Bored? Try a day trip to New Orleans!

Published 3:43 pm Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Have you ever thought taking a weekend get-a-way to visit and enjoy some unique and pleasant vacation spots only a few hours from home?

I have two locations to tell you about. This week it is New Orleans and next week it will be Waukaulla Springs, Florida.

First, you may want to dart over to New Orleans, only a 3.5-hour drive, and take in some of the sights there. Some of Katrina’s remains are still in place and you can get a look of some of them by exiting I-10 at the Little Woods exit in New Orleans East.

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Travel over to St Bernard Highway and into the city. Along the way are a few homes in a crumbled state from the impact of that famous 2005 hurricane.

Enjoy some tasty beignets and French-Red Coffee. For those of you not familiar with this pastry, well it’s the Cajun name for donut. The ingredients are lukewarm water, granulated sugar, evaporated milk, bread flour, shortening, oil for deep frying and confectioners’ sugar. You may want to smack into one of those renowned New Orleans po boys filled thick slices of meat and its “hidden recipe” gravy.

From that charm spot, ease on over to the Aquarium of the Americas. Underwater scenes galore abound in this man-made wonder. Hundreds of underwater species are forever unveiling here.

Hop on a trolley and venture out to Audubon Park. There you will enjoy the wilds of Africa. In their natural habitat you will see animals, reptiles, fish, seals and birds. In addition, there are rides for the children.

A trip to this Crescent City would be incomplete without a visit to the Superdome. Because of its vastness you should plan on spending a few hours there just to take it all in.

Jackson Square is only a few blocks away. A statue offering tribute to Louis Armstrong, the great Dixieland Jazz King is conspicuously anchored there.
And, over in the world famous Preservation Hall of Music there are archives of countless jazz musicians on display.

Atmore’s own Paul Crawford is mentioned here, too. He was the son of “Mrs. Crawford” and long time pianist at First Baptist Church. Prior to his death a few years ago, he enjoyed a life-long career as a jazz trombonist, university and college historian and songwriter.

Yes, you will find this trek over to New Orleans filled with many, many activities and good eating, too. Remarkably, this trip is less than four hours away.

Working flood losses, I have made probably a hundred trips or more to Louisiana over a 33-year span. This also afforded me the opportunity to make many good friends, not only in New Orleans but the entire state of Louisiana.

Those memories include talking with the men who pulled Jane Mansfield from that tragic wreck near Slidell years ago. You remember her by her daughter Mariska Hargitay, who plays the lead female detective on Law and Order. I worked flood claims on or near the homes of several dignitaries. This includes Rev. Jimmy Swaggart, TV actor John Larroquette, Governor Jimmy Davis, Sons of the Pioneers trail boss Luther Natalee, Grand Ole Opry star Jimmy C. Newman, comedian Justin Wilson, football standout Billy Cannon and NCIS’s Pauley Perette.

Now, let’s take a look at some news from 1966, beginning with a welcome announcement from Masland Carpets.

That Carlisle, Penn., firm announced that Atmore had been chosen to build a $3.5-million plant. Our town was selected from a list of a dozen other sites from locations in several states. Initially the plant would employ over 130, with more to be added later.

The local plant would manufacture carpet for both residences and businesses. We learned that some of those original employees are still working while many have retired with excellent benefits. The entire community is proud Masland made us their first choice back then.

Monsanto, another firm that employed countless local and area residents, recognized those employees for finishing on top of their United Fund Drive. In fact, Escambia County employees topped Santa Rosa and Baldwin County employee donations.

Speaking of plants, the Vanity Fair Corporation announced plans to unveil a new line of apparel. Attractive robes and loungewear would soon be produced in certain VF plants throughout this area. The Atmore plant employed over 300 workers at that time.

The Floral Garden, operated by the Masons, had their Grand Opening featuring floral arrangements, pottery, china and crystal. The building was located, and still is, at the Frisco overpass on Highway 31.
Kelly Young, service manager at Friendly Ford, was presented an award of excellence for performance in diagnosis of Ford mechanical problems.

North Atmore was hit by a small tornado in November, causing damage to mobile homes, barns and the main office of Clarence Manley’s Auto Auction. Soon after that storm, several residences were flooded with rising water. Those week-long rains damaged the home of Fred William Hadley on Poplar Street. Water also rushed down South Presley Street and Church Street.
The L&N Railroad made traveling a lot easier, by building a crossing over the railroad at north Presley Street.

For some reason, several moonshiners became active during the fall. But local authorities didn’t take long to raid stills near Jack Spring Road and North Escambia. Atmore police chief Houston Wolfe led the raid of the local “moonshine factory.”

The ECHS Blue Devils football team finished the season with an undefeated 10-0 record, capturing the Region 1 championship. The team was coached by C.P. Floyd and assisted by Floyd Adams and Bill Gandy. Adams would go on to capture baseball championships at Tate High School and Jefferson Davis Community College, and Gandy would score outstanding records while coaching several teams in nearby Florida schools.

More next week.

You can email Lowell McGill at