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First Mayor of Mountain Brook, Alabama

Editorial Note: Much credit has been given on these pages and in this issue to Robert Jemison in his role in the founding of the City of Mountain Brook. Not much credit, however, has been given to Charles F. Zukoski, Jr. Mr. Zukoski was truly a civic leader, whose role in the founding of Mountain Brook, Alabama has been overlooked, probably because he was so controversial and ahead of his time in his political and sociological stances. He was obviously a person who was out of step with his era and truly marched to a different drummer. However that may be, he does deserve credit for his many contributions to the Birmingham area community. The below quoted article is being reprinted by permission from the Birmingham Committee on Foreign Relations. It is self-explanatory. It was written by Henry Frohsin, a named partner in the prominent law firm of Frohsin and Barger, here in Birmingham and the mentioned person, Frank Young, is known by many of us as a named partner in the prominent law firm of Haskell, Slaughter, Young and Rediker.

"A year or so ago, Frank Young [former local and national President of the Committee on Foreign Relations] asked me to present a short biographical sketch of the founder of the Birmingham Committee on Foreign Relations, Charles F. Zukoski, Jr. I gladly accepted. I accepted because of the fond memories I had of him as a young member of this organization which met then at the Relay House. Charles was always in attendance, along with General Henry Graham and Alex Lacy, smartly dressed and truly on top of the issues of the moment. Even though he was over 75 years of age, we could always count on him to ask thought provoking questions of our speakers. As Shorty Williams will attest later, he was never loath to speak his mind on issues, however controversial!"

"As I researched his life, I ran across an 88-page book entitled Voice in the Storm, the Button Gwinnett Columns written during the Civil Rights Struggles and other writings. It is to be found in the Birmingham Public Library and was published in 1990, six years before his death at age 97. In a foreword to the book, his friend and archivist, Marion Yeomans Whitley, wrote in part and I quote:"

Charles F. Zukoski, Jr. is a remarkable individual. His history includes a successful career as a senior officer of Birmingham, Alabama’s First National Bank; as the first mayor, and as a four-term mayor, of the City of Mountain Brook; as one of the area’s civic leaders, serving as chairman of the Shades Valley High School Advisory Committee; as one of the organizers, committee members, and early president and long time board member of the Birmingham Civic Symphony Association (now the Alabama Symphony Association); for many years a member of the board of the Birmingham Music Club; as organizer and for twenty years the secretary of the Birmingham Committee on Foreign Relations; and as president of the Jefferson County Coordinating Council of Social Forces, which was for years the planning agency of the community for health, recreation and welfare.

"Although this history bespeaks the "remarkable," as does the work which he and his wife Bernadine undertook, following his retirement from the bank, in behalf of family planning and birth control both locally and in many countries on all the continents, to my mind, Charles deserves the appellation principally because he is an individual who has never been afraid to think, to explore ideas and issues, and to speak his mind when the occasion is appropriate. In a culture crowded with people who are either not trained to the life of the mind, or who, although once trained, find the pursuit of ideas too demanding, Charles has remained wedded to the discipline."

"There is, however, another quality in Charles which I find remarkable. When he has explored an idea or an issue and has come to a conclusion about it, he will stand up for what he then believes. To quote a phrase my grandfather was wont to use, Charles has the "conviction of conscience." These two qualities, a willingness to think and the courage to argue for what one comes to believe, are clearly evident in The Columns which Charles authored in the 1940's and 1950's. The Columns were published under the pseudonym "Button Gwinnett" in the Shades Valley Sun. Whatever the issue – McCarthyism, race in education, the U.S. Supreme Court, racially-motivated bombings, death, fraternities and sororities in a local high school – the writings always reflects careful forethought, the capacity to live with ideas, and precise afterthoughts, the ability to reach conclusions, to present them cogently, and to offer arguments in their behalf."

"In an era of growing social hysteria, when the word "race" more than often, among Southerners, provoked the "knee-jerk reaction" and not the reasoned response, when it was often easier, among Americans, to hurl the word communist than to endure thinking that differed from the norm – in the midst of a growing storm of voices speaking in defense of a status quo, the voice of "Button Gwinnett" was remarkable, for it spoke of inevitable change, of the need to adjust to that change, of restrained and decent adjustment, of the value of ideas, of the need for a sense of the ethical, of the worth of the individual. For the age in which it spoke and the place from which it spoke, the voice was indeed remarkable, as was the man who spoke through it: Charles F. Zukoski, Jr."


Birmingham Composer Hugh Martin Dies

Famous composer Hugh Martin died this month in California at age 96.

Mr. Martin’s best known work was for "Meet Me in St. Louis" the 1944 movie with Judy Garland. Besides "The Boy Next Door" and "The Trolley Song" he wrote "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" which became one of the most famous Christmas songs of all time. He was nominated for four Tony’s and two Oscars. His long time writing partner was Ralph Blane.

Hugh Martin’s famous father was the architect for the 1927 Birmingham Public Library and Denny Chimes. He is survived by his brother Gordon D. Martin, Sr. and nephew Gordon D. Martin, Jr. both of Birmingham.

CD’s currently available include "Michael Feinstein Sings Hugh Martin" and "Hugh Martin Sings Hugh Martin".

By all means go down to the Birmingham History Center and see the Hugh Martin exhibit.


The following article is from “The Jemison Magazine” April 1929 edition.

Homewood Theatre

Salisbury Road House just completed by The Jemison Companies

New Colonial House on Salisbury Road

This beautiful Colonial house has just been completed on Salisbury Road in Redmont Park. Built of brick veneer whitewashed, and resting on reinforced concrete piles and covered with a slate roof, the house contains a large living room with Colonial mantels, a delightful sun-room, dining room, breakfast room, with two Colonial corner china cabinets, tile wainscoted kitchen, an enclosed rear service-porch, two closets, and a tile wainscoted lavatory. There is a main entrance hall from which a Colonial stairway leads to the second floor where we find four nice bedrooms, and a sleeping porch. Ample closets are found up stairs, some cedar-lined. Two complete bathrooms and one gentleman’s bath with tile shower. Connecting with the main house through a covered porch is a two-car garage with servant’s quarters and bath. Over the main house is a well-ventilated and well-lighted attic. The lot is planted with mature trees and shrubs. A flag-stone walk leads from the street to the terrace through the beautiful lawn of Bermuda grass.


Join the Tuscaloosa County Preservation Society as we celebrate
the 175th Anniversary of the

Battle-Friedman House

Homewood Theatre

Saturday, April 16th

1010 Greensboro Avenue, Tuscaloosa, AL 35401

10:00–12:00 Noon
Children and Families

Meet and greet the Battle and the Friedman families, hear their stories, tour their home, visit the gardens that inspired the song "April Showers", cupcakes included! Cost is $10 for a family of four. Extra children will be $2 per child.

Come to the Party!
6:00–8:00 Evening Reception

Step into another time – period food including a special Battle-Friedman birthday cake, drinks, and costumed personages from the Battle-Friedman era. Be entertained by the popular music of the 1830's & 40's, inside or on the porch, by Paul Houghtaling, director of the University of Alabama School of Music Opera Theatre. Mr. Houghtaling has sung at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center and Kennedy Center as well as with several national and international companies.

Tickets are $50.00 per person.

Proceeds to benefit the Tuscaloosa County Preservation Society. This is the Society's primary fundraiser for 2011.

Unable to join us for the celebration?
Please send us a birthday card from your organization!
Tuscaloosa County Preservation Society
P.O. Box 1665
Tuscaloosa, AL 35403

For more information or to buy tickets please call 205-758-2238
or visit our website at www.HistoricTuscaloosa.org


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