The smells of yester year hang in the air

Published 11:35 am Wednesday, August 9, 2017

That total solar eclipse destined to creep into the skies near us on Aug. 21 maybe somewhat astounding, even frightening. And it could cause some confusion in your chicken coups causing the hens to take an early roost.

What is this phenomenon anyway?

The Internet describes it this way.

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“When the moon passes between the Earth and the sun, and scores a bullseye by completely blotting out the sunlight, that’s a total solar eclipse. The moon casts a shadow on our planet. Dead center is where sky gazers get the full treatment. In this case, the total eclipse will last up to 2 minutes, 40-plus seconds in places. A partial eclipse will be visible along the periphery…”

According to experts, our section of the state will be approximately under 80 percent of the event. In other words, it should get quite dark when it passes near us.

The nation has experienced only a few total eclipses since the early 1900s, the latest being in 1979. I was caught up in a partial eclipse in July 1984 up in Pikeville, Ky. while adjusting some severe flood losses. Although it was a partial event, it really got real dark for several minutes. Those mountains in that part of the country looked real scary when the daylight blackout occurred.

They say you need to wear protected eyeglasses if you gaze up at the sun prior to the event. Medical experts warn bright sun exposure could be extremely harmful to your eyes.

Do not worry about missing out on the eclipse because you are going to hear much about it through the media in the upcoming days.

A couple of years ago, I wrote a column about unique aromas that we grew up with here in Atmore, such as coffee being made at Atmore Coffee Co., freshly dug potatoes at loacal grading sheds, sharp brine from the cucumber vats, peach blossom blooms from State Farm peach orchards and green logs processed into lumber at Swift Lumber Co.

Well, several months ago, I received an email from a former resident that told me that I had left out some aromas, which were definitely identifiable with Atmore.

He said you omitted several aromas. One in particular was the Atmore Stockyard. I readily agreed with this reader as I do remember that weekly sale of livestock and that “smelly” scent that was created by all those animals. Another aroma, quite in contrast, was that of cooking and preparing of food at City Café and The Sweet Shop, two South Main Street restaurants set across from each other. The emailer told me how he often visited Wheeler Crook’s City Café and Mrs. Sharpless’s Sweet Shop and how much he enjoyed the “smell of good food cooking.” I had to agree with him on that, too. Tommy Gerlach also continued that Sweet Shop “smell” during his tenure at this landmark restaurant. I especially liked his New Orleans flavored dishes. The writer related how he also enjoyed the smell of food cooking at Mrs. Biggs’s Boarding House.

He ended his email with a really “smelly” location. And that was the sewage separation plant just west of town off Highway 31. I really do not have an answer for my not mentioning this site. Perhaps it was best left alone.

But, thanks anyway to this man for pointing out my column omissions to these pleasant and not so pleasant smells.

Back in 1970, Taylor’s Store in Lottie was destroyed in a fire. This landmark business was initiated by Mr. Dallas Taylor, who with the help of Marjorie and other family members, maintained the operation for many years. Hunters and fishermen often stopped at this store for supplies, cold drinks and fish bait on their way to the rivers, lakes and hunting grounds. Local residents also found this an ideal location for gatherings to discuss the day’s news. That same year, Bay Minette’s Faulkner State Junior College assumed its new name after having been known as Yancey State Junior College since its inception.

Our hospital was the recipient of timely monetary gifts for the additions of a coronary unit. Each week church and civic groups, businesses and individuals brought in their gifts. Greater Mt. Triumph Church was recognized for its noted donation.

I also wrote a column a few years ago about Dauphin Island being is known as “The Sunset Capitol of Alabama?” I learned about this when I ran into an old friend while Ouida and I were dining out. My friend and his wife told us they spent a weekend on the island mainly to watch the sunsets. We asked why go there, and they said colorful and unique landscapes and the most westward view from the island tip offered breathtaking and marveling views of the “big orange-reddish sun as it descends below the horizon.” Now, they inform us the national media has picked up on it and folks from near and far are coming down to see these events.

Next week, I will have more news from years past.

Contact Lowell McGill at