|Historic Marker in Homewood, Alabama|
|Club Rex Postcard ca. 1940|
"Nelson built Hollywood Country Club on Shades Valley Highway, now Lakeshore Drive, overlooking Shades Creek where the Marriott Courtyard Hotel stands today. The large Spanish Mission-style clubhouse, with a swimming pool in the front that was a favorite place for children and teens, 'offered the finest in meals and entertainment six or seven days a week.' Although plans to add a golf course on the property were never completed. Hollywood Country Club provided members and guests 'an elite dining and dancing spot' for years....It changed ownership several times after 1930, but the building remained in existence until a fire damaged it in 1984 and subsequently it was torn down." [p. 86-87]
"Homewood added a swimming pool to its list of community recreation facilities when it began leasing the Hollywood Country Club pool in the summer of 1934. (By then the club was privately owned by G.C. Lockhart and would change hands many times in the years to come.) The popular Municipal Swimming Pool took in more than $500 during the first half of July 1934 alone. Men could rent swimsuits, and all swimmers were provided with towels. The city hired two lifeguards, Bob Purdy and Wallace Ward, at sixty-five dollars per month each and a cashier, Miss Lottie Lee Patterson, for twenty-five dollars per month...The city council allowed underprivileged children to use the municipal pool at no charge....The Summer Bus Line, which operated the Hollywood bus service originally established by Clyde Nelson, ran a shuttle to the pool from Dunn's drugstore and from Broadway at Roseland Drive, stopping at many points along the way." [p. 125]
"Hollywood Country Club" sign added for postcard only
"Rex, Alabama Club, Bought Birmingham, Jan. 13 - Joe Robino, restaurant owner, has purchased for $59,500, the old Hollywood Country Club building, with five acres, a swimming pool, and new streamlined nitery equipment, including a $2,750 rotary cooker that broils 90 steaks at once. Clubhouse originally built as private country club for exclusive Hollywood residential section, has been operated on lease from foreclosures as Club Rex nitery for nine years. Club plans use of nitery entertainment and occasional guest ork." [Billboard magazine, January 20, 1945, p. 23]
January 20, 1945 cover
|July 21, 1945 cover|
"Birming'm To Get 25G Club With All-Glass Blg. & Floor Birmingham, Ala., July 16 - Birmingham steps into the big-town nitery class next month with the construction of a new $75,000 all glass club with glass dance floor and penthouse atop a circular club building. Name bands and floorshows are to be imported, according to Bob Smith, widely known nitery op promoting the project on the club membership plan with guest memberships for visitors, with 60-G already in hand. Smith operated Club Rex in Hollywood for 10 years." [Billboard, July 21, 1945, p. 27]
|Poolside at Club Rex|
The swimming pool, of course, was always a favorite place to go during the hot Birmingham summers. My mom remembers their maid would go with them and was responsible for watching she and her older brother and sister swim. A maid at that time was fairly common for families, but since she was black she would only have been able to watch the children swim from a seat - the pool itself was whites-only.
|Backside of Club Rex postcard|
My grandfather continued to work at his job with TCI while helping to run Club Rex, going over to the club after a full day at work, as did Bob Smith. For a time Bob and his wife and daughter lived on the property, in bedrooms that were part of the property, as did another partner who managed the property during the day. The property was bought by Joe Robino in 1945.
How fun it was to have a swimming pool and a night club, located less than a mile from their home, as part of your childhood memories.