Seventies were full of news in Atmore

Published 8:13 am Wednesday, May 13, 2015

1955, 1970, 1974 and 1975 generated a great deal of news of people, places and events in the Atmore area.

Glen Latham, head football coach at ECHS, was named “Coach of the Year” by the Birmingham Post-Herald newspaper. Latham guided the 1974 Blue Devils to the 1974 3A championship. Lou Ikner, a standout on that team who went on to play football at the University of Alabama, was named to the All-Southern High School Football Team. Other team members garnering recognition included Joe Latham, Jimmy Woods and Curtis Coleman.

Another local football standout, Jimbo Walker, was named to the All-Southern Conference football team. The former Escambia Academy grad was a member of the Pat Dye-coached East Carolina University team.
In 1955, Auburn University conducted a unique “shearing” school here. The idea behind the school was to eliminate pain for sheep as their wool was sheared. They even brought in a special instructor from Australia to conduct the school. While there were not many sheep herders from our area in attendance it was learned that many came from other states, mainly Mississippi, Florida and Louisiana.

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Wyona Dunn, a former ECHS beauty, was named to the 1955 Azalea Trail Court in Mobile. She shared the spotlight there with Lee Ann Meriwether, the reigning Miss America.

Atmore boasted of five dry cleaning firms that year. They were John’s Cleaners, Merit Cleaners, Atmore Cleaners, City Dry Cleaners and Singleton Laundry and Cleaners.

Atmore’s youth leagues took on a bright outlook with the announcement by Vanity Fair to build a new Little League park near their main plant.

John G. Wingard, owner of Wingards Jewelers, was recognized as one of a few “Certified Watchmakers” in the state.

Dedication for the new Escambia Baptist Secretary office in Wawbeek was held that year. Rev. N.H. McCrummen of Selma was the guest speaker. The popular pastor had previously served at Atmore First Baptist Church.

In 1970 Sanders of Bratt grew his first bale of cotton for Atmore Milling and Elevator Company. Claude Peacock, a local barber-farmer, produced the first bale for Atmore Truckers and Mrs. J.R.Crowley and her farm manager Johnny Dread initiated the first bale for Frank Currie Gin.

Back in 1952 on his way to the Atmore livestock sales pen, K.C. Powell’s truck loaded with cattle caught fire on Highway 21 at the entrance to Little State Park. Recognizing the possibility of what could be a tremendous disaster, he wheeled the vehicle near the park water-spillway, opened the tail gates and forced the cattle out of the vehicle.

Well, some of those cattle jumped into the spillway, gathering pond water, while other cattle began roaming in the park picnic area. Folks eating supper at the picnic tables began scattering spilling their lunch plates throughout the dining area. The cows apparently smelled all the spilled food and immediately made themselves at home to all the food.

Meanwhile, swimmers had rushed out of the secured swimming area to help get the cows out of the spillway pond. It wasn’t long before a couple trucks loaded with Fountain Prison inmates came on the scene to offer their help. Apparently someone had called Warden Hale for inmate assistance.

After a couple hours rounding up the animals they had to wait for another truck. In the meantime, Atmore and Frisco City fire trucks had arrived to douse the fire. As it turned out, they discovered the fire was confined to two dual axles and supporting floor beds.
Those picnickers who lost supper kindly invited some of the inmates over to help pick up scattered food and to have a meal of it.

After the cattle were loaded on the replacement truck, someone yelled, “Don’t leave yet.”

What had happened was one cow had floated off from the spillway pond and was heading down the river. Efforts were made by several to follow the drifting cow. But all was in vain as the cow completely floated out of sight and was never seen again. Because it had gotten almost dark, a lack of daylight prevented anyone following it in the flowing river stream.

It was never learned what happened to that cow. Some say they still hear a cow’s mooing late at night along that riverbed.

Next week, we will have more news about people and events from years gone by.

You can email Lowell McGill at