PCI represents our local area very well

Published 3:35 pm Tuesday, July 28, 2015

I am sure you have seen those TV announcements by the Poarch Creek Indians. And you readily recognize the message in those ads.

You have probably also seen PCI’s full-page ads in countless newspapers earlier this year. The tribe paid for a two-week campaign in newspapers, before starting the television advertisements. There’s no doubt that PCI is trying to reach the masses in every medium that they can.

Through their known generous nature, the tribal council is offering the state of Alabama a way out of their financial problem by offering to advance us money to our state budget. But our governor has balked at the idea.

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Whether or not you agree with the tribe’s efforts to ease our financial situation is not the aim of this column. I simply want to elaborate on the professionalism of these ads. It has become quite evident that the entire tribal council members are coming across as highly photogenic, articulate, knowledgeable, authoritative and congenial. These attributes are especially recognizable in the ad featuring Stephanie Bryan and Robbie McGhee. Hollywood, itself, would have to rival at the manner these two appear on TV. Just yesterday, I read an upstate Internet journalist’s thoughts on this ad. And I agree with his favorable assessment.

The sincere “smoothness” and photogenic appeal of these two in this TV ad makes us all aware the tribe is in good hands. Not just Stephanie and Robbie, but each tribal member reflects the same professional demeanor and leadership. And, the upcoming election will add even more quality to this group.

It should make us all proud when folks all across the state see these ads portraying these council leaders as true professionals and dynamic leaders. And, seeing them work hand in hand with our city officials suggests prestige not only to the tribe but to the city as well.

I do not know the firm that generates these ads but if I were a politician I believe I would seek them out. As I said, “even Hollywood takes a back seat” to production like this.

In 2008, I wrote a column about an emotional and spiritual occasion when six former ECHS football players journeyed to Glencoe, Ala., to spend a day with their beloved former coach, A.R. (Arvel) Holmes.

That’s what Glenn Jernigan told me when he furnished the details and a photo.

Jernigan said the group simply wanted to be with “Coach” for a “short spell” since word reached them that he was in failing health. Making that trip with Jernigan were Allan Davis, Adolph (Doc) Sutton. Jr., Tom Gattiker, Humphrey (Hump) Snider and Billy Broughton. These were only a “handful” of players Holmes tutored during his 1952 to early 1960 tenure at ECHS.

Holmes took a coaching job in Savannah, Georgia after leaving Atmore. He coached at other Georgia schools but retired from Rabun High in Georgia. Earl “Cannonball” Etheridge, who played for him at ECHS, joined his Savannah staff and was associated with him for several years, Jernigan said.

Holmes, who played college football under legendary coach “Scrappy” Moore at Tennessee-Chattanooga, recorded 211 wins and five undefeated seasons in his 34 years of coaching. Many of those wins occurred right here in Atmore.

Jernigan said the trip was especially meaningful as each of those six players expressed their personal faith to him. Jernigan said Holmes expressed his faith prior to their leaving.

He passed away two months later at the home of his sister and her family in Glencoe.

Holmes was the featured coach on our Saturday morning “High School Review” radio show on WATM. Sam Ford, who also was close to Moore, initiated that show and I continued it for several years after Sam left. I, too, learned to appreciate Holmes during those mid 1950 years.

Another man for whom I have tremendous respect is James Boyd, a former local pastor. He was a fine pastor but many probably do not know of his highly successful business career. He owned and operated one of Pensacola’s more prolific plumbing companies. In fact, his firm dispatched 27 trucks each day for commercial and residential jobs. He also has affiliation with one local plumbing firm. His wife Ellen spends a couple days a week at the Pensacola business, which is operated by his son.

James was an outstanding high school football player. And, very few knew that he was an excellent trumpet player. He told me one time that he is interested in evangelist work, and he feels real comfortable behind the pulpit. You can be sure those who appreciated him will follow his ministry closely.

He and I shared a lot of the same interests. He was very knowledgeable in current affairs as well as the Bible. He and I both enjoy listening to four-part harmony singing and the big band sounds of the 40s and 50s. Known as a person who would “literally give you the shirt off his back,” he would occasionally do work for the less fortunate without charging them any money. He dispatched one small job for me and refused to take my money. He said, “Write a check to the church, that’s the only way I will accept it.” That’s the type of person he is.

Most of the time you will find him down on his Walnut Hill farm with a diversity of animals and fruits and vegetables. An avid apiarist, he has some of the finest bee colonies you’ll find anywhere. And the honey from those colonies is the sweetest around. A jar of his honey is found in my wife’s kitchen all the time.

Well, next week, we will take a look at some more news, events and people from years gone by.

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

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