Black citizens made great contributions to Atmore

Published 6:40 pm Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Several of my black friends are fondly remembered from days gone by.

Dan Locke, known to most of us as “Bruce The Roost,” was a highly innovative and successful entrepreneur back then. In addition to his work as a promoter of band concerts and managing his record shop, he devoted an hour of his time at WATM. Actually Tom Miniard gave him free airtime in exchange for his afternoon disc jockey work. You see, Dan’s radio program drew listeners from all surrounding counties. In his shrewd business manner, he went into these areas and sold advertisements, and because of Tom’s generosity, he retained all the advertising revenue for himself.

Having worked alongside him at the radio station, I grew to appreciate his entrepreneurial spirit. Not only was he a good salesperson but he was very good on the radio. On occasions he would team up with Margaret Conn, a local female disc jockey who was knowledgeable of the music Dan offered. Through his promotional efforts, he brought in numerous well known bands and singing groups who performed Saturday night concerts here. I often stopped by his record shop where we both enjoyed friendly conversations. On some occasions, we did not have the opportunity to talk at length because of the flow of customers coming in to buy recordings.

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I lost trace of Dan over the years but I always considered him not only a friend, but a very talented person.

Another person I became friends with was Helen Brown. She worked with Tony Albert at his sporting goods-sandwich shop. Her son Vonne became friends with my son, Steve, who worked in the sporting goods store part time while attending college and playing baseball at Faulkner State. Helen was regarded for her friendly smiles and her excellent sandwich making abilities. Almost everyone in town came in at lunchtime for one of her sandwiches.

Sadly, she passed away a few months ago, but many remember her wonderful personality and her tasty sandwiches.

Ezell Sinquefield was a friend of mine. This dear old lady was a friend of just about everyone. Her presence in our church nursery is most memorable.

Professor Woodrow McCorvey must be considered one of the most outstanding educators in our community. Serving as principal at Atmore Training School for many years, he devoted much of his retired life engaging in civic and church related activities. He captured the respect of all of those under his supervision. His son Woody has become one of the most recognized college football coaches in America. Having coached at several well-known colleges, I am sure he is in line to be named a head coach in the near future.

Willie Tait often came into that sporting goods store looking for lures and bait. He was known as one of the best “fishermen” in the county.

Other outstanding educators from those days were “Mrs. Montgomery,” Silverzee Brown and Bishop Lyons. I am sure there are other educators, and I apologize for failing to mention them, but these were quite well-known to me and my family.

Evander Holyfield’s dad was always available to make interesting conversation about his famous son who captured the heavyweight boxing title.

Today, we are all very proud of Dr. Ullysses McBride, president emeritus of Reid State College, who has become a national figure in the field of education.

Yes, most of these fine Atmore residents are remarkably remembered from those days gone by for the roles they played in our community.

As I told you last week, Airbus will soon be hiring in some areas. While no abundance of job announcements have been aired yet, there is a website you may find beneficial. It is Here, you will find all the information you need about possible employment with this firm. This is a particularly interesting website for those of you who are presently studying in the engineering and technical field.
You need to take a trip down to the “old Brookley” site in Mobile. The entire complex, including the main plant and surrounding terrain will literally sweep you off your feet. When all phases of construction are complete, the entire country will be in awe of that which will be offered in America’s “Greatest Airplane Factory.”

Back in 1966, groceries were a lot cheaper than they are today. For instance, you could buy roast beef locally for 39 cents a pound. And, Lawrence Cooper advertised cube steaks at 10 cents each at his grocery store in Bratt. One local grocery store aired pickled pig’s feet at a dime each if you bought a one-pound slab of bacon. Eight O’Clock coffee sold for 49 cents a pound bag at one store here if you bought a five-pound bag of sugar and one can of condensed milk. Another grocer advertised a free bag of onions if you bought five dollars in total groceries.

Today you seldom see bargains like this. In fact I recently saw an ad offering cube steaks at 99 cents per steak if you bought $5 in groceries.

Speaking of groceries and eating I am looking forward to that big chili-cooking contest Saturday. It will be going on at Tom Byrne Park from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wow, just mentioning “chili” makes one hungry all ready.

Some of the best chili makers of our area are expected to be on hand. I know I want to buy some. And, you should, too. The event is sponsored by a community group, “Citizens for Atmore Community Hospital.” They hope to raise enough funds to buy a needed a GE radiographic/fluoroscopic system, which costs between $83,000 and $118,000. See you there.

You can email Lowell McGill at