Those forestry boys hopped to it then

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 16, 2017

I was waiting for a haircut in The Elite Barbershop back in the 1950s when four forestry students came in to get their hair trimmed.

These young men were part of the Auburn lab forestry class from Little River State Park. They jumped right in the ongoing conversation with all of us in the barbershop.

They had been in for about 10 minutes when all of a sudden a herd of great big goats came running up between the street and the railroad track. Not far behind were two farmers who were yelling for help in rounding up these animals. It seemed the truck transporting them to the Atmore Stockyard titled over causing the animals to escape.

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The forestry boys jumped right in the chase and were able to head some of them off from South Main Street. Several merchants came out of their stores and pitched in, too. But then a freight train came roaring by causing the goats to scatter even more. Two of the animals died when hit by the train and were flung onto the sidewalk just down the street from the barbershop.

Mayor Dees got word of the event and dispatched firemen and policemen to assist in the roundup. After an hour or so, most of the goats were corralled and were herded back down to the stockyard.

As gratitude of thanks, the male forestry students were given the goats killed by the train. They told us they would take them to their forestry camp and barbecue them. And they invited several us to come join them in the meal.

This all happened on a Saturday and on Sunday afternoon those forestry students had the barbecue meat ready for eating. And it tasted great. I never knew barbecue goat could be so delicious. I remember two of the barbers, who were part-time ministers, Preacher White and the Rev. Payton Taylor came up for the meal. These men knew what good coking was as they often ate with members of their congregation. Even some swimmers from nearby Little River State Park came over to eat.

I am sure these young men had quite a few stories to tell their fellow classmates back at the Auburn campus. I wish I had obtained their names. I would really like to talk with them again.

Back in 1961, Atmore contractor R. L. Brown received a permit to build our new library on South Trammel Street.

Southland Telephone Co. changed over to the dialing system after many years of operator assisted phone calls. This disappointed me (kidding, of course) because I would no longer hear my wife say, “guess whose husband called so-and-so’s wife today?”

Well, she never really said this, but I always suspected those lady telephone operators found a way to make their workday “most interesting.”

Our Senior Little League received a charter that year. Wheeler Crook and Claude Steele were instrumental in our gaining that charter.

Two WATM announcers accelerated their broadcasting careers.

Jim Cruise went with WEAR-TV in Pensacola, where he worked until his retirement a few years ago. Bratt’s congenial round man of personality, Leroy Morris, continued his announcing with Channel 3 and WATM’s sports reporter, Mike Roberts, followed his talent to the University of New Mexico, where he became the play-by-play

announcer for the UNM Lobos football team.

Talented ECHS student Pam Middleton, daughter of Haskew and the late Gladys Middleton, introduced her writing talents and later became the owner of a successful New York publication company. By the way, Pam’s writing talents have not been ignored in New York. Rave reviews of several of her articles have received high recognition in that state. Wow, what an honor for a popular Atmore lady. Haskew and Gladys should be proud.

Also in 1961, the Rev. George Merkel, long time rector at Trinity Episcopal Church, was recognized for his many civic affairs from 1943 to 1961. He was a fixture at the gate of ECHS football games where he took up tickets when you entered the ballpark.

Last week, I wrote about the upcoming solar eclipse. I feel I did not emphasize enough the danger of staring at the sun too long. In fact medical experts say you should use special glasses to view the event. I am not sure where you can purchase these glasses. Perhaps you can find sales location on your face book page. Because it is such a rare occasion more folks will be watching it. Some say they will be “filming it.” Again, I am not sure of the danger this presents. But, be sure to watch it very carefully as these events do not come around too often.

We will have more news of Atmore’s people, places and events next week.

Contact Lowell McGill at