Middleton, McNeal excel, top news in ‘73

Published 4:24 am Friday, May 22, 2009

By By Lowell McGill
We are taking a look at some events, people and places from 1972 and 1973 this week.
In 1973 Pam Middleton, daughter of Haskew and Gladys Middleton, captured a first place trophy at the Alabama Press Association Convention in Montgomery. The talented writer was recognized as the best writer in women’s and fashion news. Pam now has her own business in New York.
Don McNeal, local ECHS football standout, was gaining recognition statewide for his outstanding performance on the gridiron. He helped lead the Blue Devils to a state championship the following year and then went on to great careers at the University of Alabama and the Miami Dolphins.
Marion Bryan and J.A. Davis hosted a huge Sacred Harp district singing at Pine Level Primitive Baptist Church. D.V. Johnson, who was the Escambia County Alabama Sacred Harp director, brought a large following from Alabama.
John Waller became the Advance’s news editor following a successful newspaper career in Montgomery.
The old Lowery House on South Main Street was torn down in the spring of 1973 to make way for the Advance’s current newspaper office. W.W. Lowery, who was the first president of The Bank Of Atmore built the large two story frame structure in 1907.
In 1972 the congested Southland Telephone party line was finally resolved. Bill Corman, owner of the company, introduced the one party system. You remember how frustrating it was having to wait for someone on your party line finishing a conversation before you could make your call? Also, it meant the end of “listening in” on conversations by fellow party liners. A few here were jokingly kidded about their secrets becoming first hand information on those old party lines. But, I’ll never tell.
Bids were taken by the state making Hwy. 21 north I-65 into a four lane road. This strip of road had become a bottleneck in getting out to the interstate. Traffic had become heavier on this stretch as everyone used this road to gain access to I-65.
Holman Prison began an advertising campaign to hire more security officers. The prison also released a request that new employees be referred to as officers, not “guards.” It was a prestigious gesture, and rightly so, as newly hired officers would now be required to have high school diplomas.
W.O. Higdon, State Employment officer CEO, announced the opening of an employment office in Atmore. At that time, those seeking employment had to travel to Higdon’s Brewton office. Bill Cargill was named to oversee the Atmore office.
In his later years after he retired Bill built up a weekly route of taking orders for seafood. He traveled to south Baldwin and brought back some of the biggest, best tasting oysters you ever ate. I am sure many of you ate some of that delicious seafood.
Mickey Andrews, former Alabama football player, was the guest speaker at the Escambia Academy annual All -Sports banquet. Andrews, who is the present defensive coordinator at Florida State University, was the head coach at Livingston University at that time.
The City of Atmore recognized several city policemen for outstanding service during these two months. Included were Jake Phillips, Clarke Singleton, Gary Todd and Joe Lalak, Jr.
Florida State University began a study of Creek Indian culture and history. The information was later used in a book published by the University. Several local creeks were honored at a banquet here for that occasion.
Atmore Assembly of God teachers were recognized as “Teachers of the Year”. They were Mrs. Agnes Allen, Mrs. Irma Johnson and Clay Whitehead.
Tony Albert was named to a third term as head of the Atmore Little League and Babe Ruth Leagues.
Well, again, our column is a little short this week as I await that upcoming eye surgery. But, I’ll have more from 1972 and 1973 next week.
Lowell McGill is a historical columnist for The Atmore Advance. He can be reached at exam@frontiernet.net

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