Today we have a First-World Problem over on the West Bank. It's not the kind of thing that's life-threatening, hazardous, an eyesore, immoral or even fattening. Just irritating at least to Irritated Reader Stephanie.
She points out that the signs on the Phenix City Bypass announcing that the Summerville Road exit leads to Garrett-Harrison Stadium have Garrett's name misspelled, using only one T. The signs are wrong on the approach from the east or west, she said. This irritates Stephanie because she's the kind of person who insists on things being spelled correctly.
And she's right, about the misspelling, if not the irritation, of which I experienced none when I drove over there to check it out.
But maybe it would irritate me more if I knew anything about Mr. Gar
rett, he of two Ts, and for that matter, Mr. Harrison.
I am not a student of Phenix City history, so I called Jim Cannon, the city's unofficial historian. If Jim doesn't know it, then it probably hasn't happened yet. He filled me in.
The stadium was built around the time Idle Hour Park was being developed, in the mid to late 1940s.
Since Roy Martin, of Martin Theaters fame, developed the park and built the stadium, it was originally known as Martin Stadium.
It was built in 1947 at a cost of $75,000, which is less than it would probably cost to have it painted today.
Sadly, Martin died in a plane crash in Louisiana in 1949, and the city bought the stadium and park from Martin's sons for about $225,000 in 1951. If that seems like a bargain price for 237 acres of parkland with a stadium at one end, it was.
Cannon said at the time, the property was appraised for $2.6 million, so the Martins practically gave it to the city.
Over the years, the stadium has been used for prep football and track meets and back in the day, when the field had a dirt track, it hosted motorcycle and midget car races. Midget car racing, for the unwashed, is a legitimate form of auto racing, not a politically incorrect circus act.
In addition to prep sports, it has played host to numerous small college games, most notably the Division III championship game from 1972-82 and 1985-89.
Most recently, it hosted Tuskegee and Albany State in the Whitewater Classic last year.
But the vast majority of all that took place before it was Garrett-Harrison.
It wasn't until 2003 that the city renamed the stadium in honor of a couple of local coaching legends.
Tommy Garrett (with two Ts) was a long-time coach at Central High School and principal at Central Elementary.
He later went on to coach at Baker High School in Columbus.
Leo Harrison was a long-time coach and athletic director at South Girard High School.
Armed with all that, though using little of it in the actual phone call, I called the Alabama Department of Transportation and asked them to fix the sign. They said they would look into it.
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