Jim Forte committed to Air Force on Creek bank

Published 6:26 am Wednesday, July 26, 2006

By Staff
Senior Living
(This week The Atmore Advance spotlights Jim Forte. He is 69 years old. )
Q: When and where were you born?
A: I was born in the metropolitan area of Wawbeek on Sept. 9, 1936.
We lived on a small 40 – acre farm. We were classified as a poor family.
Our roof had wood shingles. Now you are rich if you have wood shingles.
Q: Who were your parents?
A: Clyde B. Forte and Inez S. Forte from Wawbeek.
My daddy was a farmer and an outboard motor mechanic for Sam's Place, which was located at the current Pepsi building.
Q: Did you have any brothers or sisters?
A: I was an only child. My dad was also an only child. I am the end of the line for the family name.
Q: Where did you attend high school and college?
A: I went to Flomaton from the first grade until I graduated on May 22, 1954.
I was involved in drama in high school. I was a ham. I always liked being in school plays and hamming it up.
My favorite subject in school was talking my teachers into letting me skip class.
I would ask my teachers, Jean Webb and Mrs. Vickery, if I could skip their class.
Mrs. Webb would ask me where I was going and I would tell her the pool hall.
I don't know how I ever pulled it off because my mother worked in the lunchroom. I'm sure she knew though.
Q: How did you travel when you were younger?
A: We rode a school bus to school. My granddaddy and daddy both had a vehicle. The earliest one I can remember was a 1932 vehicle.
I got my first vehicle when I got out of the service in 1958. It was a 1952 Mercury.
Q: What jobs did you hold?
A: My first job was working at the Wilson-Atkeison dairy farm in Wawbeek during my senior year.
I would get up at 3 a.m. to milk the cows, then catch the bus for school and go back in the afternoon and do the same thing over again.
The Atkeison children knew all 50 cows by name. While I was milking, they would sit there and call them by name and I couldn't remember one for anything.
I got paid $1 per hour. I quit after I graduated from high school.
Me and some buddies went to Sardine Creek on July 4 that year. We were out there swimming and saw a man in a nice-looking uniform come walking down the bank to the creek.
Turns out he was with the Air Force and before he left the creek he had talked me and one of my buddies into joining.
He took this ole' country boy and took him to Montgomery for a physical and then to San Antonio, Texas at Lackland Air Force Base for basic training. I was there for 13 weeks.
Then I completed my trip to the other side of the world when I was sent to Travis Air Force Base in California for three years. Three months of that time was spent in Guam.
I was the administrative clerk with the photo and radar interpretation lab.
I was transferred to Strategic Air Command (SAC) in Omaha, Neb., and stayed there until I was discharged on April 21, 1958.
I came home to Atmore and had 90 days to re-enlist without losing my permanent ranking.
I went to Eglin Air Force Base on my 89th day. I wanted to stretch it out as far as I could. But the morning of the 89th day, I woke up and saw the sun and decided to go look for a job instead.
The first place I went to hired me, so that ended my military career.
I began working at Columbia National, a Zirconium metal plant in Pace, Fla. I worked there for four and a half years.
Then I worked at Escambia Chemical Corporation, which is now Air Products.
A new plant opened in Dothan called United Chemicals and they hired me. After that I moved to Louisiana where I worked for Borden Chemicals in Geismer, La., for four years and then worked at Melanime Chemicals in Donaldsonville, La., for 23 years until I retired.
My wife and I lived in Gonzalez, La., for 27 years.
Q: Did you ever marry?
A: I married Elizabeth Crossley from Catawba Springs on Dec. 17, 1954. We got married just before I left for Guam in the Air Force.
I met her at school. I had just turned 18 when we got married. I had to get permission from my parents to join the service and to get married.
My dad would not sign for me to marry her. He said, 'Son, I've already signed away four years of your life. I'm not signing away the rest of it for you.'
My mom had to approve it. We were married for 31 and a half years before my wife passed away while we lived in Louisiana.
After she passed away, I eventually came back to Atmore and started dating the last girl I had dated before I started dating my first wife.
We have been married 20 years in November. After 31 and half years apart we are back together.
She was Earnestine Rowell from here. I met her originally on a blind date.
We got married on Nov. 22, 1986 and have had 20 wonderful years together.
Q: Do you have any children or grandchildren?
A: I have one son from my first wife who lives in Oklahoma. Our other son died when he was seven months old from spina bifida.
I have two step-sons and their wives from my current marriage and four wonderful step-grandchildren and four grandchildren.
Q: Where do you attend church?
A: We go to Brooks Memorial. I remember going to church at Wawbeek as a teen and being the youth pastor during youth week.
Q. What keeps you busy these days?
A: Working at the American Legion and my wife mostly.
We go to the weekly dance at the Legion and enjoy meeting people and visiting with friends.
I like to go fishing when I can. I used to love to read, but am unable to do that after having eight eye surgeries.
Q. Have you traveled much?
A: I love to travel. I have been to Yellowstone Park, Denver, Europe, Hawaii, Canada and Mexico.
There are only five states that I haven't been to: North and South Dakota, Minnesota, Alaska and Wisconsin.
If we make it to those we will have the entire United States covered.
Q. What's your favorite television show?
A: In this day and time it has either got to be Court TV or Discovery Channel.
I don't like the other shows on there, except for Atlanta Braves baseball.
Q: What advice do you give to people on staying healthy?
A: One thing for certain would be to leave drugs and alcohol off.
And then I would say that any and every chance they get to learn something, do it.
Getting an education is so important.
(If you would like to recommend a senior to be spotlighted please contact Janet Little Cooper at 368-2123 or e-mail her at lifestyles@atmoreadvance. com)

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox