One Dexter Plaza 3

1 Dexter

Oh, the memories a single picture can bring. But note that it is no longer Court Square, its name for almost 200 years; it is now named for that scoundrel Andrew Dexter. Essentially,  what we see is the one-time Pizitz Department Store. Pizitz bet on downtown; Lovemans bet on Normandale. Ultimately they both lost and retreated back to Birmingham. My 2nd daughter was a “Pizitz Girl” in her ‘teen years.

In 1953 this was the Liggett Drug Store corner, where for three years I caught the Five-PM Fairview Route City Bus every weekday afternoon. Usually I could get a seat. I got off work at 5:00, four floors up.  The bus left at 5:06 sharp and I could see it from my desk. It was always close. Back then this was the city’s most bustling corner. Besides Liggett’s, the side of the block facing the fountain included J C Penny and the Strand Theatre. Toward the far end of the block, just past the Strand, was the upstairs (but quite sizeable) Tangerine Cafeteria, one of the strange places Bill Pearson would entice me to eat sometimes. All the Tangerine regulars had a favorite table there, and woe be unto young whippersnappers like the two of us who might sit at one.

After the Montgomery Pizitz demised, one of the replacement tenants was the Capitol City Club,  which had the big top-floor windows on this corner. Our Rotary Club met there and for a decade and we enjoyed the beautiful view up Dexter. My 4th daughter had her wedding reception there. I think WSFA cameras look out of those windows now.

The lower floors held several State Departments during the late 1980s and early ’90s, until the RSA started claiming them as tenants. It fell to my lot to tell each one that their days here were numbered.  In that role I almost became an honorary member of the Public Service Commission (ha!).

Several Federal agencies and courts were located here in the old Pizitz building during  the ’90s while the Federal Courthouse was being remodeled and expanded. I had business with several. This is where our City Hall was located a year or two back, while the 1937 city hall over on North Perry was being renovated. I could not help but notice that all the city officials were much friendlier while here than they were when they were back in the formal city hall, augmented by official environs. And now this is to become the City-County Library? I’ve seen pictures, but who am I to say.

If you had a real computer screen you could see there are pole-mounted historic tablets every 100-feet or so down the sidewalk. But these all speak to events of 150 years ago, and that was even before I moved here. Finally, if you look on down the walk and across Court Street, 100 years ago, one of the sunlit store-fronts you see held the furniture store owned by my wife’s grandfather Parker. So many memories it gets in the way of storytelling.

-Charles Humphries

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