our gang.
It's hard to
believe it's gone.
~ Tom West (1965):
graduated from Albany High in 1965. During the summer Radium
Springs was the place to be during the 1960s. It was easy for me
since I lived down the road in the Radium Springs SD. It was a
magical place. The Casino area was great fun, but we spent
untold hours, as well, swimming, snorkeling, skin diving, spear
fishing and tubing in the creek which ran from the springs to
the Flint River. The water was gin clear. At the Pavillion we
would dance to the juke box, in the spring swimming area we
would chase turtles, swim up under the arched platforms at the
side of the pool area, slide down the island slide and buy
treats at the concession stand. We walked up the staircase to
the ballroom area in awed wonder at the wood paneled grace of it
all. I went back a couple of years ago and it is all gone. The
Casino, the pavillion, the water gushing up forming a bulge on
the surface. There is no flow to the water now. The Emerald Eye
of the "boil" was still there, and the huge carp were still
there at the bottom. Where has the water flow gone? To
manufacturing uses? Who knows? Without the water, I don't know
what use a park would serve, unless there is some way to restore
the flow. Tom West, class of 1965.
Lynne Garrison Johnson (1982):
I may as well share my thoughts on Radium. We always hear from
the people who grew up there in the 1950's, but here is a lone
perspective from one who grew up there a little later.
I did not hitchhike out there with two golf clubs and a dime
to call home, like my daddy (David Garrison - '52)
did. Nor did I ever dive under the rock arches with a spear
gun made from rubber bands and coat hangers or dance at the
But I did go to a really wonderful AHS reunion when I was
very small, probably Dad's 20th, which would make me 8. I
remember fried chicken, good music, and thinking, "When I
grow up, I'm going to buy this place and live here."
I can't say I fulfilled that particular dream, but I did go
to a prom there with the owner's grandson and much later,
had my wedding reception there.
When we learned that the buildings were to be demolished,
the first thing I thought of was to put a botanical garden
on the property. I called my mom (Nancy Castleberry Garrison
'57) and she immediately got all the Albany garden clubs
behind the idea. She's gone now, but hopefully the city
leaders remember that there are people ready to help.
Radium will never be what it once was, but let's hope it can
be much more. If we can turn it into a place that everyone
can enjoy and appreciate, our job is done and the dream
I hope there are others like me that remember Radium in the
same way or can see it the way it can be. ~ Lynne
Jay Beck (1962):
my mother sent me an article that they were tearing down Radium
Springs. That the world could come to this! This was the main
symbol which defined my home town for five generations, the
closest thing we had to a European spa or a grand architectural
gesture of any kind. This multi-tiered, gleaming white building
rising from clear blue water into oaks streaming with moss, this
incubator of dreams, was to become a bass hatchery.
And, owned by the
state that did not need the ballrooms, the double stairway, the
dining rooms glassed to overlook the water, or the expensive
upkeep of it all through repeated flooding, was going to tear
down the buildings and use the water to raise fish.
My mother remembers her girlhood visits in the 1920's to
relatives in Tifton who would bundle up the kids with a picnic
lunch and come to Radium Springs to jump into the boil. The
boil, resulted from water escaping from underground rivers
through openings in the limestone bubbling up at great pressure
to the top of a circular deep pit which was the beginning of
Radium, like the fountain dispatching water from its center sure
to go up your nose.
From deep in the
earth, this water rushed at thousands of gallons a second at 68
degrees in temperature, which in the 90-degree heat of South
Georgia felt like freezing. Kids jumping from a swinging rope,
high and low diving boards or the rock sides into the boil would
sink into the pit only to be pushed up to the surface by the
rushing water screaming in shock not from the jump but from the
chilling effect of the cold. Everyone who first jumped into
Radium dog paddled like hell to get to the nearest side to rush
out into the sun and run for a towel.
My father has a
picture of himself in high school sitting on the side of the
wall above the boil in a kind of male beefcake pose in his
bathing suit. Our picture books at home are littered with snap
shots of Radium… in swimming, wading to the edge in a blow-up
ducky inner-tube, at family reunions dining on the concrete
tables and benches which spread forever back among the water
oaks and pines which surrounded the swimming area and beach.
