Atmore’s tie to the Gulf is in charter boats

Published 12:03 am Wednesday, July 13, 2016

This is the season fishing charter boats are capturing much of the headlines. Folks are coming to this area of the Gulf from several states hoping to land some of those prize fish that are so popular in this area.

Atmore can boast of four former residents who have been self employed in the Charter Boat fishing industry. Butch Tucker, Wynn Milson, Brent Shaver and Bill Staff Jr. have been making their living on the Gulf waters for over 25 years.

Shaver and Staff were interviewed by CBS and The Associated Press, respectively, telling of their misfortunes caused by the big oil gusher in the Gulf.

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Their tenure of their success fizzled when long time customers were forced to stay out of the prolific fishing waters of the Gulf of Mexico on orders from the federal government. But now that the Gulf waters have cleared up charter boat fishing activity has regained its operations in a real big way. By the way BP stepped in and picked up the tab for their financial losses.

I remember each of these “boys,” as I still like to call them by that name, when I and other Little League coaches prepped them during their 10-to-15-year-old playing days. Talking with Johnny Coker in years past, he told me he was one of their coaches. Johnny Woods, Tony Albert, Billy McDonald, Grover Everette, Bob Tucker,Frank Patrick, Joe Everette and Heron Hall were some of their many other coaches who shared a part of their life here.

You may recall seeing Shaver in a TV special depicting his role in recovery of fishing equipment and boats in the Gulf. In the CBS interview I had to take two glances before recognizing him behind that bushy Ernest Hemmingway type beard.

I am sure there are others from here who operate charter boats in the same manner.

Well, now, let’s take a look at some news from the year 1966.

Construction on two stately buildings concluded followed by dedication ceremonies.

The 51-bed GreenLawn Hospital dedication featured Alabama Sen. John Sparkman as guest speaker. At that same time, the new Atmore City Hall opened its doors for business. Oris Davis was mayor of Atmore at that time. The city councilmen were J.B. Swift, Tom Byrne, W.J. Bartell, Howard Patterson and Carey Powell.

Several locals made news headlines in the summer that year.

Thomas Miller, an Ernest Ward High baseball standout, received a full scholarship from Mississippi State University. You may remember my column several years ago about his baseball feat up in North Carolina. Our local Babe Ruth team was playing in a Southeastern District tournament at Western Carolina University against a team from another state. In that game, Thomas drove a low inside pitch over the outfield fence and the ball landed on a flat car of a passing freight train. That feat brought our fans to their feet but after he circled the bases and crossed home plate the umpire called him out for “missing first base.” Not only did Otis Miller, his father, scramble out of the stands, but my “sidekick” Alfred Brown picked up his guitar and started playing and singing “Blues Stay From Me,” referring to the umpire who is commonly called “Blue.” Alfred was seated beside me on top of his Monsanto Bus while I broadcast the game back to Atmore on WATM. I thought that umpire would throw both of us out of the park.

On that same trip on the way back home, riding with Otis and J.P. Madison, we stopped to eat and Otis almost literally put a small chicken café out of business as he ate up all the chicken in the café. After all it was an “all you can eat” establishment per the sign posted near the building.

Other locals claiming honors that year were Bobby Livingston, Pricilla Vickery, Linda Lumpkin, Linda Helton, Dr, James Lewis Merriwether and Dr. F Julian Freeman.

Bobby, former outstanding ECHS athlete and son of Mr. and Mrs. Clarence Weaver, was named “Mr. Jeff Davis College.”

Pricilla, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Andrew (Buddy) Vickery, graduated with honors from Huntingdon College; and Linda Helton, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Pete Helton, was crowned “Miss Atmore Little League”.

Dr. Merriwether, who was pastor of Judson Baptist Church, received his theological degree from Baptist Theological Seminary in New Orleans. Linda Lumpkin, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. J.O. Lumpkin and who was the ECHS Valedictorian, was awarded an academic scholarship to Judson College. Dr. Freeman, who was a former resident and son of Mr. and Mrs. Roy Freeman, received a degree from Mayo Minnesota. He was also a 1961 graduate of the University of Alabama.

Next week, we will take another look at news from 1966. I might add, for benefit of those requesting news from 1953, I will begin that series in about 4-5 weeks.

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