Alabamians contributing to national scenes

Published 9:21 pm Tuesday, July 2, 2013

I never thought I would see the day I would lead off my column with a story about a contemporary band of musicians and singers.

But this is not just an ordinary band. This is a band from Alabama. This is the “Alabama Shakes” from Athens, Ala.

Over the past two years this impressive quartet has risen from Saturday night gigs to a worldwide stage.

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Fronted by Britttany Howard, a somber guitar picking female vocalists, the group is enjoying more concert invitations than they can handle. Their appearance at a London music festival this week sent music publication critics sky-high, raving about their performance. Because they are from our great state and the fact that they have become so popular and successful is why I write about them.

I think about those Limestone County Babe Ruth Baseball tournaments my sons and other fine Atmore area ball players played in back in the 1960s and 1970s, not realizing a group of young people from there would one day capture the hearts of contemporary music lovers the world over.

So, here’s wishing more continued success to this north-Alabama group of musicians.
Alabama is also enjoying exceptional recognition in the movie making industry.

Famous movie star Nick Cage has been in the news lately while filming a movie in Mobile. Expected to be released in early winter, his movie scenes have been witnessed by countless onlookers.

Wetumpka, Birmingham and south Baldwin County have also been popular movie making locales. Even Canden Bliss Jackson and Ryan Gwin, two south-Alabama residents, are finding success as participants on NBC’s new Monday-night reality show “Get Out Alive” with Bear Grylls.

This follows the recent successful Baldwin County-based national TV show about a south-Alabama girl selecting her boyfriend from a group of handsome young men.
Now let’s take a look at some news from 1955.

Atmore was enjoying a “building boom“ that year as people moved here from nearby counties and built their homes here. This was particular true for Monsanto, St. Regis and Navy-based workers. They discovered a drive to work from Atmore was much more convenient than driving so many miles from their original homes.

I remember hearing the sounds of hammers and saws when I poked my head from the back door of WATM on East Craig Street. And, in the evening, when daylight was fading, I set on the rear steps of that nostalgic radio station waiting for my final “Sunset Serenade” record to finish playing. I saw pine trees and a dusty street with no pavement. I didn’t see a hospital, drug stores or doctors’ offices. I saw woods and new homes under construction. I looked across the yard toward Tom and Ernestine Miniard’s home as they walked back to the station to complete the bookwork from that day’s operation. Ernestine would always tell me how she enjoyed those Hugo Winterhalter, Percy Faith and David Rose full orchestra selections that I used on our “easy listening” shows to close the day’s broadcasting activities.

Also that year, Leroy Wiggins, through Perdido River Soil Conservation, presented a unique program to help Northwest Florida farmers better utilize their farmlands. Jack Liles and Langley Bell were two recipients of Leroy’s program. By the way, it is such a pleasure to speak to Leroy and his wife at various local restaurants during Sunday “after church” meals.

Three local businessmen were in the news that year: Dr. Cecil Thornbloom received an award for helping others through his chiropractic practice; W C Howell was cited for his outstanding sales with Hines Realty Company; and S.Y.Bagley was named new manager of Bedsoles Dry Goods.

Billy Gates passed onto to me an item of interest, particularly to veterans. A new ruling has gone into affect that allows non-retired veterans to use the Naval Hospital and Navy Doctors for hospital stays, confinements and operations. Prior to this, only retired veterans had access to these features. I am sure this will be of great interest to those vets having to pay high monthly supplemental health insurance premiums. In fact, I might give it some consideration.

A sad story is in our news this week. Helen Brown passed away at the age of 80. This pleasant and likeable lady was a fixture at Tony Albert’s Rex Sporting Goods and Sandwich Shop in the 1960s and 1970s. She always wore a smile, meeting friends and customers of this popular business. She reflected such charm that the warmth of her smile “grew on you,” metaphorically speaking. Tony regarded her as one of his most devoted and dependable employees.

Helen is survived by devoted family members, especially her sons who were very close to my oldest son, Steve. Helen, who was a member of Ebenezer Lutheran Church, was buried Monday in Stallworth Cemetery.

Our Pink Lady is Glenda Clayton Lowry. A member of the Ladies Auxiliary for five years, she is the daughter of Theodore Clayton, who owned and operated the “Dime Store” and Clayton’s Ben Franklin Store. She worked with her father in these businesses for several years. Her work experience also includes co-ownership and secretary with AAA Diesel. The Anchor Café, a popular eating establishment known for its “full plate” and friendly atmosphere, now occupies that building. She also worked for Financial Solutions and prominent attorney Shirley Darby. She is proud of her son Tracey of Auburn and daughter Tiffany Muilenburg of Dawsonville, Ga.
Glenda’s brother, Ted Clayton, is a close friend of mine. In fact, we were in school together at the University of Alabama in the early and mid 1950s.

Glenda is another of the dedicated women who comprise our hospital-related Pink Ladies.

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

Lowell McGill