A lot of talk about a little bit of everything

Published 6:43 pm Wednesday, January 23, 2008

By By Lowell McGill
Tidbits on non-related subjects is the theme of this week's column.
First, in regards to last week's column on old cars and the prices of gasoline back in early 1940s, Haskew Midddleton contacted me and told me that gas sold from 19 cents to 22 cents back in those days. He said he operated a station downtown for about a year and he referred to what was known as "white gas" back in those days. He said gas later became known as "regular and premium."
I had asked for feedback in last week's column on those gas prices. I appreciate his response. "Jerd" Ammons of Perdido also remembers gas selling then for "19 or 20 cents"
Also, received an email from a Mr. James who said he was sending me a list of all the people who had operated Atmore's famous "Seven Oaks" from the time it was built until it finally went out of business. I wrote a couple of weeks ago about Bob and Yancy Alston's role in that operation.
I also received an email from Margaret (Grimsley) McNeely. She wrote regarding my column on the "number please telephone operators."
She said she was one of those original ladies, taking employment with the phone company in 1949. Julia Bryars and Myrtle Williams trained her she related. She married Ed McNeely whose parents owned McNeely Jewelers. She also informed me that Mr. R. B. McNeely later purchased the hotel I wrote about a couple of weeks ago and changed the name to Burton Hotel. She said the Western Union office was located in the lobby of that hotel. She even remembered the hotel phone number. It was 146.
One of her close friends was Betty Jo Ryals who was the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. A. Ryals. He was one of the L&N Railroad agents I wrote about a few months ago. Their son, Mike, is also the same age as Mike Garrard, the son of John and Fonda Garrard, she added.
She remembers when Tom and Ernestine Miniard operated WATM at studios over the "Sweet Shop Caf/." She also told me that Ed and Clint Hurd had a stage band back in those days and often played at local dances and other festive occasions. (I didn't get to ask her but I am wondering if Paul Crawford and "Bootsie" Noonan played in that same band).
She remembers taking "many train trips" when she lived here. She also remembers "old number 37" the passenger train, which came through here about 10:30 each night.
I want to thank Margaret for sending me all this information.
On a sad note this week I attended funeral services in Bay Minette for Hiram Cabiness Jr. Jack, as he was known, was the 50-year-old son of Hiram Cabiness Sr.
Former ECHS baseball coach Johnny Cabiness was his first cousin. Jack's mother was my first cousin.
All sports minded folks here will remember Hiram Sr. when he played baseball with Atmore in the late 1940s. Recognized for his multi-athletic abilities, he played high school football and baseball at Baldwin County High School in Bay Minette. After high school he played Class D ball with a team near Dothan. During those days Brewton had a team in that league.
Hiram Sr. played with some well-known local players like Buddy Vickery, Clarence Akins, Jim and Austin Taylor, Carl Madison, Tooney Cardwell and several others.
After a successful auto parts business in Gulf Shores and Bay Minette, he retired due to ill health three years ago when he passed away.
I spoke with Johnny Cabiness at the funeral and he still cherishes his days here as baseball coach at ECHS. He coached two of my sons, Steve and Mark. He is now principal at Baldwin County High School.
And, finally, I'd like to offer my congratulations to Bobby Pannone, a former classmate, who this past week was inducted the Alabama High School Sports Hall of Fame. Pannone, formerly of Bay Minette, has been affiliated with football officiating for 42 years. He has held executive positions in this organization for a number of years. He officiated many local and area games with Jim Staff and Peanut McDonald.
Lowell McGill is a historical columnist for The Atmore Advance. He can be reached at exam@frontiernet.net

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