Elmore’s was downtown ‘anchor’ store

Published 4:23 pm Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Last week, we meandered down memory lane with a host of names of people, places and events from the 1940s, 50s and 60s. And, this week we will do the same.
After mentioning Elmore’s last week, I am expounding on it this week.

Located on the corner of South Main Street and West Nashville Avenue, this amazing store would be considered today as our “anchor” store. It had everything. As youngsters we went there during all the holiday seasons for Halloween, Christmas, Valentine and Easter goodies. That’s right, Easter was most unusual because they sold colorful baby chicks, better known as “biddies.” You could find red, blue, green, yellow and practically any color live chicks. I’m not sure it is legal to sell dyed chicks today, but back then it was okay to do so.

Elmore’s was the central location for household goods, such as curtains, dishes, small chairs, small appliances, detergents — you name it, and it was there. Rows of succulent candies were popular to kids, and grownups too, back then. High school students found part time jobs there and many continued to work full time after graduation.

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It seems each row had its own unique aroma. I remember the detergent row emitted such a “clean” smell and the candy rows were so very inviting. Even the rows of clothing contained a fresh smell. The tempting smell of fresh popped popcorn was recognized when you walked into the store.

Yes, it was, indeed, a very unique store.

A couple of other stores, Hoehns Trading Post and The Casoloma, we mentioned last week were not expounded on. Johnny Hoehn owned and operated this store. He sold quite a lot of outdoor fishing and hunting equipment, and even small boats. But, automotive items and home goods were the main draw. Mr. Trimer was one of his most trusted employees.

The Casoloma was often referred to as a “juke joint,” but that shouldn’t be misleading. It was not known as a “drinking establishment,” as younger adults found it a most ideal location for dancing. Doc Sutton Sr. kept the juke boxes loaded with all the popular Big Band sounds of the mime. Doc, of course, operated a music company, with Rockolas stationed at dozens of restaurants and cafes all throughout Atmore and outlining areas.

Western Auto was a popular store too. Gail and Ruby Smith kept it stocked with a variety of household items. I remember their running a sale on B.B. guns one weekend and they were all sold out within a few hours.

Mrs. Sharpless and Wheeler and Mattie Crook, respectively, operated two popular restaurants, The Sweet Shop and The City Café. Patrons flocked to these eating places by the droves for all three meals — breakfast, lunch and dinner. In the 1950s, Bugs Albert added a third restaurant, which was located on U.S. Highway 31 West (presently a Chinese restaurant).

Agnes Smith drew culturally dressed patrons to her “Greater Fair” clothing store and Shorty Holland served all our electrical needs at his “Elec Shop.” Buster Joiner kept the high school group satisfied with his “Ice Cream Parlor.” These firms were fixtures on South Main Street.

Swift Mill kept us informed of the time of the day with its loud whistles, particularly at 6 a.m., noon and 3 p.m. And that’s not all. This firm provided employment to hundreds over the years. Proudly, it is still with us today. The Swifts and all the fine folks there are just as community-minded today as they were back in those earlier days.

And in 1966, Thelma Whidbee of Lottie was made happy when Hugh Malone drew her name as winner of the $500 A&P Cash Jackpot drawing.

The McKays, Fanchers, Copelands, Fayards, Shoemakes and Hortons added rays of sunshine to our area when they located here from Mississippi as teachers and principals. Amazing most of these fine people made Atmore their permanent homes.

Robert Earle Godwin reminded me this week about his football playing days at Bratt Junior High School. Bobby Norris and I were teachers then, and I sometimes helped Bobby coach the junior high football team (Of course you realize that I was very little help).

Robert said he remembered one afternoon game Bobby called on his brother James and Peanut McDonald to come down and referee. I think I remember that game because the field began to get dark without any lights.
Taking a late afternoon trip up to Little River State Park gave some of us daring opportunities to pull off beside the sweet smelling State Farm peach orchards to snitch a big juicy one. Or grab a stalk of that juicy sugar cane.

Anyone looking for hen eggs? I normally do not plug my family but I must tell you my son Steve has turned his chicken-egg hobby into a business at his Smith Dairy Road-Woods Road home. I understand he has generated quite a few egg customers. The amazing thing about it is the appearance of his two colorful newly painted hen houses. They are immaculately clean with no chicken odor. In fact, you can smell the fresh straw on the floors and you can hear the clucking sound of his hens and a couple of roosters and watch them strutting around the enclosed grounds and houses.

The eggs are wiped clean and shiny before they are sold. He invited a couple of his friends and their small children to come out and look around and now spreading word has spurred more and more folks out with their children to see his operation.

I know Ouida has been baking a lot of cakes and pies here lately using his big eggs. He charges us the same $1.50 per dozen that he gets from his customers. But, that’s only good business, you know.

More next week.

Yes, it always whispers to me … those days of long ago …

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