A look at our town’s happenings in 1966

Published 10:50 am Wednesday, August 15, 2012

This week we take a look at people, places and events from the year 1966.

A dedicated group of men continued their affiliation and leadership in our highly regarded Little League organization. They included Jerry Coker, John Guy, Tom Byrne, Wheeler Crook, Frank Patrick, John Garrard, John(Shorty) Holland, Joe Latham, Cliff Frazier, James Walter Ash, Bob Tucker, Grover Everette, Tony Albert and  Joe Everette. These officers would swap out leadership roles from year to year.

1966 was capped by a welcome announcement from Masland carpets. That Carlisle, Pennsylvania firm announced that Atmore had been chosen to build a $3 ? million plant. Our town was selected from a list of a dozen other sites from locations in several

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states. Initially the plant would employ over 130 with more to be added later.  The local plant would manufacture carpet for both residences and businesses.  We learned that some of those original employees are still working while many have retired with excellent benefits. The entire community is proud Masland made us their first choice back then.

Monsanto, another firm that employed countless local and area residents recognized those employees for finishing on top of their United Fund Drive. In fact Escambia County employees topped Santa Rosa and Baldwin County employee donations.

Speaking of plants the Vanity Fair Corporation announced plans to unveil a new line of apparel. Attractive robes and loungewear would soon be produced in certain VF plants throughout this area. The Atmore plant employed over 300 workers at that time.

The Floral Garden, operated by the Masons, had their Grand Opening featuring floral arrangements, pottery, china and crystal. The building was located, and still is, at the Frisco overpass on Highway 31.

Kelly Young, service manager at Friendly Ford, was presented an award of excellence for performance in diagnosis of Ford mechanical problems.

North Atmore was hit by a small tornado in November causing damage to mobile homes, barns and the main office of Clarence Manley’s Auto Auction. Soon after that storm several residences were flooded with rising water. Those week long rains damaged the home of Fred William Hadley on Popular Street. Water also rushed down South Presley Street and Church Street.

The L&N Railroad made traveling a lot easier by building a crossing over the railroad at north Presley Street.
For some reason several moonshiners became active during the fall. But local authorities didn’t take long to raid stills near Jack

Spring Road and North Escambia. Atmore police chief Houston Wolfe led the raid of the local “moonshine factory.”

The ECHS Blue Devil football team finished the season with an undefeated 10-0 record, capturing the Region One championship.

The team was coached by C P Floyd and assisted by Floyd Adams and Bill Gandy. Adams would go on to capture baseball championships at Tate High school and Jeff Davis Junior College and Gandy would score outstanding records coaching several teams in nearby Florida schools.
Atmore merchants and business leaders raised funds for the Blue Devils to travel to New Orleans to see the Alabama vs. Nebraska matchup in the Sugar Bowl. The one day bus trip included a nice meal in the Crescent City.

One of Atmore’s top department stores, Bedsoles, drew big crowds with a half price sale on women’s dresses and Winn Dixie sold cube steaks for ten cents a steak.

Well known medical Doctor George Salley passed away that year. The 90 year old physician served Atmore residents for many years.

D.A.R. Good Citizen awards went to Marry Emma Floyd and Dick Lodge. They were seniors at ECHS.Sherry Robinson was selected Atmore Jr. Miss.

Tammy Beasley, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Ralph Beasley, was selected fall carnival queen at A D Kelly School in Wallace.
The ECHS marching band unveiled new uniforms at the opening game of the football season. The uniforms were dark blue trimmed in white and threads of red. Jim Elkins was band master.

Atmore native Greg Salter received the Bronze Star for bravery and exceptional service in Viet Nam.

Finally we are awaiting word on Amtrak’s possible return to our area. Mayors and officials from several Alabama, Florida, Mississippi and Louisiana towns are meeting this week with railway officials in hopes of returning Amtrak’s Sunset Limited Jacksonville to New Orleans route. This rail service was discontinued following Hurricane Katrina’s destruction of tracks and beds in 2005. If their efforts are successful Atmore could possibly return as a “stop” station which would draw many to “board” the train here.

More next week.

Lowell McGill can be reached at exam@frontiernet.net