There’s a lot going on downtown Atmore

Published 12:03 am Wednesday, September 7, 2016

“What is going on, industry wise, down in Atmore?”

That is the question several newspapers editors and talk show pundits are asking.

It all points to the recognition of our town’s fitting into industrial development, particularly relative to Airbus.

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The story broke a few weeks ago about a new technical industry coming to our industrial park near the interstate and now, just last week, comes this story,

“Atmore receives major grant to promote industry.”

Yes Atmore and Mobile were pegged as the state’s only recipients of special funds designed to help boost Alabama manufacturing. The apparent thinking is that our industrial park and our geographical interstate location are ideal for further development. Atmore will receive $1.9 million to build a road for incoming firms.

Now these stories are especially gratifying to me because I have written numerous columns on our advantages to new industry, especially our nearness to Mobile and our easy interstate access. I am sure we will hear more announcements like this as Airbus “takes off” with new growth and development.

Even our south Baldwin neighbors are scratching heads now finally realizing they are at a big disadvantage not having interstate access like us.

It is very refreshing to all of us as we anticipate our industrial park becoming filled with new factories and plants affording jobs galore to our entire community. And, let us thank our friends in France for considering the Mobile area becoming America’s heart of airplane manufacturing.

Now, from news from days gone by.

In 1961, countless Atmore merchants and citizens contributed funds to help pay the cost of sending our Atmore Senior Little League team to the Williamsport, Pa. Senior Little league World Series. Not only did merchants raise funds, but so did local business institutions like Vanity Fair, Swift Lumber and Southland Telephone Company.

That tournament, by the way, was played on a non Little League field adjacent the world famous Little League Series playing field.

Atmore fielded its first 13-to-16-year-old senior little leaguer team that year. The managers were Stirlin Fancher, Frank Patrick and John Holland. We earned a berth in that national series by downing Harlan, Georgia by a score of 2-1 in the south regional tournament in Tuskegee.

A few days later, we boarded the bus for the long trek to Pennsylvania. The bus was filled with players and managers and several local residents who went along to offer support. It was especially exciting for me because I was going to do the play by play broadcast so that local residents could hear the game on WATM.

The trip offered us all the opportunity see famous homes and landmarks. The Eisenhower home and Hershey’s Candy factory were particularly interesting.

We were housed at the Naval and Marine Training Center near the ballpark.

Some of the players on that team were Eddie Fancher, Claude Steele, Larry Troutman, Keith Russell, Ricky Webb, Leon Phillips, Rodney and William Blackburn, Robert Hughes, Todd Rodgers, John Wingard, Chuck Hagaman, Ronnie Headley, Preston Barnett, Wayne Lowery, Buddy Sharpless and Wayne Godwin. (I hope I did not leave out anyone).

Unfortunately, we were knocked out of the tournament by a New Jersey team in a low scoring game.

Again, back in those days Atmore was regarded as a leader in community baseball teams.

There was another tournament of interest where the community chipped in. This was the 18-year-old Advance Babe Ruth World Series Tournament staged in Newark, Ohio, in 1979. The All-Star team members were from Atmore, South Monroe County, Northwest Florida, Brewton and Andalusia.

Atmore played in other outstanding state and regional tournaments. One was the event when Lou Vickery and Ear Miller participated. Those fine players were just two of several outstanding players on that tournament team. Unfortunately, I was out of radio at that time and I did not follow those teams then as I did in earlier years. But I do know that era was just as important to the town as all the other baseball days.

While we are on sports, I uncovered an interesting article on Facebook a year or so ago featuring some of our very own. Grayson and Barrett, grandsons of Terry and Linda Jones were featured with Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn on a recent Auburn Media Facebook page. They were two happy boys, indeed as well as happy grandparents.

There is a spirited cadre of men here who are to be recognized for their chain emails and phone calls to their friends and associates when an associate or close friend passes away. Such was the case a couple of years ago when I received emails and phone calls from Billy Gates and Wallace Byrd on the passing of Cecil Murphy. These two men, whom I am sure, are members of Billy’s local military and veterans organization. There are other fine men affiliated with them who also make contacts. Charlotte Boyle, who performs in another community capacity, is recognized in the same light for her efforts in this regard. In fact, she performs community service throughout the entire county.

Now, here are a few names from the past of our friends and associates you remember who have passed on. I have written about some of these late residents and will write about others in future columns.

Claude Kelly, Don Kelly, Woodrow McCorvey ,Earl Barbarow, Joe Latham, Dr. Henry Rogers, Alton Keller, Clyde Dunn, Bo Keller, Steve Hubbard, Geronimo the crop duster, Rayford Kirby, Frank Currie, Nina Stephens, Nick Reeves, Fred George, Lawrence Cooper, Chief Calvin McGhee, Root Lowery, Gladys Middleton, Guy Martin, Wade Johnson, Jack Madison, Gladyn Gibson, Chester Barton, Tom Miniard, Leroy Morris, Ray Lambert, Dee Gibbs, Lavon Martin, Gladys Walker, Martin Ritchie, Phil Sokol, Bob Morresette, Frances Blackburn, Jim White, Alton White, Devon Wiggins, Shirley Martin, Bill Moseley, Crockett White, Freddie Centenni, Harvey Cook, George Harris, Harold Byrd and Dewitt Parker.

In closing, I want to say thanks to my good Facebook friend Ray Bolden for all his interesting posts and for his keen interest in our community. I will mention another Facebook friend in next week’s column.

Next week, we will have more news of people places and events from our yesteryears.

Lowell McGill can be reached at