Alabama Living April 2019

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Stories | Recipes | Events | People | Places | Things | Local News April 2019



Barn quilts

Trail is boon to rural tourism

Tornado aftermath Sweet strawberries



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. Subscriptions are $12 a year for individuals not subscribing through participating Alabama electric cooperatives. Alabama Living (USPS 029-920) is published monthly by the Alabama Rural Electric Association of Cooperatives. Periodicals postage paid at Montgomery, Alabama, and at additional mailing office.

Eufaula pilgrimage

Each year in April, the people of Eufaula in southwest Alabama celebrate how they escaped the devastation suffered by other Southern communities during the Civil War. The 54th Eufaula Pilgrimage is April 5-7 and features tours of 12 different homes.


VOL. 72 NO. 4 n APRIL 2019

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 Law Creative Director Mark Stephenson Art Director Danny Weston Advertising Director Jacob Johnson Graphic Designer/Ad Coordinator Brooke Echols Communications Coordinator Laura Stewart Graphic Designer Kaitlyn Allen



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Playful puppies


Worth the drive


Sweet strawberries

Next to kittens and our children, puppies are some of our favorite subjects for the camera.

Gather restaurant, with its fresh take on Southern classic food, is bringing a renewed focus to Atmore’s downtown.

Strawberry season in Alabama can last for several months, thanks to our varied growing zones. Sweet jams, cakes, pies and salads await!



340 TechnaCenter Drive Montgomery, Alabama 36117-6031 1-800-410-2737 For advertising, email: For editorial inquiries, email:



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In this issue: Page 11 Page 12 Page 28

11 Spotlight 29 Around Alabama 42 Gardens 44 Cook of the Month 40 Outdoors 40 Fish & Game Forecast 54 Hardy Jackson’s Alabama ONLINE: ON THE COVER: The barn quilt, “Postage Stamp,” is displayed on the barn of Mark and Tia Waddell on County Road 226, near Florence. The quilt is part of the Alabama Barn Quilt Trail featured on Page 12. PHOTO: James W. Hannon

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Alabama’s 2019 red snapper season will open on June 1. (Photo by David Rainer)

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Alabama sets By David Rainer | Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources


labama set its 2019 red snapper season, which is operating under the final year of an Exempted Fishing Permit (EFP). The 2019 Alabama red snapper fishing season for anglers fishing from a private vessel or state-licensed guide boat will be three-day weekends (Friday-Sunday) from June 1 through July 28, 2019, including Thursday, July 4. Except for the opening weekend, which begins on a Saturday, weekends are defined as 12:01 a.m. Friday through 11:59 p.m. Sunday. This does not apply to for-hire (charter) boats with federal reef fishing permits. Charter boats will operate under federal regulations in 2019. During the 2018 snapper season, the first under the EFP, Alabama set an optimistic private recreational season of 47 days, mostly on three-day weekends. However, a renewed enthusiasm for snapper fishing and excellent weather conditions forced Marine Resources to shut down the season after 28 days. “We will again be evaluating the season as it goes along through Snapper Check,” Alabama Marine Resources Division Director Scott Bannon says. “We have the option to add days if we feel it’s appropriate, based on the harvest rate.” Of course, that harvest rate will likely be weather-dependent. “The weather last year was almost ideal throughout the entire red snapper season, and I think that contributed to the increased harvest rates,” Bannon says. Plus, Alabama’s unparalleled artificial reef zone provides easy access to anglers who want to catch a limit of two red snapper with a minimum length of 16 inches. “In the Alabama reef zone, we feel we have a very healthy population of red snapper,” Bannon says. “They are relatively accessible, and the size of the fish caught has been larger over the last couple of years. That also lends to reaching our allocation of pounds earlier.”

Dr. Bob Shipp, professor emeritus of Marine Sciences at the University of South Alabama, has been studying red snapper off the Alabama Gulf Coast for decades, and he’s happy to see that the excellent health of the red snapper stock is finally being recognized. NOAA Fisheries Southeast Regional Director Dr. Roy Crabtree acknowledges that the red snapper fishery is rebounding at a much faster rate than expected. “The recovery of red snapper has been very robust,” Crabtree says. “There’s no evidence that it’s not going to continue. It’s a remarkable success story.” Shipp applauded Crabtree’s confirmation that red snapper resiliency is far greater than NOAA scientists and their computer models predicted. “I was delighted to hear Roy say that,” Shipp says. “Roy has been aware that the recovery is a lot faster than the models projected. That’s good news. I think everybody is on the same page now in terms of the status of the red snapper stocks. The species is very, very healthy. All the testimony we get from Texas all the way to the Keys is that snapper stocks are really strong.” Earlier this year, the U.S. Congress passed the Modern Fish Act, which was lauded by the recreational fishing community. However, the effect of the Modern Fish Act is not yet fully understood. “There are provisions in the Act for the National Academies of Sciences to study the fisheries management plans,” Bannon says. “It also directs the Comptroller General to study the allocations, ensuring they are utilizing all the appropriate data that may be provided by the states and other entities. It’s really an outside look to make sure we’re using all the pertinent information to make management decisions. “There are some pretty tight timelines, so they’ll have to quickly develop plans to present to NOAA and the regional fisheries management councils.”

