Pepperell Memorial - East Alabama Museum
Thank you Jess Akins
"Blast From The Past" WJHO Radio - Jack Smollon
Opelika History/Images Opelika, Alabama
Opelika Mill Village News
Pepperell Kids
PROFILE - Teachers & Students
Class of 1952 Obituary
Alumni Newsletter 2014

I received this information from Clifton Minter.  This article was published in the Lafayette Sun last week.  (November 2011).  Very interesting reading regarding the old prisoner of war camp (World War II). 


Comments from Tony Miller regarding his father's time spent in Opelika at the German POW Camp located here.

I contacted my brother, who was a child living on the base with my mother and father.  He remembers very little other than my father interrogated German prisoners from Rommel's Afrika Corp.  I remember my father telling me that the POW's were mostly farm boys like himself and that they were drafted into the German Army.  Once when he was pretty sick in the infirmary, he said that the German POW's acting as orderlies, treated him really well.  He also said that there were some real die-hard Nazi's among the prisoners.  My mother told my brother that at the time Opelika was segregated and the African Americans would cross over to the other side of the street when they would walk downtown.  Apparently, Mother knew some of the resident townspeople and they would call my brother "Little Missy" because his hair was long.  The wives at that time would not cut the hair of their sons until the father returned from the war to take them to the barber shop.  Sadly, that's about all I have for you. - Tony Miller, Jr.
My father's name was Anthony J. Miller
My mother's name was Rose Miller
My brother's name is Thomas Miller

(Webmaster's note- Tony had sent an email telling me that his father worked at the POW Camp located in Opelika during World War II.  He doesn't remember much due to the fact that he was a young child, but did share what he and his brother remembered regarding this)

Comments from James W. Strickland, Ph.D a 1961 graduate of J.W. Darden High School in Opelika....

Bob Goodson was apparently making items for Nursing Homes as a part time business prior to opening his Jewelry Store. I don't remember Mack's last name but he worked during the day at Cannon Motor Company and part time at the warehouse. He painted all the products. In retrospect, the manufacture of these products was probably a part of Hall's Florist at the time. I've traveled and lived in many large Metropolitan cities but I always brag about growing up in the south and especially Opelika. It will always be home.

I attended East Street School and graduated from J.W. Darden High in 1961. In my book "A Charge To Keep I have:A Promise Kept", Amazon.com, I write about early history in and around Opelika. I mention Jack Smollen's radio shows and Bob Goodson, Jeweler. Mr. Bob, as I called him, was a major inspiration in my life as he, a guy named Mack who worked at Cannon Motor Company, made styrofoam ducks and flowers out of Hall's Florist warehouse then located on Kilgore Avenue. Listening to Smiling Jack was so delightful. You have a great site!!

Mr. Bob, Mack and I worked each night in Hall Florist's Warehouse around the corner from our home. I placed eyes on the Styrofoam ducks and packed and sealed the boxes for shipping. Of all the education I have, I credit Mr. Bob with getting me started in crafts and helping to motivate me to learn as much as I could about a little of everything. I'm a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Human Relations Consultant but I love doing crafting even to this day.

I've written two books. My first, "Hospice, A Holistic Journey Through The Shadow of Death" , Outskirts Press, 2009. My second book is " A Charge To Keep-I have:A Promise Kept", Outskirts Press, 2010. It is about growing up in Opelika during the segregated years and moving from Opelika into the world. Both books are on Amazon.com and other on-line book sellers.

Although I spent 22 years in the Air Force and 18 years with the Department of Veterans Affairs, I still continued to see Opelika grow as my family either spent two weeks during the summer or two weeks at Christmas visiting throughout the years other than the time I spent in South East Asia during the Vietnam War.

I truly love the Web Site with all its nostalgia. My wife and I live in Dublin, Georgia now but we still call Opelika home. My mother died in 2008 at 92 years old but all my siblings still reside in Opelika or Auburn. My brother, Larry retired as Principal of Carver Elementary School and my Nephew, Kenneth Burton is Assistant Superintendent of Opelika Public Schools.

"The largest department store in town was the Montgomery Fair. It had two levels and catered to the rich,famous and the poor. It also had the era's white and colored water fountains, but at Christmas, the store had only one Santa Claus. I still believe that Santa Claus was the first person to integrate America because for us kids, his race did not matter".

