Looking at some happenings of ‘54-55

Published 9:24 am Wednesday, December 29, 2010

This week we are taking a look at some happenings in 1954 and 1955.

Some local and area farmers entered into a popcorn contract with Atmore Truckers. Farmers usually contracted corn, cotton and peanuts but a national demand created a need for more popcorn in our area.

I really don’t know why there was an increased demand for these tasty popping kernels because the microwave oven, as we knew it, did not debut until the 1970s.

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North Main Street was the home for several family owned businesses. Bubba Bowab became affiliated with his mother at the “Economy Shop” and Johnny Hoehn introduced a new tubeless tire at his Firestone store.

It was a good year for buying automobile batteries. Long Motor Company advertised them in the Advance for $9.95. Today the cost is $95 to $125.

The new image of America’s large automobile was seen on Chrysler’s sedan. One of the features was a “wrap around” windshield.

Frank Bricken at Bricken Motors showed that car at his North Main location. Further up North Main Street Bill Hendrix at Hendrix Tractor Company advertised new Ford tractors at $555.

Also in 1955, Frisco Railroad discontinued its two passenger trains which made trips from Pensacola to Armory, Mississippi and points north and west.

The trains, numbers 207 and 205, had an engine, fuel car and two passenger cars. The growing loss of riders forced the company to discontinue these routes.

Going back one year to 1954 there was a popular and talented auctioneer who came to Atmore one day a week for the livestock sale. His name was Aut Hammac.

His smooth and resonant voice drew many who were not buying or selling cows, horses and pigs. They just came to hear his voice. He sounded a lot like Leroy Van Dyke, the recording star who made the song “The Auctioneer” so popular.

Dee Gibbs, local Pure Oil distributor was so impressed with him that he went off to an auctioneering school in an effort to learn this trade. I must say Dee became fairly good at it.

He often came by WATM seeking pointers in voice control. All of us announcers offered him tips which he said was helpful.

Muri Johnson, who lived on Wilson Avenue, was known for her unique and colorful quilts. She sold her popular bed covers for $6 each.

The Advance used several community correspondents that year. Tola Ficklin wrote the Perdido News, while Mrs. Mary Biggs and Mrs. Hadley furnished news from Lottie and Uriah respectively.

Our Huxford writer was Mrs. L. Lomax and Mrs. N.L. Hale kept us up to date with happenings in the State Farm area. Mrs. Joel Smith wrote the Halls Fork/ Phillipsville news and Mrs. Nell Rouse was our correspondent out of Flomaton.

Kay Cunningham kept us posted each week with all the goings on at ECHS with her “Among Us Young Uns” column.

And, speaking of ECHS, “EsCoHi,” the first school newspaper was initiated. Margaret Conn was the editor.

Betty Hardy, popular ECHS senior, was selected one of the Maids at the Mobile Azalea Festival.

Chevrolet announced the selling of its 30 millionth car that year. Staff Chevrolet, formerly known as Gerlach Motor Company, was the local Chevrolet dealer.

That was the year Advance publisher Martin Ritchie and WATM owners Tom and Ernestine Miniard took me under their wings, respectively, with jobs which helped pay for my college education. Any success this column may have is due in part to these cherished people.

Randolph Maxwell was named Atmore the “Businessman of The Year”. This man’s expertise in business became widely known throughout the nation.

Well, I hope you all have good strong TV sets as the heart of the Bowl Season is here. Let’s hope The Tide can get its season off to a good start this week. And, most of all lets certainly hope the Auburn Tigers will bring home another national title by winning the BCS game next week.

More, next week.

“…yes, it always whispers to me….those days of long ago….”

Lowell McGill is a historical columnist for The Atmore Advance. He can be reached at exam@frontiernet.net