Vintage film depicts 1940s Decatur

8:40 AM, Dec 28, 2013   |    comments
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DECATUR, Ga. -- The streetcar and its tracks were fixtures in downtown Decatur for the first half of the twentieth century. Bubber Adams, a radio engineer with a documentarian's instinct, shot it with his eight millimeter film camera.

"It was 1946," said his granddaughter, Allison Adams, who lives in her grandfather's old house south of downtown. "And he had heard - he probably read it in the paper - that the street cars were going to be shut down and taken out. So he wanted to capture them for posterity."

Adams' family recently unearthed the footage, a rare collection of color movies depicting Decatur in the late 1940s. Adams shot a steam locomotive on the tracks that still bisect the city. A decade later, steam trains would give way to diesel.

"It was several times a day that we could hear the whistle as it approached the crossings," said Doug Adams, the photographer's son.

The film also shows a fleeting glimpse of what used to be the Decatur square-- which was all but obliterated by the construction of MARTA. The film shows the façade of the Decatur Theatre - which Doug Adams remembers showing double feature cowboy movies on Saturday mornings.

Allison Adams says the theater building is gone now. It was located on McDonough St., in what's now a parking lot next to the bar called Eddie's Attic.

The Adams film's comic high point may be at Winnona Elementary School. That's where Bubber Adams documented a football game between competing teams of leather-helmet wearing seventh graders, buoyed by a very modestly dressed group of  cheerleaders.

Portions of this footage first appeared in DecaturMetro.

Read more local Decatur news here.

Follow Doug on Twitter:  @richardsdoug

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