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Everybody wanted those ‘hot seats’

Those hot seat nights at the Strand Theatre back in the 1940s and 1950s were very popular.

Patrons turned out in huge numbers to watch the movies and hope they were seated in the lucky seat. The movie would come to an abrupt stop and the manager would walk onto to stage to call out the winning seat. And, boy, there were some nice prizes awarded from local merchants. There were such popular items as free milkshakes, tire recaps, blocks of cheese, cases of soft drinks, free hamburgers and hotdogs, tickets to the Mobile Bears baseball games, free train rides to the games, free parking at some meters on our city streets, free dry cleaning and free gas and oil.

The Palms Drive In Theater had its own jackpots, too. With as many as four people in a car, patrons would get free soft drinks with hotdog purchases on certain nights. And some more popular Atmore merchants gave grocery packs to winners. Each car was given a number and the driver received the awards if his car number was called. Pound blocks of Yellow Front Grocery original cheese were one of the most coveted prizes.

Of course, all this occurred before TV hit the scene. And, now, it is a thing of the past.

Walking the streets back then, we welcomed the aromas of freshly parched peanuts in front of Bristow Drugs and freshly ground coffee at Atmore Coffee Company on Atmore’s popular side street. The emitance of A&Ps 8 O’Clock coffee was highly conspicuous during the early morning hours.

No day would be complete without the loud whistle at Swifts Mill. That was the call for workers to begin their day’s work.

Yes, those were some of sounds and aromas of Atmore back in our younger days.

In politics, I want to draw your attention to an observation regarding Fox News. As many of you know, this network has taken a somewhat liberal format under its wings since the late Roger Ailes was dismissed.

He was the man that set the tone for Fox’s previous conservative philosophy. I see much division and discourse among its key anchors and reporters growing each day. Megyn Kelly led the liberal cause along with anchors Shep Smith and Chris Wallace. Sean Hannity has become the pure conservative leader. It would not surprise me at all to see a break up in the networks conservative format with many of its conservative principals leaving, for a possible new all-conservative network. There are over a dozen key reporters who could make this move. And, if they move on, you will see a big drop off in viewers and possibly advertisers on Fox News. So, stay tuned close and don’t be surprised if this shake up occurs before the year is out.

There were some interesting events from the year 1975.

I am sure many of you remember Mrs. D.T. Peavy, who wrote society news for The Advance for many years. She announced her retirement that year. She was ninety years of age. And, the amazing thing, her mind was still very sharp as she wrote her stories and columns right up until she retired. An Atmore native, her husband worked with Swifts for a number of years.

Dr. Gene West and his family located in Atmore in 1975. The Piedmont native purchased the dental practice of Dr. John Millson. An Auburn University graduate, he finished dental school at the University of Alabama, Birmingham (UAB).

Greg McPherson, an ECHS graduate, was selected to participate in a worldwide musical tour with the United States Collegiate Wind Heritage Band.

All local banks ran ads asking Social Security recipients to sign up for “direct deposits”, a new Social Security system initiated in the summer of 1975.

Eubie Etheridge, a local broker for cucumber growers, announced the availability of new plants for the fall planting season.

Local and area residents welcome the addition to some new machinery and equipment at St. Regis Paper Company. The $45 million project eliminated emissions of “sauerkraut” like odors that sometimes could be sensed right here in the Atmore area.

Two ECHS football standouts, Lou Ikner and Joe Latham, were selected to play in the Alabama North-South All-Star Game in Tuscaloosa. Ikner, as you know, went on to an outstanding gridiron career at The Capstone.

Rhonda Haley became the third young lady from here selected Miss. Lee County. The daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Ben Haley, she was a student at Auburn University when she reaped the coveted award. Two other former Atmore girls, Susan Tennant and Sherry Robinson, were tapped Miss. Lee County Queens in 1974 and 1973, respectfully.

More next week.