Atmore native had a long movie career

Published 8:06 am Wednesday, September 24, 2014

One of first things I did after installing my Netflix movie set top box was queuing up movies that featured Paul (Burch) Smith. As you know, he was born in Atmore and wound up with a long movie career.

I found that several of his movies and TV shows were carried on Netflix. Even though he made 39 movies, 50 stage dramas and several TV shows, they all were not carried on this outlet.

Much has been written about Smith so I will not dwell on his biography.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

He did appear in an old movie I recently watched on TV, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance. I sometimes run into his niece Sarah (Blalock) Moye at Buster’s and I talk with her and her son Mike Moye quite often.

Sarah and I both remember seeing Paul’s photos displayed freely at the old Lowery House. She and Ouida were classmates at ECHS back in the 1950s.
Some confuse Smith with Atmore’s own Tarzan White. Both were of the same stocky build. But Tarzan was more the outdoor type known for hopping freight cars, roughing it and traveling coast to coast on those rumbling trains. Of course he did this prior to his becoming a well know professional football player.

His sister Pauline, who taught me at Perdido School prior to moving to New Mexico, would often talk about his exploits. Smith was, on the contrary, a very polished actor.

Actually, I wanted to let you know how television viewing is changing. Over the past several months many have dropped their satellite and cable services and created their own network, so to speak.

One friend of mine has gone back to the Dish HD 120 Plus package ($34 per month) added the Netflix movie box ($7.95 a month), and bought an amplified indoor antenna (one time price, $39.95) to bring in 16 local channels in HD. The indoor antenna resembles a book and it blends in nicely situated beside the TV and Netflix box.

This was the package I used before I recently purchased a big wide-screen Internet 3D TV. With my DVD recording device I get all the programs I need. By the way, we never watch live network shows. We record them to watch the next night and fast-forward through those long commercials.

Now, let’s take a look at some news from 1954.
McMurphy Dairy Bar (now Buster’s) had its grand opening in May. It became one of Atmore’s favorite places, featuring meals, sandwiches, milk shakes and a popular hangout where friends gathered to share news and make conversation. Right across the street was McMurphy Dairy where milk trucks were dispatched for home delivery of fresh milk.

Atmore potato sheds had a banner year with six sheds in operation. These sheds offered jobs such as unloading the trucks in from the field, grading the potatoes as they were carried on a moving wide belt, bagging culls and high grade spuds, sewing bags filled potatoes, rolling filled bags into waiting iced train cars and stacking those bags in the cars.
Many teens, and grownups as well, found gainful employment during the potato season. The fresh aroma from the grading operation was very becoming. Some older folks found enjoyment with the grading operation as they sat in their parked cars.

Another aroma typical to Atmore was a delightful smell of fresh coffee being processed at Atmore Coffee Company. Dixie Blend was their famous brand.
Piggly Wiggly, known for their bargains, advertised onions at 3 cents each and Kellogg corn flakes at 25 cents for a 12-ounce box.

Two from here made the news in May that year. Assistant coach W.J. Slovinac resigned from ECHS to take a similar position in another state.

David W. Coker was awarded a Commendation Ribbon for Meritorious Service in Korea. The former ECHS grad was the son of Mr. and Mrs. Ben F. Coker of Route 2 in Atmore.

A large crowd came out to watch a donkey ball game in Byrne Field. Several local residents participated in the event. One young man reportedly received a strained back when the donkey he was riding landed on the back of another donkey, trapping the rider between the two animals.

I notice that Channel 5 seems to favor Atmore quite often in their weather news. They show a live scene of downtown Atmore but for the life of me I am unable to detect where their camera is located.

That story I wrote about Paul Finebaum last week was picked up on the Internet and created quite a few comments, particularly from Auburn fans. They concurred that he, indeed, wore his “pro-Crimson Tide feelings” on his sleeve but felt somewhat remorse for stating on record that Jake Coker would become the Tide’s main signal caller.

It’s obvious his position with an ESPN national audience is much different from his former Birmingham-based operation. In other words, he finds it much more difficult to air his personal feelings now that he has a non-Southern audience.

Next week, we will have more news from years gone by.

You can email Lowell McGill at