Looking back on local ‘Coon on a Log’ legacy

Published 9:39 pm Tuesday, January 31, 2012

For several years Gerald Stanton was regarded as the champion “Coon On A Log” dog trainer. His dogs won numerous national awards.

In fact, photos of two of his dogs and photos of Gerald were featured on dog food packages.  This was back in the 1960s. One of his dogs, “Sugar Foot Stoney,” captured national first place awards three times.

Gerald and his dogs received national recognition in magazines, TV and dog food packaging.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

I often talked with Gerald when we met at the Atmore post office where he was employed. On one occasion he asked me to help him write some advertisement narratives which he furnished one of the dog food companies. The Advance often ran stories about his dog and his accomplishments.

You are probably asking exactly what is “Coon On A Log”?  Actually I never attended any of those events but I read about them in clippings and news stories Gerald had saved.

I understand this is an old southern sport using trained hound dogs to knock a tied raccoon off a three foot log. The dogs knocking the most coons off the logs were the winners. Sounds like something PETA would frown upon. I learned, too, that raccoons when properly processed became a delicious meal.

Folks in Louisiana are especially fond of “coon meat”.

I mentioned Pierre Part Louisiana in my column last week. This community, which floods frequently, is located south of Baton Rouge and is surrounded by bayous and rivers. Having worked  there  several times over the past thirty years I remember talking with some of those residents  about their participation in “Coon On A Log” events.

Some of you may recognize that town as one of the locations used in the popular TV show “Swamp People. That show features locating, catching, loading and selling alligators. Indeed, this is a very dangerous occupation but very profitable I am told.

Someone also asked me about Sopchoppy, another town I mentioned last week. This is a small community located south of Tallahassee not too far from the Gulf of Mexico.

But getting back to Atmore’s “Coon On A Log” I recall fans of this sport came from surrounding states to participate in this event. Not only did Gerald have winning dogs but several Louisiana participants also captured some top awards.

In some more local and area news from 1966 Medicare C Plus became available for the first time. A whirlwind of information on this health plan was carried in newspapers, radio and TV. I remember signs posted in the offices of local doctors “We accept C Plus Insurance”.

That was the year that professional baseball came to the south. The Milwaukee Braves moved their team to Atlanta affording many of us the opportunity to make that four hour drive and watch a Braves Game. The late Ernie Johnson Sr. was one of  the  popular Braves broadcaster back then.

Babe and James Robinson advertised  tire recap specials at $7 per recap and Helton’s Tire and Appliances advertised specials on window slide out air conditioners at the unbelievable low price of $99.95. Sherry Robinson, 16 year old daughter of James and Mrs. Robinson was selected to attend Girls State at Huntingdon University in Montgomery. She was sponsored by the Ladies auxiliary of American Legion post 90.

The Strand Theater advertised free popcorn if you brought your date.

Mrs. J H Biggs, long time correspondent for Lottie and North Baldwin County, was recognized by The Advance and The Baldwin Times for her dedicated efforts writing community news from these areas.

Two former pastors, Rev. James Boyd and Rev Mike Grindle who now pastor Huxford Baptist and Presley Street Baptist Church, respectively, have generated good growth in their congregations  according to some of friends who attend these churches.

Rev Mike, who is blessed with an outstanding singing voice, is often called on to sing at weddings and funerals.

Rev. Boyd, who owned and operated one of Pensacola’s largest plumbing companies(27 trucks) before he became a pastor continues to hand  out tasty honey taken from the bees in his apiary and catfish from his pond located near his home in Walnut Hill.

I get a chance to talk with these two fine men ocassionally.

I intend to feature other pastors in upcoming columns. Next week I hope to have something on Rev. Henry Wilson and Rev. Tom Butts, two pastors I have known a long time.

Next week we will again travel back to those yesteryears with more stories of people places and events from the Atmore area.

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

Lowell McGill can be reached at  exam@frontiernet.net