The Mid-Century South

Old-time fun at the Varsity in Atlanta. Story by James Street, Photos by Lois and Joe Steinmetz.

Yesterday, I found an old stash of Holiday magazines from the 50’s in the back of a vintage shop. I wasn’t surprised to see more than a dozen stories on the South and Southerners–the magazine’s expressed purpose was to convey the good life, after all–but I was surprised to see how the stories and pictures managed to capture the best of Dixie society in what was undeniably not her finest or most socially conscious hour. William Faulkner paints a verbal and photographic portrait of his Mississippi in the April 1954 issue and Ovid Williams Pierce shows the diversity of North Carolina’s mountain culture (February, 1957). Not only did James Street’s portrait of Atlanta (January 1951) make me crave a Coke like I haven’t in years, it made me want to restore the South’s signature drink to its full and proper name. He refers to it repeatedly as the South’s vin de pays (freetranslation.com tells me this means “country wine”); the least I can do is drop the slang and call it Coca-Cola.

Bare ankles and loafers on Georgia Tech's campus. Take that, Take Ivy.

A gaggle of teenagers enjoying a good, old-fashioned Coke party. (Steinmetz)

Arriving for a gathering at Bolling Jones. (Steinmetz)

Casual summer pool party? Check. Regulation-size climbing raft? Check.

A slightly terrifying yet efficient way to view the Blue Ridge Mountains.

New Hipster Profession Alert: Aristan Broommaker. Cherokee mentor and well-worn overalls not included.

A Bauhaus-inspired bathhouse in Cape Hatteras, NC. Eat your heart out, Marfa.

Nothing says Texas oil money like a red gingham table cloth. (February 1957)

A vintage sorority belle at Old South? No, Silly! It's the annual Natchez Pilgrimage.

When Carroll Baker starred in Tennessee Williams' film, Baby Doll, Holiday's movie critic called her "the hottest thing South of the Mason-Monroe line." Bam!

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5 Comments

Filed under Culture, Georgia, I'm just sayin', Inspiration, Media, Mississippi, north carolina, Southern Folk, Writers

5 responses to “The Mid-Century South

  1. GWEN POTH

    Do you remember what issue the roller coaster shot is from? Love it and would like to track down a copy.

  2. I enjoyed this post. Captured moments, well done! ~M

  3. Great pics! ATL looks a lot different these days.

  4. I’ve been reading over your blog for the last couple of days and I truly enjoy what you have posted. I was raised in the south and so much of what you post reminds me of the region I grew up in, not far from the Blue Ridge Mountains. While I never got the chance to see them via roller coaster, like the picture above, I’ve certainly spent my share of time driving through the Parkway and walking on the trails. I’m looking forward to reading more of your posts in the future.

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