Miniard’s voice will be remembered

Published 12:04 am Wednesday, September 28, 2016

The passing of Ernestine Miniard last week was of interest to many here in Atmore and the surrounding area. And, rightly so because her resonant sounding voice was heard every morning on WATM’s “What’s Going On Show.”

All the local and area news of the day was dissected and rendered by Ernestine. Many folks did not know she did those broadcasts from the comfort of her home in a neat studio built for her by her husband, Tom. She and Tom lived only a few yards from the station.

I was affiliated with this kind and generous lady, part time and full time, for over 11 years resulting in my learning much about her. It became clear to me that she was the heart and soul of the business. She sold and gathered most of the ads and then came back into the station, where she typed up the ads.

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She frequently called on Jimmy Cruise, Margaret Conn, Wayne Butts and myself to help record some of the ads. She was also knowledgeable about the current music of the day. I remember on a hot summer day in the 50s she came in from a busy day on the street and found well known singer Ferlin Huskey sitting in the lobby talking with us. It was common back then for artists to travel throughout the country promoting their records.

Ernestine was also very community minded. She devoted a tremendous amount of time promoting civic and church causes in Atmore.

One of the things that I vividly remember about her and Tom was at the end of each broadcasting day, they walked hand in hand away from the station over to their home a few yards away. They were a very devoted couple, who worked hard all their lives to make Atmore a better place.

She will be fondly remembered by so many.

It is no wonder there was such a large turnout at her funeral here Tuesday.

Now, for news from the yesteryears.

Atmore was fortunate to have had, and still do have, great people who devoted their time and efforts to wonderful causes that made our community a better place to live. I remember when Red Vickery returned to Atmore following a successful career as a member of the University of Georgia football team. He devoted time to Atmore’s young men by taking them to Mobile Bear baseball games and Southeastern Conference football games in Mobile. Through his SEC affiliation, he was quite successful coming up with football game tickets. Leon Akins told me one time Red took some of the Blue Devils team members to Mobile to watch the Bears play the Atlanta Crackers. One of Red’s college teammates was a coach on that team. Leon said, “Every body was thrilled getting a chance to meet members of the Atlanta ball team.” Back in those days, that baseball league was called The Southern League. It was made up of The Mobile Bears, The Memphis Chicks, The Louisiana Pelicans, The Chattanooga Lookouts, The Knoxville Smokies, The Nashville Vols, The Arkansas Travelers, The Birmingham Barons and The Atlanta Crackers.

Dr. Hugh Long spent much time on the sidelines looking after local high school athlete’s football injuries. Having established his practice here in the 1970s he still finds time to look after these athletes. He also devotes time to the Gideon’s, the Atmore Prison Farm ministry and Sunday school teacher at Brooks Memorial Baptist Church.

In the 1950s, attorney Robert Maxwell spearheaded Atmore Jaycee fundraising drives raising money for under privileged children. One of his favorite projects was the annual Christmas Shopping Tour, where these kids were taken to local businesses to receive Christmas toys and clothing. His resonant singing voice is still enjoyed today at Atmore First Baptist Church. His voice and that of the former Jeannie Keller blended beautifully in duets back in the 1940s and 1950s.

Twinette Watson, native Atmorian , took her talents to Judson College, where she helped many Atmore  young ladies find college success and employment.

Over the years, dating back to the 1940s Atmore’s Little League and Babe Ruth League received honors and recognition from such leaders as Charles and Root Lowery, Kimbrel Cunningham, Buddy Vickery, Joe Everette, Claude Steele, Wheeler Crook, Tony Albert, Bill Hendricks, Gene Akins, Murray Johnson and many more.

Now, in some news from 1970, the Bratt Volunteer Fire Department elected these officers, Charles Lowery, Robert Stewart, Thomas Bradberry, Lamar O’Farrell, Colvin Davis, Lester Godwin, Douglas Morgan and Hubert Brown.

Rev. Dewitt Allen was called as the new pastor at Brooks Memorial Church after serving three years at Court Street Baptist Church in Montgomery.

Dr. C.S. Crawford was named chief of staff at Greenlawn Hospital.

The Huntsville youth league named its Whitesburg field the Fern Bell Park in honor of his association and accomplishments with that league.

The Atmore Jaycees captured state honors in the drive to sell honey, a project that benefitted retarded children’s Partlow Camp. Terry Jones was chairman of the Atmore organization.

Jack Madison and James Charles Madison were two other popular coaches of that era.

Sponsored by The First National Bank, their players were as follows: Robby Ferguson, Jay Blackshear, Dusty Harrison, Jimmy Woods, Marty and Mike Hadley, Tommy Pickens, Chuck Madison,  Pat Reeves, Ed Staff, Bryan Flowers, Allen White, Steve Dees, Dough McAnalley, Steve McGill, Randy Miller and Tony Luker.