Jerry Clower was a friend to many Atmore citizens

Published 6:14 pm Tuesday, April 1, 2014

This week, we are taking a “hit and miss” look back at some local and area people and events from 1955.

In 1955 the Frisco Railroad discontinued their two passenger trains, which made trips to and from Pensacola to Armory, Mississippi. The trains, numbers 207 and 205, consisted of the engine, fuel car and two passenger units. The continuing loss of riders forced the company to dispose of the route. Those trains had made those trips many times back then.

The new image of America’s large automobile was displayed on Chrysler’s sedan. One of the features was the ‘wrap around scenic” windshield. Frank Bricken at Bricken Motors showed that vehicle in January that year. His dealership was located on North Main Street. At the same time Bill Hendrix and Hendrix Tractor Company advertised Ford tractors at $555.

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That was a good year to buy car batteries. Long Motor Company advertised them at $9.95 as opposed to today’s prices from $95 to $125.

Martial law ended at Phenix City in Russell and Lee counties in January. This came about one month after the fatal shooting of Albert Patterson. Patterson, who had vowed to fight crime and corruption in that area, had won the Democratic nomination for Alabama Attorney General. Gov. Gordon Person pulled the Alabama National Guard troops after order had been restored. Patterson’s son John, in a special election, was elevated to his father’s position. He later became the governor of our state.

The Elec. Shop, owned by “Shorty” Holland, was deemed one of the most diversified electrical firms in the county.
Former ECHS majorette Kay Cunningham was chosen a “Dixie Darling” at The University of Southern Mississippi. Jack and Leon Akins starred on the USM baseball and football teams, respectively. John Sherrill was named Atmore’s “Man Of The Year” and Rev. George Merkel was elected District Governor of South Alabama’s Rotary International.

The local Alabama Power Company office received recognition from the state for outstanding service and sales to the county.

Atmore Truckers introduced a unique contract to area farmers. They formed a Co-Op for growing popcorn. Farmers from Escambia and surrounding counties participated in the contract.

Some of the popular hit songs in 1955 included Bill Haley’s “Rock Around The Clock,” Mitch Miller and “The Yellow Rose of Texas,” “Sincerely” by the McGuire Sisters and Bill Monroe’s “Let The Light Shine Down On Me.”

Jerry Clower was a frequent guest speaker at local banquets during this time. Several area farmers were recognized for raising outstanding crops

And speaking of Jerry, I have written earlier how I chanced upon him when I was doing claims work in Mississippi and Louisiana in 1997.

Working a big flood on the Amite River near Denham Springs and Baton Rouge and the False River near New Roads, Louisiana, I had to drive all the way back up to Flora, Mississippi to have a claimant sign some papers. I had just pulled into the gas pump at an old country store when a large, shiny pickup truck pulled in behind me to get gas. As the man was getting out of his truck, I told him I would be finished with my pump soon and I would get out of his way. At that same time I readily recognized who he was. I said, you are Jerry Clower and he answered “yes, and I see by your license plate that you are from Escambia County, Alabama.” He told me he was very familiar with our county because of his many speaking engagements to local farmer’s organizations. He was a sales representative-good will ambassador for a farm supply company. He went on to tell me he knew Mr. T. Whiten, John Bachelor Sr. and Miles Horne.
Prior to my departure, he told me that he was en route to his Liberty, Mississippi home. He had just finished a weekend appearance at the Grand Ole Opry explaining, too, that he moved from Yazoo City to that south Mississippi town a few years earlier. Sadly, he passed away one year later in 1998.

I will always remember how friendly he was that day. A huge man in stature, making a name for himself as an outstanding football player at Mississippi State University, he struck me as a very kind and considerate man.

Also, back in those days, Ernest Ward High School turned out some very good football players. In fact, a few years ago The Montgomery Advertiser carried an interesting story praising Bart Eddins, the son of Liston Eddins, former Ernest Ward High and Auburn University standout. Bart made important offensive contributions in several Tiger victories. Recruited as a defensive lineman from a Montgomery high school, Bart made a successful switch to offense.

I remember quite well when Liston played at EWHS, when Joe Latham was coaching that team. Alabama was also in the hunt for him and sent Coach Haden Riley down to try to sign him. The rumor was that Auburn had him “hid out” and Riley was never able to locate him. In any event, he went to Auburn, where he accomplished an outstanding record with the Tigers. Murray Johnson can furnish more details about that.

How many of you remember that jingle “When Clothes Are Dirty Call Two Thirty”? It was used for many years by a long time firm here. Can you name that firm?

Next week we will have more news of people, places and events from days gone by.

You can email Lowell McGill at