I worked after school in 11th and 12th grade at V. J. Elmores. My dad was a Boilerman at Pepperell Mill until his death in 1967. That's the only place I remember him working.

James W. (Jim) Strickland, PhD, LCSW

About James W Strickland, Ph.D.,LCSW

James W. Strickland, Ph.D. is a rising author, progressive change advocate, gifted public speaker, and a Licensed Clinical Social Worker born and raised in the old south. He attended segregated schools and saw first hand the demeaning ills of racism. Though the schools were segregated, he attributes his successes to having been prepared for life's trials by the faculty and teachers of East Street and J.W. Darden High Schools in Opelika, Alabama. His father never learned to read or write because, as a young Negro boy, he had to work the fields of the land owner. The author promised his father as he lay dying in the author's arms that he would erase the "X" that his father used to sign documents and promised to write in his stead forever.

"A Charge To Keep I Have" -  A Promise Kept
    By:  James W. Strickland, PhD, LCSW

Ordering Information

6 x 9 paperback cream

ISBN: 9781432751159


   Buy from Amazon.Com



Regarding Opelika's Railroads by - Winston Smith T     
Comments by John Kettlekamp -

City of Miami & Seminole lines

Mr. SmithT:

I enjoyed your history of Opelika railroads. I lived a little bit of that history, and I remember that the City of Miami came through Opelika every day, but not both ways. One day it was north bound, the next day south bound. I learned this lesson "the hard way" back in April of 1957 when I was 7 years old. Dad was working temporarily in Opelika and I was going to get my first ride on a train. We got up very early in the morning and drove about an hour to catch the City of Miami in Mattoon, Illinois. I can still hear dad and our neighbor, who drove us to the station, laughing (it was April Fool's Day) when the ticket agent told them that the train ran south every other day, and this was its day to run north. But it was no joke. We returned home (I got sent to school - I thought I was getting a day off and my first train ride - an April Fool's Day I will never forget). That evening, we drove back and caught the Seminole. As excited as I was, I slept most of the night. By early morning, we were in Birmingham, where cars were added and taken off while we were shuttled around in the railway yard, with a view of the steel mills. (Heaven for this 7 year old). We got into Opelika late morning, just before noon.  We spent the summer of 1957 in Opelika. We stayed in a small apartment in the Hotel Clement, about two blocks from the railway station and about a block or so away from the railway yard along the West Point Route. Dad worked for a company that made water skis - it operated in one of the buildings that was known as the "P.O.W." camp a few miles south of town.  Back then it really was a "railroad town". The Central of Georgia and West Point Route each had "resident" switch engines that were constantly moving cars. Hotel Clement was "home" away from home for a lot of railroad engineers, etc. They would watch the TV in the lobby, and on Friday nights, I got to go with dad and watch the Friday Night Fights with the "big guys". They nicknamed me "Johnny Reb."

I remember seeing movies at the Martin Theatre that you mentioned. I am sure a lot has changed over the last 50 years, but I have many, many good memories of Opelika.

John Kettelkamp

Nokomis, Illinois

Your website brought back some fond memories - like the picture of Haynie's Drug Store. I remember going there for sodas. Mr. Haynie would always visit with dad. I was sad to learn that the Burt residence has been torn down. As I remember, Mrs. Burt resided at the Hotel Clement when we were there. There was another lady, Mrs. A.W. (Erma) Cook who also resided at the hotel across the hall from us. Both Mrs. Cook and Mrs. Burt retained ownership of their homes, but had moved to apartments in their senior years. Mrs. Cook's home was also beautiful. It was, as I recall, located east of downtown, not too far from the post office. Mrs. Cook took me there several times, where I helped her water her flowers. Mrs. Cook and my mother became friends and they corresponded for quite a few years. I remember Mrs. Cook writing to us that the Town House restaurant had burned and that it moved into Mrs. Burt's House. When we were there in 1957, I believe the Town House was located at the Golden Cherry Motel. (I enjoyed seeing a picture of the Golden Cherry on your website). We would often go there on Saturday evenings for fried chicken.

Thanks again for your website,