Barnes Boys reunited

Published 11:34 pm Wednesday, April 25, 2007

By By Matthew Nascone
It happens every year in Atmore. A group of men get together at David's Catfish House to celebrate the memory of legendary coach Herbert Barnes. The self-proclaimed 'Barnes Boys' held their 12th annual gathering April 21 at David's to remember the pains of practices and the joys of winning games.
"It went super good," Walter Welch, event coordinator, said. "It was great to sit around and talk about the old times."
The gathering began in 1996 in Pensacola, Fla. and has since moved to Atmore. Welch said the initial gathering was an all-male occasion, but soon changed.
"We only had men at the first gathering," Welch said. "But then the women said they felt left out. So the next year we moved it to Atmore and into David's Catfish."
Barnes Boys member Robert Faircloth has hosted the event for the past 11 years at David's. This year's get together saw 22 of the original Barnes Boys in attendance.
Recent inductee of the Atmore Area Hall of Fame Carl Madison was one of those individuals.
"I thought it was great to see all the people we have not seen in many years," Madison said. "We enjoyed it and I think this gathering is such a good idea."
Madison said it is good for talking about many different things, including how Barnes coached and what each of the Barnes Boys is up to nowadays.
"We really enjoy the time together and we appreciate Robert allowing us to have it in his restaurant," Madison said.
And David's was not the only hopping place Saturday, as Madison hosted about 40 of the people for a pre-gathering party at his home.
"If we didn't have this at my house then some of these people wouldn't get to talk to each other," Madison said. "It just gets so crowded in there sometimes."
There was also a small get together at Betty Raley's house.
"We just like to get together wherever we can and giggle and laugh about the past," Welch said.
And the reason for the event is simple.
"We like to pay respect to Mr. Barnes because we all worked for him," Welch said. "And before integration he was an equal opportunity butt kicker. But we loved him."
And Madison said that is one of the best qualities of the gathering.
"It is so special to see and talk with all these people about how things are going," Madison said. "We also love to just talk about the practices Mr. Barnes put us through or just talk about how we are doing in our own lives. These gatherings are very special."
And the tradition will continue next year.
"We will all show up next year and do it again," Welch said. "We always try to threaten the ones who don't show up, but it never works. But I know the ones who come every year will be back at again next year."

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