Coming into Radium
from the front door of the Casino as a young kid, you walked
past the ornate bar where there always seemed to be one or two
people, cigarette drifting smoke from the ashtray quietly
talking with the bartender. Across the lobby with seating groups
of furniture and fresh flowers you came to the entrance to the
swimming area. There you paid a dumpy old man, went through a
swinging gate and door and began to descent a long flight of
steps changing from wood to concrete during the descent.
On the wall of
these steps were 8" x 10" black and white pictures of
distinguished visitors who all seemed like movie stars. They
lined the steep descent. Some had their names and an inscription
and you had to be careful when looking to be aware of the wet
steps. But almost from the top, the thing that defined Radium
was its smell.
You came out that
door to a temperature noticeably hotter and humid enough to
start immediate perspiration, and were hit in the nose by the
limestone water. No sleazy YMCA or high school locker room
shower after a big game could have equaled the smell of lime. It
was in the rocks, in the puddles of water in the leaky faucets
and water fountains. It pulled you toward the light at the end
of the steps that opened slowly from a concrete slab and
railings to tree limbs and people and chairs and water then to
the whole world of Radium Springs. Suddenly at the bottom of the
stairs you were there, and could now look in every direction to
see who you could and wave to and then look at who was jumping
into the boil directly ahead.
There was the small
town pecking order of who got to sit where and with whom. The
cuffs were off for flirting. And even in the bathing suit
designs of those days, there were few people reading a book.
With your parents,
you went to the beach side partly around a small island from the
boil to water that gently got deeper and places for groups to
spread out blankets, towels and each other. On either side of
the beach were turreted gazebos entered from the high side with
more picnic tables and ledges like benches on its circular sides
to over look the water below.
Once you adjusted
to the water temperature, and with a facemask looked below, you
could see all kinds of fish swimming near the rocky bottom. It
was incredibly clear.
We went to Radium
almost every week of every summer of my youth. It was the thing
to do with visitors, with family reunions and cold fried
chicken, potato salad, and gallons of ice tea. And there were
the people we knew, saw in school, in church, at the downtown
stores. We saw each other grow up on this common ground, this
equalizer, this opportunity.
But, it is the
memories of being there in those young teen years that mark
Radium for me. The times when we were not yet cool. When the
insecurity and awkwardness of being the youngest and least
experienced teen of the group were most apparent. But, that did
not stop us from going there. For those years the memories are
of Radium at night. There was a pavilion on stilts with open
sides and a tin roof. A jukebox contained the only lighted area
in the space. A wooden dance floor was littered with sand.
There after dark
the teens met to dance and look at each other and learn to talk
to each other. There the older boys tried to become James Dean.
The peg pants, duck-tail hair and rolled up short-sleeves
accented the bearing, the walk, the non-chalice all to come
together in a look, a stare at a particular girl smoldering
enough to stop her still in mid flit.
And the girls in
their tight peddle pushers, shirts with the bottoms tied about
the waist, gum smacking, casting side-long glances and the
mingled smells of sun tan lotion, sweat, beer and cigarettes
were collectively enough to kick my insecurity into high gear,
while awakening in me a longing like a magnet.
But sitting on the
wooden benches, listening to beach music, watching couples in
the dark corners sway back and forth, watching some walk hand
and hand into the night I knew I wanted to be a part of it. I
knew that there was a life out there I had not experienced. I
knew past where the light flickered on the moss and beyond the
tree limbs there awaited the sin my parents had warned me
against, and I could not wait to find it.
And now, at and in
a different age, the interest in Radium Springs has abated and
the cost of maintaining the legacy has become too great a risk.
It is to be raised, and except for the rock sides of the
enclosure surrounding two thirds of its circumference, will be
returned to something of its condition before the Casino. I
wonder if people walking around those banks years from now will
hear through the tree moss the sounds of Little Richard and Bill
Haley and Ernie K-Doe as I still do.
