Scenery and activity in Atmore has changed

Published 5:45 am Thursday, December 4, 2008

By By Lowell McGill
Sights and sounds of Atmore-then and now. That is a contrasting statement, by all means.
Busy Saturday afternoons, looking for a place to park, shopping at over two dozen friendly stores were some of the scenes from downtown Atmore years ago.
Waiting to see an L&N train travel down Hwy. 31 with the hopes of seeing a Frisco train pass over it, brought thrills to many of us.
Hearing the early morning whistle at Swift Mill lured workers to their jobs and also let us know what time it was. Hearing that same whistle in the afternoon we knew workers were ending a day’s work.
The rumble of freight trains on the railroad spur led to the ice house for the purpose of “icing down’ freight cars. Those same cars switched in and around the potato sheds where workers loaded bags of freshly graded potatoes.
Hearing fire sirens caused us to tune in to the Maxwell - Haley fire report on WATM to learn where the fire was.
Buying Christmas fireworks at that unique store that some said was situated actually on the Alabama-Florida state line was a cherished tradition.
Taxi cabs lined up in front of the L&N depot waiting for passengers to depart from oncoming passenger trains. The billowing black smoke from those steam engines caused us to cover our eyes for fear of catching cinders.
Waiting on Fridays for the delivery of Strand Theater’s “show paper” brought relief to read about upcoming movies. You knew you had received the right show paper when its color had changed from the preceding week.
Yes, those were just some of the sights and sounds of the yesteryears. And, perhaps, I should add the smells of Atmore.
State Farm offered refreshing peach bloom smells and tempting aromas of roasted coffee by Atmore Coffee Company drifted throughout the entire town.
Today, only a few of these occurrences are still evident.
Now, we see a new image of Atmore.
A towering casino and hotel at Hwy. 21 and Interstate 65 has created a different conception of our town.
Only a few weeks ago while doing some work on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, I learned that people there had already heard about Atmore, a place of destination.
Led by the creative and innovative Poarch Creek Indians, it seems quite evident that other well known business will ‘follow the Creeks” as they lead the way to Atmore’s frontier.
This endeavor is welcomed by many and looked down upon by others. But, it is a “sign of our time.” Whether you are a gambler or not, this progressive business will bring jobs and prosperity to Atmore. I have talked to some who are against gambling, but, yet, have relatives working there. Many, however, see it as an opportunity for employment
I write about this in an objective manner without bias opinion.
I have talked with friends and business people in Brewton, Bay Minette and Monroeville and they all say, “I wish it were located in our town.”
Easily accessible from I-65 Atmore, it is ideally located and that is why some believe you will see growth beyond imagination in the next couple of years.
Already traffic on South and North Main Street is increasing more and more each day as participants venture up Highways 97 and 21, the most congested routes. Snow Birds, wintering on the coast, contribute to much of this traffic.
Taking it on myself a few days ago, while out gathering news for my column, I conducted my own personal poll.
I parked in the casino parking area and asked a few travelers some questions. I wanted to know why they were visiting here. Some said they were headed south to Pensacola and Gulf Breeze but purposely passed Hwy. 113 (the Flomaton exit) just to come by the casino. A couple of others, who were not from the area and who would normally have taken Highway 113, said they had seen Creek Casino Ads in leading magazines and wanted to visit here. Others said they had been coming on a regular basis since the casino opened.
This is only the beginning. Those in the know say the ‘sights and sounds” of Atmore today will be contrasting in, all aspects, compared to those sights and sounds of days gone by.
Many believe it will not only be Creeks, but the City of Atmore’s contribution of Rivercane that will also add to the commercial success of these new ventures.
Thanks to all of you who emailed me on my column about The Weather Channel. Some of you, too, were saddened to learn about the layoffs of a few of your favorite on camera weather personalities.
Thought you might find this news story interesting. Liberal MSNBC newscaster Chris Matthews, who was removed from his political anchor desk by NBC, says he may seek the senate seat in Pennsylvania. You may remember I wrote about his biased remarks during the presidential election.
The 62-year-old “Hardball” commentator ran unsuccessfully for a congressional seat from that same state in 1974.
Meanwhile, his network counterpart Joe Scarborough continues to score success and popularity with his political viewpoints. The Pensacola native joined MSNBC after successful terms as a U.S. Congressman for the northwest Florida area.
Lowell McGill is a historical columnist for The Atmore Advance. He can be reached at

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