Well-known wrestler grew up in Atmore

Published 12:03 am Wednesday, August 30, 2017

When Arthur Pershing (Tarzan) White was growing up here in Atmore in the mid 1930s, few realized that he was generating folklore and athletic accomplishments beyond expectations.

Burly and athletically endowed, he was a very handsome man and his highly photogenic appearance added to his rapid ascension of success.

The late Charles and Katherine Lowery knew him very well. Charles told me that Tarzan would always call him first when he came back to town. He told me the former Escambia County High football star lineman would camp out in the woods and ate wild animals and birds. This was during his high school days. Charles says it was not uncommon for him to jump into freight train cars and “hobo” cross country.

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His football accomplishments did not end here. He went on to Tuscaloosa and the professional football world, where his feats drew national attention. An outstanding lineman with the Crimson Tide, he was equally successful with the Giants and Cardinals professional teams.

But his career did not end with his football playing days. In fact, it rapidly ascended in professional wrestling. His physical appearance and his photogenic good looks complemented the role he played as a world champion wrestler.

A very intelligent man, he continued his education with a doctorate degree from Columbia University.

While I never knew the man, my friend Jimmy (Red) Emmons did know him. In fact, the football prowess Red possessed successfully continued with him to the Capstone, where he played for the Tide.

I knew Tarzan’s sister, Pauline, who was a teacher. She taught me in Perdido. She left that school and went to New Mexico, where she eventually retired. Her retired years found her teaching swimming students in her backyard pool on South Main Street.

Charles told me Tarzan often sent him newspaper clippings with stories of his accomplishments. He said Tarzan never failed to mention his hometown of Atmore.

Now let’s take a look at some news from 1986.

Greenlawn Hospital initiated a crash course to stop smoking in January that year. Endorsed by the American Medical Association, the course was called “Five Days To Freedom.”

Mel Hardy and Tara Morris were named to the Alabama Private School Association All-Tournament Basketball team.

A special commemorative American flag was presented in memory of James E. Wearren for his lengthy service with the American Legion Post No. 90. A World War II veteran, he was employed with a local hardware store for a number of years. Wearren passed away in 1985.

Some local businesses ran outstanding specials in January that year. Chicken Express advertised taco salad and a drink for 99 cents. Snyder Furniture featured buy one get one free LA-Z-Boy recliners and BC Moore sold $25 slacks for $5 each.

Mary Jernigan opened her new tax practitioner office after successful years as a legal secretary for some of Atmore’s more prominent attorneys.

Atmore Police Chief James Dixon announced his office would supply night bank deposit escorts to local merchants and businesses. A rash of attempted robberies occurred during this time period.

When this flood is over, I want to go back to the “Blue Bayou country in Louisiana. For 30-plus years, I made friends with quite a few of those living in the area located near the path of the Mississippi River spillway around Morgan City, Houma, Pierre Parte and Lafourche Parish. One of those friends has a cousin who writes for that famous TV “Swamp” show. I fear his home may not be doing too well now as it is situated right in the heart of some extreme flooding. But he and his family always survived. This flood, however, may be one that does not have survival.

Recently, I had to make my semiannual trip to the VA clinic in Pensacola so that I could continue receiving my VA medicine. On my way, I stopped at McDonald’s for a sandwich and then trekked on to the clinic. Waiting for my appointment, I watched TV at the clinic and suddenly realized that if it were not for McDonald’s and the VA Clinics, CNN would have fewer viewers. Fox News was not available at either location. I asked if we could turn it to Fox News, but got a negative reply. One lady replied, we can turn it to MSNBC but not Fox News. No further comment.

More next week.