People not always what you expect

Published 9:14 pm Tuesday, August 13, 2013

I got a kick out of Jethro Hillman’s name. I had never heard of a name like that from someone from Delaware. In fact, I expected a name like this to originate from some hill country area of the South. But, what’s that old saying, “What’s in a name?” It did not take long for me to realize this unique man was not a back-woods person at all. He was indeed one of the best flood insurance adjusters I ever met.

I met him in 1979, when he came down to work with us during Hurricane Frederic. A very articulate person with a unique sense of humor, he fell in love with the South and later moved to Orlando. He was impressed by our Southern hospitality, particularly the civic group led by Atmore’s Mary Ann Keller, who worked long hours preparing food for many residents and workers who were displaced by Hurricane Frederic. He loved the camaraderie of our gatherings at Hazel’s Restaurant, one of the few eating places that was open following the storm.

Well, he called me Sunday and seemed to be somewhat rattled and nervous. He told me his neighbor’s home had been swallowed by a sinkhole and the neighborhood had to be evacuated. He said the sinking was not over and officials from that county had advised some residents not to return to their homes. His demeanor was unlike what I remembered, as he was always so “happy-go-lucky.” I told him I saw this sinkhole story in the news, but had no idea his home was situated in that area.

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After our phone conversation, I thought back to that six-month era when he was at Gulf Shores. I remembered some of those whose flood claims we were assigned: Gov. Fob James property; Atmore’s Jr. Everett; Snap Melton; John Garrard; Kenny Stabler’s Ono island home; Lew Children’s beach home; the beach home of my junior high principal, Steve Moseley; and countless others. I think we worked more than 100 losses together.

So, I will be following the developing news from his neighborhood and will be praying that the sinkhole will not usurp Jethro’s home.

Back in 1961, Atmore contractor R. L. Brown received a permit to build our new library on South Trammel Street. Southland Telephone Company changed over to the dialing system after many years of operator assisted phone calls. This disappointed me (kidding, of course) because I would no longer hear my wife say, “guess whose husband called so-and-so’s wife today.” Well, she never really said this, but I always suspected those lady telephone operators found a way to make their workday “most interesting.”

Our Senior Little League received a charter that year. Wheeler Crook and Claude Steele were instrumental in our gaining that charter.

Two WATM announcers accelerated their broadcasting careers. Jim Cruise went with WEAR TV in Pensacola, where he worked until his retirement a few years ago. Bratt’s congenial round man of personality, Leroy Morris, continued his announcing with Channel 3 and WATM’s sports reporter, Mike Roberts, followed his talent to the University of New Mexico, where he became the play-by-play announcer for the UNM Lobos football team.

Talented ECHS student Pam Middleton, daughter of Haskew and the late Gladys Middleton, introduced her writing talents and later became the owner of a successful New York publication company.

Also in 1961, the Rev. George Merkel, long time rector at Trinity Episcopal Church, was recognized for his many civic affairs from 1943 to 1961. He was a fixture at the gate of ECHS football games, where he took up tickets when you entered the ball park.

By the way, did you watch the “darting meteors” the other night? I saw a few folks standing by their cars in the ECHS parking lot looking toward the skies in hopes of getting a look at this shower of heavenly activity. I caught a couple of upward bright flashes from my front porch vantage point.

I cannot conclude without mentioning Saturday night and Tim Brando’s CBS College Football Prediction Show. The getting-fatter-by-the-week host seemed to delight in his predicting the Tide’s No. 7 finish in this year’s chase for the national title. Even his co-host, Gary Danielson, who tabbed Alabama as the No. 1 team in America, gazed at Brando as if to say, “are you eating LOCO WEEDS?” And, it’s not surprising his prediction came out this way. The Louisiana native, who touts LSU as AMERICA’S TEAM, is apparently still bitter over Nick Saban’s departure from the Bayou State and having unparalleled success with the Tide. His fronting this show is a sheer embarrassment to the entire CBS sports department.

We are sad this week, learning of the death of Silverzee Brown, one of our devoted Pink Ladies. She passed away last week. But those many deeds she performed for our community, her friends and her church, will remain with us always.

Our Pink Lady this week is Ann Amerson. This retired lady has been involved the Hospital Auxiliary for more than four years. Her work experience includes 10 years of assisted living service in Oregon and raising eight stepchildren. These beloved children now reside in Texas and Arkansas. In addition to her Hospital Auxiliary work, she volunteers at the Atmore SAIL center.

She is one of several ladies who serve our community as a Pink Lady.

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

Lowell McGill