Atmore was a busy place, 45 years ago

Published 3:24 pm Tuesday, March 31, 2015

The year 1970 was an eventful year in Atmore and the surrounding area.

Dr. Harold Wilson took a leading role studying and lecturing on causes of dyslexia, a learning disorder that manifests itself with difficulties in reading, spelling and in some cases mathematics. He worked with county school groups, identifying students with these disorders and helping them overcome the problem.

The Atmore Airport erected a “Beacon Light” near the end of the landing strip. Airport authorities felt the light was necessary due to an increase in nighttime flying.

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The airport also received a grant to expand the runway from 3,850 feet to 5,000 feet. The Alabama Aeronautics Commission granted these funds.

Poarch Creek Chief Calvin McGhee passed away that year. He and attorneys Hugh Rozelle and others were credited with the tribe gaining federal recognition.
Charlotte Hopkins, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Troy Hopkins, was crowned 1970 “Miss Atmore League Queen.”

James Norris, appliance salesman for Alabama Power Company, took top honors in sales and was presented a plaque at the District sales meeting in Birmingham. He also earned several trips abroad for his sales efforts.
James Gulley was recognized for outstanding scholastic achievements during commencement exercises at Faulkner State Junior College.

Four local students, Clint Smith, David Chapman, Mark McKissack and Jim Johnson, were selected to attend “Boys State” at the state convention in Birmingham.

Winston Moseley, a Thomaston native, was named headmaster at Escambia Academy. He was a former principal at Lyeffion High School and had taught at Livingston University and at Baldwin County high schools.

Coaches and managers of our Babe Ruth League teams that year were Johnny Coker and Billy McDonald-Martin Automotive; Frank Patrick and Bill McCrory-Greenlawn Pharmacy; Willie Bruce McKenzie-Civitan Club and Weldon Vickery, Johnny Woods and Weber Walters-WATM.

A bit of interesting news occurred in the late 1940s and early 1950s.

George Lambert, a prominent Bay Minette pharmacist and drug store owner and Thomas Coleman, a Perdido turpentine dealer, received a patent for a new “cure all tonic.”

For the life of me I cannot recall the name of it, but I remember it was marketed in the same manner as Hadacol. Turpentine and alcohol were two of the main ingredients and folks who bought it claimed their ailments were diminished.

It was available on store shelves and through mail order. But the main outlet was in Lambert’s popular drug store. I do not remember how long the flair for this “tonic” lasted, but it had a real good three to four year run back then.

Mike Roberts and Philip Rawls made stopovers in Atmore on their way to prominence in their chosen professions back in the late 1950s and early 1960s.

Mike came to WATM for his initial radio job. He worked as a staff announcer but he specialized in sports. In fact he was a very good sports announcer. After working here for a couple of years he left for radio work in south Florida and then to stations out west.

He found his final radio home in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where he eventually became the main voice of the University of Mexico Lobos.

He developed so well that he soon became known as “The Voice of the Lobos.” His popularity soared to the extent that he was recognized as the very best all-time sports announcer at that university. Mike retired from his profession in 2008.

Many ECHS football and basketball players will remember when he broadcasted those memorable games here.

Phillip Rawls, a native of Covington County, came to Atmore as news editor, working for Bob Morrissette and Philip Sokol. The University of Alabama journalism graduate then went on to Montgomery, where he was hired by the Montgomery Advertiser.

In 1979, he was hired by The Associated Press, where he covered politics and all types of news events in Alabama. He became a legend in AP news writing. AP Deep South Editor Jim Van Anglen said of him, “Philip has shown a sense of dignity, class and grace which has been inspirations to countless Alabama journalists.”

I became friends with him during his time here. It is so rewarding to read of his many accomplishments after he left Atmore.

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

You can email Lowell McGill at