Published 4:57 pm Sunday, August 31, 2008
1967 was a noteworthy year for Atmore
By Lowell McGill
In 1967, Atmore celebrated a bicentennial event and local historian Floyd Currie wrote an interesting account of Atmore’s 200-year history. The informative brochure was circulated countywide and was praised by many leading citizens of the area.
Dan A. Currie wrote the internet mini biography for Paul Birch, the famous Atmore actor who visited his home here that year.
According to Currie, Birch, who passed away in 1969 in St. George, Grenada, was born here in 1912. He was a veteran of 39 movies, 50 stage dramas and an untold number of television shows. He was the star in a 1958 syndicated TV series “Cannonball,” according to Currie. He was initially married to Margaret Farish, but was divorced and later married Betsy Ross, said Currie. He reportedly, had three children.
Another local man who made a name for himself, Art “Tarzan” White, made a visit to his home of Atmore home that year.
White, who was an All-American football player at the University of Alabama in the 1930s, later became a professional wrestler and at one time was the champion wrestler in the state of Georgia. White, who died in 1996, also played professional football for the New York Giants and the Chicago Cardinals.
That was also the year Cassius “Muhammad Ali” Clay was stripped of his boxing title for resisting the draft.
Locally, the Pipkin Brothers; Marvin, Zelma and James, sold their Pepsi Cola Bottling Company to Hooper Matthews and Ralph Durrett. The Pipkins had operated the successful business here for many years. The new owners changed the name of the firm to Gulf Bottling Company.
Well-known managers and coaches continued to lead our Babe Ruth baseball teams. Weldon Vickery and John Bachelor led The Southland Broadcasting (WATM) team; Frank Patrick and Mickey Cannon oversaw The Patrick Plumbing Company team; Earl Miller and T.R. Kirby managed The Atmore Recap Shop team and Johnny Coker and Billy McDonald steered the Standard Oil team. All these men devoted countless hours of their spare time so that many young boys received the opportunity to play baseball.
Jim Elkins retired as ECHS band director that year after having served since 1956. He always presented a spirited and well-balanced marching band.
Dr. Christian Barnard, a South African surgeon, performed the first heart transplant and Elvis Presley took Pricilla Beaulieu as his wife.
Many housewives (and husbands, too) were elated by the introduction of the microwave oven, which made its debut in 1967.
Will Adams, a 117-year-old Atmore resident, was feted by his family and friends with a grand birthday celebration.
Joe Sneed departed Atmore after a lengthy service with The Bank of Atmore. He made south Florida his new home.
Brook’s Memorial Church announced plans for a new and spacious church and Leonard Peavy located a Veteran Service office here. Dr. H.Q. Wilson was named chief of staff at Greenlawn Hospital in 1967.
That was also the year that Englebert Humperdinck became a popular crooner in this country with his big hit “Release Me.” Frank Sinatra and daughter Nancy scored a hit with the song “Something Stupid.”
Well, I have some real interesting columns almost ready to send your way. I’ll tell you next week about the big 1952, 1953 and 1954 ECHS class reunion scheduled for the weekend of Sept. 6.
You’ll also learn in a future column about Rue Mason, who passed away that year after living 100 years. Many of you saw his sparkling 1929 automobile on display at Staff Chevrolet for so many years. You will also learn about his grandson, a medical doctor, who played a vital role rendering medical aid to Katrina victims in Mississippi. This grandson has many relatives still living here.
But here’s the “BIG” news. Oil drilling may be getting underway in this immediate area within the next couple of months. I hope to have all the facts assembled soon and will report it to you.
Again, to all of those many former residents living across the country, I want to sincerely thank you for your emails and kind remarks regarding my column. Not only those former residents, but local folks have also been just great. Each week, response increases, and, for this I am grateful. I want you to know I don’t think I could have ever found a more self-satisfying, compatible project as writing this column in my semi-retirement years.
Please feel free to offer input to the column. If you have news of a nostalgic nature feel free to forward it to me online. I am preparing more than two dozen columns based on news you have emailed me. Have patience with me as I assure you stories you sent me will be carried in future columns.
Lowell McGill is a historical columnist for The Atmore Advance. He can be reached at email@example.com