Anna (Stephens) Arthur
Is “Skywater” still available? If not, do you know where I can
get a nice photograph of the original Radium Springs from the
50’s, early 60’s? My sister, brother and I all graduated from
Albany High and I would really like to get them something
special for Christmas from the “old days”. Isn't it funny as we
get old(er) that we value those wonderful early years? Any help
would be greatly appreciated.
Ben McKemie - Jerusalem:
From an article of our neighbor's
marriage, sent by Mom (Betty - Mrs. Frank McKemie) half a
year ago and read only now in full, one click on a link
sufficed, and Radium Springs suddenly loomed across all the
at unexpected apparition of a showpiece of my mental landscape,
reminiscences inundate an inner screen. Grandmother. Eve Bonser
managed the 'casino' at some early stage, and years afterward we
swam there many summer weekends and weekdays.
Picnics with grandparents, siblings, parents, friends, and
neighbors contain memories almost forgotten. Although I surely
dream them again and again, I now consciously recall whole
scenes, conversations, and motions connected to the spot:
round stone disk with upraised steel hook planted in the
middle of the enormous swimming expanse
soft music via large speakers perched in high trees
high slide we casually climbed and zipped down
stretch of yellow sand sloping to the water
moss-draped woods extending behind
fortune to have known that spot's exotic beauty, and to have
dived from the showpiece board into chilling azure pool of
gushing spring water.
times did adolescents rehash the incident of the trapped diver,
and thrill to see other daring explorers descending to plumb
caverns' depths, tanks aback and flippers propelling?
Though my children regularly dip in the Mediterranean, ascend
the Temple Mount, and pass Ayalon Valley where Joshua fought
Gibonites as sun stood still, and doting grandparents have taken
them to Coke Intl., Six Flags, and Cyclorama on GA visits, what
would I not give to return with them all, if for only one
resplendent summer hour, to that indescribable haven!
the beautiful book that Morgan Murphy and Lamar Clifton wrote.
Wouldn't it be wonderful if someone would "step up to the
plate," and save the Casino. Pete Lewis and I (and band) played
for a lot of dances there in the 60's and Cary Barker and I
played in the dining room in the 70's..
*** 03/29/03 ~
Bob Clanton (1954):
When I attended Albany High I lived in
Putney, about half way between River Bend and Radium Springs.
Each day I rode past Radium on the school bus and never gave it
a thought. It was there, always had been, always would be.
To the best of my recollections I was only inside twice, both
times for our Junior Senior Prom. With so little connection why
did my eyes fill with tears when I saw the pictures of it's
destruction. Because it was a square in the quilt of my memory.
It represented a carefree time, when the only thing I was in a
rush to do was grow up. A time when I was in love for the first
time. And now the fabric of my memories is coming apart, bit by
I left Albany in Aug.1957 and have only returned briefly three
times. Albany, and the friends and classmates I knew there are
snapshots frozen in time. With only a few exceptions, all of you
are just as you were when I left. That is as it should be.
Because that is Home and Home is a safe and secure haven that
you return to, even if only in your mind, when you need to
I prefer to remember Albany and all of you as you were, even the
ones that are no longer with us. Therefore I will retain the
pictures of Radium as it was and will not save the ones of it's
For all of you that worked to save Radium you have my heartfelt
thanks. Remember any time you want to return there you can,
Memories are forever. Take care.
*** 03/14/03 ~
Joye Thomas Hadarits (1954):
I remember having
lunch on the terrace at Radium Springs and they had a wonderful
club sandwich and the best lemonade I have ever tasted. We would
have special parties there and when my sister Connie was getting
married she had her luncheon there for the bridesmaids and so
did Jacque Walton. I have so many wonderful memories of Albany
and my many wonderful friends growing up. I have a picture of a
luncheon given by Delores Ann Taylor Yancey for Joan Jefferson
and we are all in our bathing suits around the table and what
fun that was. I am so glad to have my memories of home and even
today when anyone asks where I am from I first say Albany even
after all these years.
