Recalling the coaches of yesteryear

Published 9:33 am Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Before I get into this week’s column I want to tell you about my preparing a future column based on some comments I made last week about beach dwellers and their wind insurance policies. You will not believe the ire I apparently “stirred up.” It will take me a couple of weeks to prepare it, but I think you will get a charge when you read it.

This week I received a few nice e-mails from our readers. One particular reader asked me to “re-tell” that story about those mid-1950 local football coaches.

I am sure he is talking about the column I wrote almost three years ago about Joe Latham, A.R. Holmes and C.P. Floyd.

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Back then Sam Ford and I taped ECHS games for playback on Sunday afternoons on WATM. We also had a regular Saturday morning football show, which featured these three coaches, all of whom were our friends.

After Sam left the station, I had the show all by myself. Holmes, who guided ECHS, was easy going, always appeared relaxed and coached in a relaxed manner. Latham, who coached the Ernest Ward team, believed in “hard knocks.” Yet, his gentle personality was obvious to everyone. Floyd coached the Escambia Junior Varsity team. He was very outgoing, hated to lose games, but was well liked by his players.

Now these Saturday mornings kept your sides splitting with laughter with the coaches offering commentary from their respective games. The hour-long show kept Tom Miniard and me on pins and needles because we never knew what these coaches would say over the air. It depended whether they won or lost that Friday night game. Those were the longest hours I ever spent on the air. Latham would ask Holmes, “When are you going to open up that offense and quit running that ball up the middle?” Holmes would come right back at him saying, “Why change a successful plan when you pick up three yards a carry?”

Floyd liked an open offense. He would sometimes ask Latham, “How do you fool those officials with that trick play of hiding the ball where the center winds up with it and runs down the field?” Latham would tell him, “It beats passing the ball into the hands of the other team.” Floyd would come right back at Latham saying, ‘That safety was interfering with my receivers all night long.”

Sometimes the coaches became frustrated at each other depending on how their teams played the night before. But, because they were good friends, they offered compliments to each other each time they won.

Yes, they were also my friends, too. They are no longer with us now. It is rather hard to believe this was 57 years ago.

The other day, I looked from my porch onto Presley Street and saw a car stopped in the street at the driveway to the high school. Cars began to come to a stop waiting for that cat to turn into the driveway. The car finally turned then came to a stop in the driveway I walked over to see if I could be of help. It was a girl, an ECHS student, driving the car. I said to her “I noticed you were stopped in the street, do you need some help?” She then replied, “Oh, no thank you, everything is OK I was texting.”

Now, I am learning this concept with the cell phone is mostly used by teenagers and younger people. I really hope these youngsters don’t “text and drive” because this could be very dangerous.

I am sure many of you remember the musical group “Three On A String.” They have performed at several of our festivals over the past several years. They are a very talented and entertaining threesome from Birmingham.

The leader of the group, Bobby Horton, has been featured recently on several PBS TV specials. In fact his band was selected to supply the background music for a Ken Burns series, “The National Parks, America’s Best Idea.”

A resident of Vestavia Hills, he is also regarded as one of Alabama’s most knowledgeable “history buffs.” These shows can be seen on Channels 42 and 23. It would be good if they returned for one of our festivals in the Spring or Fall.

Another phone call from a very good friend and was much welcomed. He related his pleasure in the two Santa Rosa, Florida school officials recently winning their school prayer lawsuit. But he was saddened to learn these two men had to pay a huge sum of money in legal fees. What a shame!

My friend and I talked about our school days at Baldwin County High School when we always had morning devotion over the “loud speaker system” in each room. We never dreamed that one day it would be unlawful to say a school prayer.

This brings up another thought. It has finally been implied that this current healthcare bill will possibly affect seniors. You can bet your bottom dollar this next election all these seniors will let their actions be known at the polls. Not just the old folks, but their sons, daughters, grandsons and granddaughters will let their feelings be known, too.

A former adjuster friend who now works in a weather service group tells me to expect more hurricanes this year. Let’s hope we don’t get one because that would send our wind insurance premiums soaring just like those living below Interstate-10. We have been lucky the past few years not having a storm. Perhaps our premiums will diminish if we are storm free..

“….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