Seventies and eighties were busy in Atmore

Published 5:56 pm Tuesday, April 29, 2014

This week we are taking a look at people, places and things from 1975 and 1985.

In the early months of 1975, Swift Lumber Company, one of Atmore’s oldest business firms, held a gala picnic for former employees. Staged at the Atmore City Park, the event drew over 100 participants. Some of those former employees in attendance were in their 90s.

Another historic event that year was the closing of Bristow Drug Store. For years, this was one of the favorite early-morning gathering places for coffee drinkers, and the soda fountain was a popular lunch gathering place for many who worked in the various stores and businesses in town. Claude Bristow, who moved here from Bay Minette in 1942, was quoted saying “I am the only pharmacist, soda jerk and chief clerk in Atmore.” His store was one of the leading drug stores here for 33 years.

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Residents were saddened in mid-1985 at the death of Bob Vail. The former publisher of The Baldwin Times and founder of The Atmore Record newspaper was best known as the administrative assistant for Congressman George Grant. He was the father of Sarah (Mrs. Buster Joyner) Vail.

The Rev. Albert Kennington was ordained at the Trinity Episcopal Church. The former ECHS graduate also held degrees from Troy University and the Theological Department of Sewanee University.
Connie Torrence of ECHS won first place in the Escambia County 4-H Speech Contest. Her speech was selected as the best speech out of 50 contestants.

Mike Amerson was named to the Alabama Junior College All-Conference Baseball team. The Ernest Ward High School graduate played at Faulkner State in Bay Minette.

Another EWHS grad ended his professional football playing career. Guy Dennis, who was a standout lineman with The University of Florida, completed a successful playing career with the Detroit Lions. He was drafted by the Cincinnati Bengals and played with them for a number of years. He was coached in high school by Joe Latham.

McArthur Davidson resigned as Atmore police chief to take a job as investigator with the Alabama Board of Corrections.

One of the area’s largest rodeos was staged here in the spring of 1975. Cindy Flowers of Nokomis was selected “Queen” of the event.

Barnes Football Stadium underwent a complete renovation. Three new bathrooms, one new shower room and two air conditioned dressing rooms were added.
Debbie Bolden captured the annual Brewton Tennis Tournament. Others from Atmore finishing in the winner’s brackets included Jack Madison Jr., Joyce Wearren, Glen Carlee and Pat Eddins.

Tornados made the news across the south this week. The weather folks seem to think our little tornado four weeks ago kicked off the spring storm season. Things had been relatively quiet prior to that Sunday morning “downburst,” which sent a tree crashing into our master bedroom and an uplifting of our dining room. I sometimes now wish I had let Ouida build us that cozy home in Perdido near a bubbly spring — the area I grew up in as a young boy. But her desire to restore her old home place won out. And, really, I am glad it did. Not only was our home damaged, but others here had damage, too.

News came to us on Monday of the terrible tornado near Little Rock. More devastating was the fact that tornado brought severe damage to the home of my daughter-in-law Farrah’s sister. Fortunately she was not injured, but 16 were killed in that North Little Rock community where she lived.

Going back to my insurance claim, I almost stuck my foot into my mouth. I argued with my State Farm adjuster that my damaged carpet should be considered a contents item and the finished floor under the carpet should be paid under the building portion of my policy. That’s the way it is done in a flood insurance policy. I have written hundreds of flood claims in this manner.

But, after researching it, I discovered I was entitled only to the carpet laid over my finished floor. I was wrong, naturally. I was fortunate to have a knowledgeable adjuster. I cannot say the same for my agent friend in Mobile. His lack of diplomacy was absent throughout my claims process.

I have always said that independent claims adjusters normally give you more personable settlements. This not always the case involving staff claims adjusters, even though my adjuster was employed directly by the insurance company.

Conflicting hurricane forecasts are growing more and more each week. Last week forecasters were pleased with an expected El Niño outlook, which would turn hurricanes away from us.

But this past weekend, I learned from some of my friends familiar with weather forecasting that conditions in the Gulf and Atlantic may be “ripe” for extensive, strong storms in early fall. After all, using the law of averages, these past few seasons things have been very quiet. And, major insurance companies, reportedly, are growing somewhat uneasy after hearing this late news.

Well, that’s it for this time. Next week, we will take a look at another nostalgic year here in Atmore.

You can email Lowell McGill at