*** 02/06/03 ~
Pat Hancock Hamby (1952):
Thank you Beverly for this
web site. I enjoyed reading everyone's comments of experiences
at Radium Springs. My family, cousins, siblings, my dad who was
an avid swimmer and friends, Loretta Maxwell, Joann Dukes and I
went to Radium with some very fine airmen we dated from Turner
Air Force Base and Ohio, while students at AHS. For high school
graduation, my parents honored me with a picnic there, with
family members as guests.
During my days of nursing training at Riverside Hospital School
of Nursing of Jacksonville, FL. Indiana University School of
Nursing and Florida State Hospital, occasionally, classmates and
I visited the springs.
My dad lived in the Radium Springs area long before he passed
away and we went often during those days.
Radium Springs is a treasure to be cherished forever and I am so
thankful for the efforts of Lamar Clifton and Morgan Murphy
to save it, plus actually, the possibility of raising the Casino
above the flood plain. The Casino will not be the same anywhere
The 1952 Class Reunion was great and so is the book
Over the years, I have visited Radium Springs with my children
and grandchildren, who marveled at the sight and coldness of it.
Since closure, I dropped by once to reminisce and just have a
positive faith that it will be saved and restored.
It is truly a wonderful place, a precious memory of our younger
days and a gift to Albany from God and hopefully, we can all
visit and enjoy Radium Springs again in the future. I vote to
*** 02/03/03 ~
Johnston O'Quinn (1952):
Please add my name to the people
wanting to save Radium Springs. I have so many wonderful
memories of Radium (dances, freezing in the water, the Cotton
Ball, etc.) Hanging out there on Saturday with Barbara Lipsey
England, trying to get Richard and Fred Bartlett to notice us
and dancing on the outside pavilion. Also, I remember the only
night I got to stay out most of the night was my graduation
night. Anne Rouse Donovan and I (along with dates that we can't
remember their names) ended up at Radium Springs and actually
climbed the high slide, but couldn't get up the nerve to slide
down into the cold water. We just backed down the ladder.
My youngest son, Scott, had his graduation dance there many
years after my time. My memories of that night aren't all that
great as he jumped into the "boil" on a dare from his friends.
The part I didn't like was that he had on a brand new suit that
I had purchased for his graduation.
As you can see, I do have tons of memories and would love to do
anything I can to keep Radium so please add my name to the list.
~ Morgan Murphy (1947 -
Found your WebSite page ...
good one on Radium.
Dougherty County now owns the Radium Casino. It was deeded to
them by FEMA with the stipulation that the building be torn down
by the end of this year. We are diligently working with Senators
Max Cleland and Zell Miller, and Congressman Sanford Bishop to
try and save the building from the wrecking ball. They are
developing a bill to submit to Congress in order to save it. It
is going to take congressional action to pull this off. The plan
is to jack the building up eight feet. This would be out of the
flood plain. I have found a company that is capable of
accomplishing this feat. The Homeowners Association in Radium
Springs would form a 501 (c) (3) non profit status. They, in
turn, would manage the building, with maybe some rental offices
on the second floor for cash flow. The downstairs could be
rented out for reunions, weddings and all those good things. Our
senators think they can find the money to do all of this. FEMA
has told us they will fight the bill if it gets on the floor of
Congress. That is where we are now. We are wishing for the best.
Buster Wasden (Class of 1955):
never forget spring and summers at Radium Springs. When I
was a lowly freshman or sophomore at AHS I couldn't wait to
get out to Radium to ... ready for this???? ... SWIM!!! It
was the coldest water anywhere around (still is).
When I finally got to be a junior I discovered girls ...
wow! Radium was a virtual hunting ground for young bucks
like myself (and there were scads of them, i.e., Wayne
Sheffield, Charlie Foster, Sammy Mansfield, Brinson
Phillips, and I could go on and on ... we never caught
anything but we loved the hunt!). But when I became a senior
I found the real meaning of Radium .... Dancing at the
Remember the hot, sticky nights at Radium? You would be so
hot that your clothes (white t shirt and levis) literally
stuck to your body ..... it was cool!!! And the feeling that
you got when they announced over the speakers that it was
time to go home ...!
I loved to watch DAP do her thing ... she was really good.
And remember Sonny Westberry? He wasn't half bad himself.
