Come with me to Mayfest, it’s here

Published 12:06 am Wednesday, May 3, 2017

You can tell Mayfest is only a few days away with city workers and prison inmates tirelessly cleaning city streets and sidewalks. Yes, Saturday is the big day and big crowds from surrounding areas are expected to attend.

I wait in anticipation, too. Those funnel cakes, blooming onions and tasty sandwiches make for complete family meals, especially Billy Gates’ sausage dogs. He oversees the local veterans booth and folks always trek to his vending site for a great meal. Of course, other food booths cater succinct foods as well.

And our good friend Marlene Nall Joint will be on hand with her paintings and crafts. The Atmore native depicts her talents with respected paintings and artful craftwork from her Gulf Shores home. You may recall this lovely lady is the daughter of the former Mildred Nall.

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The event also stages entertainment. You can listen to some great singers and musicians on stage all throughout the day.

Here’s hoping we have great weather for everyone attending the event.

I often think of my days at WATM back in the 1950s and 1960s working my way through college.

I recall the day Jimmy Swaggart came to our area for a revival. Station owner Tom Miniard invited him to the station to speak and sing. I was on duty that day and I set back in the control room simply amazed at his resonant singing voice and piano accompaniment. I had the opportunity to talk with him before he left our studios that day. I will never forget him telling me his plans to build a big “Super Church.” And, he did just that. In fact, his church flourishes today in Baton Rouge, La. Little did I know then that I would be afforded the opportunity to adjust flood losses to his stately building following a huge flood in the Baton Rouge area.

Others from here told me how he came back to Atmore and the surrounding areas on occasion for revivals.

I wrote about chinquapins and loquats a couple of years ago. Well, I located a loquat tree right here in Atmore this week and it was loaded with orange-yellow delicious fruit. The kind gentleman who owned the tree politely gave me a bag full. So many folks had picked from his tree that remaining fruit were clinging to branches at the very top. In fact this nice man had to use a ladder to reach the fruit.

This was the only tree I have found here in town, however, I am sure there must be more. Some of my friends have never eaten loquats and quizzed me as to “what do they taste like?” The best way I know how to describe it is “papaya,” the tropical fruit. It has a delicious sweet taste with juice that is out of this world. You will see what I am talking once you take your first bite. I sure would like to know how I could graft a cutting from the tree and plant a couple of them in my back yard.

By the way, I am still looking for some chinquapin trees.

Now let us take a look at some news from 1966.

You could eat a lot cheaper in 1966 than you can today. Back then KwikChek advertised in The Advance roast beef at 39 cents a pound. And, my brother-in-law Lawrence Cooper at his Bratt Grocery Store, ran a special on cube steaks at 10 cents a steak.

Travis Black, former Escambia County High School principal, was named president of District 1 Secondary Principal’s Association and Henry Lowery, owner of Greenlawn Pharmacy, was appointed chairman of the 1966 local United Fund Campaign. Henry was very active in local civic and community activities.

A few years ago, we said goodbye to Jimmy Morris. A good friend, he was complimentary to me in the newspaper industry when I founded The Tri City Ledger in Flomaton in 1971. He was one of Mobile’s most colorful figures, especially in commerce, radio and TV. You heard his resonant voice that night in the mid 1950s as the PA announcer when end zone seats collapsed in Ladd Stadium bringing death and injury to several. That was Paul Bryant’s first trip into Ladd Stadium. His Crimson Tide played the LSU Tigers to a close finish, losing by only a few points.

Morris, who worked at WKRG Radio in the early 1950s, was teamed with a radio character called “Plow Handle Bill,” whose antics were popular in those days. He was also close friends to Atmore’s late the Rev. Dewitt Allen, who worked at WALA Radio before entering the ministry. By the way, I recently received a nice phone call  from Curtis Chambers who worked as a musician with Plowhandle Bill and all the announcing crew at WKRG Radio in the early 1950s. Curtis is retired in Atlanta and follows our column each week. He and I are now good Facebook friends.

We will have more news from days gone by in Atmore next week.