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Atmore Historical Society seeks support

By By SHERRY DIGMON
Advance Staff Writer
please to put a penny in the old man's hat.
If you haven't got a penny, a half-a-penny will do.
If you haven't got half-a-penny, well God bless you!"
-Children's Nursery Rhyme
Just when you thought you were safe, that you'd been hit up for every penny possible, hold onto your wallets! Yet another financial opportunity to excel is about to be laid at your good-hearted, Atmore-loving feet. For about the cost of a single lunch, you can give our town a stocking stuffer.
Yes, I'm crazy. Crazy about Atmore and preserving our heritage and history, as I believe you must be if you've read this far today. Let me back up and give you some background on the necessity of the plea, which is dead serious, despite my light-hearted approach to begging for bucks, as it were.
Perhaps you've wondered when something was going to be done about restoring the turn-of-the-century doctor's office, the Peavy-Webb building, which has been relocated to Atmore's Heritage Park. People say it's a derelict structure and something should be done about it.
As the building stands now, yes, it is an eyesore. This may be the classic good news-bad news conundrum. The good news being that the Atmore Historical Society (AHS) has secured a $22,000 grant from the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs (ADECA) toward external renovations. ADECA's generous grant will go a long way toward the first step of restoring the building as closely as possible to its original appearance. The AHS has accepted a contractor's bid of $26,617 for that external refurbishment.
Now, math was never Miss Bonnie's best subject, but even I can see there is still nearly a $5,000 shortfall on exterior expenses alone. That's only part of the bad news because additional funding will be necessary to refurbish the interior so that the AHS can eventually open the edifice as a museum, not only for educational initiatives for our children and for passing tourists, but also to attract the tourism and research interests across the country with the rich visual history of Atmore and this part of Alabama.
Did you know that the Peavy-Webb building is not owned by the City of Atmore, nor is it under the stewardship of a prestigious and pro-active organization such as Leadership Atmore? It is solely the responsibility of the Atmore Historical Society (AHS) which is made up of around 40 civic-minded private individuals and a few organizational members. However, only a mere handful of people actively participate in breathing life into the Society. The Society's primary source of income is derived from yearly memberships, which cost a mere $7.50. Please re-read that sentence, as it is the key to Atmore's historical preservation.
Even if you simply can't add another obligation to your club-joining plate right now, your silent support through an Atmore Historical Society membership will be highly appreciated by those who strive and work diligently to see that the history of the town you live in, and in some cases grew up in, is persevered.
The club also gratefully accepts one-time donations of any size. Another consideration at Christmas time is honoring a deceased Atmore citizen with a memorial donation, as several generous people recently did in tribute to Tony Albert, known for his love of Atmore and its past history. Membership fees and donations may be mailed to: John Garrard, AHS, 501 S. Pensacola Avenue, Atmore 36502. Cmon, yall, let's watch "Mr. G" break out in that infamous smile of his. He's probably already sittin' by the mailbox waiting for the first check to arrive right now.
Another Christmas gift idea that you might consider would also benefit the AHS. That would be the video and audiocassettes, which the Society sells at Atmore Public Library. The cassettes, which are "first hand" accounts of the past, were made by some of this area's most respected and knowledgeable citizens. The audio tapes sell for $20 and videos may be purchased for $35. A few of the interviews are lengthier, necessitating a higher charge for supplemental tapes.
What a delightful and unexpected gift such a tape would be, especially for family members of the interview subjects, who include: John Garrard, Ralph Johnson, Dr. Ben Maxwell, Edith Mays, Charlie Rutherford, Juanita and Ralph Smith, Ulay Wise and audio tapes by Ruby Barnhill, Imogene Brantley and Taylor Faircloth.
There are also video cassettes by the late Tony Albert, Jonah Coon, Oscar Davis, Hugo Esneul, W.T. Hall, Ethel Hawke, Buster Joyner, Willie Mae McGlasker, Dock Wiley Sr., H. C. Williams, and an audio tape by Barbara Mayson.
There is yet another way you can help the AHS and it is financially painless.
All it will cost is the time it takes to say, "Thank you. I appreciate what you do to preserve the history of our city."
It's always risky business to list names of any club's worker bees, but I'm sure no one on the AHS Executive Board could possibly object if four people who have almost single-handedly kept the life blood flowing in the Society are mentioned. Dot and Taylor Faircloth, Sarah Hall and John Garrard are to be commended for their ongoing commitment to preservation. The $22,000 grant would not have happened had it not been for the perseverance and attention to detail of these four individuals.
This small group comprises Atmore's "Energizer Bunny" brigade that just keeps going, and going, and going on behalf of our town. They work without reimbursement and receive little in the way of recognition or appreciation.
Nor do they work for personal glory, but rather for the love of Atmore. Next time you see these folks please express the gratitude we all feel.
The Historical Society's next meeting is Monday, January 15 at 7 p.m. at the Atmore Public Library. The program will be a continuation of the Historical Roundtable that began this fall. Anyone interested in preserving and hearing more about Atmore's past will be most welcome.
About that financial opportunity to excel, which was extended in the first paragraph … if you haven't got a half-penny, well, God bless you anyway. And God bless Atmore, too.