Pete Helton experienced severe ear damage while in the Army
(This week The Atmore Advance spotlights Colbern Wesley (Pete) Helton. Mr. Helton is 78 years old. )
Q: When and where were you born?
A: I was born Oct. 14,1928 in Robinsonville at our homeplace. Dr. Hill from Canoe delivered me.
My real name is Colbern Wesley Helton, but very few people know me by that. I had cousins who didn't even know my real name. I was always called "Pete".
My daddy started calling me "Rooster" as a toddler and my mother said no to that, so then he started calling me "Pete" and that has just always stuck.
Q: Who were your parents?
A: My daddy was Fonnie Martin Helton from Beatrice. He was a farmer after coming out of WWI.
When he was drafted into the service he was dumped out in France and fought his way all the way into the Rhine River in Germany and then he walked all the way back to France to get home between 1919 and 1921.
My mother was Junnie Etta Helton. She was a native of south Alabama.
Q: Did you have any brothers or sisters?
A: I have three brothers and three sisters. They are all still living. My oldest sister is 80 years old.
We are lucky to not have had a death in our immediate family as of yet.
Q: Where did you attend high school and college?
A: I went to Maxwell School in Robinsonville from the first to sixth grade. There was nothing that was a favorite of mine about school. I didn't like school, but I guess I should have.
I went to ECHS for high school and played tackle on the football team. I took the Vocational Agriculture class in high school and enjoyed it more than anything else because we didn't do much class work. I graduated in 1948.
Q: How did you travel when you were younger?
A: I walked to grammar school a mile and a half one way. Daddy would carry us in case of bad weather.
I was born in the time that my daddy had a 1925 T Model Ford with a top. But he never carried me to school in that.
He traded that car in for a 1940 Model Chevrolet car and when he wore that one out after driving it for eight years, he went traded it in at Staff Chevrolet.
That is when I bought the same car back. I had been married for about six months before I got it.
That car got around. It had to go to church, town and school. Before buying the car, I had been using a stateboard Chevrolet truck that belonged to my daddy.
Q: What jobs did you hold?
A: I started farming with my daddy. He worked with me until he turned 68 or so and then me and my brother Clyde took over all the farming.
We farmed wheat, soybeans, corn and cotton.
My partnership with my brother dissolved in 1982 and I retired in 1985. I took the land that was near my house and Clyde took his. I lease mine out to farmers now.
During the time that I was farming with my daddy, I was drafted into the Army in 1954.
It was during the Korean War. I was sent to Germany to police the Germans.
When I was first drafted, I went to Fort Riley, Kansas for 10 weeks of basic training and from there to the Mohabi Desert for 10 more weeks of training.
We were training with 90 mm guns and I was in a tank when one of the guns was fired and it blew my helmet up off my head and damaged the nerves in my ears. I was released in November of 1956.
After I retired from farming, I built the car wash on Hwy. 21 in 1983. My son, Desmond basically talked me into it. And then in 1987 he talked me into opening the Snappy Wash Laundry next door to it. Then in 1989, I bought a similar car wash in Bay Minette.
I primarily come to the laundry mat and car wash everyday at 7 a.m. and try to be finished by noon.
Then I do what I ever I want to do.
Q: Did you ever marry?
A: My first wife was Ruby Earline Moye. She was from this area and we met at school.
We dated all through high school and married June 11, 1949. We were married for 23 years when she died of a brain tumor at 41 years old.
Then I met my present wife, Barbara Rounsaville Linam on July 19, 1972. A friend of mine told me about here. They were working at Vanity Fair together. I had known her from when she worked at the Dairy Dream.
I drove by Vanity Fair one day and saw her getting out of her car. Once I met her, I didn't waste anytime. I'm not going to live by myself. We dated for two to three months and got married on Oct. 5, 1972.
Q: Do you have any children or grandchildren?
A: My first wife and I had three children together. Linda Fore, Alan and Roger Helton. They all live here in Atmore.
Then Barbara, my second wife, had two children when we got married, Desmond, who lives here in Atmore and Osborn who lives in Spanish Fort.
Then we have 13 grandchildren and eight great grandchildren.
Q: Where do you attend church?
A: I have been a member at Brooks Memorial Baptist Church since 1981. Barbara went there way before I did. I have taught Sunday School for 45 years in with the senior adults. I have been a deacon in the church ever since I was about 25 years old.
Q: What keeps you busy these days?
A: I work part time at the car wash and then resting and sleeping. I go home and eat dinner and head to my chair. I quit gardening several years ago and I don't hunt or fish, but I sure can cut some corn and help put up vegetables.
My wife says that I am a corn cutter like you've never seen. We have a system and go to it. We put up as many as 500 boxes in one day.
Q: Have you traveled much?
A: No, only the traveling I did while in the Army.
Q: What's your favorite television
A: I am a western man and there ain't no use in denying it.
I like watching westerns and finding my wife's soap opera people on them.
Sooner or later I'm going to see one of her favorites show up on a western.
I like to watch football too. I want to pull for the underdogs – the New Orleans Saints.
I like watching "Deal or No Deal" too and we watch boxing. Especially if it involves Roy Jones, Jr. We don't miss him when he is boxing.
Q: What advice do you give to people on staying healthy?
A: I would say get in there and stick to it and if it doesn't work, make it work.
If I do something and put my head to it, I am going to make it work.
(If you would like to recommend a senior to be spotlighted please contact Janet Little Cooper at 368-2123 or e-mail her at email@example.com)