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For many years, locals tuned into WATM

Democrats had a “big hold” in Atmore and surrounding areas in the 1940s and 1970s. And, one local man was a key Democrat back then. He was Ben Haley.

A very popular athlete and student at ECHS, he worked afternoons and weekends at Escambia Drug Store. It was here he made inroads to politics. He listened to and joined in conversations with leading community leaders and businessmen.

Following school and the military, he was drawn into a position with the Maxwell family marketing insurance and real estate.

I remember a few years after joining this firm he had a conversation with Tom and Ernestine Miniard at WATM in regard to an idea he had for the radio station. He said I will sponsor a radio spot each time the fire whistle goes off and the radio station alerts folks to the fire’s location. Sure enough, Tom and Ernestine liked his idea and put it on the radio. And, for many, many years locals turned their radio dials to 1590 and heard the announcer say, “now here is the fire report brought to you by Maxwell Haley Insurance and Real Estate.”

Ben was an avid hunter and fisherman. He did a lot of salt water fishing with Dr. St A’mant.

Hunters often told of his shooting a turkey and the bullet went through the bird and hit a second turkey. He never elaborated on this incidence, however.

Ben passed away a few years ago.

Now, let’s take a look at people, places and things from 1975 and 1985.

In the early months of that year, Swift Lumber Company, one of Atmore’s oldest business firms, held a gala picnic for former employees. Staged at the Atmore City Park, the event drew over 100 participants. Some of those former employees in attendance were in their 90s.

Another historic event that year was the closing of Bristow Drug Store. For years, this was one of the favorite early-morning gathering places for coffee drinkers, and the soda fountain was a popular lunch gathering place for many who worked in the various stores and businesses in town. Claude Bristow, who moved here from Bay Minette in 1942, was quoted saying, “I am the only pharmacist, soda jerk and chief clerk in Atmore.” His was one of the leading drug stores here for 33 years.

Residents were saddened in mid 1985 at the death of Bob Vail. The former publisher of The Baldwin Times and founder of The Atmore Record Newspaper was best known as the administrative assistant for Rep. George Grant. He was the father of Sarah (Mrs. Buster Joyner) Vail.

The Rev. Albert Kennington was ordained at the Trinity Episcopal Church. The former ECHS graduate also held degrees from Troy University and the Theological Department of Sewanee University.

Connie Torrence of ECHS won first place in the Escambia County 4-H Speech Contest. Her speech was selected tops over 50 contestants.

Mike Amerson was named to a football-playing career. Guy Dennis, who was a standout lineman with the University of Florida, completed a successful playing career with the Detroit Lions. He was drafted by the Cincinnati Bengals and played with them for a number of years. He was coached in high school by Joe Latham.

McArthur Davidson resigned as Atmore police chief to take a job as investigator with the Alabama Board of Corrections.

One of the area’s largest rodeos was staged here in the spring of 1975. Cindy Flowers of Nokomis was selected Queen of the event.

Barnes football Stadium underwent a complete renovation. Three new bathrooms, one new shower room and two air-conditioned dressings rooms were added.

Debbie Bolden captured the annual Brewton Tennis Tournament. Others from Atmore finishing in the winner’s brackets included Jack Madison Jr., Joyce Wearren, Glen Carlee and Pat Eddins.

How many of you have watched the TV show “American Pickets?” Well, this movie firm will be filming shows in Alabama very soon. They have not yet announced the locations that will be filmed. But they are looking for merchandise to use on the shows. For your information, “American Pickers” hunts for most valuable and sizeable antiques. They present stories and offer to buy these items from residents.

When the Alabama locations are announced we will let you know. The show airs each week on the A&E television network.

We will have more news from years gone by next week.