Honor Flight great time for local veterans

Published 10:55am Wednesday, September 26, 2012

I get some terrific satisfaction writing the column this week because of the accomplishments and recognition of some of our local friends. I am speaking of Jettie Everette, Garth Branch, Ben Cooper, John Shivers and Billy Gates.

 

First, Jettie brings to a close her sixty years of piano playing at various churches, which began in her hometown of Uriah. The talented pianist will be honored at her Brooks Memorial Church Sunday with a special meal following morning services.

 

Jettie probably doesn’t remember this but I first heard her play at a Methodist Youth event (MYF) back in the 1940s. Our Perdido Methodist youth often visited other MYF events and I recall a visit to Uriah where she played the piano.

 

Her piano style is totally amazing. She has the ability to capture the “sounds” of such keyboard greats as Frankie Carl, Liberace, Jo Ann Castle, Jackie Marshall, Floyd Cramer and many others. She has that uncanny ability of playing Big Band, Gospel, and classical arrangements.

 

Arthritis is the culprit which has done her in. But even so she can still draw our attention with haunting melodies at each sitting at her keyboard.

Even though she is retiring we all look forward, hopefully, for her “filling in “when our regular church pianist takes a day off.

 

Garth, John and Ben, as you have heard by now, were among those distinguished World War II veterans who made that memorable “Honor Flight” to Washington D C last week.

 

The trio was given a hero’s send off and welcome home at the Mobile airport amidst a crowd of hundreds. We were able to see them on TV as supporters waved flags and banners when they returned home. I’m sure chills traveled up the spines of every person who witnessed their return home at the airport.

 

Garth told me they were treated like “royalty” while they were in our capital city. He said the two hour flights seemed only like a “few minutes” as all those on board the plane shared stories of “war days.” He said “all these vets felt fortunate they returned home safely after the war.”

 

Other veterans from Atmore have made this historical flight over the past few years. And, there will be even more destined for “America’s Honor Flight” in the future.

We all share in the accomplishments of these fine men.

 

Billy Gates is most instrumental in our veteran affairs. Not only does he serve as a local Commander, but he has become quite a historian in our local military heritage.

He furnished us some interesting information this week about the “fighter plane” that once was perched near City Hall and later at Serenity Garden Cemetery on Highway 31 East.

 

The plane, of course is no longer in our town. It has been moved to Romulus, NY where it is prominently displayed. Billy stated the plane, which was moved from here a few years ago, had become a “fixture” for all of us to see. Atmore provided perpetual care for the plane while it was here, Billy related. “Now others up north will have the opportunity to share in its heritage,” he said.

 

By the way, Billy was on hand at the Mobile airport waving his hand held American flag welcoming our local Honor Flight veterans back home.

 

Now, I would like to pass on some more names of my friends whom I have written about or will write about in my columns.

 

They are: Dud Troutman, Paul Mason, Woodrow McCorvey, Floyd Holk, Hugh Rozelle, Bernard Tremer, Houston Byrd, Mr. Beck, Lewis and Taylor-three well known barbers, Reuben McKinley, Patricia McKenzie, Adolph Sutton,Sr, George Lambert, Lenoir Thompson, “Scrap” Shivers, Little John Harvey, Paul Crawford, Cary Powell, Frank Horne, Angus Byrd, Tom Kelly, Mushey Whitaker, Leon Akins, Agnes Smith, Dottie Colbert, Loretha Hall, Steve and Bertie Moseley, Pink Luker, John Huff, Foncie Weekly, Arant Moseley, Cecil Hayles, Charles Hayles, Melsie Whidby and Sarah Lenoir Thompson.

 

Some may not recognize a few of these names but I list them because I did know them over the years. Column space does not permit my expounding on each one of these local and area residents. But you do recognize some that I have already written about. And, I will continue to write about them as each week goes by.

 

Now, looking back to 1955, Bob Norman was called as pastor of First Baptist Church here. Rev. Norman was not only an excellent minister but he was an extremely talented trumpet player. Norman often said his trumpet work helped pay his way through college.

 

New Jersey attorney J. R. “Bob” Tucker set up his law practice here that year.

 

Betty Smith, Atmore’s representative in the Miss Alabama Contest, finished as one of the finalist in that Birmingham event and received a one-year scholarship to Huntingdon College.

 

After Bill Cargill retired as manager of the local Escambia County Employment Office, he turned to his entrepreneurial talents establishing a seafood route in Baldwin and Escambia Counties. If you ever wanted to find a “certain favorite fish” you could call Bill and he would get it for you. Unlike today, seafood was reasonably priced and always plentiful. Because of the oil spill I think how difficult it would be for him today to operate that business. But, knowing Bill, I am sure he would find a way to keep it going. Eulene, his wife who was also the daughter of Mr. John Weekly, filled his life with support and encouragement. She was regarded as a most professional nurse dedicated to helping others when they were sick.

 

More news from years gone by next week.

 

Lowell McGill can be reached at exam@frontiernet.net

Editor's Picks