Clarke-Washington Electric Membership Cooperative April 2017

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Stories | Recipes | Events | People | Places | Things | Local News April 2017



joys of housing purple martins The

So you want to be a writer? Ticket stub memories



Manager Stan Wilson Co-Op Editor Rick Norris ALABAMA LIVING is delivered to some 420,000 Alabama families and businesses, which are members of 22 not-for-profit, consumer-owned, locally directed and taxpaying electric cooperatives. AREA cooperative member subscriptions are $3 a year; non-member subscriptions, $6. Alabama Living (USPS 029920) is published monthly by the Alabama Rural Electric Association of Cooperatives. Periodicals postage paid at Montgomery, Alabama, and at additional mailing office.

Spring wildflowers

The coastal plain of Alabama and neighboring states harbors the greatest diversity and largest concentration of insect-eating plants, like these striking pitcher plants, found on the planet.


VOL. 70 NO. 4 n APRIL 2017


POSTMASTER send forms 3579 to: Alabama Living, P.O. Box 244014 Montgomery, Alabama 36124-4014. ALABAMA RURAL ELECTRIC ASSOCIATION

AREA President Fred Braswell Editor Lenore Vickrey Managing Editor Allison Griffin Creative Director Mark Stephenson Art Director Danny Weston Advertising Director Jacob Johnson Graphic Designer/Advertising Coordinator Brooke Echols Communications Coordinator Laura Stewart Graphic Designer Tori McClanahan



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Printed in America from American materials Alabama Living

GM Stan Wilson discusses the importance of maintenance, conservation and community to your cooperative.


Tickets, please!


Worth the Drive

Our readers share some of their treasured ticket stubs, from football games to concerts, and the stories behind them.

Hand-cut steaks are the stars at George’s Steak Pit in Sheffield, an institution since 1956 in the Shoals.



340 TechnaCenter Drive Montgomery, Alabama 36117-6031 1-800-410-2737 E-mail:

Manager’s Comments


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9 Spotlight 29 Around Alabama 34 Gardens 40 Outdoors 41 Fish & Game Forecast 44 Cook of the Month 46 Hardy Jackson’s Alabama ONLINE: ON THE COVER: A purple martin is captured in flight, perhaps on the way to a gourd home whose landlords provide rent-free housing to the birds who migrate northward each year from South America. Story, page 12.

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Maintenance, conservation and community OFFICE LOCATIONS Jackson Office 1307 College Avenue P.O. Box 398 Jackson, AL 36545 251-246-9081 Chatom Office P.O. Box 143 Chatom, AL 36518 251-847-2302 Toll Free Number 1-800-323-9081 Office Hours 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday - Friday (Drive-thru Hours) Pay your bill online at Payment Methods Payments can be made at our Chatom and Jackson offices with cash, checks, debit or credit cards

Stan Wilson Manager of Clarke-Washington EMC

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I will admit that I usually breathe a sigh of relief when spring arrives. It’s not that I don’t enjoy the winter and the holiday season. I do. I am relieved, though, to get through winter without having a major winter weather event. We were lucky to not have such an event this year. An ice storm is a terrible thing for an electrical utility, and I’m glad that they are rare in our part of the country. The spring is also nice because the temperatures have warmed enough not to need heat, but not so warm that a lot of air-conditioning is needed. It is in these months, and the fall months, that our members usually have their lowest bills of the year and I know you are glad about that. Of course, with spring comes rain and thunderstorms. To protect our system as much as we can from these threats, we purposefully and systematically cut, trim and maintain our right-of-way. There are many reasons we do this. Not only to prevent outages, but we also do it for the safety of our workers and the general public. When an outage does occur, it is easier and safer to restore the power in a well-maintained right-of-way. Proper trimming will prevent many outages. A properly maintained ROW keeps lines away from a child climbing a tree, and also away from you when doing yard work. While I am on this subject, I will remind you to think into the future when planting trees or tall shrubs. Don’t plant them under power lines or service wires (the lines from the transformer to your house). Another important aspect to this is cost. We strive to keep our costs down so we can provide power to you, the member, at the lowest price possible. A well-maintained ROW results in fewer and shorter outages, and reduces employee/equipment risk. I think it is probably a good time to mention conservation before the real hot weather gets here. When you use energy conservation, you can save money on your bill while spending little to no money. You can do some no-cost things like turning the lights out when you leave a room, or running the ceiling fan instead of bumping the thermostat down. You can also wash clothes in cold water instead of hot. It’s not free, but it is a good idea to have your A/C unit serviced and cleaned before summer. This will help it run more efficiently when you really need it. If you have to replace your unit, consider a

high-efficiency heat pump (15 SEER or higher). We offer a cash rebate on these units, so if you want more information on this rebate, give our Member Services Department a call. Finally, I want to mention our Youth Tour winners for this year. For more than 45 years CWEMC has sponsored students from our area schools to attend the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association’s annual Washington, D.C. Youth Tour. Conner Newell from Fruitdale High School and Kamryn Newsom from Clarke County High School were selected to spend a week this June in Washington D.C. to learn more about rural electric cooperatives, community, leadership and government. We are happy to have these two representing CWEMC this year. Thank you!

Conner Newell Fruitdale High School

Kamryn Newsom Clarke County High School

| Clarke Washington EMC | The Washington County Career Technical Center held a career fair in February at the Chatom Community Center. Approximately 460 sophomores and juniors from the five high schools located in Washington County participated. Millry, Fruitdale, McIntosh, Leroy and Washington County High Schools were all represented. Thirty-two local businesses, including CWEMC, were on hand to help these young people gain insight into potential career fields in the area and opportunities that may be available post-graduation. CWEMC was glad to be a part of this event for our local young people at this critical time in high school where they are beginning to set goals and make big decisions about their futures.

1.800.323.9081 to report an outage

Remember: If you do not call from a phone number that is listed on your account, the outage management system will not recognize you. Make sure all the phones that you would use to call in an outage are listed on your account before the storm comes.

Alabama Living APRIL 2017  5

Underground Primary Installation The Chatom line crew recently installed an underground primary line in Hobson to serve a new service. Primary line is the 7200 volt line you normally see on top of our poles (overhead primary lines). In this application, the insulated wire is directly buried into a trench that will run to a pad-mount transformer that will serve the residence.

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| Clarke Washington EMC |

Leroy Substation Catches Fire The PowerSouth substation in Leroy caught fire in February due to a regulator failure. CWEMC and PowerSouth crews responded immediately. CWEMC line crews backfed from Millry, McIntosh and McVay substations to restore power within 90 minutes. Within 5 hours, PowerSouth transported and energized their mobile substation. The mobile substation will remain onsite while repairs are completed to the Leroy substation. CWEMC purchases its power from PowerSouth.

“An outage of this type can easily take 12 plus hours,” says CWEMC Operations Manager Steve Sheffield “Our crews and PowerSouth crews really did a great job of getting everyone back on in such a short time.”

These photos show the damage done to the substation in Leroy. Bottom right: A PowerSouth mobile substation will serve Leroy until the repairs are completed.

Alabama Living

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| Clarke Washington EMC |



An improperly sized HVAC unit can wreak havoc on your home. An oversized unit can cause your system to “short cycle” – constantly turning off and on. An undersized unit will run constantly to keep up with demand. Consider the factors below and choose an HVAC system that works best for your home.


The square footage of your home can help determine the load capacity of your HVAC unit, but it should not be the only factor considered when reviewing unit sizes. Enlist the help of a licensed professional to determine the best HVAC unit for your home.


The region in which your home is located will factor into how much capacity you need per square foot. MARINE



How sunlight hits your home during different times of the day impacts the load capacity required to properly heat or cool your home.



The better insulated your home is, the fewer BTUs (British Thermal Units) per square foot your home will need to stay at the desired temperature.

Contact CWEMC Member Services 251-246-9081 if you have any questions or would like

A reliable energy partner will help you determine how each of these factors affect your more information on properly sizingfor your home’s HVAC system. system’s load capacity. Contact your electric co-op more information.

Source: Dept. of Energy

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APRIL | Spotlight Welcome spring with antiques for home, garden The annual Antiques in the Garden Show at Petals From the Past in Jemison will be from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. April 21 and 22, and will feature a variety of vendors selling antiques, crafts and collectibles. Food vendors will also be available. The nursery sells a variety of heirloom plants, but also offers lectures, workshops and demonstrations, including take-home projects. Petals From the Past is located at 16034 County Road 29 in Jemison. Call 205-646-0069 or visit www.petalsfromthepast. com.

Whereville, AL

Poker run bike ride benefits animal society The Crenshaw County Animal Society, formed in 2013, has a kennel foster program that helps pets learn to be sociable with possible adopters. The program has grown and now partners with animal rescue groups across the east coast. Last year, the volunteers needed a fundraiser to continue their mission of helping animals, and organized a poker run for bikers. Groups from Crenshaw County and beyond participated, both as riders and sponsors. This year, the group hopes to build on its first year’s success. Their second poker run will be April 22, 2017. Learn more on the group’s Facebook page (search Crenshaw County Animal Society - Alabama). Or, call 334-3352138 or 334-429-2867.

Guess where this is and you might win $25! Identify and place this Alabama landmark and you could win $25! Winner is chosen at random from all correct entries. Multiple entries from the same person will be disqualified. Send your answer by April 7 with your name, address and the name of your rural electric cooperative. The winner and answer will be announced in the May issue. Contribute your own photo for an upcoming issue! Send a photo of an interesting or unusual landmark in Alabama, which must be accessible to the public. A reader whose photo is used will also win $25. Submit: By email: By mail: Whereville P.O. Box 244014, Montgomery, AL 36124


The Harrison Fountain, as it is known, is a signature landmark on the University of North Alabama campus in Florence. The fountain and plaza where it is located are named for Dr. Donald and Laura Harrison. The plaza is the hub of UNA’s three pedestrian walkways and serves as the principal entrance to the campus. The fountain and plaza were dedicated in October 2002, according to the TimesDaily newspaper. (Photo by Michael Cornelison of Joe Wheeler EMC) The random drawing winner is Diane Roberson of Joe Wheeler EMC.

Alabama Living

Book to commemorate Vietnam vets’ experiences The Alabama Department of Veterans Affairs and Remember My Service want to tell the stories of Alabama’s Vietnam veterans. The stories will be the basis for a hardbound book and online book, A Time to Honor: Stories of Service, Duty and Sacrifice. The e-book will be given free to Vietnam veterans and their families in every state, and the 175-page hardbound book with feature documentary, “The Journey Home,” will also be given as private sponsors become available. Alabama Vietnam veterans can contribute their stories and photographs to a digital history of the war online at The stories will be included in an interactive, state-specific e-book, which will accompany the hardbound book.

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Your contributions make our nation stronger


t first, seeing taxes taken out of your paycheck can be a little disappointing. However, you can take pride in knowing you’re making an important impact each week when you contribute to Social Security. Understanding how important your contribution is takes some of the sting away because your taxes are helping millions of Americans — and protecting you and your family for life — as well as wounded warriors, the chronically ill, and disabled. By law, employers must withhold Social Security taxes from a worker’s paycheck. While usually referred to as “Social Security taxes” on an employee’s pay statement, sometimes the deduction is labeled as “FICA” which stands for Federal Insurance Contributions Act, a reference to the original Social Security Act. In some cases, you will see “OASDI” which stands for Old Age

Survivors Disability Insurance. The taxes you pay now translate to a lifetime of protection — for retirement in old age or in the event of disability. And when you die, your family (or future family) may be able to receive survivors benefits based on your work as well. Because you may be a long way from retirement, you might have a tough time seeing the value of benefit payments that could be many decades in the future. But keep in mind that the Social Security taxes you’re paying can provide valuable disability or survivors benefits now in the event the unexpected happens. Studies show that of today’s 20-year-olds, about one in four will become disabled, and about one in eight will die, before reaching retirement. Be warned: if an employer offers to pay you “under the table,” you should refuse.

