Atmore’s Vanity Fair had a big workforce

Published 10:52 am Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Back in the 1970s, Atmore’s Vanity Fair had a workforce of more than 400 employees.

In fact, it was regarded as one of the most progressive plants in the entire vanity organizations. Employees were treated to frequent pay raises keeping their morale at an extremely positive standard.

And, that community minded organization was always donating to numerous causes and organizations. I remember well how they supported our Little League and Babe Ruth teams. They were always there to help us maintain the ballparks, city and district tournaments.

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Today, several from here retired from this fine firm and are enjoying benefits passed along to them.

What a shame it was that this firm had to leave us years ago, particularly to locate in Mexico and other foreign lands where labor and materials were cheaper.

But, there is one thing for sure. We still have those fond memories when this plant was buzzing with activities like those long traffic lines when vehicles were exiting and entering the premises. And, seeing many employees flocking to dining tables under the trees at lunch time was most memorable.

Perhaps one day we will return to an era like this.

Also in the 1970s, the entire nation was introduced to the problems of dyslexia. This is a learning disorder “that manifests itself as a difficulty with reading, spelling and in some cases, mathematics. It is separate and distinct from reading difficulties resulting from non-neurological deficiencies,” according to Wikipedia.

Dr. Harold Wilson was recognized by county medical organizations for his outstanding work in this field. He conducted numerous lectures to help everyone get a better understand about this unique disorder. He worked with related dyslexia groups in identifying and treating grammar school and high school students.

Wilson was quoted as saying that dyslexia affects between 5 percent and 17 percent of the U.S. population. Today, countless parents credit Wilson for his timely efforts treating and identifying dyslexia and making their children’s life’s more functional.

He and Dr. Bancroft Cooper came to Atmore in 1957 to set up practice. The two worked together for a number of years. Cooper later left Atmore, but Wilson is now retired. He served Atmore for more than 50 years, longer than any other doctor here.

In other news from 1970, Army Warrant Officer Jerry Hatfield received a military citation for meritorious flights while serving on duty in Vietnam. The son of Mr. and Mrs. B.W. Hatfield, he was a graduate of Escambia County High School.

A Former ECHS and University of Alabama graduate received exceptional military honors. Capt. Joseph Nall was recognized for heroic rescue efforts by his Global Aerospace units. He is the son of Mr. and Mrs. Leo Nall and brother to Webb Nall, prominent Atmore businessman, councilman and civic leader.

Sarah Murph was named feature editor of the Livingston Life, college newspaper. The ECHS and Jeff Davis grad was studying elementary education at Livingston University at the time.

Kay McLeod and Charles Bailey were named honor Vocational Education students at ECHS. H.R. McKissack was director of the VOCO ED department.

Wilmer Baker received Specialist in Education honors at the New Orleans Baptist Theolology University. Baker is now recognized as a prominent minister and professor.

Jack Dennis was named manager at Vanity Fair here after having served for several years in that same capacity in Bayou La Batre.

Atmore had some outstanding youth baseball teams that year. Minor League coaches and managers were: Bears-William Jordan, Floyd Adams and Clayton Jordan; Wildcats-Rayford and Tommy Kirby; Wasps-Howard Gohagen and Jackie Sims; Colts-Cecil Ellis and Butch White; Lions-Bully Brooks and Lowell McGill (who’s that?).

I’ll have more news from years gone by next time.