Fruits, desserts and fall bring back memories

Published 1:49 am Wednesday, November 5, 2008

By By Lowell McGill
With this being the “pumpkin season” I am reminded of an incident in the early to mid 1950s.
Martin Ritchie, the Atmore Advance owner and publisher, was closing out the make up pages for that particular week’s edition when an area farmer came to the Advance office with a gigantic cantaloupe resting on his pickup truck. Ritchie was so impressed with the size of the cantaloupe that he literally stopped the presses wanting to get a photo for the front page. But, as fate would have it the farmer dropped the melon and it spattered all over the sidewalk in a thousand pieces. I was at the paper that day bringing my sports stories for publication. Ritchie quickly brought a large pan and we picked up much of the spattered pieces and ate them. Of course we were unable to get a photo of the huge delicious fruit.
Now, this was one of the best tasting and sweetest cantaloupes I ever ate. In fact, it was only this year that I tasted one that I believe compared to it.
This year Cecil Daniel grew some of the best cantaloupes found in this area. In fact, they were so good that my wife bought six of them and froze them for eating this winter. Now, if you have never eaten frozen cantaloupe after about 45 seconds in the microwave you have missed some delicious eating. Top it off with sugar free ice cream or whipping cream and it’s a treat beyond description.
Two other delicious fruits which can be frozen and eaten in the same manner are nectarines and Japanese persimmons. A big tree in my yard supplies us with ample nectarines. Annie Sue (Keller) Newman and Leon Troutman, my brother-in-law, give us real ripe persimmons, which make for healthy winter time desserts.
Ritchie, in addition to the Miniards, provided employment for me when I was in college. I think he was one of the most knowledgeable newspaper publishers I have ever known. Of course, that is until I came to know Jim Boone, the current Advance owner.
Ritchie told me one day, “I heard a mystery voice on WATM ,and I know that voice.”
Well, this mystery voice was part of a Junior Chamber of Commerce jingle written by WATM’s Sam Ford. It ran on the radio as part of a Jaycee money raising fund. Robert Maxwell was the emcee for that fund raising show that day. When they called and asked for the name of the mystery caller Ritchie identified Douglas Webb as the voice on the tape. Sam did an excellent job in producing the catchy jingle. It was the talk of the town up until the day the voice was revealed.
Speaking of good things to eat, each week on my trip back to Tuscaloosa in 1954-55, I stopped at Mr. and Mrs. William Coley’s home in Uriah to pick up cakes, pies and all type goodies. She prepared these treats for her two sons Bill and Frank. You see, her sons and I had an apartment together just off campus and they would share those sweets with me. Sadly, Frank passed away a couple of years ago and just this week I learned that Bill died. He had moved back near his Uriah home. After reading his obituary in the paper I immediately called Jettie Everette. She, Frank and Bill were in school together at J.U. Blacksher. She had not heard about Bill and she was also saddened upon learning of his death. My condolences go out to all the Coley family members.
Some nice emails sent to me this week from friends were most welcomed.
Arelene (Steege) Mack wrote to me about the role Congressman Jack Edwards played in helping the Creeks obtain their federal recognition. I thanked her for giving me this additional information as I failed to mention his contributions when I wrote about Hugh Rozelle and Chief Calvin McGhee last week.
Arelene is the Special Health Projects Coordinator for The Poarch Band Of Creek Indians. She tells me she has helped ‘draft the annual funding tables for the Tribal Health Department since 1985.” “Our 2009 health budget will start at over $4 million this year” she related.
Another interesting email came from Terry Jones. He forwarded me a ‘film clip’ of 1935 progressive developments in the three county areas of Escambia, Monroe and Mobile. The clip featured developments at State Farm and Little River State Park and the arrival of azaleas to Mobile County. The Civilian Conservation Corps were highlights of the film. It was very interesting and informative. I have saved this email, and I will be glad to forward it to any of you who may want to view it. Contact me at my email address if you want to see it.
By the way, I will make this my question of the week. Where were the nearest CC Camps located back during this time period?
Finally, I would like say something good about some of the FEMA people I have known for a number of years. I know that FEMA gets some bad press these days, but there is one department that should be recognized for the important role it plays during catastrophes. I am speaking of the direct side of the flood claims department spearheaded by Scott Holmes, who is the Claims Director. His untiring efforts guiding adjusters in bringing claims to a close following hurricanes, floods, etc. have been simply great. Outstanding claims adjusting offices like Ben Elder Claims Service with Rebecca Russell in Gun Barrel City, Texas and Roy Guffy at Delta Claims Service in Louisiana and many other nationwide claims adjusting firms work hand in hand with Scott to see that those who have suffered flood losses receive prompt, fair settlements. I look back at these people with great admiration following thirty years of service with them. This FEMA department often goes unnoticed. Thus, I am happy to “toot their horn’ and tell of their unrelenting efforts in the National Flood Insurance program.
Next week, I’ll take another look at people and events in the year 1955.
Lowell McGill is a historical columnist for The Atmore Advance. He can be reached at

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