It’s against the law. They may try to sell it as a benefit to you since you get a few extra dollars in your pay. But you’re really only allowing the employer to cheat you out of your Social Security credits. If you’d like to learn a little more about Social Security and exactly what you’re building up for yourself by paying Social Security taxes, look at our online booklet, How You Earn Credits, at You can also learn more at

Kylle’ McKinney, SSA Public Affairs Specialist, can be reached by email at


Randolph County residents send a loud message


esidents of Randolph County, areas of which are served by Tallapoosa River Electric Cooperative, face challenges to their future like those faced by most rural Alabama residents. The 2010 Census revealed that the county’s population was less than it was in 1910. Of even greater concern was that pop- The new Tanner Medical Center/East Alabama is under ulation projections through 2040 indi- construction in Wedowee, thanks to county residents cated that the loss in population would approving a one-cent sales tax in 2016 continue. If population loss continues, attract new businesses to communities where will the youth of Randolph County that do not have adequate health care. find employment? Randolph County lost one of its hosMost of Alabama’s rural counties share pitals, the Randolph Medical Center in this concern over population loss. TwenRoanoke, in 2011. The lone remaining ty-four rural Alabama counties have less hospital, the Wedowee Hospital, had population in 2010 than they had in 1910. been constructed in 1953. A new facility Forty-one of Alabama’s 67 counties are was sorely needed. Tanner Health Sysprojected to lose population between 2010 tem of Carrollton, Ga., was managing the and 2040. hospital and was willing to provide funds Health care is an economic engine, profor equipping a new hospital, if counducing jobs and economic opportunity. ty residents could provide construction The presence of a hospital acts like a magfunding. net in attracting other health care service Funding by the county posed a chalto the area. The Economic Development lenge. Randolph County residents alAssociation of Alabama has struggled to ready had a property tax designated for the county’s health care. Unfortunately, due to the poor performance of an existing retirement fund, most of these funds had to be directed to keep the retirement Dale Quinney is executive director of the Alabama plan afloat. In addition, the county had Rural Health Association, the usual rivalry between communities 1414 Elba Highway, Troy, that exists in most rural counties. 36081. A one-percent sales tax was proposed

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to raise county funds for hospital construction. Would the residents of Randolph County look at the future and pass this tax in August 2016 to build a new hospital to provide local health care, care for those traveling through or visiting the county, and to compete for future economic development? Would they be disturbed by the fact that the first health care tax was not being used for its designated purpose and refuse to support a second tax? After an actively debated campaign, 86 percent of the voters in Randolph County did approve this second health care tax to build a new hospital. At a time when voters want no part of new taxes, this sent a loud message. When people see that a new tax is in their own, their children’s, and their grandchildren’s best interests, they will accept new taxes. A large part of the debate centered on assurances that the new taxes would be used wisely. There appears to be a strong relationship between willingness to pay taxes and feeling that tax dollars are not being wasted. In November 2016, the voters of Randolph County responded again by approving a half-percent sales tax to build a new jail. The jail was seriously undersized and outdated. This preemptive action probably avoided unnecessary expenses, such as legal fees, that would have followed taking no action.

| Alabama Snapshots |

Going to the chapel Interior and exterior of Little Richter Chapel in Cullman. SUBMITTED BY Sheila Edwards, Cullman.

Our granddaughter, Ashtyne Cole, married Cameron Traylor in June 2016. SUBMITTED BY Suzy Shepherd, Georgiana.

Stained glass windows at a little stone chapel in Callaway Gardens. SUBMITTED BY Tina Boles, Andalusia.

Our favorite picture from our Wedding on April 28, 2012. SUBMITTED BY Deborah and Eddie Lang, Lacey’s Spring.

My sister, Donna, married the love of her life, Johnny Parrish, on Nov. 25, 1994 at The Little Wedding Chapel in Crews, AL. SUBMITTED BY Debby Boyd, Addison.

Kyle Campbell, Anna Campbell dressed up for a cousin’s wedding. SUBMITTED BY Anthony Campbell, Guntersville.

Submit Your Images! May Theme: “My Dad” Deadline for June: April 30

SUBMIT PHOTOS ONLINE: or send color photos with a self-addressed stamped envelope to: Photos, Alabama Living, P.O. Box 244014 Montgomery, AL 36124

RULES: Alabama Living will pay $10 for photos that best match our theme of the month. Photos may also be published on our website at and on our Facebook page. Alabama Living is not responsible for lost or damaged photos.

Alabama Living

APRIL 2017 11

Aerial BnB:

Becoming a purple m By Katie Jackson


ome-stay networks such as Airbnb may seem like a new trend to us humans, but the idea of finding short-term, seasonal housing among a network of welcoming folks is old hat for purple martins, those boisterous aerial entertainers that have lodged with humankind for centuries. Members of the swallow family, purple martins winter in South America (particularly in Brazil) but come to North America for summers to breed and raise their young. Beloved for their airborne antics and their bubbling, chattering conversation, these cavity-nesting birds enjoy — maybe even crave — human companionship, a tendency first noticed by early native Americans who strung hollowed-out gourds around their camps to draw in these gregarious birds. That practice was adopted by European settlers and continues today among a group of people known as purple martin landlords. Landlords provide rent-free housing that, it turns out, is more than hospitality; it’s vital to the purple martins’ long-term survival. Accord-

ing to experts, purple martins that summer in the eastern U.S. rely almost entirely on human-made nests. In return, the landlords get to enjoy hours of entertainment as the birds swoop and chatter around them. That kind of entertainment is so addictive that most landlords await the annual late-winter to early spring arrival of their beloved birds with great anticipation. Take Ronald Brantley, for example. “When they first come here in February or March and I walk out of the house and all the sudden they start fussing saying ‘Hey fella, I’m back again’ — that’s a big thrill,” said Brantley, a highly successful Elmore County purple martin landlord. Brantley discovered the joys of purple martins four decades ago when he moved to his farm on County Road 44 between Tallassee and Eclectic. The farm’s previous owner had erected eight purple martin gourds there and Brantley so enjoyed his annual visitors (the birds often return to the same site year after year) that he began expanding the neighborhood, which today includes 120 gourds, which fill

Beloved for their airborne a chattering conversation, t enjoy — maybe even crave — 12  APRIL 2017

e martin landlord

Purple martins facts

up every year and fill Brantley’s days with delight. “I don’t know if I could live without them,” he said. Though Brantley has had great success as a landlord, not all who try to attract purple martins can say the same. In fact, many people have followed every recommendation for purple martin stewardship to the letter and failed to attract a single bird. “I think people try to get too scientific with them,” says Brantley, who believes that, rather than trying to follow rules, folks should just give the birds what they want and need: a nice safe place to live, access to water, room to fly and companionship.

Safe homes and open spaces

Housing options can range from swanky purple martin “apartments” or “motels” to modest, time-honored gourds, sometimes painted white to deflect heat. To ensure the birds feel safe and secure, those houses should be mounted on a pole, crossbar or cable elevated several feet off the ground. According to Brantley, and contrary to what many people believe, the houses don’t have to be pointed in a certain direction or hung at a set height: as one landlord put it, the trick is to make them high enough so the birds feel safe but low enough so we humans can enjoy them. Purple martins do require two specific things, however: a broad expanse of open space (hayfields, lawns and meadows, for example, where they can feed on the wing and dive and soar to their heart’s content) and a permanent source of water such as a pond, lake, creek, river or marshy area.


e antics and their bubbling, n, these cavity-nesting birds e — human companionship Alabama Living

• Purple martins (Progne subis) belong to the swallow family and, like their fellow swallows, are swift, bold flyers who feed on the wing, darting and swooping after insects in delightful and dazzling aerial displays. They’ve been clocked at 40 miles per hour in flight. • Their name comes from the lustrous blue-purple to black feathering that adult males display, which can look black when they are in flight. Female and juvenile male purple martins tend to have duller brown-toned feathers with traces of blue. • The tail of purple martins is forked and their wings are long and tapered. • Purple martins, which winter in South America and fly north in the spring to nest and raise their young, are cavity nesters and the birds that migrate to the U.S. East Coast are almost entirely dependent on human-provided nesting sites. • Purple martins often return to the same breeding spot each year and may even nest in the same gourd or room of a purple martin apartment house each year. • The greatest threats to purple martins are European starlings and the house sparrows, which can aggressively attack or kill purple martins as they compete for nesting sites. Snakes, raccoons, hawks, owls, squirrels and feral cats are also a threat to purple martins. APRIL 2017 13

Oh, and there is one other vital need to both attract and keep purple martins — human company, or at least activity. According to Brantley, purple martins truly want to be around people and will abandon nesting sites if humans move away. Brantley’s farm certainly provides those three specific needs — lots of open space, a nearby fishpond and plenty of activity as Brantley goes about his daily work and admires his fine feathered boarders. Brantley also provides his tenants with simple but well-kept housing, in his case natural, unpainted gourds strung on a cable.

Waiting to greet, then saying goodbye

It may not be scientific, but it works. “I have not had a single martin come by me and complain,” he says. “They just go in there, and I generally have a full line of martins every year.” For Brantley, the hardest part of being a purple martin landlord may be in the waiting for his purple martins to arrive and the hating to see them go. “I’ve had them come in as early as Valentine’s Day and as late as the 23rd or 24th of March,” he says, noting that in recent years they have been leaving earlier and earlier. “When I first started, they never left before September but lately I’ve had them leave by the end of July.” While the purple martins are in residence, though, Brantley thoroughly enjoys them. “I love to watch them and see all their different colors,” he says. “And they just fuss, oh my goodness they fuss. And when they start raising those little babies and bring food to them, it’s just out of this world. You should see it for yourself.” In fact, Brantley is always happy to let people see it for themselves. Just give him a call at 334-301-0125. Of course those who can’t make it to Brantley’s farm can still learn about these birds and purple martin landlording through the Purple Martin Conservation Association (, Wild Birds Forever ( or the Alabama Cooperative Extension System publication Attracting Purple Martins (

How to make and hang purple martin gourds

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• Using dried gourds that are about 8 inches in diameter and 6 inches tall, cut a 2- to 4-inch hole in a location 1 to 2 inches above the gourd’s base. (Purple martin landlord Ronald Brantley uses a doorknob saw for this). • Remove all seeds and dried pith from the gourds and clean off any black mold that may have grown on the gourd. • Drill ¼-inch holes in the base of the gourds for drainage. • Paint or varnish the gourds if you want to, though Brantley says the birds don’t seem to care and his unpainted gourds last about three years before they need replacing. • Hang gourds from a cable or on poles at a height of 8 to 15 feet above the ground. • Locate the gourds in a fairly open area near a grassy space (lawn or meadow). The birds also need access to a nearby and permanent supply of water (stream, pond, river or wetland). • Take the gourds down the fall after the martins have left for the year, clean out any old nesting material and store the gourds in a dry space for use the following year.

Alabama Living

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Turn the page By Emmett Burnett

Alabama authors share tips from a lifetime of writing

Alabama writers inspire us with page turning tomes, fiction and fact, essays and novels. Their prose radiates across the state, America, and for many, the world. Here are eight authors, columnists, journalists, and more - men and women of Alabama who have some words of wisdom for other aspiring writers.

Winston Groom

In the 1980s, Winston Groom visited his father in Point Clear, Ala., for lunch and reminiscing. “Dad recalled a young retarded man he knew, born about 1960,” Groom recalls. “Kids chased and ridiculed the boy. But the loving mom taught her son to play beautiful piano music.” Groom thought, “Maybe I can use dad’s description in a book.” He called it, Forrest Gump. “It just flowed, almost like it wrote itself,” the Mobile-born author remembered. “I have never had that happen before and don’t think I will again.” The 1986 novel was made into an Academy Award-winning movie in 1994. It started with a leap of faith. After a successful journalism career with the Washington Star, Groom resigned and moved to New York to write books. “It was a bold move, because I burned bridges,” he says. “If it didn’t work out, I knew I’d be too embarrassed to return.” His latest book is the historical epic, El Paso, published in 2016. Now back in South Alabama, Groom says to aspiring writers, “Take that leap of faith. Tell yourself, I can do this. I will do this. I must do this. And just do it.”

