Tommy always had a way with food

Published 12:08 am Wednesday, May 24, 2017

When Tommy Gerlach left Atmore for Andalusia several years ago, he took with him a reputation of culinary arts that only a few can boast of. Yes, he was regarded, and still is, as one of the very best chefs Atmore has ever seen.

His training and work in New Orleans and other famous locations helped prepare him for his unique style of “cooking.” When in business here, mothers grasped his style and passed it off to their daughters so that they would become excellent cooks. At the Stage Coach Restaurant in Stockton one night, I talked with the manager and she brought up Tommy’s name, realizing his reputation for fine cooking was well known throughout our area.

In Metairie, La., one time at a meeting for flood insurance adjusters, I ran into the wife of one of the adjusters who was acquainted with Tommy. She said she attended a party catered by Tommy and related how he captured the hearts of everyone because of his unique food preparation. This lady, if I remember correctly, was a friend of Frank Dial’s daughter. Frank was from Atmore and ran a business in this New Orleans suburb prior to his death.

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You know chefs are required to have knowledge of food science, nutrition and diet, and are responsible for preparing meals that are pleasing to the eye. Well, Tommy goes a step further. He adds his own “touch,” which makes his prepared food rush to front of the line bringing with it a mouth-watering taste unique only to him.

The Gerlach name is steeped in tradition here in Atmore extending all the way to Crestview, Panama City and Fort Walton Beach. I do not know what role Tommy played in it, but the “Gerlach Restaurant” in Fort Walton Beach exceeds all others when it comes to “good eating.” Perhaps just the name “Gerlach” simply resonates in “good food.” (Good automobiles, too.)

It is so easy to recognize tasty recipes his wife Michele occasionally posts on Facebook. Ouida always jots them down and turns them into great meals for our family.

Perhaps Tommy will return to Atmore one day, bringing his culinary talents with him. And, perhaps, he will again display those talents in another restaurant.

Now speaking of food preparation, I am preparing a column bringing recognition to those devoted and talented cooks who have been preparing food at “Busters Restaurant” for many, many years.

Folks, today we are definitely in the world of digital technology.

And certainly that is the case for the cell phone industry. How you ever heard as many new terms and new pieces of equipment as there are in circulation today?

Names such as smartphone, iPhone, iPad, Android, Galaxy and Blackberry leave me totally in the dark. But, my grandchildren readily identify with these names and feel right at home with them. I bet yours do, too.

Other technical names like Tablet, Notebook, Chrome, Bing, Roku, Xbox One, Boxee, Wifi, Facebook and App have meaning to relatively only a few. It all supports my earlier columns, which revealed a new world of communication was coming. And, now it is here.

Digital TV, which includes Smart TV and 3D TV, is now selling like hotcakes and the prices are tumbling left and right. I have a new 3D TV and the picture is beyond description. Watching golf matches is almost like being there. Movies are so life-like.

So, good luck as you “sail into the future” in this new era. If you want to really learn about it, check in with your children and grandchildren. They can tell you all about it, better yet, they can show you how to “work these things.”

Who knows, tomorrow morning we may have a new set of terms and equipment. Those west coast technical computer phone “nerds” apparently never sleep, always digging, digging and coming up with new innovations.

Now, let’s take a look at 1954.

Bristow’s Drug Store, Reid Drugs and Escambia Drugs were popular gathering places for morning and afternoon coffee drinkers.

Grimsleys, a long-time clothing store, advertised a half-priced sale on all merchandise in an Atmore Advance double truck (two page ad in the center of the paper). Later that year, the store celebrated its 48th anniversary.

The Advance also carried several “spot ads.” This is a one column by one-inch ad. One of those ads was Ceomulsion, which was said to be good for children’s coughs and bronchitis. Strange, you seldom see that ad these days.

Vaughan’s Grocery in Walnut Hill (Fla.) advertised fryers at 45cents a pound and one dozen oranges for 20 cents.

Several from here won $10 prizes for individual recipes in a contest sponsored by Hass Davis Packing Company of Mobile. Back then, we all enjoyed those fine meats from that firm. One of those winners was Mrs. B. Singleton from Monroe County.

Popular hit songs from 1954, included “This Old House” and “Hey There” by Rosemary Clooney, and “Three Coins in the Fountain” by the Four Aces.

Rev. N.H. McCrummen, pastor of Atmore First Baptist Church, announced that 279 were in attendance for the first 1954 mid week prayer services.

That year, “Little John” Harvey said he watched a Frisco train travel over the Highway 31 bypass at exactly the same time an L&N train passed under it. Many old timers always said that was a rare occurrence.

More news next week.