A happy return to the days of long ago

Published 9:47pm Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Pacemakers can either make you feel real good or real bad, depending on their condition.

Well, I am happy to say mine has me feeling tip tops after medical experiments, three months of studies and a repertoire of new medicines.

My cardiologist is happy, Ouida is happy and I am sure happy.

Let me say thank you for your many emails and phone calls while I was away. They serve as inspiration to resume my weekly columns. Also, thanks to The Advance for asking me back. I am sincerely moved by all of you who ask that I resume these weekly writings.

Facebook has been an excellent vehicle for polishing up my writing and getting back in practice. When you stop writing, as I did, I found it takes more time to “get back into the saddle.”

Speaking of Facebook, I learned many were interested in Paul Smith, Atmore’s native son who garnered success in movies and television. Known in Hollywood and the media as Paul Birch, he would frequently return home to visit relatives. I remember Claude Moye telling me several years ago about some of his visits with relatives at the Lowery House. I do remember on one of his 1959 visits, WALA Channel 10 came up to do a piece on him. The affable TV personality Ross Smitherman was the host. Toad Albert, a close friend of Smith, was also in the piece I think.

Smith appeared in a number of movies and TV shows. He had a starring role in the 1958 TV series Cannonball. This was the story of a cross country trucker who helped folks in distress along the way. He had a featured role in the James Stewart-John Wayne movie “The Man Who Shot Linerty Valance,” as well as other movies.

Those of us here in the 1950s were treated to a special  “aroma” in town and in outlying areas that no other town could offer. Yes, you could sense those unique smells as you trekked and drove about the area beginning with the tempting aroma of the peanut parching machine at Bristow’s North Main Street Drug Store. Travel out to Swift’s Mill where the air was filled with freshly processed lumber and wood chips. Stroll through a dozen grading sheds, some owned by Alton Tennant, Marshall Patterson and Preacher Wells, and sniff the fresh new dark soil clinging to newly dug Irish potatoes graded by dozens of skillful workers. Meander up to Marshall Robinson’s cucumber processing plant and taste the succulent pickles floating in the green brine. Go back into town again and smell new roasted coffee at Atmore Coffee Company then over to A&P to get a whiff of Hilton Hall’s neatly stacked packages of 8’Oclock coffee. Sit down on a bale of cotton ginned at one of Atmore’s thriving cotton gins and imagine your are in the back yard at home enjoying the aroma of freshly laundered bed sheets pinned to the clothesline flapping in the wind. And, finally ride up to State Farm during springtime and smell the “peachy” emissions from the countless peach trees grown in long rows near the Fountain Prison Farm.

In the 1950s, North Main Street was the home of several family owned businesses. Bubba Bowab became associated with his mother at The Economy Shop; Johnny Hoehn introduced a new “tubeless” tire at his Firestone and Hoehn’s Trading Post store; the Griffins operated The Cinderella Shop; and the Joyce Morresitte family-affiliated Yellow Front Store was a favorite destination for avid grocery shoppers. Frank Bricken Motors offered weekend bargains on new and used cars and The Bank of Atmore welcomed customers to make loans and deposit their money.  Attorney Hugh Rozelle, Dr. McKinley and real estate broker Randolph Maxwell were right at home in their respective North Main Street second story offices.  These were just a few of North Main’s flourishing firms. In future columns I will expound on South Main and other popular firms from those memorable days.

In 1954, Betty Hardy (Drew), popular ECHS senior, was selected as one of the maids at the Mobile Azalea Festival. That same year Chevrolet announced the selling of its 30 millionth automobile. Staff Chevrolet, known then as Gerlach Motor Company, was the Chevrolet dealer.

In some current news, you may remember those many columns I wrote about Mobile and the surrounding area losing out on the Northrop Grumman airplane tanker contract due to political reasons causing much disappointment and frustration to us all. Well, that which went around has now come back around much more in our favor this time with the announcement of Airbus selecting Mobile and the old Brookley Field complex as their United States home. Those who have already prepared themselves with college and technical training, and those in training and college now, will find themselves at the front of the line for lavish jobs and professional positions with our highly respected friend and neighbor from France. Not only will the main plant at Brookley offer coveted jobs, but the many supply houses and offshoot subsidiaries will find a home right here in Atmore and surrounding towns. Access to 1-65 will prove to be much in our favor when those outlying towns are surveyed.

“Yes, it always whispers to me those days of long ago”…and I am so glad for the opportunity to share these days of long ago with you again.  I counted the number of names used in my former columns and the totals ran into the hundreds. That’s a lot of people to mention and write about. I suppose the fact that I can still recall all those folks, events and places provides satisfaction beyond explanation. What’s that old song …”Been There Done That.”

I’ll have more next week and each week after that. As Paul Harvey would say…”Stand By and Stay Tuned.”

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