Gadsden author releases new book

Mike Goodson, author of “Images of America, Gadsden” poses in front of the Learner Building in Downtown Gadsden where Butler Shoes once was.  The original Jolly Green Giant featured in Goodson’s book once visited the exact building and had his picture made. Mike Goodson, author of “Images of America, Gadsden” poses in front of the Learner Building in Downtown Gadsden where Butler Shoes once was. The original Jolly Green Giant featured in Goodson’s book once visited the exact building and had his picture made.

Sarrah Peters/Staff Writer

Mike Goodson, a Gadsden author, will release his new book “Images of America, Gadsden” on August 18. The book features over 200 vintage photographs of Gadsden people, places and things. The historical book features mostly the baby boomers era, which is the period after World War II during the 50s and 60s, but also contains some photos from shortly before the war. Arcadia Publishing in Charleston, SC published the book. 

Some photos should be recognizable to Gadsden residents, as they are of familiar landmarks. One example is the Pitman Theater, built in 1947 by C.S. Pitman. During Goodson’s childhood, the theater had admission to a movie or cartoon at six RC bottle caps. Another is Princess Theatre, located where the Mary G. Hardin Cultural Arts is now. It experienced a fire in November 1963 that authorities feared would burn the entire block down.

Other photos may surprise readers. A photo of an 8-foot-3-inch man may seem impressive on its own, but is even more interesting when you find out that it is a photo of Henry Mullins, also known as Henry Height. 

His “claim to fame” was a television commercial for vegetables. He was the first Jolly Green Giant. 

Interesting history appeals to Mike Goodson, and he wants to share his interests with the community. 

“…I like to try to keep the young people interested in local history,” Goodson said.

Although he likes giving back to the community, that isn’t the only reason he became a writer. 

“Originally, the first book that I did was just to prove to myself that I could do it,” Goodson said. 

To gather the photos for the book, Goodson worked with Bob Scarber, whose father started a photo collection in the 50’s. The collection is now owned by the city. Goodson and Scarber have worked together on two of Goodson’s books. 

Goodson has written three other books. “Haunted Etowah County” is a book of local ghost lore. “Etowah County: Then and Now” shows how much the area has changed over the years. “Gadsden: City of Champions” features fewer photos, but includes more history, like how Gadsden became a city after starting as a stagecoach stop between Decatur and Huntsville, Ala.

“To me, of course [Images of America, Gadsden] is probably the nicest one of the books. Some of the unusual things that have happened here and some of the fascinating people that came to Gadsden, like Robert Wadlow, the world’s tallest man. He was 8 feet 9 and ½ inches tall…He died a few months later at 8 feet 11 inches tall,” said Goodson.

Although the book has not yet been released, there is planning underway for book signings at Little Faces Doll Shop on September 5 and at Alabama Gift Company in October. 

Mike Goodson’s books are available at the Books-A-Million in the Gadsden Mall, as well as Little Faces Doll Shop, and several other shops in town. 

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