Fish tale, first lady visit talk of town in ‘64

Published 6:09 pm Monday, September 28, 2009

By By Lowell McGill
Some of my friends recently asked me, ‘why haven’t we seen your columns lately?”
I answered by saying, “I have been on a sabbatical.” “Oh, you mean you have taken off some time to go to church,” one said. I answered him by saying, “no that is not a sabbatical.”
A sabbatical is a period of time away from a normal routine. It is a time to take a break and refresh your mind. So you might say that is what I have been doing for the past few weeks.
One of those friends asked me to ‘tell it again” about that 1964 fishing trip taken by Ben Haley and Doctor St. Amant.
It seems these two men went on a fishing trip near Stuart, Fla. While they were fishing out in the Atlantic Ocean a huge sailfish was hauled in. Now, Ben jokingly claimed he snagged the fish. It was so large that some reporters from that area wrote a story indicating it was a “record catch” and both men landed it.
Ben, who claimed he caught it, always told that story to all his friends at coffee shop gatherings and each time he told it the fish got a little bit bigger. We kidded him so much that he brought us a photo with both men holding up the giant fish. We never did get the doctor’s side of the story, but whoever did land that fish the photo proved it was a big one.
There were a few more 1964 events of interest.
Kimbrell Cunningham, who was active in Boy Scout work for many years, received the “Silver Beaver” award. He was one of only a few in the nation receiving that coveted award that year.
Atmore drew national attention that year when the train carrying Mrs. “Ladybird” Johnson, the wife of Lyndon Johnson, stopped at the depot to pick up a passenger. That passenger was Mrs. Thomas, wife of Dr. J.B. Thomas. A cousin of “Ladybird,” she rode with her on the passenger train to Mobile.
Highly regarded former ECHS principal Robert Hodnette died that year. He devoted 33 years of his life to the school and the county school system.
Curtis Forrester, Leroy Wiggins and several other northwest Florida leaders received approval to begin construction of the Walnut Hill Water System.
The McCullough School burned that year.
In a very interesting current events story, I see where a Huntsville woman has won an e-Bay auction to have dinner with Sarah Palin. The lady bid $63,000 to join the former vice presidential candidate for dinner in Alaska. I bet she was served some “Moose stew.” Money raised for this event went to wounded veteran services.
Now here is some nostalgic news. You remember that little girl on TV many years ago advertising a carpet store over in Mobile? She had a catchy ad, “Open 8 to 8 so don’t be late.” Well, I see her doing these ads again, but now she is a beautiful ‘grown up” young lady. It only seems like yesterday when she began these TV appearances.
Another TV ad that has been very popular for several years will now fade from our view. Remember those two pretty young women, Brenda and Dianne, who did those Leon Atchison Furniture commercials? Well, they won’t be doing these commercials anymore because that store announced last week it was going out of business. I often wondered if these two were sisters.
And, of course, who can forget Billy Mays, the guy with the high pitch voice. Sadly, as I am sure you know, he passed away last month. He was regarded as TV’s best ‘pitchman”.
Also Stephan Courtney, better known as Flo, is sweeping the country now-a day’s all decked out in white doing those “Progressive commercials.” One internet source reported she has become the most visible female advertising personality on television.
Finally here is one for you. And, don’t laugh. I have tried several remedies these past few months to rid the pain of leg cramps. I tried tonic water blended with quinine, but this created a problem with my blood because I take Coumadin each day. I even elevated my legs, but did not gain relief. Then one day I read about a remedy which was guaranteed to stop those cramps. So I decided to give it a try. Well, after two days I was totally amazed that the cramps completely went away. In other words they “VAMOOSED.” So what is that remedy? Believe it or not it is a BAR OF SOAP. That’s right. I peeled the wrapping off bar of Dove soap and placed the soap under the sheets at night.
Now, I cannot offer an explanation why this “cured” my cramps, but I can definitely state “the cramps are gone.” That soap also leaves a pleasant fresh odor under the sheets all night long.
I suppose that is why old folks back in the 1930s and 1940s would take dark green ferns, make lather and rub the cramp areas. The lather looked like soap suds and left a fresh smell on the skin.
As you probably know I stay on top of the oil drilling news. Even though you really never know whether a well will become a producer, I am learning that some favorable information has begun to surface in a few particular “spots” in our area. We even learned last week that the state has leased some large tracks of land for drilling purposes.
I am definitely not saying current wells will become producers, but the latest reports sound much better than previous reports. The reason I bring this up is because some geographical surveys have begun to identify our area as “hot spots.” Time will tell.
More next week.
Lowell McGill is a historical columnist for The Atmore Advance. He can be reached at

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