Pink Ladies have big impact in Atmore

Published 11:58 am Wednesday, June 12, 2013

I get a great deal of satisfaction writing about our ladies hospital auxiliary, whom we commonly refer to as The Pink Ladies.

This core of dedicated community minded women graciously devote a portion of their time serving Atmore Community Hospital.

You cannot miss them perched at their desk when you walk down the hall from the main entrance. Some of their duties include directing relatives and friends to patient’s rooms. They also maintain a list of hospital patients for phone callers seeking information on patients. Some of these ladies spend time in the gift shop helping you to select flowers, candies, cards and other related items. By the way, they do an excellent job keeping the gift shop filled with a diversity of appealing items.

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These are only a few of the duties performed by this group of women. They are always ready to assist hospital visitors in finding their way in and about ACH.

Thanks to Pink Lady Marlene Forester we feature a Pink Lady each week. The women currently serving our community in this capacity are Marlene Forester, Mildred Hall, Glendon Clayton Lowery, Tiny Womack, Willene Beck, Sarah Hall, Ellon Lowery, Irma Henderson, Silver Zee Brown, Ann Amerson, Linda W. Blake, Doris Gentry, Hazel Brown Hall and Hazel Higdon.

Back in 1954, several members of local Boy Scout troop 26 were trapped in an overnight snowfall while camping on the banks of Big Escambia Creek. Scoutmasters Cliff Mims and Jene Wilson credited the young men’s learned scouting skills in helping them survive the ordeal. The scouts were Johnny Johnson, Bobby Kearly, Bobby Mays, Jimmy Mays, Bobby Middleton, Jim Staff, Alfred Davis, Keith Mixon, John Mims and John Gilbert Barnette.

That same year Escambia Florida and Escambia Alabama came under quite a scare when several rabid foxes attacked dogs causing them to die. One thousand dogs in these two counties were vaccinated during this outbreak. And, that year, the State of Alabama unveiled small highway radar boxes to clock speeding drivers. Several county and local officers were trained to use these boxes.

In 1955, Abner Jernigan and I were waiting for a haircut from our barber, Mr. Beck, when a freight train switching box cars loaded with freshly graded Irish potatoes jumped the track, dumping fresh smelling spuds all along the railway spur leading to the grading shed. They shut the sheds down and sent all the workers out to pick up the loose potatoes. It took about two hours to make the recovery and the grading sheds were back in operation.

“…There was a strong sense of incense circulating throughout the entire house and wire rolled hair curlers wrapped in one dollar bills draped from the ceiling…darkness prevailed in every corner and small plastic bags of dried chicken leg bones were stacked in neat rows along the narrow, muddy hall..”

This was an excerpt from an unfinished manuscript I began writing back in 1982. I never finished it because I stayed so busy and because of some health problems I really never created a strong desire to work with it after I retired. While working Hurricane Katrina, a Cajun friend, whose flood claims I worked several times, gave it to his cousin, an author and writer for one of those alligator hunting shows.  He has been working with it now for five years and who knows, he may take it to another level. I learn he has changed the name I gave it and is rewriting it in a Cajun vernacular.

Inspiration came primarily from having adjusted two Voodoo House flood claims. The first one was in New Orleans following a huge flood in 1982. The other was in Charleston, S.C. from Hurricane Hugo in 1989. Other inspiration resulted from working flood losses off Highway 44 near Burnside, La. where portions of the movie “Hush, Hush Sweet Charlotte” were filmed. Two well-known, stately old plantation homes were used in that film .By the way, I had lunch down there with Willard Everette that day in 1982. Willard, who was a long haul trucker, was hauling peppers from south Louisiana to Atlanta. We ran into each other, so to speak, at a popular oyster house restaurant near New Iberia.

Having worked 33 years, traveling into 38 states, I never had problems writing up losses, but these two were different. They were downright “spooky.” One problem I had was getting my computer software to accept quaint names and descriptions of odd dolls, animals, statuettes etc. As much as these Voodoo items intrigued me, my mission  was to get the policy owners paid for their losses.

You will still find these Voodoo houses in well-known neighborhoods in some areas of New Orleans today.

But, that Charleston experience reminded me of John Berendt’s  “The Book”, or “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.” This suspenseful book was later made into a popular movie, which is considered one of the most suspenseful offerings on the market today.

I’ll have more news of Atmore’s people, places and events next week.

Lowell McGill