‘Back to the 50s’
‘Call on the memories
here in the dark...
We’ll let the music
take us away....
Lost in the 50s tonight.
The town changed forever in those Alcoa boom years and, while it kept on changing, there are still a few relics of that hectic time if you just know where to look.
Hundreds of students and parents file past the brick raised relief lion and elephant at the entrance to Rockdale Elementary School every day.
“I don’t know how many people actually notice them any more,” Elementar y Principal Robin Faulkner laughed. “You’d be surprised how many people don’t see them until they’re pointed out.”
The school was built in phases with the office-west classroom w ing-lunchroom completed first.
One year previously Alcoa bean hiring its Rockdale work force using an office upstairs over the old Prewitt Drug Store.
First metal wouldn’t be poured until November, 1952.
Even though Alcoa’s smelter has closed there’s still a few employees at “Building 80,” another relic of the 1950s
“New tile has been put down in the foyer and we changed the outside lettering for Alcoa’s 50th anniversary in 2004,” she said.
“That’s about it. I think the aluminum trim is still the original material from 1951,” she said.
Here’s a word you haven’t heard in a while.
Alcoa immediately built two subdivisions in the early 1950s, just about doubling Rockdale’s size.
Westwood homes targeted salaried workers and the Coffield Addition for hourly workers.
Until the gap between the old town and the new subdivisions closed residents were likely to hear “I’m going to visit a friend in Westwood,” as if it were a different community, as separate as Cameron or Taylor.
The 50s is gone and much of the evidence of that decade’s impact on Rockdale is gone too.