Uriah had its own unique community flavor

Published 5:17 pm Tuesday, April 8, 2014

While gathering some of my news from our archive files, I ran across some interesting news from Uriah, particularly the closing of Mixon Store in 1966.

Seeing this ad, I thought back to the 1940s when my parents would visit friends in that friendly community. I remember several stores situated along the intersection of Highways 59 and Highway 21 — “the big Y in the road” — as it was commonly referred to.
Something about this cozy hamlet-like town back then reminded me of today’s TV show Murder She Wrote, without the bays and water inlets. The school seemed to blend right in with the curving terrain where the small businesses were situated. Grocery stores, feed stores, apparel stores, and appliance stores seemed to accent two churches where town residents attended Sunday services.

Those residents reflected a unique esprit de corps easily recognizable back then. That community always boasted, and rightly so, of excellent football and community baseball teams.

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I remember some of my friends who have passed on and some who are still living from that south Monroe County area. They are the Mims family, Gene Cardwell, Gene Garrett, Johnny Woods, Buddy Woods, Jettie Everett, Roy and James Burkett, Bill and Frank Coley, and Mrs. Hadley, Mazie’s mother-in-law, our knowledgeable correspondent who wrote the news from that area each week in the Advance. She also furnished news to the Monroe County Journal.

Other friends and acquaintances were the Rhodes and Nipper families, the Cole family and Thomas Qualls, who lived just up the highway near Goodway. I remember J. Q Qualls, Thomas’s brother, who owned and operated a dog racing kennel in several Florida tracks. He sometimes worked in connection with leading a kennel owned by Arnell Connell, the daughter of former Atmore residents Nathan and Lema Gross. Nathan and Lema left Atmore years ago to work with their daughter in that large kennel operation. As you may recall, Nathan was the local Atmore Chamber of Commerce CEO for several years.

I remember, too, my cousin Frank Stanton, who served as principal one time at Uriah High School.
Tragically, he lost his life in a tractor accident near his farm several years ago.

I also remember meeting a young man who lived in a pretty white home in a sprawling pecan orchard on Highway 21 South. I have forgotten his name but I learned he went on to become a career commercial airline pilot.

My sons played summer Babe Ruth Baseball with several outstanding players from Uriah. In fact, Ben Rhodes and Steve, my oldest son, played college baseball together at UAB under that great NL hitter and manager Harry “The Hat” Walker.

Even today it is not uncommon for Uriah’s young folks to hang out with Atmore youths at Little River State Park.

Seeing that Mixon Store closing ad caused me to think back to that town I visited in the 1940s, so typical, so nostalgic, as towns should be.

Now, in some news from 1966, Mrs. Tom Turk was the big winner of Piggly Wiggly’s “Match and Cash” game. Her prize of $500 was awarded to her by store manager Bob Carraway.

ECHS student Frances Earle won a Music Endowment Scholarship to Huntingdon College. The daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Herman Earle, the musically talented student was a member of The National Honor Society. I enjoy conversations on occasions with her when she has lunch at Buster’s. Her husband, Wayne, is always “right on the spot” when he helps me with a timely jewelry selection for Ouida each Christmas.

Prizes were awarded to three area farmers for harvesting the first bales of cotton that fall. The winners were Clyde Peacock of Little Rock, S.R Ganey of Rabun and Carry Harris of Uriah. Those firms awarding the prizes respectively were Atmore Truckers Association, Atmore Milling Elevator Company and Frank Currie Gin.

Bishop Lyons was awarded Vocational Education Teacher Of The Year. The Atmore Training School instructor was later recognized for his educational contributions for his service at Escambia County High School, where he retired.

Russell Stillings, longtime Canoe native and local dry cleaning businessman, passed away that year. He was the brother of Canoe postmistress Nell Hill and uncle of Dr. Robert Hill.

Three local Boy Scouts attended the Philmont, New Mexico National Scout Reservation in the summer of 1966. They were Richard Maxwell, Gary Fayard and Charles Rabon.

It seems only a few weeks ago we celebrated our fall festival and now I am hearing rumblings about Mayfest. Here it is April and all ready I understand plans are in high gear for that uplifting spring ‘fling.” Tilly The Turtle and all those other festival-like characters will have to dust off their dons and get ready for that big event.

Next week, we will have more news from 1966.

“… yes it always whispers to me … those days of long ago …”

You can email Lowell McGill at exam@frontiernet.net.