Happenings in Atmore area in early 1970

Published 11:13 am Wednesday, January 14, 2009

By By Lowell McGill
This week we are taking a look at some of the people and places in early 1970. Sadly, we lost some of our leading citizens during this period of time.
Former Atmore Mayor D.T. Peavey passed away that year. He served as the local mayor for a number of years.
Well respected businessman Wheeler Crook died in early 1970. He and his wife owned and operated the City Caf/ for a number of years. In addition to his many civic contributions, he was also involved in Atmore’s Babe Ruth and Little League programs.
Paul Smith, who was known by his Hollywood movie name Paul Burch, passed away at his home in California. An Atmore native, he had roles in countless movies and TV shows including a prominent role in the TV series “Cannonball.”
Escambia County Probate Judge Reo Kirkland died while serving the citizens of the county.
Greene King, Jr, whose brother was a local dentist passed away that year. He operated a successful air conditioning and heating business
An unusual fire occurred near Barnett Crossroads. The well traveled 120 ft long Grissett Bridge over Big Escambia Creek went up in flames and was destroyed. County law officials laid the cause to arson caused by vandals.
Thompson Clothing Stores recognized local store manager George Scoggins for having the most sales that year. Scoggins son, Mike, served as the editor of the Atmore Advance in later years.
Escambia County Training School principal Woodrow McCorvey was recognized for his educational leadership and was featured in the 1970 edition of “Personalities of The South Magazine.” He was one of a dozen Southern educators selected for the award.
Well known city Policeman J. D. Stewart retired from the city after serving 14 years of service. Mr. Stewart is well remembered for his daily walks on the streets checking on parking meters and helping keep our town safe.
In news happening this past week, former State Farm- Huxford native Bill Mason retired after a long career with Springhill Memorial Hospital in Mobile.
Mason, who is the grandson of the late Rue Mason and a cousin of my wife, was the hospital administrator. His grandfather lived to the ripe old age of 100. Mason began his career at Springhill in 1977 as the administrator. Under his supervision the hospital increased from 150 beds to several hundred beds. It is now recognized as one of the leading hospitals in Mobile.
His brother, Autry Lee Mason and his sister, Ercel Womack, are current residents of the State Farm-Huxford area. His cousin, Dr.Lynn Leatherwood, was featured in our column a few months ago for having volunteered medical service to victims of Hurricane Katrina along the Mississippi Gulf coast. Dr. Leatherwood is the nephew of Winston Leatherwood.
Well, in closing, I have a couple of emails I’d like to share with you.
Susan (Butler) Henderson, the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Garland Butler, emailed me after reading my column on Buck Jones and his childhood home on Sand Mountain. She stated her father was also raised on Sand Mountain in the small town of Woodville. She said her dad would often take the family back to his old hometown and they visited an old cave, known then as “Bats Cave.” However, today, she said it is known as Cathedral Caverns. She remembers seeing inside the cave the world’s largest frozen waterfall and “Goliath,” the world’s largest stalagmite. Now, let me see, is that the one that forms from the ceiling or the one that penetrates upward from the floor? In any event, Susan relates the memorable times when her parents and family visited the old home place. She also remembers those watermelons and giant tomatoes grown on the mountain.
Sam Ford, my good friend and former WATM co-worker of the early 1950s emailed me recently, and I learned from him he was a cousin of the late Scrappy Moore, the former and renowned football coach at the University of Chattanooga. Sam was also a close friend of former ECHS coach A.R. Holmes who played college football for Coach Moore.
Sam and I e-mail often as he likes to keep up with old friends and current happenings in Atmore. He tells me he is amazed to see those Creek Indian advertisements in magazines and on New Orleans TV. I told him that Atmore has now become a destination town where in older days it was known as the “Alabama Prison” town.
Next week we will look at some more events and people on the year 1970.
Lowell McGill is a historical columnist for The Atmore Advance. He can be reached at exam@frontiernet.net

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