Weekly column sparks more memories
By By Lowell McGill
This past week I received several emails and a phone call that I would like to share with you. I suppose this week's column should be referred to as a potpourri of news and diversity.
First, I received a very nice email from Sam Hill, a former resident of Atmore, who worked at WATM after I left. He said he kept up with all the news from the 'yesterday years' through my weekly column. I believe he said he lived in Alabaster. He related 'it seems you had your era at WATM a few years before I was there. I'll admit mine was more toward the Rock and Roll side of the music genre. But to me, even then and the music I favored was and is a notch or two above some of the 'noise' that's played on the radio today. Don't you agree?" He further said he reflects on those times as my own 'Treasure Chest Of Golden Memories.' He also remembers announcers Jimmy Cruise and Mike Roberts who trained him on the control board. He stated he remembered Mike Roberts as a good tennis player. Sam said in later life he learned to really appreciate the big band sounds of the 50s. He said he had the opportunity to attend the Johnny Carson show in New York back in 1969. He related his brother Carlos, who lives in Gulf Breeze, obtained tickets to the show through Carlos' wife's connection with a lady who worked in the front office of Carson's headquarters. He said Bob Hope and Willie Mays were guests on the program that night.
It was good to hear from Sam and to know he still follows all that goes on in Atmore today. I hope he will continue to keep in touch.
I also heard from my nephew, David Cooper, who worked at WATM in the late 70s and early 80s. David said he was on duty the night Hurricane Frederic hit the Gulf Coast. He said it was a frightful night following the path of the storm, not knowing if it would come through Atmore.
David is now the assistant principal at Glascock County Consolidated School in Gibson, Ga., not too far from Augusta. He states he often travels with the sports teams and gets a big kick being with these boys. I'm telling his mom to have him pick up one of those famous Claxton fruitcakes for me when he frequents that world-renowned town. He has been in the Augusta area now for a number of years. He, too, follows the Atmore scene through the Advance. He also thanks the Advance for carrying my column now in the Internet electronic edition each week. He is the son of Pat and Herbert (Dale) Cooper
Speaking of Claxton fruitcakes, I am reminded of a Public Broadcast fundraising TV show several years ago. PBS, as you know, devotes about two weeks each spring and fall to these drives. On this one particular night they had a call-in segment to answer nostalgic questions, mostly about the 'Big Band' era. One of the questions asked that evening was who was the famous bandleader that featured an 'all girl' orchestra back in the 1940s? I picked up the phone and called the host of that show (it was originating from PJC in Pensacola) and gave him the answer to his question. I said that orchestra leader was none other than Phil Spiltalny. He said, 'that's the correct answer, you have just won a Claxton fruitcake.'
Little did he know that I listened to that radio show back in my early Jr. High School days. In fact, the show was called 'The Hour Of Charm' featuring 'Evelyn And Her Magic Violin.'
Donald Miniard sent me an email also. He relayed about his friends he grew up with including BB Joyner, Tuffy Blackburn, Mickey Salter and several others. He said he and his brother, Larry, often rode their bikes from their Cloverdale Road home to the Saturday afternoon movies at the Strand. I emailed him back to express my appreciation of his parents, Tom and Ernestine, who played such an important and nostalgic role in my life. There is a place in my heart for these two wonderful people.
I received a phone call several days ago from a Mr. James Franklin in Warner Robbins, Ga. who lived in Atmore for one year back in the 50s. He said he and his family moved from Atmore to Georgia many years ago. While living here he said he commuted from Atmore to Mobile to his job at Brookley Field.
He said he learned about me from my column in a copy of the Advance he picked up at a service station on his way to a funeral in Mobile. He said the theme of my column that week was on various types of music and 'old heads' of the town. He was interested in learning about some of the people and events during his one-year stay in Atmore. Apparently he did not know many of our residents the short time he lived here. I informed him that my dad also worked at Brookley Field and retired with over 25 years of service.
He said he would frequently have early morning coffee at one of the downtown cafes and there was a man that he described as very likeable and 'comical' always carrying on with the other men sitting at a separate table. He said this man, who was the center of attention, would be asked by those sitting with him to imitate certain people's style of talk. He related that all those men would almost fall out with laughter when he did all those imitations. He said this man even imitated his brother who lived in Miami. Well, I knew right then he was talking about Dud Troutman. You see, Dud was always the 'life of the party' at those coffee sessions. He could make his voice sound like anybody in town. There was never a more likeable, congenial man than Dud Troutman. He was also a very successful farmer.
He asked me also about listening to a Mobile radio station on his early morning drive to work. He said he listened to a program whose disk jockey name was McNamara and he wanted to know if I knew of this program and the theme song of the show. I told him I was fairly sure he was probably listening to WALA radio in Mobile and Jim McNamara. The theme song used by McNamara was 'McNamara's Band,' a popular song of that era. He explained the reason for asking about the theme song was that it ended just about the time he had to report to his job.
One other question he asked was about a nurse whose name was either Horn or Horne. Apparently his parents knew her from earlier days. I told him that I vaguely remember a nurse here by that name. He knew very little about her.I told him there was a nurse with that name who assisted Dr. H. H. Rogers Sr. who extracted several of my teeth when I was a small boy. If I remember correctly she helped the doctor administer anesthesia that 'put me under' while he removed my teeth. (Some of you may remember this nurse. If you do please let me know more about her.)
Mr. Franklin said he enjoyed the friendliness of Atmore during the short time he was here.
It is always good to hear from those who read the column each week. As the emails continue to come in, I'll include them in future columns.
Lowell McGill is a historical columnist for The Atmore Advance. He can be reached at email@example.com