And of course, Wayne Kennedy .... Mr. COOL!!!
I drive by the old place now from time to time and am
saddened to think that they may tear it down. There should
be something we could do to help keep it as a "historic"
site or something. If anyone has any ideas please let me
know. I want to help the old girl survive.
Thanks for the memories, Buster
Susan Riffe O'Neal (Class of
When I was
a child the two most glamorous places in my life were Radium
Springs and the New Albany Theater. As I commented recently to
Rachel Greer Norras when she was here in Norfolk, when we went
to the "picture show" in Albany I felt we were stepping into the
movie world itself. The pavilion at Radium Springs also seemed
like a terribly sophisticated place to me. Moreover, Radium
Springs was the only place I was allowed to swim since my
parents thought the waters there were healthy and suspected
swimming pools of spreading or even causing dread infantile
paralysis. I hope the activists are successful in thwarting
Jon Crawford (1954):
of this country boy’s best (early on) thrills before AHS days
was GOING TO RADIUM! I can’t remember my first time going –
older brothers Holt, AHS ’41 and Gene, ’43 probably introduced
me to that wonderful place. I do remember Gene getting somewhat
disgusted and throwing me in to shorten the time to be spent on
swimming lessons – very effective method. I’m sure we all had
self imposed goals – diving from the board; getting to the
bottom of the boil; climbing the rock columns to the ‘tower’
above the board, etc. Who will remember or admit how hard that
was early on? Believe me, it was as hard for me to go off that
‘tower’ for the first time as it was to make my first jump in
Airborne training at Benning a few years later.
usually have to hitch hike (remember this was the 40’s) and
on one or two occasions when I didn’t have the price of
admission, there was always a soft spot to slither
underneath the tall fence back towards the rear woods. Once
inside, there was never enough time for all that Radium
offered. Does anyone remember diving down to certain cracks
and crevices in the rocks on the side walls of the boil and
digging out the blue/gray clay? We’d make enough trips down
to accumulate enough to smear it all over our skinny bodies,
then dive in and swim leaving this blue/gray trail in the
clear water. I wonder which genius figured that one out. And
of course there was always the creek to explore – always
good for frogs, snakes, eels and whatever else was good to
delight the girls.
things plus all sorts of games, races and just generally
checking out the island, sandy bottom and everything in
general, kept us from too much gawking (with our intelligent
looking open mouth drools) at the beautiful girls. I
remember going to what must have been a birthday party for
Diane Gortatowsky, and there was a picture, but I can’t find
it. Who remembers that?
Someone had the good taste to
entertain us all with great background music – perhaps
different songs take each of you back there – I cannot hear
ALL THE THINGS YOU ARE without being there. Don’t want to
get mushy in front of all of you but it was the promised
kiss of springtime for me. Jon
Joye Thomas Hadarits (1954):
I was able
to view your wonderful page finally and I cannot begin to tell
you of the pleasure it gave me. I was looking at some old albums
the other day and I have a picture of myself sitting on the wall
and I think Jackie Clark took the picture. I lived on Hibiscus
Drive for several years and spent a lot of time at Radium
Springs and Jack did as well. Thanks for the memories. Love Joye
Harriet Ort Cornelius (1955):
I have enjoyed the memories of my "Albany
Friends" so very much that I thought, I must think, think,
think, and come up with something worthwhile to share on the
subject of Radium. I was simply amazed at the memories Robert
Gotsch came up with. He must have a photographic memory!
start off the season every year, my mom would always pack a
picnic lunch, invite a few friends and have a birthday party for
me at Radium. A new bathing suit would be part of the
celebration. At some point during the afternoon we would have a
water ballet out in the big part of the water. We were sure that
we looked just like Esther Williams.
