Hurricane Irma brought back memories

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Hurricane Irma has now come and gone, but it reminds me of another hurricane I worked in 1992. That was hurricane Andrew.

Standing out in my mind vividly was a unique restaurant located about 30 miles north of the area hit by the storm. Miraculously, the storm did very little damage to that area where the restaurant was located. But south of it was total destruction.

It was a very popular eating-place and all the foods served contained animal names.

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You walked up to the counter to place your order and streaming across the long wall located behind the counter were dozens of menu items. And you ordered from these unusual menus. You found it difficult to believe the number of items with animal names served from this menu.

Let’s say you wanted a hot dog. They would cook it up for you in a matter of minutes. Buffalo wings was one of the more popular menu items. I liked the early morning bear claws served with hot coffee and goat milk.

Always popular on the menus were veal cutlets, rocky mountain oysters, blue gill bream and even cocktails called grasshopper sliders.

Yes, just about any animal named food you wanted could be found here.

Now as I write this column today, a couple of days following Hurricane Irma, I am wondering if the strong winds of that storm damaged this restaurant. Moreover, I wonder if the restaurant was still in existence.

I remember, too, an unusual location I ran across during Hurricane Elena in 1985. That’s the storm that went back and forth across northwest Florida before hitting land in the Mississippi-Louisiana area.

I was working in Carrabelle, Fla. near Port St. Joe looking for the police station for directions. Well, you will not believe what I found at the police station. It was merely a police car parked at a phone booth. Yes, this was the police station. Later on, I learned this police station had been featured on TV and in publications as the “Nation’s Most Unique Police Station.” I understand it is still down there if any of you want to make the three-hour drive to Carrabelle.

I also had another unique experience in my line of work. This was during Hurricane Frederic, which, by the way, hit south Baldwin County on Sept. 12, 1979. Tuesday, this week, it hit 38 years ago.

I received a few flood claims on properties in Magnolia Springs. But there was no road leading to these properties. I had to go by boat on the Magnolia River. It seemed odd having to get in and out by this means. My clients were very helpful, however, and assisted my getting in and out real well.

So, we are talking about hurricanes this week. I have reason to believe this “storm season” is just now beginning. A couple of my so-called “expert friends” tell me more storms in the Caribbean and Gulf are yet to come. It appears some type atmospheric conditions exist this time of the year that are favorable for development. Now, who can say for sure? But, these guys have been “right on” so far.

Now for news from the 1970s. During this period, the entire nation was introduced to the problems of dyslexia. This is a learning disorder “that manifests itself as a difficulty with reading, spelling and in some cases, mathematics. It is separate and distinct from reading difficulties resulting from non-neurological deficiencies,” according to Wikipedia.

Dr. Harold Wilson was recognized by county medical organizations for his outstanding work in this field. He conducted numerous lectures to help everyone get a better understand about this unique disorder. He worked with related dyslexia groups in identifying and treating grammar school and high school students.

Wilson was quoted as saying that dyslexia affects between 5 percent and 17 percent of the U.S. population. Today, countless parents credit Wilson for his timely efforts treating and identifying dyslexia and making their children’s life’s more functional.

He and Dr. Bancroft Cooper came to Atmore in 1957 to set up practice. The two worked together for a number of years. Cooper later left Atmore, but Wilson, who died last year, served Atmore for more than 50 years, longer than any other doctor here.

In other news from 1970, Army Warrant Officer Jerry Hatfield received a military citation for meritorious flights while serving on duty in Vietnam. The son of Mr. and Mrs. B.W. Hatfield, he was a graduate of Escambia County High School.

A Former ECHS and University of Alabama graduate received exceptional military honors. Capt. Joseph Nall was recognized for heroic rescue efforts by his Global Aerospace units. He is the son of Mr. and Mrs. Leo Nall and brother to Webb Nall, prominent Atmore businessman, councilman and civic leader.

Sarah Murph was named feature editor of the Livingston Life, college newspaper. The ECHS and Jeff Davis grad was studying elementary education at Livingston University at the time.

Kay McLeod and Charles Bailey were named honor Vocational Education students at ECHS. H.R. McKissack was director of the VOCO ED department.

Wilmer Baker received Specialist in Education honors at the New Orleans Baptist Theolology University. Baker is now recognized as a prominent minister and professor.

Jack Dennis was named manager at Vanity Fair here after having served for several years in that same capacity in Bayou La Batre.

Atmore had some outstanding youth baseball teams that year. Minor League coaches and managers were: Bears-William Jordan, Floyd Adams and Clayton Jordan; Wildcats-Rayford and Tommy Kirby; Wasps-Howard Gohagen and Jackie Sims; Colts-Cecil Ellis and Butch White; Lions-Bully Brooks and Lowell McGill (who’s that?).

I’ll have more news from years gone by next time.