Competition yielded a couple of greats

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Punt, Pass and Kick was a popular football contest involving boys and girls several years ago. In fact, Atmore never failed to stage these events, usually in late fall and near the end of football season.

Sponsored by Ford, our local dealership kept the tradition intact for many years.

I cannot remember all those men who worked with these youngsters but I do remember Butch White playing a leading role since he was affiliated with the local Ford dealership.

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The rules were somewhat simple. Boys would punt pass and kick a football along a long strait line. The idea was to keep the ball near the line for most points. Competition included ages 6-15 and trophies were awarded the winning competitors.

I remember one particular event in 1968. This was the year my son, Mark, was 8 years old and he participated in his age group. He and Walter Lewis from Brewton would up being the two finalists in his age group. The two tied in the punt and kick categories, and the winner would be determined in the area of passing. Mark went first, making a fairly long pass but slightly off the line. Walter came up next, but his pass was just a little bit shorter than Mark’s. However his pass fell closer to the line and when the final measurement was tallied Walter edged out Mark by a couple of inches.

Well, as it all turned out, Walter continued on and eventually won the Alabama 8-year-old group.

He continued at all levels, district, regional and the national championship level. His talent really came to life in the national competition. Yes, he won the national championship and drew attention from college coaches even at that young age.

Of course, we all know his success story. Following an outstanding high school career at T.R. Miller, he went on to even greater success as the quarterback for the Alabama Crimson Tide.

In another football story, another area gridster made a name for himself on the football field.

University of Alabama’s Tommy Lewis, a Greenville High School graduate, was participating in the 1954 Cotton Bowl game and was actually having a good day on the field as the Tide and Rice did battle. But as the game became very close, Lewis came off the bench and tackled a Rice running back who seemed to be heading to the end zone for an apparent touchdown. Well, the officials would have none of that and they immediately awarded the Rice runner the touchdown.

That glaring event captured all the headlines of sports stories across the nation. Actually, it made Lewis somewhat of a celebrity. He went on to appear on the Ed Sullivan Show in New York, and also appeared on many TV talk shows. When he was asked why he came off the bench like he did, he answered  “I was too full of Alabama.” He could barely stand to see his Tide team go down in defeat.

Tommy passed away in 2014.

There will be many booths filled with good food at Atmore’s Williams Station Day this Saturday.

I talked with Billy Gates, who heads up a local military group, and he says his juicy and tasty sausage dogs will be even more tasty this year. Don’t forget to go by his booth and taste some of this fine food. Funds generated from this go toward a very good cause.

Also take in the booth of Atmore’s own, Marlene Nall Joint. She presents the very best of paintings and crafts. This fabulous artist is recognized as one the best in the state. You will remember her Mother Mildred Nall (Everette). Now a resident along the coast, Marlene has become widely known for her beautiful painting and craft work.

There will be other booths for you to consider.

Now, let’s take a look at some news from 1970.

Hank Locklin, well known country singer from nearby Munson, Fla., headlined an all star cast at the Atmore Saddle Club’s annual rodeo. Linda Helton reigned as rodeo queen.

Long-time Vanity Fair workers were rewarded with 6 percent pay raises. Over three hundred employees benefited from this timely rise.

Two notable deaths occurred that year. Former Atmore Mayor H.H. Dees died at the age of 82. Having served the town for over 25 years, he was regarded as one of Atmore’s leading mayors.

Cassie Weekly, wife of Charles Weekly of Perdido, passed away that summer. Her husband was brother of Atmore’s John Weekly. A cousin of Eulene Cargin, she was also a close relative of Advance Perdido correspondent, Tola Ficklin.

Bratt Baptist church broke ground for a new and spacious educational building.

More news next week.

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