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October 5, 1999

Mobile: Then and Now

Then Now
(Click on a photo to see a larger version)

by Tom McGehee

The south east corner of South Washington and Government streets has held a string of commercial ventures throughout the twentieth century.

As the century arrived, Edward McGraw operated a grocery store on the corner. He and his wife Minnie, resided on the floor above.

By the teens Bell Telephone had its stockroom here, while in the thirties Sam Joy Laundry was in the space. After World War II, the lot was cleared and held the used car inventory of Government Street Motors.

In 1951 George Papageorge opened one of his three drive-ins here and this photograph captures that era. The diner-like structure is centered on an asphalt lot surrounded by billboards hawking everything from shoes to car tires.

Travelers on what had been designated Highway 90 now had the option of eating inside the “Dinette” or dining in their cars. Printed on the curb is the request to “Blink Lights for Curb Service.” The drive-up window had yet to be invented.

Also in view is a low brick building to the east. This was the medical office of Dr. Jacques Baumhauer for nearly forty years. Towering beyond is the Greek Orthodox Church.

By the mid-sixties, only Dr. Baumhauer’s building remained. The church moved its operations to Ann Street and a parking lot replaced its former site. Mr. Papageorge’s dinette location would eventually house two rental car agencies before being replaced by an Arby’s franchise - complete with a drive -up window.


Photo credit: USA Archives.


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