Square dancing once very popular entertainment

Published 1:07 pm Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Square dancing, which made its debut here in the early 1950s, was in full speed in the early 1970s. In fact dozens of local couples danced the weekends away at dances not only in Atmore but in nearby towns as well.

I remember going to my very first square dance in 1954. A guest of Tom and Ernestine Miniard I learned the steps at the old city park. I bet there were two dozen couples participating that warm evening as the moon shone down adding extra light to the somewhat dim lighted park near the pool. Tom brought phonograph records and a sound system which could be heard throughout the park. Those dance callers on the recordings sent chills up and down my spine.

A couple of weeks into the summer Tom brought in a friend of his who had made some of those recordings. That friend also brought in a four piece dance band and they really kept the crowd dancing until late hours of the night.

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I wish I could remember some of those early participants but unfortunately they have escaped my memory.

From the 1974 files of the Advance I learned the names of some of those dancers of that era. There was a group known as the Escambia Square. Couples from several counties traveled here to join this group in their weekend dances. Hoping not to leave out anyone, some of those participants were Chuck and Linda Laue, Jimmy and Earline Biggs, Jack and Catherine Edmund, Raymond and Dianne jerkins, Ray and Myrna Hodgen, Vickie and Jamie black, Chary and Marie Blackwater, Joel and Louise day and Daphne Sims. Lamar Fillingim was a popular caller back then. Again, I apologize if some were omitted.

Some local and area couples were members of the National Square Dance Convention and often made trips to National conventions. One such convention is being held March23-24 in Mobile conducted by the Azalea Trail Square and Round group. On April 20-21 the

Pensacola Spring Fling will stage a gala affair at the Ragon Square dance hall.

Looking now at some local news from 1974 Dr. William Thomas moved his medical practice here where he served as an extraordinary, talented and popular surgeon. After several years of devoted service he retired and moved from Atmore. His son Kevin and his wife Stacey and their three children wife chose to remain in Atmore. In fact they are neighbors and close friends of my son Bryan and his wife Farah and their two children.

In other 1974 news Jimmy Brown local well-known high school football coach left this field to enter local business. A 1967 graduate of Livingston University he coached at various schools in the Atmore and surrounding area. His father was the long time principal at Canoe School.
Neighboring northwest Florida was grazed by a tornado that year. C.M Graham of Oak Grove sustained severe damage to some of his farm buildings. That storm traveled along a track from central Baldwin County into Northwest Florida and accented in neighboring Santa Rosa county.

The Atmore Chamber of Commerce presented partial scholarship awards to three local students. They were Nancy Durrett, Cheryl Biggs and Veronica Jenkins.

My wife and I were eating out of town the other night when two former acquaintenances came by and began a conversation that almost turned into a soliloquy. We were about halfway through our meal and by the time those friends finished talking our potatoes were dry and our main course was cold. Now, I realize you cannot be unfriendly when your friends stop by, but I do wish they had merely said Hi….good to see you…enjoy your meal…will talk to you later.

Sometimes friends fail to realize one wants to finish his meal while it is still fresh and tasty. So make the conversation short, be nice show interest and keep on eating. If they try to shake hands  tell them your hands are greasy. Lying can sometimes be your ally.

One other peeve I have is trying to pass a slower car in the left lane. That hill on Highway 31 from Perdido Creek into Nokomis is a prime example. There is a nice passing lane but for the life of me I find many drivers failing to move over to the right lane so I can pass. You must have patience however. I realize diplomacy is always best and you could politely honk your horn or blink your lights. But sometimes they just won’t move over.

Perhaps an instance like this is what causes road rage. Who knows? I bet you have pet peeves too, huh?

By the way, that column last week on politics was a dud. Some liked it and some hated it. So, no more political columns. You just really never know the political likes and dislikes a person has.One reader made it clear to me that politics was not my calling. She preferred these stories about her friends who lived in those days of long ago. I concurred with her all the way.

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

Lowell McGill can be reached at l exam@frontiernet.net