Jeanie Thompson

Decatur-raised Jeanie Thompson is a poet, author, teacher, director of the Alabama Writers Forum, and founding executive director of the Black Warrior Review literary journal. She is also, as she puts it, “a survival writer.” “I find the time and way to write,” she says. “If I could spend two hours a day writing, I would. But my work life doesn’t make it possible. Generally, I write in concentrated amounts of time.” During those “concentrated amounts of time,” Thompson has produced many works, including her latest, The Myth of Water, a collection of poetry through the voice of Helen Keller. It has been choreographed by Adria Feralli (Florence, Italy) and performed at Troy University. Her writing tips? “Read – and don’t read works of people your own age or no better than you,” she adds. “Study the great writers. Take classes. Don’t work in a vacuum. If you want to be a great guitarist, listen to great guitar players, not someone no better than you. The same goes for writing.”

Events for literary lovers Want to meet writers, hear some stories and support Alabama’s literary scene? Make plans to attend the Alabama Book Festival, which is coming up on April 22 in Old Alabama Town in Montgomery. Among the authors scheduled to appear are Winston Groom and Frye Gaillard (see story). Thousands of literary fans from around the state and the Southeast gather at the festival each year to meet authors and scholars, attend workshops and discover vendors and exhibitors. 16 APRIL 2017

For more information, visit, or call 888-240-1850. Also coming up is the Alabama Writers Symposium in Monroeville, April 20-21. The annual symposium is a gathering of Alabama writers and scholars for readings and performances. This year’s highlights include keynote speaker Yaa Gyasi, author of Homegoing, and recognition of Brad Watson, winner of the Harper Lee Award, and Michael Knight, winner of the Truman Capote Award. For more information, visit or call 251-575-8271.

Frye Gaillard

Mobile’s Frye Gaillard came of age in the civil rights era. In the mid 1960s he attended Vanderbilt University, with the first class of African-American undergraduates. He wrote about race relations, civil rights, and Southern issues. In the 1970s he became the Southern Editor for The Charlotte Observer. “I discovered I loved the journalistic process and asking people to share their lives with me,” he said. One of the most famous was dead. Gaillard covered Elvis Presley’s funeral, standing at the King of Rock and Roll’s open casket. “I talked my way to Graceland’s front of the line and took notes as people passed the coffin,” he recalls. “There were 80,000 in line.” A writer in residence at the University of South Alabama, Gaillard today has a stream of award winning titles, including Go South to Freedom. He advises others interested in the business, “Pick writers you like, whose words and ideas move you. Find what they do that works. And as they say in the commercials, ‘Just do it.’”

Rick Bragg

A former New York Times journalist from Piedmont, Ala., Rick Bragg has shared stories and taught his craft at Harvard University, the Poynter Institute for Media Studies, Boston University, the University of South Florida, and currently, the University of Alabama. But the author of best-selling memoirs, including All Over But the Shoutin’, says he learned from the best – childhood memories of the Appalachian foothills. Bragg credits growing up in Alabama with his success. “I learned to listen to tales of the old people, pulp wood workers, Coosa River fishermen, chainsaw operators, cotton mill workers, and sweat shop laborers,” he says. “I have covered and written about Asia, the Middle East and all over the U.S., but the people of home who slung wrenches and picked cotton were among the best stories.” The colorful imagery of Alabama mountain people inspired Bragg, but he tells other writers to develop their own voice. “Follow your footsteps,” he says, “and read. Reading helps you develop an ear for what sounds good. For me, it was writing about Alabama’s working people. I wanted to tell their stories. Find what works for you and do it.”

Homer Hickam

“One day you might make your living as a writer,” Homer Hickam’s third-grade teacher told her student. And Homer thought, “Why wait? I need the money now.” With a borrowed church mimeograph machine, the youngster printed a newspaper. Over the years, his career path changed. The writing passion did not. In the late 1960s, after earning an engineering degree and Vietnam military service, the Coalwood, W.Va.-raised young man moved to Huntsville, working as a NASA engineer. “But something was missing in my life,” he recalls. Writing. An avid diver, Hickam started freelance writing for SCUBA magazines and about sea adventures. Nautical and diving topics inspired his first book, about a German U-Boat in American waters, Torpedo Junction. He is a writer of memoirs (Rocket Boys was adapted into the movie, “October Sky” in 1999), historical fiction, and 18 books, including his recent, Carrying Albert Home. Asked who is his favorite author is, Hickam replies, “I am! I love to read what I write but the hard part is, I have to write before I can read it.” His tells followers, “Write. Even when you don’t feel like it, write. You have got to do it. Put it on paper. Most new writers give up. I count on that.” Alabama Living

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Hardy Jackson Hardy Jackson has authored or co-authored 15 Southern history books, including 2012’s The Rise and Decline of the Redneck Riviera: An Insider’s History of the Florida-Alabama Coast. He is an award-winning columnist for the Anniston Star and Alabama Living magazine with a statewide following, and professor emeritus of history at Jacksonville State University. “I was blessed to have parents big on books,” he says. “And teachers made us write in school. I enjoyed doing it, especially sending notes to girls.” Jackson is often asked how he finds ideas to crank out a column every week. “Things just strike me,” he says. “I write about topics that strike my fancy and I guess I’ve got a pretty good fancy.” And for writing books, he adds, “I see history as a narrative, not names, dates, people, and time. You learn to know who you write about. You see their handwriting, read their letters, and are exposed to their likes and hates.” He advises others: “Write, read and revise and learn the value of criticism. Writers cannot be thin-skinned. But so many are.”

Ace Atkins Award winner and Troy, Ala., native Ace Atkins is considered one of the best crime writers working today. It comes with experience, in part, gleaned from years as a Tampa Tribune journalist and crime beat reporter. And it comes from talent. “You don’t get the pulse of a community until you write about the bad stuff that happens,” says Atkins, now living in Oxford, Miss. “Covering crime stories, I’ve been in a lot of police stations and eaten a lot of donuts.” He believes regardless the characters – bad guys, hunters, ministers, or whoever – good research is vital. Atkins notes, “The only way to get it right is to hang out with the folks that do it.” The author of 19 novels, including The Innocents, concedes, “Writing can be tough. There’s a difference between people wanting to write stories and people wanting to be professional writers. The latter doesn’t wait for opportunity to knock. You can’t wait for the muse to come through. Some days are exhilarating, others, frustrating. But push through. It separates pros from the amateurs.”

Sena Jeter Naslund

Sena Jeter Naslund recalls a life-changing experience, growing up in Birmingham. “I was age 10 in an un-air conditioned house, on a 95-degree steaming summer’s day,” she says. “I was reading a Laura Ingalls Wilder book about winter, and shaking cold, but why?” And the future New York Times best seller realized, “It was these words!” One day she wanted to have word power too. Seven books, short stories, and other collections later, she does. The author of Ahab’s Wife and Four Spirits starts her day reading and revising. “It revitalizes me,” she says. “I return to the time and place I’m writing about.” Her stimulus comes from research, talent, and dark chocolate. “I keep a huge supply,” she laughs. “If I need inspiration, a few bites of dark chocolate helps.” But forget the glamorous writer’s life myth. She explains, “Sometimes words flow easily. Much of the time, it is difficult. Believe in yourself, be open to criticism, and find a day job.” 18 APRIL 2017

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p , s l e t a e k s c e i ! T Readers share stories behind some of their ticket keepsakes

Whether you’re a fan of a music group or singer, a particular sport or team or just a collector of mementoes, the ticket stubs you’ve saved chronicle decades’ worth of memories. The little strips of printed, fading card stock may not be noteworthy from a historical perspective, but they are little personal reminders of fun times gone by. Some of the purists among us lament the print-at-home tickets available today with online purchases; those tickets, spit out from a bubble jet printer on cheap paper, seem impersonal and downright bland. Most of us would rather see the bright colors and creative artwork that grace the tickets of yesteryear. Even worse: the tickets that are sent electronically, so all the bearer has to do is wave his smartphone at the ticket attendant holding a scanner. It may be more convenient, but how can you not want a tangible souvenir? We asked our readers to share some of their favorite ticket stubs and the stories behind them. Even if you’ve never saved a single stub – or if you have saved them all and they’re stuffed away in a shoebox in the closet – you’ll likely identify with the personal recollections we’ve assembled here. – Allison Griffin Melissa Hand: At 40, I probably should have thrown these ticket stubs away by now, but every time I look at them, I remember so many fun and happy times. These pieces of paper contain memories of my past with friends and family, with musicians, comedians, actors/actresses, sporting events, and even times I’ve traveled around the world. I’ve held on to a ticket from 1993, when my husband and I were just friends – who knew we would one day be married! I have a special autographed ticket from a Penn and Teller perfor- mance, when magician Penn Jillette looked at me and said I had “pretty hair.” The most special is an airline ticket from when I took my first plane trip, 17 hours to Japan, to meet my family for the first time. And the list goes on. Judi Dykema: In the maddening crowd of Elvis fans pushing and shoving their way in to see “the King,” the ticket taker at the turnstile missed mine. I have treasured this keepsake for 40 years. The concert in Montgomery was exactly six months before Elvis’ death. That was my third time to see Elvis perform, and no words can describe being there, seeing him in person. 20 APRIL 2017

Dave Hitchcock: Our family took a vacation to central Florida to visit Disney World, the Kennedy Space Center and the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus in their winter home. We drove down in April/May 1990 and spent a couple of weeks on the road. My wife and I have three kids, and at the time they were aged 5 to 10. It was a wonderful vacation, though the kids don’t remember it as well as I do. I am and always will be a big kid, and when we started home I think I was sadder than the kids were. Danny Price: I won tickets to the iHeart Country Music Festival in Austin, Texas, in 2014 through a radio contest. I took my son, Tyler, with me. (It was the first airplane trip for both.) We got to fly in a helicopter with country music singer Hunter Hayes. We had front row seats at the concert. Hunter Hayes and his manager, along with the helicopter pilot, were all super nice. Flying over the city of Austin was breathtaking. I would say it was the trip of a lifetime.

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James Reed: Over a period of some 24 years (1980-2004), my son David and I attended a major league baseball game in all 30 major league stadiums. The wonderful adventures came as a result of birthdays, Father’s Day celebrations, church trips, vacation travel, a summer master’s degree from Princeton Theological Seminary and other special trips. Five years ago, my wife Jane ordered the map in the picture, chose a few pictures from the trips, made a border with the tickets of each game and framed what you see in the picture. She presented both David and me a 46-inch by 34-inch framed gift. His tickets, like mine, form the border of the “Touring The Majors” map. Today David’s picture hangs in his office in Tuscumbia. My picture is a proud part of my library at home in Dothan. Ronald Morgan: Miami hosted Super Bowl III on Jan. 12, 1969, while I was serving in the U.S. Navy on the only Navy ship home ported in Port Everglades, Fla. As University of Alabama graduates, both my wife, Sheila, and I were excited that we would be able to see Joe Namath play if I could arrange to take leave. I was able to convince my commanding officer that I could take some much needed leave and catch back up with the ship when it docked for a oneday port call in Key West. Adding to the thrill: Some good friends said they would love to come down for the game if we could get tickets. My leave request was approved, and as incredible as it seems today, my wife purchased four tickets at the corner drugstore in Fort Lauderdale for $6 each! But the best was yet to come. Not only did we have a great time with our friends, but we were treated to one of, if not the most, memorable Super Bowls ever played. The underdog New York Jets seemed to make matters worse for themselves when t h e brash Namath “guaranteed” a win. But he defied the experts and led his team to an improbable victory over the Baltimore Colts, 16-7. 22 APRIL 2017

Marcia Below: I have seen a lot of talented musicians over the decades. I have saved my ticket stubs since the very first concert I attended – Steppenwolf in 1970. The ticket was a Christmas gift from my oldest brother, which set him back $4. I was hooked after that. I went to concerts like people go to movies. I grew up in Birmingham, where there are several concert venues, and of course nearby cities like Atlanta offered some wonderful concerts, like Paul McCartney ($8.50 a ticket) and George Harrison with Ringo Starr ($9.50 a ticket). My love of music has only grown over the years, and I support the local musicians who play in Orange Beach and Gulf Shores, where I currently live. I still attend as many concerts as possible. And I still save my ticket stubs. Editor’s note: Marcia listed more than 40 shows, so what follows is just a sample of her concerts: The Rolling Stones, 1972; Bruce Springsteen, sometime in the early 1970s (free tickets were given away on the radio since no one bought them, she remembers); The Eagles, 1973 and 1995; Hank Williams Jr., 1982 (he gave her a complimentary ticket); John Prine and the Cowboy Junkies, 1992; Van Morrison and B.B. King, 2001; and 30 tickets to Jimmy Buffett, the earliest one dated 1978, and four times in 1998 and 1999. Jennifer Zornes: This 2010 ticket was used by my son, Levi, to attend the first Enterprise High School football game in the new Wildcat Stadium. (The former stadium was destroyed in the tornado of March 1, 2007; Wildcat Stadium opened in 2010.) The only info I have is written on the back of the ticket, that he went with family friends. William Dent: This is a stub from the dedication game of Sanford Stadium in Athens, Ga. My grandmother attended that game as a freshman in 1929 when Yale played Georgia. She gave the ticket stub to me for my birthday in 1988. I’m a die-hard UGA fan but never attended; I inherited it the old-fashioned way. This ticket is the corner piece of my collection of UGA materials. James Marbut: This is a ticket from Coach Paul “Bear” Bryant’s 315th win. I was ushering at the game when an Auburn friend gave me the ticket because he knew I collected memorabilia like this. I was working in Bessemer at the time. A friend from church got me into ushering at Legion Field. We were not paid, but got into the games. We did get to see some great, great games. I also have the program from this game, and from Bryant’s last post-season game in the Liberty Bowl in 1982. And I’m an Auburn fan; I graduated from Auburn in 1972.

Greg Gentry: I have been blessed to have attended more than 500 Alabama football games, and I have stubs from each game I attended. I have collected numerous Bama artifacts over the years, but probably my favorite item is a ticket stub from an Alabama game against the University of Pennsylvania (not Penn State) played at Franklin Field in Philadelphia on Nov. 4, 1922. Penn was a powerful eastern team from the Ivy League coached by John Heisman during this time, and they had beaten a strong Navy outfit the week before. The Alabama coach was Xen Scott, who in four years carried Alabama to a record of 29-9-3. But during the 1922 season he was diagnosed with oral cancer and was advised not to make the trip to Philly (he resigned due to health reasons at the year end.) Though a heavy underdog, Alabama prevailed that afternoon, 9-7. This game is often heralded as one of the first major wins of national prominence for the Crimson Tide. Erin Gilbert: Last summer I went to an estate sale in Fairhope. I was getting married in November, so I was looking for decorations (specifically old books). I found some pretty neat books at the sale, but the true gem was a Cotton Bowl program from 1954, stuffed between two old books on a shelf. My fiancé is a huge Alabama fan, so I figured I would buy it for him! (And it was only $1.) While he flipped through the program, two ticket stubs from the Cotton Bowl fell out. He was so surprised and so was I! Excited about the neat discovery, we told his family. His grandfather told us how memorable that game was not only to him, but to millions of Americans. (Editor’s note: The game featured a play that became known as the “12th man tackle.” Alabama fullback Tommy Lewis left the sideline and tackled All-American halfback Dicky Moegle of Rice near midfield. Moegle was on his way to a 95-yard touchdown when Lewis brought him down. Moegle was credited with a touchdown. Rice went on to win, 28-6.) My husband’s grandfather also mentioned that it was the very first football game he ever watched on television. After learning how historical the game was, we had the ticket stubs and program framed. It was the best dollar I have ever spent! Cary Hatcher: We are quite proud of our Auburn-Alabama tickets from 1989. It was the first year the game wasn’t played in Birmingham and played in Auburn! Everyone said it wouldn’t work and traffic would be horrible, but the world didn’t end and traffic moved along – and Auburn won the game! I couldn’t talk for three days afterward. It is my No. 1 favorite game of all time, including the national championship game in 2011. We had the tickets framed with a photo from the scoreboard that my husband took after the game. Alabama Living

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A spring spectacular:

Second of a three-part series

Wildflower viewing in south Alabama Story and photos by Alfred Schotz


o the wildflower enthusiast, some of the most cherished hapless insect lies await at the bottom, perishing in a water-like memories will be those of springtime travels across south digestive liquid that gradually extracts nutrients from the inAlabama. The season comes early, with the earliest flowers sect’s corpse. making their debut by mid-January, often appearing alongside Smaller, but equally impressive are the butterworts, whose lingering blossoms of the previous autumn. leaves secrete a gooey buttery glaze on the upper surface that Those willing to endure occasional frosty temperatures and enables the plants to ensnare midges, gnats, and a host of other take to the trails early will be rewarded with an endless sequel of insects. Sundews are often small, rather unassuming plants, and to the color, experiencing some of the finest wildflower displays to be untrained eye, can be easily overlooked. Like butterworts, the found in the Southeast. leaves have glands that produce a sticky liquid, appearing as drops The landscape of south Alabama is one of subtle beauof dew, entangling insects and secreting enzymes to digest them. ty marked by myriad dark-water streams and cypress-lined Lastly, the bladderworts have the sloughs laced among rolling hills of smallest traps of the state’s insect-eatopen pine. Widely scattered but well ing plants, and because they lie hidhidden from the casual observer are den beneath the surface of the water the region’s most exceptional environor embedded in the ground, are selments, a mosaic of seepage wetlands dom noticed. The bladder-like traps, and bogs that shelter some of the resembling that of a tiny broad bean, world’s most intriguing and bizarre are perhaps the most sophisticated of forms of plant life. the “plant eat insect world” where waThe coastal plain of Alabama and ter fleas, mosquito larvae, and other neighboring states has the noble disminute insects are faced with a pretinction of harboring the greatest carious existence upon triggering a diversity and largest concentration series of small sensitive hairs, suddenof carnivorous plants found on the ly forcing them through a trap door planet. Carnivorous plants in all their with no hope to escape. forms and color have the ability to Through the forces of nature and lure, entrap, and digest insects and a long-standing commitment to conother small animals as a source of servation, south Alabama is blessed nourishment, supplementing their diwith a remarkable array of botanical ets with essential nutrients to promote treasures awaiting discovery in many growth and reproduction. of the region’s parks and preserves. In fact, these plants are highly deFrom the examples provided here, the pendent on a diet of flies, butterflies, Spoonflower (Peltandra sagittifolia), found at Splinter Hill Bog Preserve in Baldwin County. budding novice to the seasoned obmosquitos, and other insects to mainserver will be witness to some of the most spectacular wildflowtain a good standard of living, for the soils in which they grow er viewing the South has to offer. are nutrient poor, benefiting from the dietary supplements proWhen visiting the sites featured in this article, it is important vided by consuming small animals. to avoid stepping off the trail to prevent damaging the plant life and refrain from picking flowers for others to observe and enjoy. Four types are known to Alabama, each with its own Spring comes with unexpected and drastic changes in the specialized apparatus for capturing insects: weather, and so be certain to dress accordingly and watchful of Pitcher-plants with their pitcher-shaped leaves are the most the skies. And to capture those special moments for a lifetime of striking of the group, in which insects are bribed to a perilous memories, a camera will be invaluable. footing along the rim of the pitcher trap by copious amounts of nectar. To unwary insects, this zone is especially treacherous, for Alfred Schotz is a botanist with the Auburn University Museum the surface is covered with slick waxy deposits causing them to of Natural History. loose balance and tumble into the pitcher depths. The fate of the

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Kurt G. Wintermeyer Nature Trail – Weeks Bay Reserve

How to get there: Trail is accessed from a parking area on the east side County Road 17 by driving north one quarter mile from US Highway 98, just east of the Fish River and roughly 8 miles west of State Route 59 in Foley. Trail condition: Trail is a well maintained boardwalk and easy to follow. Best time to visit: April – May. Recognized as one of the finest sites in Alabama and along the Gulf Coast to observe carnivorous plants, wild orchids, and striking displays of other wildflowers throughout the year. Spring is particularly attractive as pitcher-plants (carnivorous plants) and early-season orchids are at peak flowering.

Haines Island Nature Trail Complex

How to get there: Haines Island Park is on the east side of the Alabama River, roughly 17 miles northwest of Monroeville. The park can be reached by driving 2.8 miles on County Road 17 from State Route 41 in Franklin, then turning right on County Road 49 (unpaved) and continuing roughly 1.5 miles to the parking area. Three trails offer easy wildflower viewing, with the Bigleaf Magnolia and Upper Ironwood trails providing the best displays. Trail condition: Trails are maintained and easy to follow. Trail difficulty is easy, with some light uphill walking along the Upper Ironwood Trail. Best time to visit: Mid-March – late April. Showy displays of phlox, anemones, rain lilies, and other wildflowers can be observed from late March to early April along the Bigleaf Magnolia Trail. The Upper Ironwood Trail has striking pageants of azaleas, dogwoods, mountain laurel, and various magnolias, often reaching their greatest splendor during the last three weeks of April.

Chattahoochee State Park Trail Complex

How to get there: Chattahoochee State Park is located off State Route 95, roughly 25 miles southeast of Dothan. Trail condition: Trails are well maintained and easy to follow. Trails are level and occasionally become muddy following heavy rainfall. Best time to visit: Late March – late April. The park is noted for dogwood, azaleas, and fringetree, with some of the nicest displays found along the Horseshoe, Dogwood, and K.O. Smith Trails.

George W. Folkerts Bog Trail – Ruth McClellan Abronski Splinter Hill Bog Preserve

How to get there: The preserve is roughly 40 miles north of Mobile, easily accessed off Interstate 65. From Exit 45 on Interstate 65 (Exit for Perdido & Rabun) travel west on County Road 47 approximately 2 miles to the trailhead parking area located on the left (south) side of the road. Trail condition: Trail is well maintained and easy to follow. Portions can become wet and muddy after heavy rainfall. Best time to visit: April – May. Spectacular displays of carnivorous plants (pitcher-plants, butterworts, sundews), and a showcase of other wildflowers make their annual debut.

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South Alabama wildflower trails 

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28  APRIL 2017

April | Around Alabama an adult. Proceeds benefit scholarships for local high school graduates. Guntersville Recreation Center, 1500 Sunset Drive.

Photo courtesy of Maxwell Air Force Base.


The U.S. Air Force Thunderbird demonstration team will perform at the Maxwell Air Force Base Air Show and Open House on April 8-9 in Montgomery.


Enterprise, Mitchell Automotive Chick-Fil-A 5K. 5k and 1-mile fun run to fund scholarships for the annual WinShape Camp. $25 for 5K, $15 for 1-mile. Register at


Gulf Shores, Spring Garrison Living History Day at Fort Morgan. 9 a.m.3 p.m. Historical interpreters will demonstrate drills, infantry and artillery from the Civil War. For admission costs and more information, visit

Moulton, Jackson House Spring Celebration. Join us for brunch and dinner to help support one of Lawrence County’s historic homes. Breakfast features coffee, bacon, sausage, eggs, biscuits and gravy and more. Dinner features Gulf seafood and a host of desserts. Live entertainment and bingo. Proceeds benefit the Jackson House for continued revitalization and maintenance. 119 College Street.


LaFayette, 20th Annual LaFayette Day for Valley Haven School. 8 a.m.-3 p.m. Arts and crafts, antique cars, children’s games and rides, live entertainment. Free. For more information, contact Craig Brown, 334-756-2868 or Lynn Oliver, 334-219-1890.





Millbrook, 13th Annual Flora and Fauna Arts Festival-Experience Nature through Art. Features plant presentations, guest speakers, vendors, annual Lanark Plant Sale, compost demonstration and children’s activities. $5 per person, $20 maximum per family. Admission includes visiting the NaturePlex Discovery Hall, theater and arts event. 9 a.m.-5 p.m. 3050 Lanark Road.


Montgomery, 3rd Annual Ride for the Squad. Motorcycle ride fundraiser to benefit the Dylan Bieber, Hoyt Hardin and Austin Augustine Scholarship Fund. Join us for a leisurely ride around Lake Martin followed by lunch at Aw Shucks Oyster Bar and Grill, 4100 Wetumpka Highway. Registration begins at 9:30 a.m. $25 for riders, $10 for passengers.

Anniston, Alabama Cycling Classic. Top teams from around the United States will participate in two different races. Open to professional, junior and amateur riders. For more information on the race and routes, visit Loxley, 30th Annual Baldwin County Strawberry Festival, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Loxley Municipal Park. More than 180 arts and craft exhibitors, food vendors, carnival, children’s games, an antique auto show, exhibits and live music.


Montgomery, Celebrate the Air Force’s 70th Anniversary at the Maxwell Air Force Base Air Show and Open House. The U.S. Air Force Thunderbird demonstration team will perform both days and there will be a variety of static displays and air and ground demonstrations. The base is open to the public from 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m. both days. Free.

21-May 27

Monroeville, “To Kill a Mockingbird” at the Monroe County Heritage Museum, 31 N. Alabama Ave. The Mockingbird Company presents “To Kill a Mockingbird.” The play features two acts at the old courthouse. For show times and ticket information, visit


LaFayette, Piedmont District’s Log a Load for Children’s Hospital skeet shoot, turkey shoot, auction and family fun at The Oaks. 334-234-1118,


Trinity, Crusin’ for a Cure Car Show. 9 a.m. - 1 p.m., Joe Wheeler EMC, 25700 Alabama Highway 24. $25 per vehicle, $10 for additional vehicles. Food, drinks and door prizes. No judging. $500 grand prize. Fund raiser for the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life. For preregistration, contact Dewanna Jones, 256-552-2376.


Cullman, 33rd Annual Bloomin’ Festival Arts and Crafts Fair features 150 arts and crafts booths on the grounds of St. Bernard Abbey and Prep School, 1600 St. Bernard Drive SE. Live demonstrations, music and food. Rain or shine.


Guntersville, 56th Annual Fine Arts and Crafts event along Lake Guntersville. More than 130 exhibitors featuring arts, crafts, food, outdoor games and baked goods. $2. Children 12 and under free with

To place an event, e-mail or visit You can also mail to Events Calendar, P.O. Box 244014, Montgomery, AL 36124; Each submission must include a contact name and phone number. Deadline is two months prior to issue date. We regret that we cannot publish every event due to space limitations.

Alabama Living

Camden, Wilcox Historical Society’s Tour of Homes, “A Tour Around the River’s Bend.” Features homes in Canton Bend, Possum Bend, Sedan and Camden. Tour includes Dry Fork, Liberty Hall, White Columns, Yaupon and the BeckBryant-Talbot home and more. Quilts created by local artists will be available to view at the Wilcox Female Institute. Tickets are $20 for adults, $10 youth and children 6 and under free, and are available at the Black Belt Treasures Cultural Arts Center and Wilcox Area Chamber of Commerce.


Fairhope, Baldwin County Child Advocacy Center presents “Under the Stars” at Old Hollow Farm. Dinner, music, dancing, drinks, silent and live auctions. $50 per ticket.


Fairhope, Race the Town Scavenger Hunt, 9 a.m.-12 p.m. at Fairhope Pier. Individuals or teams will start at the pier and find QR codes scattered around downtown. Scan the QR code to get an assigned fitness challenge to proceed to the next clue. $25 per person. Proceeds benefit the Fairhope Education Enrichment Foundation and Baldwin County Foster and Adoptive Parents Association.


Prattville, 27th Annual Native American Artifact Show, Doster Community Center, 424 S. Northington St. Thousands of authentic arrowheads, axes, pottery, jewelry and more. Bring collections for appraisal. 334-494-3160,


Guntersville, United Cherokee 19th Annual Festival and American Indian PowWow. Native American dancing and drumming, storytelling, archery and tomahawk demos, lessons and more. Located next to the EMA Building, 3550 Creek Path Road. Saturday 9 a.m. - 5 p.m., Sunday 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.


Decatur, Plant Sale Fundraiser by Morgan County Master Gardeners Association held at the Morgan County Fairgrounds. 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday, 1 p.m.-4 p.m. Sunday. Features unusual plants, houseplants, succulents, annuals, perennials, vegetables and more. Cash and check only. 256-350-4887

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APRIL 2017 29


So you want to be a licensed boat captain? By Ben Norman

Ever dream of cruising the mighty Mississippi like Mark Twain or guiding anglers to giant redfish along the Gulf Coast? It may still be possible to make your dream come true.


es Davis of Luverne loves the water. Lakes, rivers, bays or ocean, it doesn’t matter to him, just as long as he can be outdoors and preferably on a boat. “I’ve just always loved boating but until recently it has been a recreational pursuit. I kept day dreaming about how nice it must be to captain a boat, regardless of what type, and get paid,” says Davis. Davis says he thinks his love for the outdoors led him to his present vocation, operating Wes’s Lawn Service in Luverne. “We run a complete lawn care service covering Crenshaw County offering lawn mowing, edging, leaf and limb removal, whatever the customer wants. Since my work is somewhat seasonal it allows me time for boating in the off season.” Three years ago Davis was visiting his sister who owns a house on Lake Martin. “My sister introduced me to a neighbor of hers who operates a marine towing business. I expressed my interest in working on the water and he invited me to go on a few towing runs with him. I just loved it. My newfound friend told me he was going to be needing a few licensed boat captains and asked if I would be interested in going to school and taking the test to get my license. It was time to shut up or put up, so after investigating some of the different schools I started to Sea School in Bayou La Batre in October 2015.”

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Captain Wes Davis holds his boat captain’s license, right; below, his son, Will, gets a lesson in boat washing from his father.

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Captain Wes Davis at the helm of his father’s boat.

Davis said he attended class for approximately ten hours a day and studied several more hours after class. “We took the United States Coast Guard approved test on the eighth day. I wanted a school that would give me my money’s worth and I can truly say Sea School did exactly that. My primary instructor was a retired naval officer and he really knew his business. We covered all the basics that an aspiring boat captain would need to know including rules of the road, radio use, survival techniques, life jackets seamanship, navigation and much more. If you apply yourself in class and study at night, you should pass the test,” says Davis. Students who pass the USCG-approved test have one year after passing the test to get the required information to the Coast Guard. You have to confirm your experience or time on the water. Time on the water can be on your boat, or someone else’s boat. Recreational boating time will also count. The basic requirement for the beginning license, Operator of Uninspected Passenger Vessel or OUPV and often referred to as simply the 6-pack license, is be 18 years old, have a Social Security Card, and document 360 days on a vessel with 90 of those days being within the last 3 years. In addition to time on the water, 32  APRIL 2017

new applicants must pass a drug test, a Coast Guard physical and obtain a TWIC card from Homeland Security clearing the applicant to enter ports. Davis says that after passing the test and submitting the required documents he received his captain’s license. “With the license you have the option of getting several endorsements on your license. I have the Inland, Near Coastal and Towing Assistance endorsements on my license. This allows me to work on inland lakes and rivers, carry up to six people out in the Gulf on a vessel 100 tons or less and the Towing Assistance endorsement allows me to captain a towing vessel. Towing is probably the area I will pursue.” Davis says that when his son, Will, graduates from school in a few years he is thinking about moving to the Gulf Coast and pursuing a maritime career. “As I said, operating a tow boat appeals to me, but there are many other maritime employment options available. The oil industry is always needing captains for the offshore supply boats. Other employment opportunities are piloting ferries, working for yacht delivery services, parasail operators, water taxies, gambling cruise operators, sightseeing boats, inshore and offshore fishing boats, scuba dive boats, and tug

boats. Also, not everyone who gets their license plans to seek maritime employment. Many recreational boaters just want to learn more about boating and take the course and get their license.” Once he receives his OUPV (6-Pack) license, he may continue taking courses, pass the Master’s test and upgrade his license to the Master’s license. A Master license entitles him to captain larger boats and carry more people. Tug boats, large supply boats, cruise boats, and others are usually captained by someone with a Master license, while smaller fishing boats, para sail boats, etc. are usually captained by OUPV license holders. As they say, it’s never too late. Take the course, pass the test and you could be taking clients fishing in your own boat. And if you see a tow boat operating on Lake Martin give it a wave. There is a good chance Captain Wes Davis, a man who made his dream come true, will be at the helm. For more information on Sea School contact Nellie Fuller, (800) 247-3080. Ben Norman is a writer from Highland Home, Al.

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| Gardens |

Scarecrow charm

To be effective, use the element of surprise


ast April, on a trip to south Alabama, I happened upon a charming roadside sight — a freshly planted garden surrounded by colorful dancing dresses. Those dresses, located off Interstate 65’s Exit 45 near Rabun, were a beautiful and creative example of how we can use scarecrows and other human- or animal-like figures to frighten away crows, blackbirds and other critters that might plunder a garden. In my case, the whimsical scene drew me in instead of scaring me off, and it also got me thinking about all the ways we can creatively, and effectively, use scarecrows to protect our gardens from hungry foragers. Scarecrows have been used for centuries, dating back as far as the ancient Egyptians and beyond, to protect gardens from animal pests and they have become both artistic and cultural symbols of gardening across the globe. But do they work? Well, kind of. The mere presence of a scarecrow or any similar figure will likely keep birds, deer and other potentially damaging animals at bay for a while. But critters are savvy, and they quickly figure out that these stationary garden guardians pose little threat and may even make very fine perches or rubbing posts. For scarecrows and their kin (such as plastic owls and snakes) to remain effective over time, there must be an element of

Katie Jackson is a freelance writer and editor based in Opelika, Alabama. Contact her at katielamarjackson@

34 APRIL 2017

constant surprise, such as loose clothing, floppy arms and legs or shiny and fluttery accessories (tin plates, old CDs, ribbons or reflective tape, for example) that shift in the wind. Moving the figures around in the garden every few days can also help. Realizing the limitations of scarecrows, ingenious gardeners have developed other tactics to keep wildlife away. These include mechanized options such as noise guns, motion-activated sprinklers and even piping in sporadic bursts of loud music or the calls of owls and hawks. Physical barriers such as fencing, bird netting, floating row covers or threads of fishing line strung in a random web over a garden plot can also be effective. In addition, natural and manufactured repellents, from chemical sprays to balls of human hair, can be helpful. No matter how hard we try to keep animals out of our gardens, though, it’s likely that we won’t be able to keep them all at bay, so one option is to plant enough fruits and vegetables to share with wildlife. Or, especially in the case of deer eating landscape plants, providing them with a supply of other plants that are tastier than your beloved shrubs can help. Having a dog in the yard is also pretty darned effective against deer. Still, whether they help keep critters away or not, scarecrows are lots of fun to make, especially if you get children involved. They can also become works of art for your yard or to enter in a community scarecrow contest. A basic scarecrow can be made using items you’re likely to have on hand. Repurpose old panty hose (for the head, legs and arms) or a pillow case (for the head), a couple of boards or some sticks lashed

together for a stand and use old clothes, hats, scarves and the like to create a traditional scarecrow. Or clean out your closet and put up some dresses. An abundance of ideas for scarecrows can be found in books and magazines and, of course, online. I found one particularly helpful site at, which includes lists of ideas ranging from basic scarecrow designs to more elaborate options — how about a whole family of scarecrows, a movie-star scarecrow or even a scare-donkey? Check them out and, if you’re inspired to create your own scarecrow, send me pictures!

April Tips  

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Fertilize warm-season lawns and plant new lawns. Sow seeds for beans, corn, squash, melons and other summer vegetable crops. Transplant seedlings of tomatoes, peppers, eggplants and other vegetables into the garden once the threat of a hard freeze is past. Weed garden beds. Make sure your hoses and irrigation lines and other garden equipment are in good working order. Plant summer annual flowers and summer-blooming bulbs. Begin moving hardy houseplants outside. Be on the lookout for emerging weeds and insect and disease problems and treat as needed. Keep bird feeders and birdbaths full for spring migrators and nesters. Turn compost piles or start new ones.

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APRIL 2017 35

| Worth the drive | George’s Steak Pit

Shoals area makes more than great music

1206 Jackson Highway, Sheffield, AL 35660-5749 256-381-1531 Hours: 4:30-10 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday


By Jennifer Crossley Howard


ne of the earliest memories Frank Vafinis can recall is standing atop a milk crate in the kitchen of his parents’ restaurant, George’s Steak Pit in Sheffield. Named for his father, George’s opened in 1956, and is an institution in the Shoals. It is the kind of place you celebrate an engagement, wedding, or as is often the case, a successful day at the recording studio. Vafinis bussed tables here as a kid. “We’d get a 50-cent tip and think that was the world,” he says. He waited tables in high school, cooked, and since 1983, has been running the place. His son works at George’s now, making him the third generation to do so at one of the oldest restaurants in the state run by a single family. George’s offers many locals with longstanding reservations and visiting musicians a place to sit down and eat a good steak. Salmon, pork chops, chicken and hamburger steak are also on the menu in addition to signature ribeye, lobster, New York Strip and surf ’n’ turf. Sides include wild rice, steak fries, salads and vegetables. But the steaks are the stars here. Piles of hickory sit stacked against the side of the Craftsman-style building to fuel the open steak pit. You have your choice of handcut steaks – the special ribeye, prime rib, New York strip, filet mignon and a hefty 18-ounce T-bone. Inside, the marbled bar is the focal point of the lounge, which smells like a lounge should — slightly smoky — and it is stocked with various bottles of Hennessy and Glenfiddich. George’s also features an extensive wine list.

36 APRIL 2017

Vafinis’ presence is constant here, which he says is essential to running a steady business. “You’ve got to be hands-on in a restaurant,” he says. “The higher scale, the more critical.”

No more sirloin

Vafinis tries to retain the same kitchen employees for at least five to 20 years so the food will taste the same. In a case of the customer is always right, he stopped using top sirloin, which he says is a tougher cut of beef, after customers voiced their displeasure. “I pulled that a long time ago,” he says. “Ninety-five percent of complaints were top sirloin so I said, let’s drop that. “A lot of people say you are your own boss, and you are, but your real boss is your customers, and they have more authority than people think, if you take care of them,” Vafinis says. George’s only seats about 60 diners comfortably, so Vafinis opened George’s 217, in downtown Sheffield, two years ago to accommodate larger wedding receptions, birthday parties and corporate events.

The restaurant moved to its current building in 1966, during the height of Muscle Shoals’ music industry. George’s sits 2.5 miles down the road from legendary Muscle Shoals Sound Studios, and has hosted Liza Minnelli, Wayne Newton, and, most legendary in Vafinis’ family, Gregg Allman. His mother, Vangie, liked to tell about how the blond, longhaired singer was eating in the dining room, drawing ire from fellow diners who commented about his appearance. (Allman’s brother Duane experienced the same when he ate lunch at another place with Wilson Pickett, according to the documentary, “Muscle Shoals.”) “She told them, ‘He could buy everyone in here dinner. He’s a famous musician,’ ” Vafinis says. “They had no idea who he was.” These days, country musicians from the Florence radio station WQLT’s “Muscle Shoals to Music Row Live” drop in for dinner before their monthly radio and web show, and songwriter Gary Baker and the Backstreet Boys are regulars. Vafinis has observed an uptick in the number of musicians returning to write and record in the Shoals from burgeoning Nashville. “Nashville’s gotten so commercialized … and that’s why the music industry has started to come back here, because they don’t want to go to Nashville,” Vafinis says.

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| Alabama People |

Rick Hall

Muscle Shoals music man It’s been two years since Rick Hall, the founder of FAME Music studios in Muscle Shoals, published his autobiography, The Man From Muscle Shoals: My Journey from Shame to Fame. Hall was also prominently featured in the 2013 documentary, “Muscle Shoals.” In both, he speaks frankly about growing up in squalid poverty in rural northwest Alabama, sleeping on straw with no toilets, and dealing with rejection by his mother, his schoolmates, and by others in the music business. Overcoming crushing personal tragedies in the death of his first wife and his father, Hall persevered to become one of the top music producers and publishers in the country, writing songs as well as producing hit records for such R&B singers as Aretha Franklin, Wilson Pickett and Otis Redding, and mainstream acts like the Osmonds and later, country singers Mac Davis and Jerry Reed, among others. He rightfully earned the title, “The Father of Muscle Shoals Music.” Now 85, he enjoys spending time between his home and his beach condo with his wife, Linda. Two of their three sons work in the music business and a third is a lawyer involved in the legal side of the music industry. The Halls donated their 23-room home in Russellville to the Alabama Youth Ranches, which operates it as FAME Girls Ranch for abused and neglected girls. – Lenore Vickrey


ere you pleased with the way the book turned out? Yes, I was very pleased with the book. Everyone that I wrote about who has commented has felt like I treated them fairly in the book. The general public has loved it. The book details Hall’s life from his childhood which he described as a family living “the life of poor struggling nomads.” Born in Mississippi, he grew up in Franklin County as the son of sharecroppers. “Life at Liberty Hill [a small community west of Phil Campbell] was full of toil and poverty, which only inspired me more to pursue my passion for music,” he writes.

On his deathbed, he calls on his son, “Patches,” to carry on for the family, and Hall saw many similarities in the song’s characters in his own life: “It was my story. That was my father.” The song went to number one. It “remains close to my heart because it reminds me of my father and the hard times poor Rick Hall and Clarence Carter, whose people endure, regardless of song “Patches” was a number one hit creed or color,” he writes. in 1970. Wilson Pickett’s recording of the Beatles’ hit “Hey Jude” was the idea of guitarist Duane Allman, but Hall wasn’t initially convinced it would work. But it did, with Hall at the controls, Allman playing his Stratocaster Fender on a piano stool and Pickett “screaming his lungs out, everybody in the studio went wild,” Hall recounts in his book. Atlantic Records head Jerry Wexler credited Hall with a “stroke of genius” and the record was a hit. “That was the beginning of Southern rock,” he said, pioneered by the Allman Brothers Band.


re you working on any new recording projects these days? I’m not working on a project right now, but I’m always looking.


re there any stories you didn’t get to tell? Yes, there are lots of stories that I didn’t tell. My whole life is a story.


hat was your favorite memory of a recording session? I guess my most memorable sessions were with Wilson Pickett, Clarence Carter, Bobbi Gentry, Mac Davis (who I produced more albums for than anyone else in my career), Jerry Reed and Etta James.


hat’s your favorite song recorded at FAME studios? “Patches” by Clarence Carter (1970) and “Hey Jude” by Wilson Pickett (1969). In the “Muscle Shoals” movie, Carter says Hall wanted him to do the song, but he didn’t like it at first because of the negative way he thought it portrayed black people. The lyrics talk about a man’s father who, without an education, “did wonders when the times got bad; the little money from the crops he raised barely paid the bills we made.” 38 APRIL 2017


Alabama Living

APRIL 2017 39

| Outdoors |

Turkey Trot!

A flock of eastern wild turkeys feeds in a meadow. PHOTO BY JOHN N. FELSHER

A hunter remembers the gobbler that got away


s turkey seasons open this spring, sportsmen across Alabama will sit quietly under trees or in blinds, occasionally calling to bring the wily birds closer toward them. But I’ll bet none of them will use a 3,000-pound call! Growing up hunting ducks and small game, we didn’t know much about hunting wild turkeys, a rather uncommon and mysterious game bird to us back then. My dad never hunted them so we didn’t either, at least in the normal sense. My older brother bought a well-used 1964 Ford Falcon as his first car. Built like a Sherman tank, it could go anywhere, making it an excellent hunting vehicle. Of course, being the ONLY vehicle available to us at the time also made it an excellent hunting vehicle! Back then, before hunting leases became popular – and very expensive – paper and timber companies frequently allowed people to hunt vast tracts of forests for free, as long as they didn’t cut down any trees. We frequently took that old Falcon to those timberland tracts, cruising logging roads looking for game and new hunting spots. Just about every piece of metal and joint in that beat-up car squeaked. When we rumbled over those rough roads, Ol’ Squeaky started singing. Even the slightest bump in roads, commonly dubbed “washboards,” alerted anything in the woods for miles to our presence. However, it apparently emitted a certain squeak that turkeys liked, or at least aroused their curiosity. Whenever we drove the Falcon through the woods, turkeys would come running up to the edge of the road to see what in the world was coming! When Ol’ Squeaky rattled up a turkey, the only thing we could think to do to bag John N. Felsher is a freelance writer and photographer who writes from Semmes, Ala. Contact him through his website at www.

40 APRIL 2017

that bird was stop, grab our shotguns and start running after it as the very startled bird rapidly disappeared into the forests. Of course, that never worked. However, I did almost get a shot at a gobbler one day. Rather than running, this smart gobbler remembered he had broad wings and could fly. He didn’t need to run through the briars, brambles and underbrush like we did. He could fly over that stuff and proceeded to do just that. After flying a short distance, the fat gobbler landed on a branch near the top of a tree just out of the effective range of my shotgun, but well within my view.

Jake Mardis returns from the forest carrying a turkey he bagged. Turkey season runs through April 30, 2017, in most of Alabama. PHOTO BY JOHN N. FELSHER

“Now, I’ve got him,” I thought to myself, racing as fast as I could to cut the distance. “I’m about to bag my first turkey. I’ll be a hero next Thanksgiving and maybe my parents will let me sit at the big boy table instead of by myself at the kids’ table,” which was not only embarrassing, but depressing since I was the last of the kids. Knowing that I’d never see him again, I needed to take this, my only chance. I kept my eyes keenly focused on that bird as I ran

to get into shotgun range before he flew off and disappeared forever. That plan worked amazingly well and I made good progress – at least at first. Just about the time I reasoned that I had cut the distance sufficiently to chance a shot, I made a rather abrupt and loud stop. With my eyes focused so hard on that bird, I didn’t notice the large thicket comprised primarily of brambles and thorny vines coming at me at high speed, relatively speaking for the slowest runner in our neighborhood. I also didn’t notice that the little game trail that I was following, probably made by a rabbit since deer were also scarce in those days, disappeared under that pile of bristling razor-sharp spikes. (Okay, maybe that’s a SLIGHT exaggeration.) Although I was a small child at that time, I was still much bigger than any rabbit. After making my sudden, screaming halt, I struggled to extricate myself from the thorny situation without losing more than a quart or two of blood, which took considerably more time than it did to run this far. I don’t know what happened to the gobbler when I made my unexpected rapid deceleration, but I seem to remember the haunting notes that distinctly sounded like laughter echoing through the treetops where the bird had sat just seconds before. I sensed a setup! Of course, it might have been the rabbit making that noise too, or my brother who I know was laughing from the road! In most of Alabama, turkey season opened March 15 and continues through April 30, but seasons differ in some counties and public hunting lands. Regardless of when or where they hunt, Alabama sportsmen cannot bag more than five gobblers per year. New this year: Hunters MUST report all turkey kills through the mandatory Game Check program. Check for how to report turkey kills, specific zone boundaries, season dates, other regulations and special hunting opportunities for youths and disabled hunters.

Tables indicate peak fish and game feeding and migration times. Major periods can bracket the peak by an hour before and an hour after. Minor peaks, half-hour before and after. Adjusted for daylight savings time.

a.m. p.m. Minor Major Minor Major

APR. 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 MAY 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31

02:01 02:31 03:16 08:01 10:16 09:01 09:31 10:01 04:16 04:31 05:01 12:01 12:46 01:16 02:01 03:01 05:22 10:52 09:07 09:52 10:37 04:22 04:52 05:07 --12:52 01:22 02:07 02:37 03:22 04:37 08:52 11:07 09:07 09:37 03:37 04:07 04:37 --01:22 02:07 02:52 03:52 05:22 07:07

Alabama Living

07:16 07:31 07:46 01:16 02:16 02:46 03:16 03:46 10:31 11:01 11:31 05:31 06:01 06:31 07:01 07:46 09:22 01:37 02:52 03:37 04:07 11:07 11:37 11:52 05:37 05:52 06:22 06:37 07:07 07:22 07:52 08:07 12:52 01:37 02:22 02:52 10:07 10:52 11:22 05:07 05:52 06:22 07:07 07:37 08:22 09:22 10:52

10:01 11:31 ---01:16 02:46 03:46 04:31 11:16 -07:01 08:01 09:01 10:01 11:16 --01:22 03:07 04:22 05:07 11:22 11:52 07:07 07:52 08:22 09:07 09:52 10:37 11:37 ---01:37 03:22 10:07 10:52 11:52 07:07 08:07 08:52 09:37 10:37 11:37 12:37 --

02:31 03:16 04:01 05:31 06:46 08:01 09:01 09:46 10:31 05:31 06:16 12:16 01:01 01:46 02:31 03:31 5:22 06:52 08:07 09:07 10:07 10:52 05:52 06:37 12:22 12:52 01:22 01:52 02:22 02:52 03:37 04:22 05:07 06:22 07:52 09:07 04:37 05:22 06:22 12:07 12:52 01:37 02:22 03:07 03:52 04:52 05:52


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| Consumer Wise |

Choosing the right air conditioner for your home By Patrick Keegan and Amy Wheeless


I have a central air conditioner in my home that is at least 15 years old. It is not very efficient, but still works. Should I look into replacing it now, or wait until it fails?

shorten its life significantly. To size the system, the contractor will need to look at the efficiency of the home by checking insulation levels. If you add insulation where it’s most needed, you may be able to install a smaller Replacing an inefficient air conditioner (AC) with a more AC unit, and you should enjoy greater comfort and lower coolefficient model could significantly reduce your electric bill. ing costs. The HVAC contractor you hire should also assess your A new AC unit is 20 to 40 percent more efficient than one from ductwork, which is often poorly designed, leaky or inadequately the 1990s – and ENERGY STAR-certified systems are even more insulated. efficient. Replacing an aging system now, before summer starts, As you talk to your contractor, it’s good to know there are sevcould help you avoid delays or price premiums. eral air conditioning options suited to different situations. It may How much money you save by replacing your current AC or may not be practical to change to a different type of system. unit depends on Central air conhow often your ditioning is genAC runs and your erally one of two electric rate. If you types: either split are in a hot climate or packaged. A and you keep your split system, which home’s temperahas the cold coils ture in the low 70s, inside the home your cost of cooland an outside unit ing will be substanexhausting heat, is tial and so will the the most common. potential savings Packaged systems, from replacing which are someyour old air conditimes installed tioner with an effibecause of space cient new one. constraints, comThe best way to bine these funcdetermine possible tions into one box savings is to have located outside the an in-home assesshome. An HVAC contractor or energy auditor can test ductwork and make sure it is properly sealed, which ment conducted by A heat pump can can reduce energy costs and improve comfort. PHOTO COURTESY UNITED COOPERATIVE SERVICE a qualified heating, provide cooling ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC) professional or a certiand heating in homes with or without ducts. If you are currently fied energy auditor. Electric co-ops are often interested in reducusing propane or natural gas as your fuel source, this may be a ing peak summer loads and sometimes offer information, rebates good option. or a list of qualified professionals. It’s a plus if the contractor has A ductless mini-split heat pump can be an efficient way to cool North American Technician Excellence (NATE) certification. up to four zones inside the home. If your existing ductwork is in Contractors should be knowledgeable about energy efficient sysbad shape or poorly designed, this could be a good solution. tems and have good references. Window units are much less efficient than other options, but Your contractor needs to size the system to your home. Ken they can still be effective for cooling a single room. It’s worth payMaleski, the residential advisor at Central Electric Cooperative ing a little more for a new ENERGY STAR-compliant unit, rather in Pennsylvania, says a unit that is too small will not cool your than the dusty $80 unit from the yard sale or auction that wheezes home to the levels you want. If it is too large, it may not dehuits way through the summer. midify your home sufficiently, and it will cycle on and off more Evaporative (or “swamp”) coolers are an alternative in very frequently, which can increase wear and tear on the system and dry climates. While they use a quarter the energy and are less expensive to install than central air conditioning, they also require more frequent maintenance. Replacing an aging air conditioner is a great way to improve Patrick Keegan writes on consumer and cooperative affairs for the National Rural Electric Cooperative comfort, cut energy costs and reduce peak energy demand. Your Association, the Arlington, Va.-based service arm of co-op may be able to help, and you can learn a lot from the inforthe nation’s 900-plus consumer-owned, not-forprofit electric cooperatives. Write to energytips@ mation resources available on our website and on the ENERGY for more information. STAR and websites.


42  APRIL 2017

Alabama Living

APRIL 2017  43

| Alabama Recipes |

Ham and Broccoli Casserole

Bacon-wrapped Green Beans

An Easter staple: the deviled egg dish A common sight at the Easter meal is an heirloom deviled egg dish. Some Southern women believe you just can’t entertain properly without one. They may be round or oval. They may be cut crystal. They may be white milk glass with gilded edges. They may have 12 or even up to 24 shallow, egg-shaped indentions designed to perfectly cradle this egg-stremely popular stuffed-egg standard. And because the platters come in different colors, style and sizes, consider a variation on the classic deviled egg recipe to fill yours. Try these add-ins: • cooked and crumbled bacon • a vinegary buffalo sauce • spicy pickle relish (like Alabama-made Wickles Pickles’ version) instead of your usual choice • fresh-chopped herbs (like chives or tarragon)

44 APRIL 2017

Easter Lunch Save space to savor

By Jennifer Kornegay | Food prepared and photographed by Brooke Echols


your childhood was anything like mine, Easter morning meant a plastic-grass-lined basket packed with a diverse array of candy: a rainbow of jelly beans, foil-wrapped chocolate bunnies and more. Maybe you still get a basket like that or you dip into the sweets received by your kids or grandkids. While it can be tempting to over-indulge in these delights, don’t. The roster for a traditional Southern Easter lunch includes some of our region’s most iconic and delicious foods, so you’ll want to have ample stomach space to savor it all. The main event is probably some form of pig, maybe a pork roast or most likely, a ham (brown-sugar or molasses glazed). According to some food historians, the custom of eating ham on Easter is not restricted to the South, and dating back to the days before refrigeration, was more a choice of necessity than preference. Hogs were often slaughtered in the winter and then preserved by smoking. The resulting hams were available to enjoy in the early spring, before fresh meat was available. While it may take a backseat to pork in Alabama, lamb also has a place on the Easter lunch menu, and in other parts of the world, it is one of the most popular proteins for the holiday. Its ties to “the lamb of God,” a reference to Jesus, imbue it with significance, especially on Easter. No matter how succulent the ham or moist the lamb, the Easter sides can often outshine the entrée with their familiar tastes. There’s usually a potato dish (maybe creamy, starchy layers of au gratin or the oozing cheesy comfort of the hash browns, butter and cheddar in a potato casserole). And eggs almost always make an appearance, whether deviled, in a rich quiche or in an egg-heavy bread pudding for dessert. Eggs’ starring role in the event pre-dates Christianity, as the orbs have long been a rite of the season as a symbol of rebirth and renewal. After Christ’s resurrection on the first Easter and as Christianity spread, eggs took on even deeper meaning. Finally, a few green veggies, possibly embellished with even more pork, round out the selections. Some usual suspects include soft, salty lima beans cooked with ham hocks or bundles of green beans swaddled in bacon and baked. No matter what sweet Easter treats you find yourself faced with on the special morning, save them for after lunch (although just one handful of jelly beans or a bunny ear before probably won’t hurt). You’ll want plenty of room and a blank palate to truly enjoy every bite of your Easter meal. Not sure what you’re serving yet? Try one of this month’s reader-submitted recipes that offer some different spins on most of the requisite categories for a successful holiday feast.

Editor’s Note: Alabama Living’s recipes are submitted by our readers. They are not kitchen-tested by a professional cook or registered dietician. If you have special dietary needs, please check with your doctor or nutritionist before preparing any recipe. Alabama Living

APRIL 2017 45

Sweet n’ Sour Cabbage and Dumplings For the cabbage: 1 head cabbage, chopped into 1-inch cubes (green works fine, but red is pretty) 2 cups low sodium broth (chicken or vegetable) Salt to taste 1/2 cup brown sugar 1 tablespoon bruised caraway seeds 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar ¼ cup bacon grease (or coconut oil) 1/2 cup cooked bacon (optional) Directions for cabbage: Place all the ingredients in a large pot and stir gently. Cook on medium till cabbage is fork tender. Or, place all ingredients in a large crock pot and cook on low for 4 hours or high for 3 hours depending on your crockpot. For the dumplings: 1 pound loaf day-old French-type bread, cut into 1-inch cubes 3/4 cup scalded canned milk 2 tablespoons butter, coconut oil or bacon grease 1 small onion, finely minced 1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped 2 eggs, beaten 1/2 teaspoon salt Dash pepper 1 /2 cup all-purpose flour (or as needed) In a large bowl, pour the hot milk over the bread cubes. Let soak and cool for 10-15 minutes. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and in a separate skillet, melt the butter/oil/bacon grease in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onion; saute till caramelized. Stir in the parsley, and remove from the heat. Combine onions, eggs, salt, pepper. Pour over bread mixture. Add flour and knead dough with your hands. Squish and squeeze till all combined. Dough should be slightly lumpy and sticky. However not too sticky to form into soft balls. Test one ball first. Gently drop it into the pot of boiling water. If it falls apart, add more flour to your remaining dough. Continue dropping the dough balls into the boiling water, but be careful not to crowd them. Simmer over a low-almost boil for 15 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and place on a plate. They should be spongy. 46  APRIL 2017

Depending on size, slice or serve whole alongside the sweet and sour cabbage. Then eat your heart out!

