By Toni Stauffer
Many in Phenix City know 61-year-old Ron Hatch as the congenial owner of Albin and Associates, a life Insurance company located on Broad Street. Ron goes to every event held by the East Alabama Chamber of Commerce, as well as other events in the community. But how many people know that Ron makes fantastic homemade jams and jellies, or that he loves to garden, or even that he authored a Southern gothic mystery titled Mulberry Creek, set in Fortson, Ga. during the 1930s?
The son of a military man, Ron moved to Columbus when he was five years old after his father was stationed at Fort Benning. He attended Kendrick High School in East Columbus, and after high school, he became a radiologist. He attended both Chattahoochee Valley Community College and Columbus College, the latter now known as Columbus State University. During a class on crisis intervention, Ron had an epiphany from a discussion “You and Your Job.”
“Just doing the homework for the course, I realized I didn’t like what I was doing at the hospital as an x-ray technician,” Ron said. “It wasn’t so much the job. It was interesting, but at the time, because of the politics of working at the medical center, you could be an x-ray technician for fifty years and never advance, never go up.”
Because of his low salary, Ron was also working as a waiter at a restaurant called The Hungry Hunter to make ends meet.
“I would make almost as much money in two weeks as a waiter than I did as a full-time radiology technician,” Ron said. “At the hospital, I could do 500 x-rays and still get paid the same. I just did not see an advantage to staying at that workplace.”
Ron said that there was a time when the radiologists got together and tried to get a raise, but were told by a radiology doctor that he could teach his maid to take x-rays.
“I’m scheduled to do a knee arthrogram for you this afternoon,” Ron told the doctor. “You can call your maid because I don’t feel like I’m qualified to do it.”
Fighting back earned Ron a three-day suspension, which added fuel to thoughts of change, especially when he knew they were hiring people who flunked their exams at the same rate as his pay.
His career path took a turn when he met Gibson Albin who owned Albin and Associates.
“Back at that time, in 1980, they had a program where you could come to work for the insurance company and they would pay you a salary for two-and-a-half years. I thought I might as well give it a try,” he said.
Ron went with him on his appointments and realized that selling insurance wasn’t that much different than being a waiter. You are offering a customer a menu of options from which they can choose what best suits them.
“If you do a good job, like a waiter, you get tipped really well,” Ron said. “I found an opportunity for me to be as good at it as I could be – the harder you worked and the longer you worked, the more money you could make.”
Ron became a full-time insurance agent with Albin and Associates in January 1981 and kept the Albin name after he took the business over.
As to how he became an author, that part is easy. Ron has always been very imaginative.
“I’m a very creative person to begin with. I don’t just like one form of art or one way of seeing things,” Ron said. “I like gardening, painting, and doing a lot of different things. That creativeness in me has never really had an outlet until the writing started.”
As a joke, Ron wrote a book blurb for one of his customers. She liked it and asked him to write more, and so he did and he kept writing. Now he has his novel Mulberry Creek, published under the pseudonym Harry Bach, another joke.
Mulberry Creek is the fictional story of the Lovvern family and the darkness and mayhem on their plantation in Fortson. Family secrets and desires locked behind iron gates are revealed as threads of truth are pulled free from the murky waters of Mulberry Creek. Evil is a fabric woven from the yarn of secrecy, lies, and betrayal. To purchase a copy of Mulberry Creek, search for the title on Amazon.