I most definitely loved to dance and did teach a lot of boys to
do the bop. Of course, the living room of homes was the training
ground, then they would graduate to The Pavilion at Radium. It
had a rough gray slate finish on the floor and I can remember on
at least one occasion, we danced so much that I wore the skin
off my feet. I do not know why we danced barefoot. Or maybe, it
was just me that did, but my feet took a beating.
there were all those hunks that showed off their muscles and
diving skills as they plunged into the deep blue water. Just
before Lem McLendon passed away, I had an opportunity to tell
him how I had admired him diving into the water from the high
dive. He was one of those wonderful divers that hardly made a
splash when he hit the water. I think I tried diving into the
well once or twice and almost lost my bathing suit. So, from
them on I decided that it must be a guy thing.
beautiful water, the cypress trees covered with Spanish moss and
friends all around us made this our Camelot.
Joan Kling (1955):
Thanks so very much for the
classmate updates, and the Radium Springs news .... My family
moved to Albany just before the 1953-54 school term, our Junior
year, so I don't remember very much about Radium Springs except
our end of school picnics, and that it was a beautiful place,
and the water was so freezing cold.
I'm glad I'm back in the loop and corresponding with some of my
friends from way back when we were "a little" younger. Barbara
A. Hoffman and I are reminiscing about when we worked together
on our first office jobs. Thanks for getting us in touch with
Barbara Lipsey (1952):
Yes, it certainly was
"our Camelot"... Most of those times were after me but I do
remember many of them with love and affection. Wish we could go
back sometimes ...
Mary Jean Cook (1955):
The Radium emails are always
so interesting and bring back so many good memories about
Albany. I guess the older we get the more we like to think about
the good old days when life seemed simple. It was also sad to
read the article about Radium Springs in the Atlanta Journal
yesterday. I wish there was something we could do about saving
it but I don't know what it would be do you? Is there anybody we
can write to? I enjoyed reading Bob Gotsch's article about AHS
and all the things we did as teen-agers. Lou, our daughter and
his daughter were sorority sisters at Auburn.
Robert (Bob) Gotsch
Radium Springs Memories: the
Clark Thread Sunday afternoon picnics behind the sandy beach in
1949 and 1950; the first time swimming in "water over my head"
between the island and the platform; Ted Cahill diving off the
island and landing on my mother who happened to be swimming
around the island at the time, she never forgot that event;
wrestling on the soapy raft with the other guys, and always
ending up in the water early, Claude Boynton was the "king of
the raft" that summer; listening to "Sundays Down South" over
the PA at the "boil" being broadcast from WQXI in Atlanta and
thinking how great is was listening to the "big city station"
playing those "neat sounds"; checking out the "chicks" in their
Jantzen's sitting on their towels by the wall next to the
stairwell, and thinking as a 15 year old, next time I walk on
by, I'll get the courage to stop and talk; noticing from about
the years of 11 to 17, that the spot by the stairs always seemed
to be occupied by the "really cute girls", but the group changed
gradually each year, I wondered who set up the line of
succession as a 15 year old;
How about hanging out at "The Pavilion" on Friday and Saturday
nights after the movies at the Albany Theater with your dates; I
learned to shag there, and those shag steps keep me in demand at
weddings with the "ole girls" who remember how, greeting me with
"I see you're a dancer", to which I reply, "Let's dance, mama".
We always sit down when the wedding band plays the 20 minute
rendition of "Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch" and all the girls over 35
get up and start dancing with each other; Yes, I still remember
"DAP" Page leaning against a post at the Pavilion soloing on
steps she learned at the "Hangout" in PC, which has since become
a victim of the "hurricane urban renewal program";
the rest of the group also thinking dancing with a post "was
cool" and imitating her; I learned all of my shagging steps at
the Pavilion, and as a result I got to meet some neat girls at
the Tech fraternity parties and after graduation at those
swinging Atlanta apartment parties in the early 60's; I always
proudly stated "I learned this stuff at the Radium Pavilion;
taking a break from the dance at the Casino, and walking around
the pool in the moonlight with your date (Charlotte Curry or
Mary Jean Cook or Sydnor Peacock), and thinking "does it get any
better then this?" Reading about the Smith Family moving to
Albany with Beverly and her sisters in the Albany Herald (with a
picture) and residing across from Radium in those apartments;
riding your bike to Radium during a hot summer day with a couple
of buddies, and carefully balancing on the white line by the
side of the road, to stay out of the cars way coming up behind
you; stopping at five points to get a Top Cola (16 oz for the
long ride to Radium), putting Planters Peanuts into the bottle,
and "shooting torpedoes" with the peanuts.
