Educators have been able to call Atmore home

Published 2:56 pm Wednesday, February 11, 2009

By By Lowell McGill
Over the years Atmore has been fortunate to have had the pleasure of being the home for teachers and administrators from the State of Mississippi.
Some of those friendly people who moved here years ago to begin and continue teaching careers in the local and Florida School Systems include, John Garrard, James and Wayne McKay, Bill and Elsie Shoemake, Sterlin and Mildred Fancher, Mr. and Mrs. E.C Copeland, Mr. and Mrs. Horton and Mr. and Mrs. Elam Fayard and many others. (Forgive me if I have left anyone out).
Most of these educators came here immediately after finishing college or from out of state teaching jobs. I was in college with some of them at Southern Miss, where I received my teaching degree after two years of study at the University of Alabama. I also had the opportunity to teach with some of them in the late 1950s and early 1960s.
Those still living here refer to Atmore as home and this is their home. They have all become a part of Atmore’s community and some have taken active leadership in civic and church roles. They have raised their families here and now some of their children are raising their children (third generation) here.
Such was the case Friday night when the “Wayne McKay daughters” treated their mother to a pleasant birthday dinner at a local restaurant. My wife and I sat across the table from them and they were graciously entertaining Mrs. McKay in a festive occasion. Some of the McKay daughters are also teachers and one of the girls worked in radio. I remember hearing her on the air many times. She had a tremendous, resonant radio voice.
It was, indeed, a pleasure for Ouida and me to see the expressions of joy on Mrs. McKay’s face as she was surrounded by the love and affection of her daughters.
Some of these fine people have passed on. But, each time I see those still living here I am reminded of their many educational contributions they have brought to our community.
Now, moving into politics, I told you last week I would have some news on developments in the Northup Grumman -Boeing tanker contract.
I based that on an article in Friday’s Mobile Press Register written by George Talbot.
Talbot wrote that Rep. John Murtha, a US defense representative who visited Mobile last week, brought hope that the defense department may be moving toward a split contract.
While he would not come out and say it, Murtha intimated that he may consider both Boeing and NG sharing 50-50 in building the tanker. Ironically, it was already known that Murtha had previously made favorable remarks about his riding the Boeing bandwagon. But, Murtha appeared to display a different attitude after surveying what Mobile had to offer. He, surprisingly, reflected a ray of hope with a more favorable view of the contract. Murtha seemed pleased by the “open arms welcome” he received from Gov. Riley, the Mobile Mayor and other state representatives.
When he flew out of Mobile that afternoon there was a renewed feeling of optimism for our getting this coveted contract. It would put approximately 2,700 people to work if the contract were awarded to NG, and many of those workers would come from our area
But, these rays of hope were suddenly dashed last Friday when Talbot wrote in another article that Pentagon officials announced their opposition to a split contract. Talbot reported that John Young, the US Undersecretary of Defense, announced a split deal would not “be in the best interest’ of the Defense Department. So, now we are back to square one.
Personally, it is very obvious politics are now in play. The “Chicago Connection’ and its Boeing based friends will make every possible effort to swing the contract their way. I say this, even with Boeing’s current varied union problems and tardiness of other contracts.
You can bet the windy city nesters will be highly visible until the end. Whatever happens, it now appears that we will not have a decision until 2010. I only hope none of the present “antique” tankers take a dive as they go about their daily missions fueling other planes in mid air.
Finally, do you remember the 1960-70 TV program “Mission Impossible?” There was a familiar line in the plot of that show. I’m sure you remember that opening line, “this tape, Mr. Phelps, will self destruct in ten minutes or was it one hour?”
Now, you ask what in the world are you talking about.
Well, I am talking about Lane Kiffin, the 33-year-old head football coach at the University of Tennessee
You see, Kiffin, prior to his being hired by the Vols this year, was the Oakland Raiders head coach. Al Davis fired him last season and one sports radio personality reportedly said Davis gave Kiffin that “self destruct” tag. He did not last long with Davis and was soon “put on the road.” The radio reporter said Kiffin’s downfall was partly attributed to “his mouth”.
Tennessee immediately gave him (and his father who came over from another professional team) the reigns at “Old Rocky Top.”
But, he immediately stuck his neck out on a limb.
First, he accused Florida coach Urban Meyer of cheating during the recent recruitment period. Then, he blasted Alabama’s Nick Saban for aloofness in his recruiting efforts. To top this, he turned loose Lance Thompson, the newly hired former Crimson Tide assistant coach, and let him shoot off his mouth. Thompson went so far as warning Saban that Memphis was “my territory and I have that area locked where no Alabama recruiter can get in.” That didn’t last long because three days later Saban invaded Memphis and came away with a commitment regarded as one of the most coveted 2010 prospects in the state of Tennessee.
Kiffin and his staff brought embarrassment to himself, his staff and the entire the Vols organization. His antics were so stupid that the Southeastern Conference Commissioner demanded he make a public apology for all his off cuff statements.
He made the apology but the damage was already done.
Wouldn’t you hate to be in his shoes this fall when he leads his Volunteers into all the SEC stadiums for football games?
Perhaps, “Daddy” will come forward and say “Toto” (son), we are not in Kansas anymore. We’ve got be careful how we follow that yellow brick road and make sure we are able to get back home safe and sound.”
Lowell McGill is a historical columnist for The Atmore Advance. He can be reached at

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox