Contemporary news not my cup of tea

Published 10:51 am Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Last week I announced that I would try to write more contemporary news. That is news which happened over the last few years.

Well, I am discovering this is not my cup of tea. I’m just not “into this era” as my mind and melancholy thoughts simply lure me back to those years of yesterday. And, some of my readers have asked me not to veer away from the format that we adopted almost five years ago.

Let’s say I’ll keep “sprinkling” a few modern day stories to keep everyone happy.

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I remember an incident in the mid-50s when I stopped my car at Mr. Steve Hubbard’s store in Nokomis to offer help to a man whose rear tire rolled off his pickup truck. He was pulling a trailer loaded with empty Irish potato sacks. The man said he worked for “Preacher Wells” at his potato shed and they needed those bags right away. I told him to hop in and I would take him to Atmore.

As we got into town he asked if I would take him to A&P because “the Preacher” wanted some Eight O’clock coffee for his small office at the shed.

As soon as we walked inside A&P it was obvious the coffee grinding had already begun as the pleasant coffee aroma filled the entire store. Strolling back to the coffee grinding area I ran into Wade Johnson who was chatting with another of my friends, Hilton Hall, an employee of the store. Wade’s dad, Mr. Royal Johnson was close friends of my father. In fact, they often rode to work together at Brookley Field in Mobile. I could not chat with them too long because I had to get to work. Wade knew the man who was with me and told me he would give him a ride up to the potato shed.

But that fragrant coffee aroma stayed with me all day. Even today my wife and I still drink that Eight O’clock coffee. A bag goes a long way at our house because my wife and I only drink one cup each morning.

Memories and times like this lend me motivation to write about those days gone by.

I do have a few items of interest from the year 1986.

Green lawn Hospital initiated a crash course to stop smoking in January that year. Endorsed by the American Medical Association the course was called “Five Days To Freedom.”

Mel Hardy and Tara Morris were named to the Alabama Private School Association All-Tournament basketball team.

A special commemorative American flag was presented in memory of James E. Wearren for his lengthy service with Post #90. A WWII veteran he was employed with a local hardware store for a number of years. Wearren passed away in 1985.

Some local businesses ran outstanding specials in January that year. Chicken Express advertised Taco Salad and a drink for 99 cents. Snyder Furniture featured buy one get one free LA Z Boy recliners and BC Moore sold $25 slacks for $5 each.

Mary Jernigan opened her new tax practioner office after successful years as a legal secretary for some of Atmore’s more prominent attorneys.

Atmore Police Chief James Dixon announced his office would supply night bank deposits escorts to local merchants and businesses. A rash of attempted robberies occurred during this time period.

I don’t know how many of you have been following the news about the tornado outbreaks affecting insurance companies. Because of the severity and the number of losses, Alfa Insurance announced it would no longer write insurance policies on structures more than 10 years old.

Before this year ends, I am almost sure other companies will probably do the same and will increase monthly premium rates. These losses are so great the only way insurance companies can recover is raising premiums or even refusing to write any policies at all in potential storm areas.

Let’s hope we have a hurricane free season here this year. It would take only one more storm like the one we had in 2004 to see changes in our property insurance rates.

We could, very possibly, be put into the same category of those living below I-10. As you know these folks pay enormous insurance monthly premiums. Some resort to the Alabama Wind Pool and even Lloyds of London. Some do not have any property insurance at all.

The folks over in Louisiana may have found a loophole to obtain flood insurance coverage since the Morganza spillway opened a few days ago.

Normally you must wait 30 days for a flood policy to go into effect. However, in certain zones if you obtain a mortgage the policy has no waiting period.

But NFIP also states a policy cannot go into effect if a flood is in progress. Now this has thrown city officials, agents and especially bankers into a condition of uncertainty, really not knowing what to do.

You may say the flood was in progress when it began flooding hundreds of miles upstream in the mid western states. (Gets technical doesn’t it)? I read where hundreds have applied for mortgages on their homes and business hoping to cash in on obtaining a flood policy. I am sure FEMA will have an answer soon and this rather unique problem will be solved.

Over the last 30 years, I have made friends with quite a few of those living in the area located below the path of the Mississippi River spillway.

Most of those living in and around Morgan City, Houma, Pierre Parte and Lafourche Parish carry flood insurance. I wrote earlier about my friend who lives on a bayou near Pierre Part. He has two somewhat fascinating occupations. He makes tasty and spicy Cajun meal, which he sells to offshore drilling rigs. And he makes pereaus (small boats) used for fishing and Christmas parades on bayous and small streams.

I’m going back to this “BLUE BAYOU” one day to see those kind friends I met so many years ago.

“…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