Pizza Giena (Italian Easter Pie)

Kimberly Chapman Wiregrass EC

Filling: 1 pound ham, finely chopped 1/2 pound Farmer cheese, cut up 16 ounces Ricotta cheese 6 eggs 2/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese 1/2 teaspoon pepper 1/2 pound shredded Mozzarella cheese 2 egg yolks, beaten (to be used on pastry crust) Large pie plate

Ham and Broccoli Casserole 1 package frozen broccoli, thawed and drained (do not cook, I prefer fresh broccoli slightly blanched and drained and cooled) 1/2 cup chopped onion 1/2 cup chopped green pepper 2 cups grated cheese 11/2 cups diced ham 3 /4 cup Bisquick 11/2 cups milk 4 eggs 1 teaspoon salt and pepper Lightly grease casserole dish. Combine broccoli, onion, green pepper, ham, and cheese in casserole dish. In a bowl, mix Bisquick, milk, eggs, salt and pepper. Pour over other items in casserole dish. Bake at 375 degrees for 40 to 50 minutes until done. Naaman Ivey Pea River EC

Eggs a la Goldenrod 3 tablespoons butter 3 tablespoons flour 2½ cups milk, approximately 4-5 boiled eggs, whites and yolks separated Salt and pepper, to taste Toast Make a basic cream sauce: melt butter in a skillet over medium-low heat, stir in flour until blended and then slowly stir in milk until thick and bubbly. Stir in chopped boiled egg whites and a little salt and pepper. Pour over toast slices. Force yolks through a strainer with a spoon to top the sauce. Add another dash of salt and pepper and serve with bacon, sausage or fried spam. Evelyn Milner Wiregrass EC

Favorite pie dough recipe (need 2)

Roll out bottom pastry; place in pie plate. Beat Ricotta cheese. Add 6 whole eggs, then remaining ingredients, except separate egg yolks. Mix well. Brush pastry bottom with beaten egg yolks before filling. Cover with second pie dough; brush with egg yolks. Make slits on crust. Bake for 45 minutes at 375 degrees. Test with knife. Pie is done when knife comes out clean. Cook’s note: I grew up in an Italian household and watched my grandmother make this pie every Easter. The tradition was carried on by my mother and aunts. Then my cousins and I continued the tradition after we married. To this day, my sons and their families expect me to make this pie as part of our Easter dinner. Janice Bracewell Covington EC

Eggnog Rice Pudding ¼ ¼ ½ ½ ½ 4

cup rice cup sugar teaspoon salt teaspoon cinnamon cup raisins cups scalded eggnog

Combine all ingredients. Pour into greased baking dish. Bake at 325 degrees for 2 hours. Stir about 4 times while baking. Serves 6, hot or cold. Carol Fiedler North Alabama EC

Cook of the Month

Kirk Vantrease, Cullman EC

Grilled Stuffed Pork Chops 2 thick cut boneless pork chops 1/2 cup onion, chopped 1 clove garlic, minced 2 1/2 cup spinach, roughly chopped ¼ cup parmesan cheese 2 tablespoons olive oil 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/2 teaspoon pepper Heat olive oil in skillet on medium high heat. Add onions and stir until caramelized. Add garlic, salt, pepper and spinach. Cook until the spinach cooks down, about 5 minutes. Add parmesan cheese and stir all ingredients until cheese is melted. Butterfly pork chops cutting them half way through but leaving one side connected. Stuff the pork chops with the spinach mixture. Hold in place with toothpicks. Grill on a preheated grill for ten minutes a side to cook all the way through. Remove toothpicks, cool and slice for several to enjoy.

Bread Pudding 2-14 cups cubed stale French bread 1 1 tablespoon butter 2 cups heavy cream 4 cups milk 6 large eggs 1¾ cups brown sugar 4½ teaspoons vanilla 1½ teaspoons cinnamon ½ teaspoon nutmeg ¼ teaspoon salt ½ cup raisins Whiskey Sauce: ½ cup milk ½ cup sugar 2 tablespoons cornstarch ¾ cup bourbon or rum Pinch of salt 2 tablespoons butter

Kirk Vantrease was looking for a way to ensure his grilled pork stayed tender, and after playing around with a few ingredient combos and techniques, he settled on the Grilled Stuffed Pork Chops he submitted. “I call the stuffing ‘spi-garlic,’ a mashup of spinach and garlic, and my family really loves it,” he said. The flavor has spinach’s earthy green notes along with the zest of garlic and parmesan cheese. His family likes its taste so much, they enjoy this dish a lot more often than on Easter. “It’s great for that meal, a nice departure from ham, but I end up making it often all year round,” he said. And there's a bonus for busy cooks: The stuffing can be made ahead. “Just pop it in freezer bags and pull it out any time you want to make the chops,” he said.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place bread in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, combine cream, milk, eggs, brown sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and raisins. Whisk, pour over bread, let sit 30 minutes. Pour in buttered casserole dish and bake 50-60 minutes. Whiskey Sauce: In a heavy saucepan over medium heat, combine milk and sugar. Pour ¼ cup bourbon (or rum) and cornstarch into a small bowl. Whisk to create a slurry, pour the slurry into the sauce. Bring to a slow boil, reduce heat and simmer 5-10 minutes. Stir in butter, salt and remaining bourbon or rum. Drizzle over bread pudding. Angela Bradley Clarke-Washington EMC

Bacon Green Beans with Brown Sugar Glaze 2 12 6 2 1/2

pounds fresh green beans strips bacon
 tablespoons butter cloves garlic, minced
 cup brown sugar

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Boil green beans until slightly tender. Fry bacon until it is almost done, soft, but not crisp. Wrap a section of bacon around 4-5 beans and lay on baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes. Heat butter, garlic, and brown sugar in saucepan on medium heat. Drizzle over green bean wraps before serving. Pamela Martin Arab EC

Send us your recipes! Please send us your original recipes, developed by you or family members, and not ones copied from a book or magazine. You may adapt a recipe from another source by changing as little as the amount of one ingredient. Cook of the Month winners will receive $50, and may win “Cook of the Month” only once per calendar year.

Alabama Living

Online: Email: Mail: Recipes, P.O. Box 244014 Montgomery, AL 36124 Please include a phone number and co-op name with submissions! Alabama Living reserves the right to reprint recipes in our other publications.

Recipe Themes and Deadlines: June Berries July Tomatoes Aug. Summer Salads

April May June

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Coming up in May...Shellfish! APRIL 2017  47

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48  APRIL 2017

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Contact Jacob Johnson 800.410.2736 APRIL 2017 49

Clarke-Washington Heating & Air Conditioning, Inc.

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Owner Alfred Marks • AL License# 84750

50 APRIL 2017

Energy Efficiency Tip of the Month Air dry clean dishes to save energy. If your dishwasher does not have an automatic air-dry switch, turn off the dishwasher after the final rinse and prop the door open slightly so the dishes will dry faster. -Source: U.S. Dept of Energy

Alabama Living

APRIL 2017 51

| Our Sources Say |

A bad conservative approach I

get a number of comments about my articles. Some are good. Some are not so good and even personally demeaning. One response said, “You need to stop printing Gary Smith’s opinion because it’s idiotic and above all untrue! He is a coal promoter and denies global warming exists. Therefore, he is stupid and a liar! Stop spreading YOUR lies, Mr. Smith, as Alabamians deserve better than you!” Another response said, “You are obviously not a nutritionist because you don’t know that cow milk provides no nutritional value for babies. And, your labeling people as liberals creates a political divide and is moronic.” I criticize plans imposed or proposed by Democrats and liberals. However, this month, I will criticize a conservative proposal brought by two Republicans – George Shultz, Treasury Secretary under President Richard Nixon and Secretary of State under President Ronald Reagan, and James Baker, Treasury Secretary under Ronald Reagan and Secretary of State under President George H. W. Bush. Secretaries Schultz and Baker recently proposed a carbon tax and rebate scheme that they say, “…does not rely on heavy-handed, growth inhibiting government regulation, but instead is based on a sound economic analysis that embodies the conservative principles of free markets and limited government.” The plan contains four pillars: (1) a gradually increasing carbon tax; (2) a rebate of the carbon tax proceeds to the American people through a dividend; (3) a border carbon adjustment to protect American competitiveness; and (4) rollback of environmental regulation when the system is in place. They say their carbon tax “… is a cost-effective way to reduce carbon emissions and unlike the current regulatory approach would free companies to find the most efficient way to reduce their carbon footprint. A gradually rising tax would send a powerful market signal to businesses that want certainty when planning for the future.” They also state, “The carbon dividend rebate would return the tax proceeds to the American people on a quarterly basis. The revenue neutral tax would benefit working families rather than bloat government spending. A $40-per-ton carbon tax would provide a family of four with roughly $2,000 per year in carbon dividends in the first year and gradually increase as the carbon tax increased.”

Finally, they say, “…our plan would strengthen the economy, help working class Americans, and promote national security, all the while reducing regulations and shrinking the size of government.” The plan is great for politicians. It probably won’t be so great for you. PowerSouth, a small electric utility, emits approximately 8 million tons of carbon dioxide annually. A $40-per-ton tax on carbon dioxide would increase our expenses by $320 million – or about double the cost of wholesale power to our members. That increase, in turn, would mean an increase in your retail electric bill by about one-third. If you are currently paying $180 per month, you would pay about $240 per month with the carbon tax. Of course, under the plan you will supposedly get your money back at the end of the quarter, and you must adjust your spending patterns for three months. Secretaries Schultz and Baker say that the plan reduces government bloat, reduces regulations and reduces the size of government. Who will decide what tax gets collected, who will collect the taxes, who will account for the taxes, who will hold the taxes, who will decide the size of the rebates, who will distribute the rebates and who will make sure everything about the plan is fair? Practically, many new government employees would have to be added and at least one agency and probably more (after all, it is the government) would have to be created to administer the plan. Those people and processes are not free, and your money collected by the tax would go to pay them instead of being returned to you. Also, taxes, once imposed, never go away. However, government proceeds, or in this case tax rebates, do go away. How long will it be before politicians declare the carbon tax proceeds are needed for another critically important government purpose and the rebates are diminished or terminated? Secretaries Schultz and Baker haven’t proposed a conservative plan to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, solve global warming and reduce government bloat. However, their plan is another typical political solution to increasing taxes for the political class that will likely result in inflation of consumer goods, increase the size of government and hurt working class Americans. Conservatives can have bad ideas, too. I hope you have a good month.

Gary Smith is President and CEO of PowerSouth Energy Cooperative

52 APRIL 2017

Alabama Living

APRIL 2017  53

| Hardy Jackson's Alabama |

A world without mosquitoes? T

he weather is warming. on the Florida orange crop scientists proposed catching thouMosquito season is upon us. sands of fruit flies, zapping them with something to make them I hate mosquitoes. sterile, then sending them out into the world not to reproduce. More to the point, I hate female mosquitoes. Not sure how that has worked, but there seems to be plenty of They are the ones who suck your blood. orange juice in the stores. They are the ones that leave the itchy, throbbing However, the fruit fly plan was small stuff comwelt that just plain hurts. pared to a program that would create “a world They are the ones that carry diseases without mosquitoes.” that kill more people around the world Of course, there are a few hitches in than any other animal – except the process. human ones – every year. Consider the economic conseNow I know mosquitoes are quences. If mosquitoes are eradGod’s creation like other livicated, companies that make ing things, but I sorta wonmosquito repellants will go der that maybe God creunder, jobs will be lost, ated mosquitoes as part families will go hungry, of one of the plagues he and politicians will feed smote the Egyptians on the anger. with back in Moses’ It could happen. time? And when He And there is the ethiwas cleaning up afcal question. terward He forgot to Should we drive a undo what He had whole species to exdone and mosquitoes tinction? slipped through the We have done it becracks. fore but usually as a Once out, there was consequence of habitat no stopping them. destruction, over huntEvery summer ing, and such. throughout the South This would be a promosquitoes swarm out gram calculated to remove of stagnant water that one of God’s creatures from collects in cans and drains the face of the earth. and pots and troughs. MosThink about it. quitoes love it. If mosquitoes are part of the Help, however, might be on Lord’s Plan, who are we to interthe way. fere? According to those who should But remember those Egyptian Illustration by Dennis Auth know, scientists are on the brink of creplagues? ating “A World Without Mosquitoes.” What if God was just so busy getting the Yessir, a world without something I hate, not Children of Israel to the Promised Land that He to mention a thing that kills people, sounds like a pretty forgot to tidy up the mosquito mess? good world to me. An oversight that we can rectify. But how? But should we? Well, molecular geneticists are working on a way to create a lethal mutation and insert it into the DNA of male mosquitoes, rendering them sterile. Then the males would go out and breed. But there would be no offspring. Called the “sterile insect technique,” it is something like giving vasectomies to male mosquiHarvey H. (“Hardy”) Jackson is Professor Emeritus toes and ending the line once and for all. of History at Jacksonville State University. He can be I recall some years ago when the fruit fly was wrecking havoc reached at

54  APRIL 2017

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