Since I have been writing this column I have received many emails and phone calls from people all over the country as well as from local residents. Most like the nostalgia format, however some have taken issue with me on a couple of columns. But most were very nice and expressed appreciation for the column.
One email came from a man in Texas who liked the column about D V Johnson and his participation in the Sacred Harp Singing. This gentleman said this style of singing is still popular in his county.
Another email came from a former student of Professor Woodrow McCorvey. He told me he left Atmore 25 years ago and my article brought back many fond memories of his school days.
Another email came from a man who enjoyed the “Golden Days of Radio” He particularly liked the story on Pinky Vidacovich and the old WWL radio show, “The Dawn Busters”.
A man from south Florida said in his email that I did not mention south Florida’s water problems. He was referring to the article about “Water Wars” between eastern Alabama and western Georgia. He said “ my part of the state also suffers drought conditions as bad as any state in the country”.
On my story about Rivercane and Poarch Recreation center, one lady called and told me I should not promote gambling. I told her I don’t recall my promoting gambling. I wrote in that column that jobs for the community would result from the Poarch Creek project. I told her that, who knows, you may have a relative or friend finding much needed employment there one day. I received much more positive response as opposed to negative response from that column. I explained to her that I was not ashamed at all for writing that column.
Another email was a reply for a match I had requested for some SEC college football coaches. This man told me to find a picture of Benedict Arnold as his answer to Bobby Patrina. He was referring to the abrupt manner in which Patrina left the Atlanta Falcons to take the football head coaching position at the University of Arkansas.
All these emails came as a result of our column being read on the Internet each week. I always appreciate hearing from everyone.
But I have saved several additional emails of particular interest to those who remember Atmore during the 1940s. Local residents sent some emails and others came from out of state. I did not identify the senders, as most did not furnish me their names. But, they all asked if I would write stories about all their memories of the town.
One was from a lady in Arizona who said she left Atmore in the 1940s for an arid climate due an asthma condition. She remembers hearing the whistle blowing early each morning at the “local mill”. She also remembers her father driving her down to the Gulf to sniff salty Gulf waters in her nose. It afforded temporary relief for her illness.
Another email came from a man who lives in Monroe County but who said. As a teenager he worked at the potato sheds located along both railroad lines in town. He remembers the smell of those fresh potatoes as they were hauled in from the fields to the grading machines. He also remembers the foul smell of the ‘culls” as they were thrown into special bins unfit to be graded. He remembers riding in the train boxcars as they were switched around the grading area. He also remembers Preacher Well’s involvement in the potato grading business
This man said Atmore had an icehouse and” ice men” would deliver ice to their homes near Uriah.
He also remembers when his family came to town to shop on Saturdays. He said most parking spaces were filled with cars and it was often difficult to find a place to park. He said his dad liked to park on Main Street and talk with friends and relatives who were in town for shopping.
Another email was from a woman in Georgia. She wrote about the pretty chimes that rang out from one of the local churches. She also wanted more information about the old two story wooden hotel, which set under some big oak trees and displayed a sign “Up In Normans Arms”. She remembers the big marquee neon sign at the Strand theatre and how it lighted up the entire front entrance of the theatre at night.
A man, who said he left Atmore about 1947, remembers seeing the Frisco train on the overpass over highway 31 and also watching an L&N train travel “under the Frisco train”. He said he saw this occur only a few times.
One lady from Birmingham said” write about those pretty trees and the lake at Little River Park where my aunt and uncle took me many times for picnics.”
She also said “write about all those sweet smelling peaches at State farm. Describe that smell of coffee being made in that building over there on one of those side streets in Atmore and the smell of peanuts parching on Peanut Street.”
One local resident related seeing old steam engine passenger trains spewing black smoke as they stopped at the depot right in the middle of town. He remembers L&N running several passenger trains each day and one or two trains at night
A man from Huntsville wanted stories about” our high school football team and those big Thanksgiving afternoon games against Bay Minette”. He remembers the field was located behind the school (what is now the YMCA Center) and fans would often stand because there were not enough seats.
He said he remembered McMurphys’s dairy, and it’s colorful neon sign. The dairy was located on highway 31 north.
A man from Lucedale, Mississippi said he remembers two things in particular when he lived here. One was Perdido Creek with that bathhouse where “we changed into our bathing suits on Sunday afternoons and stayed there swimming with friends all afternoon long”.
The other was” that old store where they sold firecrackers. Part of the store was in Florida and part of it was in Alabama.”
One man from Greenville, Alabama wanted me to write “every thing I knew” about Railroad Bill and how he was gunned down not too far from Atmore.
And just yesterday, a lady emailed me about last week’s story on the telephone operators. She said, “write another story like you did last week about those telephone operators.”
So, for all you who want me to write these stories you have requested, I will write these stories for all of you. I’ll recreate for you all of the “sights and sounds of Atmore” back in the 1940s. I’ll try to help you remember those years you lived here before you moved away many years ago. I’ll write it just the way you described it in your emails. I’ll include all those places and people you told me about. I will write it in a way that you can relive those memorable days from the past.
And, I’ll do that story just for you.
Lowell McGill is a historical columnist for The Atmore Advance. He can be reached at email@example.com