to Radium in the early nineties and realizing things had changed
when three uniformed guards stopped and searched my bag for
weapons and booze because they had some "incidents" between some
of the groups on site recently. . . .I looked at the makeup of
crowd, the Jantzen girls were gone from sitting against the wall
by the staircase, Dap and BB where long gone from shagging
against the posts at the Pavilion, Claude Boynton and the soapy
raft were gone, but young black guys and their dates were in a
corner by the Pavilion, the troops from the base were gathered
on the grass in front of the gazebo, and the redneck guys and
their dates were on blankets, scattered on the grass and the
area behind the sandy beach. I understood why the armed guards
were in place.
I walked around from the slide, to the restaurant deck, to the
Pavilion, across the grass lawn, over to the sandy beach, and
back. As I looked into the "boil", I remembered Howard
Bedenbaugh and the perfect arc dive he could make off of the
high dive and land with a minimum splash, and think "what a cool
dive". I looked around again and noted how worn and tired Radium
looked. I didn't know anyone there. The AHS gang was gone.
You can't go home again, but it was great while it lasted as
an update on the line of succession protocol concerning "the
wall" at Radium. Our contributor is my sister Linda, Class of
Linda Gotsch (1958):
I was one of those
girls who sat at the wall at Radium. It happened your junior
year if you were in and definitely your summer of the senior
year. Baby oil and iodine was the sun tan oil of choice, plus
making a big deal of mixing the stuff and rubbing it on your
bod. You just sat there and looked good. Linda
Anne Ruffin (1956):
Thanks for sending the Radium
memories. I took a little jaunt down memory lane.
Barbara Amann (1955):
Radium Springs! There will never
be another place like it. I remember one of my first parties
there -- if I remember correctly, I was with David Akridge (whom
I looked for at the reunions - 1985 and 1995 but never did see).
I did remind Jackie Clark, however, that he teased me
unmercifully by spelling words and getting me to say them with
my Yankee accent -- he didn't remember! Does anyone remember the
parachute "chair" that was installed there one summer for Air
Force survival training? I want you all to know that I had the
courage (that only a sixteen-year-old would have) to actually
jump from it as it was raised over the center! My sons would
never believe it!
glad that the '95 reunion was held there; it brought back a lot
of pleasant memories
Taylor Harrison (1954):
I can remember that
(judge) Bubba Stewart was "king of the raft" practically all
summer in the early 50's. The raft was a gift from TAFB as well
as I remembered.
much for the updates on our "history" ------ each of us has
memories of Radium Springs which would entertain everyone for
hours. Keep the news coming and I will keep passing it along ..
Joe Ed Rossman (1955):
Thought I'd add some of my
thoughts to Cleme’s. Remember church picnics at Radium after
Bible School in June or July. (That's from my pre-high school
days). I am like Cleme because I also remember the so-called
"Tree House" as The Pavilion. Diving from the board over the
boil and from the tower where all the boys tried so hard to show
off what "real Men" they were.
forget eating at the Casino (never the gambling kind) on Sunday
afternoons with Rosin baked potatoes to go with the roast beef.
about swimming over to the island and climbing up on the rock
wall to walk around under the trees then diving back into that
(seemingly) freezing water to swim to the raft. I remember
diving off the raft one summer and going straight to the bottom
and hitting my head on a rock. It still hurts! Maybe that's why
I've always been such a nut.
right. None of us were what you would call "Rich", but when it
came to fun and good times together there was a richness to our
lives that is somehow missing from what young people go through
today. No drugs (except a few beers if you could get them) a lot
of self respect and respect for other people, and most of all,
lots of good fun just being together. There'll never be another
Clementine Wiggins (1957 - now
deceased): Oh, the wonderful
memories that name provokes. Hot summer night’s air conditioned
by the Springs. Listening to the jukebox and dancing. You're
right about the name "Tree House" I don't remember calling it
anything but the "Pavilion". Remember how cold it was when you
first went in the water and how you stayed cool on a hot Sowega
summer day a good half hour after you got out and Will or Wiley
Smith climbing up in the tree to dive down into the boil. I
remember one day a gray oak snake dropped into the water and
emptied the area near by of all swimmers. The Senior picnic and
of course the Jr. Sr. prom were held there. I really think the
teenagers of today would envy us if they had one taste of what
we had and I wouldn't trade it for anything they have today. I
know that there are a lot more Radium memories out there and
hope you will forward those to me.
