Many businesses in town were ‘upstairs’

Published 5:51 pm Tuesday, December 2, 2014

A few weeks ago, I wrote about how things were on North Main Street in the forties and fifties and last week I expounded on South Main Street. This week, I will be covering Atmore’s side streets and upstairs businesses.

Bill Brown’s Haberdashery and Cliffs Cash and Carry Grocery Store highlighted that short street along East Nashville Avenue, just off South Main at the traffic light. These two firms attracted a lot of traffic and, really, were two of Atmore’s most thriving businesses.

Bill always stocked the latest fashions in men’s clothing and Cliff Bethea kept his store filled with all the necessary grocery items you would need. McNeeley Jewelry Store was situated on the corner of that street at South Main. Mr. Beck maintained a very inviting barbershop along this section of street.
In the 50s, Johnny Hoehn moved his “Trading Post” store from North Main Street to East Nashville Avenue, three blocks from the South Main traffic light. If you walked up to this store, you would go past Doc Sutton’s Bus Station Café.

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Back then, his restaurant was noted for the “biggest and tastiest” hamburgers in town. And in the 40s, you would pass by the towering three stories “Up in Norman’s Hotel,” which drew overnight patrons. By the way, Mr. Johnnie passed away a few weeks ago in Gulf Shores. While not having reached his 100th birthday the successful businessman was still in business when he died.

While not on a side street, The “Seven Oaks” service station was a popular car servicing spot. It was located out Highway 31 near Harold Byrd’s former location. Back in town on Ridgeley Street, two prominent barbershops drew many customers in for haircuts. Mr. Lewis also operated a barbershop just around the corner from Reid Rexal Drugs on North Main Street. It was called the Élite Barbershop. Jack Wright operated his barbershop, just down the street from the American Legion building.

Just down from the main activities on South Main, Shorty Holland operated his popular “Elec Shop,” while Buster Joyner operated the very popular “Ice Cream Parlor.” And on East Church Streets off South Main were John’s Cleaners, Dickenson Furniture and Barnett’s Grocery.

In the 40s, Atmore had one nightclub. Known as the Casaloma, it was located two miles up Highway 31 east. Perdido also had a Casaloma back then. It drew patrons from Atmore as well as Bay Minette. The “Torch Café,” also in this East Nashville vicinity, flourished back then with tasty early-morning breakfasts.

Now, those upstairs offices were quite popular, particularly in the 40s and 50s. Randolph Maxwell, brother to Robert Maxwell, maintained a realtor office across the street from Reid Drugs on North Main Street. Two or three doors up from Reid’s, Dr. McKinley had his upstairs office and later on Hugh Rozelle opened his law practice in the same building.

Drs. H.H. Rodgers Sr. (dentist) and Dr. Sally maintained their upstairs offices, respectively, on South Main and Louisville Avenue. And several years ago, Bill Hendrix located his successful “Hendrix Tractor Company” to its present North Main location, just north of the middle school.

And so it was for many of us to reflect on those memorable times on Atmore’s side streets.

Now, let’s take a look at some news from 1975.

Several from here were feted with awards and honors in the spring of that year. Patricia Byrd, the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Troy Byrd, was the winner of a $3,000 college scholarship. Funds for her scholarship came from The National Gannett Newspaper Association, of which The Pensacola News-Journal was a member. The Escambia Academy scholar grad used her award very wisely to obtain a college degree in education. As most know, she has been teaching locally for several years, and she is in fact now near retirement.

Susan Tennant, Miss South Alabama, gained the opportunity to participate in the Miss Alabama in Birmingham. She represented nine counties in south Alabama.

Buford Coon and W.D. Driskell of McCullough raked in honors as top cotton growers in the County.
Former Atmore radio station owner Dale Gehman was selected first place winner in TV and electronics in the Alabama Electronic Convention in Birmingham. The senior at Atmore Vocation Center, in later years, drew on his knowledge to build and co-operate with the Poarch Indians to bring a radio station here.

Local angler, Robert Hughes, scored a top five fishing award in the Evinrude Bass Fishing Tournament at Millers Ferry, near Camden. His string of fish weighed in at seven pounds and seven ounces.

More news next week, about people, places and things from Atmore’s yesteryears.

You can email Lowell McGill at