This columnist's Atmore roots run deep
Published 8:04 pm Wednesday, February 6, 2008
By By Lowell McGill
I knew Atmore's "people" before I knew Atmore. That sounds like a strange way to begin a column, but let me elaborate further.
I actually can remember Atmore's people at age 6 or 7 because at that age I remember many Atmore residents and businessmen who frequented our service station.
For instance Dee Gibbs was our gasoline distributor and I remember those famous WOCO PEP products he offered. On occasion my parents would let me ride with him in his gas delivery truck to Stockton. While there I visited my aunt Pearl Stanton who was the postmistress. I would also play with her son Frank for a short while before making the journey back to Perdido. The trek carried us over the unpaved and bumpy roads in Splinterhill and Rabun. My mother would always include a sandwich for Mr. Gibbs and me, which I always enjoyed eating on our way back home.
Many will remember my cousin Frank Stanton who was an educator in his final years at Blacksher School in Uriah. He died from a tractor accident several years ago.
My dad would sometimes take me with him to Atmore to settle his gas account. Dee's office was on Wilson Avenue. I remember always seeing this pretty young lady who worked in his office. She was always friendly and always talked to me a congenial manner. It was only a few years ago that I learned who that pretty girl was. It was Kathryn (Esnuel) Lowery. We both rediscovered that we remembered each other in our conversations at church. She told me she vividly remembered that "little boy" who came in with Mr. Reese, my dad.
After leaving there he carried me to Atmore's famous "Peanut Street," where he bought me peanuts.
On those trips to Atmore I always looked forward to seeing the train travel across the trestle at the bottom of Country Club hill. Actually, I think my dad knew the schedule of some of those passenger trains. He would see to it that we would be at the trestle when the train got there. As a small boy the trestle seemed very steep and the train seemed to be much higher than cars traveling on Highway 31.
Another man who I got to know was Sandy Furney, who owned the bakery and ran "the bread route."
Mr. Temple ran the "Casaloma" just down the hill on Hwy. 31 from our station. I can remember Mrs. Temple bouncing me on her knee when I was very small. Mr. and Mrs. Temple were close friends of my mother and dad. He later operated several successful businesses in Atmore.
One man, Parker Richburg, often came by. He did auto work of some type if I remember correctly. I lost track of him years ago.
Adolph Sutton Sr., in later years ran his route, changing out new phonograph records on his many machines in the Atmore area.
Mr. Alton Tennant often stopped by as he visited local farmers who were irish potato growers.
Joe Brock, who married Ruth McGill, a distant cousin, was always by the station.
Mr. John Weekley, prior to his moving to Atmore, stopped for gas. He was an L&N Railroad agent. He still has family in Perdido.
Mrs. Smith, the mother of Houston (H) Smith, was a rural mail carrier and she would often come over to my Uncle Arthur and family's home where they discussed adjoining mail routes. My uncle was also a mail carrier.
My dad often talked to Jeff Cochran and Alvin Slay. They lived in Nokomis during those years but later became permanent residents of Atmore. Their families were friends of our family.
One other uncle, Bert, lived in Atmore and was also an agent at the L&N Depot. You may remember his wife, Norma, who retired as a teacher several years ago. She was from Hartford and I often quizzed her about Early Wynn, also of Hartford, the great baseball pitcher who she grew up with. I will have more about this outstanding man in an upcoming baseball column.
Another uncle, Albert, lived in Canoe until he was transferred to Georgina. He too was an L&N Railroad depot agent. Charles Lowery told me that he grew up with sons of uncle Albert. Those sons were "Monk" Howard and Maben. Charles remembers he and Robert Hill growing up with them as they lived close to them in Canoe.
Dr. McKinley would often come by the station for gas. In those days doctors made house calls.
Nick Reeves was a friend of my dad, as they both worked at Brookley Field. I really got to know him better in later years. He could make some of the best homemade wine you ever tasted. He made only a few bottles, enough to keep his production legal. In fact, in my early years of flood adjusting I helped him find some rare grapes and wine-making kits to use in his wine hobby.
Yes, in those long ago days it seemed like I spent much of my time traveling with my dad to Atmore learning many of the town residents and actually learning many of the street locations.
Perdido was an "Atmore town." Even though it was located less than a mile west of the Escambia County line our residents did all our trading in Atmore. Splinterhill, Rabun, Lottie, and all those residents came to Atmore on Saturdays to trade.
The town has always been special to me. I suppose when you live here over 50 years it has to be special.
Lowell McGill is a historical columnist for The Atmore Advance. He can be reached at email@example.com