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1975 brought about many highs and lows

By By Lowell McGill
This week we continue our look at 1975. In the early months of that year, Swift Lumber Company, one of Atmore’s oldest business firms, held a gala picnic for former employees. Staged at the Atmore City Park, the event drew over one hundred participants. Some of those former employees in attendance were in their nineties.
Another historic event that year was the closing of Bristow Drug Store. For years this was one of the favorite early morning gathering places for coffee drinkers, and the soda fountain was a popular lunch gathering place for many who worked in the various stores and businesses in town. Claude Bristow, who moved here from Bay Minette in 1942, was quoted saying, “I am the only pharmacist, soda jerk and chief clerk all rolled up into one in Atmore.” His was one of the leading drug stores for over 30 years.
Residents were saddened in mid 1975 at the death of Bob Vail. The former publisher of “The Baldwin Times” and founder of “The Atmore Record” newspaper was best known as the Administrative Assistant for Congressman George Grant. He was the father of Sarah (Mrs. Buster Joyner) Vail.
Rev. Albert Kennington was ordained at the Trinity Episcopal Church. The former ECHS graduate also held degrees from Troy University and the Theological Department of Sewanee University.
Connie Torrence of ECHS won first place in the Escambia County 4-H Speech Contest. Her speech was selected tops more than 50 contestants.
Mike Amerson was named to the Alabama Junior College All-Conference Baseball team. The Ernest Ward High School graduate played at Faulkner State in Bay Minette.
An EWHS grad ended his professional football playing career. Guy Dennis, who was a standout lineman with The University of Florida, completed a successful playing career with The Detroit Lions and the The Cincinnati Bengals. He was drafted out of college by the Bengals and played with them for a number of years before being traded to the Lions. He was coached in high school by Joe Latham.
McArthur Davidson resigned as Atmore police Chief to take a job as investigator with the Alabama Board of Corrections.
One of the area’s largest rodeos was staged here in the spring of 1975. Cindy Flowers of Nokomis was selected Queen of the event.
Barnes football Stadium underwent a complete renovation. Three new bath rooms, one new shower room and two air conditioned dressings rooms were added.
Debbie Bolden captured the annual Brewton Tennis Tournament. Others from Atmore finishing in the winner’s brackets included Jack Madison, Jr, Joyce Wearren, Glen Carlee and Pat Eddins.
In some current news, the folks near Dothan at Country Crossing are wondering “what next?” Perhaps I should say those who are in charge of the “Bingo” machines find themselves scratching their heads waiting on all the legal affairs to be straightened out.
One radio pundit implied someone in this group was responsible for the advertising airplane-pulled banner that flew over the recent BCS Championship football game pitting Alabama against Texas. That banner read “Impeach Bob Riley” in so many words. However, I have not read or heard that this group or anyone associated with them had anything to do with this. I am sure if they did we would have known about it by now.
One thing for sure, all those gamblers are “really gambling” the “Casino” will not be raided when they come to play. I really do not understand how they plan to mix gambling and country music. I get the impression that developer Ronnie Gilley hopes that area becomes another Las Vegas.
Looking at their Web site the various restaurants look very nice. Several well known Nashville personalities have given their names to the nice restaurants and show halls. This should draw business from residents of that particular area of the state and from north Florida, as well.
In the long run I don’t know if gambling will ever make a go of it. But the, restaurants and country entertainment should do very well. I read a story indicating Gilley had received an offer to move the operation to Mississippi, but he said he was committed to the Houston County location. Much money, I am sure, has gone into this entrepreneurial project.
Wow, I wonder what Johnny Mack Brown and newsman Douglas Edwards, if they were still alive, would say about all that is going on in their old stomping grounds in and around Dothan.
Hope to have some more oil news next week. I told you earlier Venture Drilling Company has plans for four new wells. One of those sites is near Fountain and another site,we learned this week, will be near McCullough. Exact drilling tracts should be made available in the next few weeks according to a Venture spokesman.
Lowell McGill is a historical columnist for The Atmore Advance. He can be reached at exam@frontiernet.net.