Remembering the events late in the year 1974

Published 12:09 am Wednesday, October 22, 2008

By By Lowell McGill
This week I conclude my three part report on people and events of 1974.
In 1974, Greenlawn Hospital became fully accredited by the National Hospital Board. Sandy McGill, who served as administrator resigned his position as hospital administrator to move into a similar position at the South Baldwin Hospital in Foley. Dutch Henry, a Baldwin county native, was hired as his replacement.
In education news, Eunice Broughton and Mrs. Frank Currie retired after serving many years in the Escambia County teaching system. R.L. Watson and Steve Peterson were named new football and baseball coaches respectively at Escambia Academy. Steve, who is married to Tony’s Albert’s daughter, is the head baseball coach at Middle Tennessee State University. He has served as coach for that college for several years now.
In medical news, Dr. Hugh Long moved to Atmore and assumed the chiropractor practice of Dr. Cecil Thornbloom.
The Alabama Forest Commission recognized Escambia County for growing some of the largest cedar trees in the state. One tree, located near Big Escambia Creek and I-65 was said to be over 80-feet tall.
James Kennedy, former ECHS football standout was recognized for his input in developing the Pringles Potato Chip “round can”. James was employed as an engineer with a major corporation at the time.
Attorney Bert Rice and his family moved to Atmore that year and joined the Robert Maxwell Law Firm. Rice later served our community well, working with youth sports leagues and eventually became a well respected judge.
Phillip Rawls was active here in Atmore that year in community affairs. He was employed by the Advance as sports director. Phillip now has gained success as a top flight writer for the Associated Press.
Former Ernest Ward High School football standout Liston Eddins was named one of the National Linemen of the week as a member of the Auburn Tigers football team.
Remember that sports story last week about ECHS winning the state football championship? I wrote that the semi-final game was scheduled to be played in Pell City, but adverse weather and field conditions caused the game to moved to a nearby town. Well, here is a question for you. Name that town the game was moved to. I’ll give you the answer next week.
Now, let me say my face is red. I received a very nice letter from an anonymous sender this week calling my attention to some erroneous information I wrote recently regarding trains. In those columns, I stated that all even numbered trains traveled south and odd number trains traveled north. Of course I was writing about those old steam locomotives of the 1940s and the 1950s.
I want to thank this person for correcting my error. He pointed out to me that north bound trains carried even numbers and south bound trains had odd numbers.
Some other very interesting information was revealed in that letter. This person said he worked for “Mr. Lum Marvin Edwards, a railway express agent. He correctly identified “Old Number 34” as the 10:30 p.m. north bound train, not number 37, as I incorrectly wrote. He also told me about Numbers 5, 4, 6 and 1. I learned from his letter the names of other employees I failed to include in my earlier L&N train columns. They include Wilmer Turnquist, Green A. King Sr., J.A White, J L Sims, N. McMullen, and Andy Driscoll. He also identified J. L Wachob, Walter Jones and Abe Mixon as Frisco Railroad employees.
I don’t know why this person elected not to sign the letter because he was 100 percent correct. Maybe, one day he will identify himself to me, but I do thank him for his letter and for the nice comments about my column.
Unlike some college football coaches I offer no excuses for misinforming you. Let’s call it old age. I guess I was in a hurry when I wrote it. But, I am happy, with his help, to set the record straight.
After receiving the letter I called my 90-year-old friend, Freddie Cantanne, who lives in Perdido and who retired from the L&N Railroad as a depot agent many years ago.
I told Freddie about what I had done. I also told him I should have contacted him first before writing those train stories. If anybody knows the railroad business it is Freddie. He said it was not unusual for people, even, back in those days to become confused with train numbers. He told me “back in the 1950s while I was working my night shift at the Flomaton depot a passenger train, after picking up passengers in that town, had to slam on the brakes, back up and let a passenger step off and pick up her small baby cradled in a basket resting on the depot platform”.
He said the popular passenger train, “Hummingbird” was known to railroad men as numbers 5 and 6. It traveled both north and south. That train was known to all back then as it was the fastest passenger train that came through our area.
Next week I’ll tell you about receiving some nice and some not so nice emails, letters and phone calls regarding some of my comments in recent columns.
Lowell McGill is a historical columnist for The Atmore Advance. He can be reached at

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