Auctioneers helped give Atmore local flavor in past

Published 1:23 pm Wednesday, February 26, 2014

If my memory serves me correctly, I believe his name was Art Hammac. And, his profession was auctioneering.

His circuit included a trip to Atmore one day a week. Farmers and cattlemen came from several surrounding counties to buy and sell livestock and to hear his melodic auctioneering rant. The “Sales Pin” during this 1950-60 era was always overcrowded the day he was in town.

I never learned where he came from, but folks in Atmore, Robertsdale, Milton and Mobile claimed him as their own.
He told Tom Miniard on WATM one time that more cattle were bought and sold at the Atmore Sales Pin than at any auction he conducted. Tom sometimes interviewed him on the radio because, not only did the cattlemen enjoy his spiel, but so did the radio audience. His style of auctioneering paralleled Leroy Van Dyke’s popular offering. If you recall, Van Dyke recorded the top ten 1956 record seller “The Auctioneer.” More than two million copies of that record were sold. Even today, you will hear that record spun on radio stations across the country.

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Hammac’s era here represented the good days of farming and cattle raising that brought so much success to our community. It was a time when you could also get a whiff of newly ginned cotton, freshly dug Irish potatoes being graded, green cucumbers bubbling in the north side brimming vats and the unique aroma of Eight O’Clock coffee being ground in the early hours at the A & P store.

This was the way we remembered those days during that time period. With the exception of cotton ginning, it has all passed away now and all that remains are the memories. Perhaps those days will return and we can once again enjoy that era that was so much “Atmore as we knew it.”

Now, let’s take a look at some happenings in 1954 and 1955.

Some local and area farmers entered into a popcorn contract with Atmore Truckers. Farmers usually contracted corn, cotton and peanuts, but a national demand created a need for more popcorn in our area. I really don’t know why there was an increased demand for these tasty popping kernels, because the microwave oven, as we knew it, did not debut until the 1970s.
North Main Street was the home for several family-owned businesses. In fact, Bubba Bowab became affiliated with his mother at the “Economy Shop.” And Johnny Hoehn introduced a new tubeless tire at his Firestone store.

It was a good year for buying automobile batteries. Long Motor Company advertised them in The Advance for $9.95. Today the cost is $95 to $125.

The new image of America’s large automobile was seen on Chrysler’s sedan. One of the features was a “wrap around” windshield. Frank Bricken at Bricken Motors showed that car at his North Main location. Further up North Main Street, Bill Hendrix at Hendrix Tractor Company advertised new Ford tractors at $555.

Also in 1955, Frisco Railroad discontinued its two passenger trains, which made trips from Pensacola to Armory, Mississippi, and points north and west. Each train, numbers 207 and 205, had an engine, fuel car and two passenger cars. The growing loss of riders forced the company to discontinue these routes.

Muri Johnson, who lived on Wilson Avenue, was known for her unique and colorful quilts. She sold her popular bed colors for $6 each.

The Advance used several community correspondents that year. Tola Ficklin wrote the Perdido news, while Mrs. Mary Biggs and Mrs. Hadley furnished news from Lottie and Uriah respectively. Our Huxford writer was Mrs. L. Lomax and Mrs. N.L. Hale kept us up to date with happenings in the State Farm area. Mrs. Joel Smith wrote the Halls Fork/Phillipsville news and Mrs. Nell Rouse was our Flomaton correspondent.

Kay Cunningham, a fellow classmate of mine at Southern Miss University, kept us posted each week with all the goings on at ECHS with her “Among Us Young Uns” column. Martin Ritchie always felt her timely columns in The Atmore Advance helped sustain readers. Later, there were other wonderful high school column writers, including Bonnie (Bartel) Latino, who co-published an outstanding award winning and beautifully written book, Your Gift To Me.

And speaking of ECHS, “Escohi,” the first school newspaper, was initiated back then. Margaret Conn was the editor.

Chevrolet announced it sold its 30th million car that year. Staff Chevrolet, formerly Gerlach Motor Company, was the local Chevrolet dealer.

Randolph Maxwell was named Atmore “Businessman of The Year.” This man’s expertise in business became widely known throughout the nation.

Congratulations on a very successful chili cookoff this past weekend. I did not know there were so many “flavors” of chili. Not only were the servings tasty, but the money raised for the hospital was outstanding.

More next week.

You can email Lowell McGill at