Lost in Atmore: It can be done and it isn't always a bad thing

Published 6:39 am Wednesday, June 25, 2003

By By Connie Nowlin
Managing editor
Things changed in this part of the world while I was gone, not all for the better.
For instance, who was supposed to be in charge of Pensacola traffic? They should be tried for high crimes and treason, or shot. Shot would be better. Where did all those folks come from, and where are they going? I'd like to know, because it must be somewhere great, considering the big fat hurry they are in most of the time.
Luckily, Atmore is still the kind of place where you feel safe braking for squirrels. I love that about small towns, but I can testify that it is possible to get lost here. It isn't quite as bad as the cornfield maze, but it can be done.
I know because I have spent a lot of time lately lost in Atmore.
For example, I went down to the library to take a photo of the cute little kids and the summer reading programs there.
I had gotten directions, but did not listen well, because after all, how hard could it be to find the library in a small town?
The library is not in a lot of places. It is not out by the John Deere dealership. It is not on the way to Bay Minette. It is not close to the city pool.
In the round, it was located and the photograph taken, but I was late and quite soaked by the rains by the time I located the place.
The problem with finding things here is that everyone who gives me directions gives them to me like they have lived here a long time. That is because they have lived here a long time and I have not.
Directions may go something like this:
Oh, to get to the Smith place? Well, first you go three blocks south, then turn right, or east. I don't remember the name of the street, but it's where the old candy store used to be until it closed.
Go about four miles out that way, and when you get to where the old Williams dairy used to be, turn left. It isn't there now, it burned down in, oh, '64 or so, but that's where you turn.
Eventually I will wind up on a pig trail on the outskirts of nowhere. I usually find my way to where I want to be, but it takes a while.
Then there is the other side of that coin.
While lost in Atmore, I find and see some of the coolest things going on.
One day recently, I saw a gentleman standing on the roof of his porch, painting the eaves of the house. That is not so unusual, but it was pouring down rain, and he was sheltered by the very eaves he was painting.
I found the nursing home and hospital, and one of the pools.
I also found Gold's Barbecue. What a lucky happenstance that was! Some of the best sweet tea I have had in a long, long time.
And then there was the sweet lady that missed her paper over on Trammell Street, I think it was. That was the most beautiful yard and garden spot going. My first thought was 'I have to bring my mama to see this. She would love it!'
There were plants and bird feeders and houses and birdbaths scattered everywhere, and birds were using each and every one of them.
So, you are wondering, what's the point, besides this is a person who can get lost in a telephone booth?
Think about it, I would never have seen these things if I had been able to follow directions. I would have missed the yard and the fellow painting in the rain. I would not know where to go for sweet tea.
Those are mighty big things in the character of a town. Those are the everyday happenings that make up an ordinary day, one more day in an ordinary life.
Those are the events that define a place, the things that make towns like this the places where America lives.
Connie Nowlin is the managing editor for the Atmore advance and a native of Escambia County, Florida

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