Miss Bear Point made headlines

Published 9:41am Wednesday, June 15, 2011

This week we are taking a look back at the year 1986.

In 1986, pretty 17-year-old Cindy Conway won the “Miss Bear Point” contest. This south Baldwin event is staged each year and somewhat parallels the Jr. Miss. Contest. The former Atmore resident is the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Raymond Conway. The Conways make their home in the Gulf Shores-Orange Beach area.

Another charming contest winner in our Miss Atmore Little League contest was Danielle Beech, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Mrs. Mike Beech.

Ron Middleton, former ECHS and Auburn University standout, signed a free agent contract to play professionally with the Atlanta Falcons. Having served on several college coaching staffs he is presently the associate head coach at Duke University.

Little River State Park officially became Claude D. Kelly State Park. Named in honor of the Atmore native, Mr. Kelly served as our National Wildlife Federation President for a number of years. His son, Don, and I were great friends.

Adjacent that park was the CCC camp (Civilian Conservation Corps) where many young men worked back in the 1930s-40s planting trees, working on dirt roads and performing various conservation related activities. For several years Auburn University used a couple of the old buildings for housing their summer forestry students.

And, speaking of the park there is a buzz in the air about the big Gospel Singings and catfish suppers held on the last Friday night of each month. I have not learned the sponsors of these events but I am told that you can get additional information from David Gibbs and Thomas Miller. I also hear their catfish suppers are super delicious.

Two Atmore teachers, Dean Graham and Clara Phillips were among a few selected by the Southern Miss Marine Science and Education Association to attend a special seminar on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. The event was staged for leading Science teachers.

Highly regarded and well-liked high school football coach, Joe Latham, passed away that year. Joe, after coaching at several Alabama, Florida and Mississippi schools, was the head mentor at Ernest Ward High School.

He was one of our many coffee drinking regulars at Busters. (For those interested I am preparing a series of columns about all of those late members of our “elite group.” You’ll discover a sense of nostalgia when I write about the “dozens’ who have passed on.)

We lost a close friend last week, Freddie Cantanne. The 93-year-old Perdido native was known by many here in Atmore. He retired after many years of service as a depot agent for L&N Railroad.

I can remember as a young boy sitting with him at the depot and watching him send and receive Morse code messages on that dot.dot..dot..dash hand operated clicking machine. Back in those days passenger trains were identified by numbers. Some of those trains were Nos. 2, 5,8, 37, etc.

Yes, it always whispers to me, those days of long ago when I think of Freddie and some five or six other depot agents who hailed from Perdido. In addition to Freddie there were Mr. John Weekly, Mr. Clyde Weekly, J.C Wright and my two uncles Bert and Albert McGill.

Have you heard about the big flap up in Cordova? It seems that town’s mayor will not let FEMA place mobile homes in the devastated areas caused by the tornados. Now, I do not know all the details but I do know that mayor is getting some bad press, not only in Alabama but the entire nation. Perhaps he has his reasons but it does appear he failed the 101 course “How to be an affable mayor”. I am certainly not criticizing him as I feel sure he has his reasons for his actions.

By the same token The Tuscaloosa mayor, who is a very eloquent speaker, highly articulate, well educated and extremely photogenic has captured the American Media with his handling of the tragedy that hit that city. My “politically inclined “son Steve, who still relates to his Montgomery friends, knows some associates of that mayor.

That big fire last week last week sent a couple of my wife’s kin folks scampering out to the oil well on their 100 year old (plus) grandfather’s home place.

They were expecting to see that operation destroyed by the tree top blazes. As it turned out it was a false alarm as the fire did not reach the well or pumping station Later they all celebrated a sigh of relief with a nice lunch at one of Atmore’s more popular eating places. Others with interest in that oil section also breathed a sigh of relief.

And speaking of oil, my normal reliable sources tell me ‘blanket’ drilling will soon unfold in the McCullough, State Farm, Huxford, Butler Street and South Monroe County areas. By now many should have already been contacted for the purpose of signing leases.

I really feel honored that many of my readers look to me for “oil stories” and some have requested I write a story each week. I did that for a while and I may will resume it in the near future.

I have become friends with one family living away in another state who has land here asking that I create a Web site just for oil news and “old time news.” It would be therapy for me I suppose.

But, my pleasant association with The Advance prevents the on taking of my own Web site. If anything I would want to add to our own Advance Web site.

I’ll more news next week from Atmore’s yesteryears.

“….yes, it always whispers to ne…..those days of long ago…”

Lowell McGill is a historical columnist for The Atmore Advance. He can be reached at exam@frontiernet.net

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