Just who was Atmore native John Troutman?
By By Lowell McGill
When CNN's Lou Dobbs went on his well publicized tirade the day the Air Force announced it's selection of Northrop Grumman Corporations and EADS over Boeing I could not help but being reminded of my old friend John Troutman.
Dobbs, the capable journalists and commentator that he, is let it get away from him that day, while he was on the air. His outrage over his support for Boeing actually caused his complexion turn to "lobster pink." I think I have never seen a TV personality become so outraged.
But getting back to John, my question is "what would John have done" had he still been living today? You see, he was one of the most likable men I have ever known. Now, he was also known for his highly opinionated nature. Knowing him, I am sure he would have picked up the phone and called Dobbs and given him a piece of his mind.
Just who was John Troutman? Well, he was a native of Atmore who came from a long line of family members. His brothers were H.O. and Dud Troutman. You may remember my column on Dud and his ability to imitate his voice to sound like most any person he knew. John often said Dud could impersonate himself and he would sound more like Dud than Dud did himself-if that makes sense. H.O. was Mickey Troutman and Terry Troutman's dad and Dud was Charlotte Miller's father. John had three sisters, Clara, Lulu and Madie. Lulu once served as a principal at the Robinsonville School and later was principal at A.C. Moore. Madie married John McMillan from Stockton and they had two sons, Steve and John, who have enjoyed successful terms in state politics.
John was a very well educated man and had a background in pharmacy and pharmaceutical sales. He was also a world traveler. Prior to returning home to Atmore in semiretirement he worked as a freelance pharmacist for various drug stores. He and his German-born wife Lily had lived in Miami for a number of years.
Now, let me pause here for a moment and tell you that I am writing about my wife's kinfolks. Ouida was a Troutman and was a"cousin removed" from John and his family.
I learned a lot about this man after his return to Atmore. He was not only successful in business, but he became friends with several prominent people in his work and travels. Not only that, but he was an avid Crimson Tide advocate. He knew Paul Bryant personally and he proudly wore a houndstooth hat that was autographed by the "Bear." When he was doing work for Tom Kelly the two, in a respectful manner, would jaw at each other. Tom, of course, was an Auburn graduate.
John also knew the man who circulated "football power cards" nationwide. The cards, just a little larger than regular playing cards, were published weekly. I cannot remember the names of the cards, but they carried a power rating, which indicated the strength of the Top 25 teams in the country. On the flip side advertisements were displayed. The cards were popular here for many years. A most unusual business the card company was highly successful.
John knew Danny Thomas, the founder of St. Jude's Children Hospital in Memphis, Tenn. He was a firm financial supporter of this organization. His inspiration caused me also to become a monthly supporter of this hospital. For many years now St. Jude draws a $10 draft from my bank account. I feel good each time I see this transaction on my bank statement.
As I said, he was a man of his own opinions and he would let you know his feelings on subjects he disagreed with. He kept up with world affairs and he "was in the know" on many areas of interest. One day late in the afternoon, I walked into Tom Kelly's drug store and John was on the phone "giving someone down the country." When he finished I asked him what that conversation was all about. He told me that he was telling an out-of-town doctor that he had prescribed an improper prescription for one of his customers. John said the prescription could have been "deadly" had the customer taken it. He said the prescription "clashed" with the heart medicine the customer was currently taking. I did not realize the importance of this until I had my open heart surgery a few years ago. I found that I must be careful not to take medicine that is not compatible with my present medicine. But, I have great doctors and I never worry about this problem. Most doctors know their business and they make sure you get the right medicine for your medical conditions.
Another incident occurred in the same drug store one day when an elderly, almost in tears, did not have enough money to pay for all her medicine. She was going to settle for fewer pills, but John took money from his wallet and paid the difference so she could receive the number of pills prescribed for her. That's the type person he was.
One day he asked me to follow him to Pensacola, where he was taking his Cadillac to be serviced. On the way back home, he remembered he had left his "Bear" Bryant hat in the car so we turned around and went back to Pensacola to get the hat.
He played the stock market and was very successful at it. He invested in new medicines and lab companies. We often rode out to the radio station and would go to the newsroom where the "news ticker" would dish out financial information and stock quotes. Some days he would receive disappointing reports, but most of the time the financial news was good.
So, today, I just wonder how John would have reacted to the Dobbs story. Knowing John, somehow, Mr. Dobbs would have received a "piece of his mind."
In an unrelated matter, I would like to mention the passing of Thornton-Price (TP) Williams. He worked at Brookley Field with my father many years ago, but in later life he served as the Mobile County License Commissioner. TP would often come to our home when I was in junior and senior high school. He hunted with my dad, but he always brought candy and fruit to us. I can still remember his visits even today. My condolences go out to his family in his passing.
I have been getting emails regarding my "You can get there from here" travelogues. For those of you who want more columns of this nature, I am preparing new ones now and I'll have another one for you in the very near future.
Lowell McGill is a historical columnist for The Atmore Advance. He can be reached at email@example.com