Barnes Boys reunion brings players of past

Published 2:17 pm Wednesday, April 14, 2010

By By Lowell McGill
The “Barnes Boys” had their annual gathering here Saturday.
The theme was somewhat ambiguous because the event not only drew those fabulous ECHS football players of the past, but many students who were classmates of these players.
Some of those players are now pushing near 80 years of age but they all appear to be in good physical condition. In fact, I believe they could assemble a good offensive and defensive team and give some of today’s teams a good run for the money.
I spoke with a couple of cheerleaders from that era. One, in particular, Jennie Keller Welch, still looked as trim as she did when I knew her 55 years ago. Formerly married to my good friend Sam Ford, she has been married for many years now to a medical doctor and they live in Corinth, Miss.
Many of these classmates had to be re-introduced due to the efforts of time and age.
They traveled from far and near to share those happy days from the past. Some were held in awe after seeing the stately casino operated by the Poarch Creek Indians. I am sure some of them “checked out” Atmore’s new point of destination.
And, just an indication of inspiration they all vowed to return again next year for another glorious reunion.
Today, we begin a series of columns featuring people, places and events from 1966.
The year got off to a blazing beginning when fire destroyed one of Atmore’s more prominent businesses.
Hoehns Trading Center, operated by Johnny Hoehn, went up in flames in January that year. With a strong determination Mr. Hoehn quickly reestablished his business at another location and kept right on going. On a personal note Mr. “Johnny,” who is in his 90s, now lives in south Baldwin County and shows a lot of stamina health-wise. His daughters “check in” on him often.
He is a member of a five generation family. Included is daughter Ann Staff, granddaughter Suzanne McGill, great granddaughter Mandy Strawbridge and great, great grandson Will Strawbridge.
In some other business news from 1966, Ina Godwin purchased The Atmore beauty salon from Elsie Rhodes.
Carps Department Store ran a special on bed sheets. You could buy one for $1.77 and get a matching pillow case free. And, Sears announced that Alvin Earl Owens and Dewitt Bell would head up their new television repair and carpet departments, respectively.
Harper Piano Company sold brand new Spinets for $495 and Lawrence Cooper Grocery in Bratt offered cube steaks for 10 cents each.
V. J. Elmore had a special on portraits. Size 11×14 sold for one dollar each. Matching frames also sold for one dollar.
Escambia County announced there were 578 businesses operating in the county that year. The count was based on a report by Dunn and Bradstreet.
That was the year that the Medicare Medical Insurance plan went into effect. It was most welcomed by those 65 years of age or older.
Locally, Atmore was recently saddened at the loss of William America. I met him in 1954 when he managed a fine group of male singers. They sang on WATM each Sunday morning to the delight of countless listeners. William had a knack at assembling perfect harmonizing singing voices for his quartets. Listeners wrote to him in care of WATM requesting their favorite songs.
Jimmy Cruise, Wayne Butts and I switched shifts regularly and the three of us always enjoyed our association with William.
It was no wonder he had so many listeners. We were practically the only radio station around with the exception of WALA in Mobile.
Our WATM success was attributed to the tireless efforts of Tom and Ernestine Miniard. Sam Ford did his part too for the station. His expertise in management and commercial writing was exceeded by no one.
This past weekend Tiger Woods looked like a man with “egg smeared over his face” as he fell out of the limelight again at the Masters Golf Tournament. After taking “sex management courses” in Hattiesburg, he lost it again with an uncalled for off-cuff remark after playing poorly on one of the golf holes. His remarks were overheard on the network broadcast.
Contrary to this were the touching scenes of Masters winner Phil Mickelson embracing his wife, Amy, and their children following his winning the event. Even some of the liberal news outlets tried to tag a marital problem with Phil and his wife. But, those TV close-ups of their embrace were a “picture of 1,000 words”.
Next week we will take a look at “texting and driving” and possibly a solution for this deadly situation.
We will also look at more news from 1966.
Lowell McGill is a historical columnist for The Atmore Advance. He can be reached at

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