Tommy Herrington (1956):
Re: The Senior Picnic
and the Jr. Sr. Prom at Radium. I remember that night pretty
well. Maynard playing the trombone, and the fact that I had been
given four flat tires by somebody ... (on my mother's old '41
Dodge with the Fluid Drive. Even had a running board!). I guess
we will never forget our times growing up....
B.B. Rhodes (1952):
I remember Cleme
Wiggins and I bet she remembers B.B. as one of Motie's older
friends. As we get older we wonder what happened to people -
where are they - what are they doing, etc. I also remember
Radium Springs, being a life guard, diving in the boil, our Jr.
Sr. picnic and winning the swimming race, dancing and skinny
dipping in the springs when no one was looking. I also remember
gigging ells in the creek and selling them to blacks in Harlem.
B.B. Rhodes (1952):
Radium article was in the Albany Herald and was an interview
with Morgan Murphy about the book Skywater that he and Lamar
Clifton wrote. I have a copy of the book and it's really good.
You can get a copy from Albany Bank and Trust. (A new bank in
town / home owned). Take care B.B.
Taylor Harrison (1954):
The latest is that the
casino is to be torn down. Seems FEMA paid Manley for it & the
next step calls for tearing it down. Hopefully, still in the
air, but doesn't look good for the home team.
Beverly Smith (1955):
When we first moved to Albany
from Jacksonville, FL in November of '48, we lived in the
Magnolia apartments straight east from Radium. There was a flood
that fall/winter that prohibited going into McIntosh Elementary
- you couldn't get across the Flint into town and though Radium
was flooded too, I didn't have a clue what it was! But I
certainly found out - for Radium was the "ground of bonding" for
me. In the summer it was Mother's baby sitter - and every summer
I went nearly every day. My closest group of girlfriends ...
Sydnor Peacock, Sara Cordell, Mary Jane Cook and Roxana Speight
... were there most days with me! And I have pictures - black
and white of course to prove it! We turned our little bodies
brown as nuts with baby oil and iodine. And even though I had
incredibly natural blonde hair at that time, in went the lemon
juice to make it lighter! We wore Jantzen’s, Catalina’s, and
Rose Marie's (or something like that) and we drank wonderful icy
co-colas in little green bottles! We sun bathed in the little
area just to the right of the grand stairway! And yes - dancing
in the Pavilion was dancing the good way ... mostly jitterbug
and the wonderful "close" dancing! I didn't like heights, so the
high dive and the big slide were not for me! And I really was
not crazy about the cold water either, but one December 31 at
midnight some of us simply got crazy and jumped in the water
from the concrete wall! I remember I forgot I was wearing a
brand new watch! I rescued it with my hair dryer later that
A group of
Juniors "sponsored" the Junior-Senior dances and I was dating
Terry Coleman the year I was a sponsor - unfortunately he played
drums in Ray Ragsdale's "Baron's" - frankly I wasn't impressed
at all - especially with the fact that if he was my date, I
would have no one to dance with!!! SO - we broke up and John
Huie took me! HOW SHALLOW OF ME!!! But Terry did a beautiful
thing ... Annie Jean Pridgen - did not have a date, but was also
a sponsor, and she asked Terry if he would be her date so she
could be listed in the newspaper as having an escort. HE DID THE
BIG THING .... HE SAID YES!!!
remember the Senior picnic my senior year - especially the
relays!!!! Somehow Suzy Whittaker and I ended up as the 2
girls on the same relay team - which was a big mistake for all
the rest of the teams! We just happened to be the 2 fastest girl
runners in the school - and our team was finished before the
others got started good.