Today, we have more devices than ever before, and that means more cords and cables on our tables, desks and countertops. Luckily, there are options available to help you cut the cord clutter.

Cutting cord clutter By Brian Sloboda


here’s no doubt about it. Today we have more cords and cables on our tables, desks and countertops than ever before. It is an epidemic of clutter, chaos and confusion. But is there a better way? Phones, tablets, cameras, Bluetooth devices and other gadgets give you two options for charging. You can plug them into the USB port of your computer or use the USB wall plug adapter (which always seems to disappear!) that you can plug into any outlet. Both options work fine. Unless you have a family with multiple devices. Sometimes two outlets just won’t cut it. The simple solution is to use a power strip and plug everything into that. Some power strips even come with USB ports. Another solution is to install wall outlets that have both traditional 3 prong outlets and USB ports. This solution is simple. However, it does require replacing the existing wall outlet and some people may be uncomfortable doing this. You should consult a licensed electrician if you have any questions. It’s worth noting that both options, power strips and wall outlets with USB ports, have

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two potential downsides. The first is that cords will be visible, so clutter could still be an issue. The other downside is that power strips and outlets do not have the capability to prevent overcharging or turn off power once the device is fully charged. Several years ago, overcharging a device was a potential problem and it led to diminished battery life. However, today’s modern electronics come with enough “smarts” built in to prevent overcharging. This has helped prevent damage to the battery and eliminate the dreaded vampire load. Vampire load is power used by devices when they are simply plugged in and not actually performing a task. It’s essentially wasted energy. If you are looking to tidy up charging cables and use devices like a Bluetooth speaker, you may want to invest in a USB charging station. Charging stations allow multiple devices to be charged in a sleek and elegant tabletop station that hides the cables. You can use short USB cables that are tucked away, and the charging station plugs into an outlet, only using one cord.

Some charging stations also support wireless charging for devices equipped with that capability. Some charging stations claim to eliminate vampire load, and some also claim to offer different charging rates to different devices. Given the number of stations available both online and at big-box retailers, it’s important to read the reviews and learn from the experiences of others. The most important aspect is finding one that has enough space to accommodate your current devices and those that you may add over the coming years.  Brian Sloboda is a program manager specializing in energy efficiency for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, the national trade association representing more than 900 local electric cooperatives. From growing suburbs to remote farming communities, electric co-ops serve as engines of economic development for 42 million Americans across 56 percent of the nation’s landscape.


Clearing trees and overgrown vegetation is vital to provide safe, reliable power to our consumer-members.

We clear certain areas in our service territory, known as rights of way, to: • Keep power lines clear of tree limbs • Restore power outages more quickly • Keep crews and members of our community safe • Reduce unexpected costs for repairs

Vegetation management improves service reliability for you – our members!


Electric co-op lineworkers wear special gear to help them stay safe on the job. Can you match the descriptions below to the correct safety equipment? Use the answer key to check your work!

Hard Hat Safety Goggles Flame-Resistant Clothing

Insulated Gloves

1. These provide extra protection while lineworkers work with heavy materials that could fall near their feet.

Equipment Belt

2. This material keeps lineworkers safe from electrical hazards.

Energy Efficiency Tip of the Month

3. This protects lineworkers from head injuries and falling debris.

Streaming content with electronic equipment that has 4. These insulated protectors keep earned the ENERGY STARŽ lineworkers safe from electrical shockrating will use 25 to 30 percent while working on power lines. less energy than standard equipment. 5. These keep debris away from lineworkers’ eyes while on the job.


Work Boots

6. This is a handy piece of safety gear that holds tools and other equipment. Answers: 1. Work Boots 2. Flame-Resistant Clothing 3. Hard Hat 4. Insulated Gloves 5. Safety Goggles 6. Equipment Belt

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| Alabama Snapshots |

Playful puppies

Remi. SUBMITTED BY Candace Merritt, Clayton.

Our Shetland Sheepdog puppies. SUBMITTED BY Kathryn Tipton, Ariton.

Mason Bragwell is a senior at Belgreen High School. Rocky turned one Feb. 23. SUBMITTED BY Sherry Poppy says “homework first, Bragwell, play later!” SUBMITTED BY Russellville. Sam Neece, Montgomery. Scout, a chocolate lab, at 3 months old. SUBMITTED BY Amy Paul, Glenwood.

Shilo the Beagle and Kynleigh Wood. SUBMITTED BY June Wood, Holly Pond.

Opie loves to help mom and dad with the garden! SUBMITTED BY Lance Hubbard, Lineville.

Submit Your Images! June Theme: “Old Churches” 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

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Spotlight | April SOCIAL SECURITY

Financial literacy month: the perfect time to plan for your future April is Financial Literacy Month and there’s no better time than right now to begin to save for your future. The earlier you start saving, the more you can accrue in a 401k individual retirement account and other types of IRAs. Social Security helps secure your future, but Social Security is only one part of a more complete retirement plan. Financial literacy includes having access to not just the correct general information, but also to your personal financial information. You can open your own personal my Social Security account at and quickly have access to your information from anywhere. There, you can do many things, but the most important thing is to view your Social Security Statement. Your Social Security Statement is an easy-to-read personal record of the earnings on which you have paid Social Security taxes and a summary of the estimated benefits you and your family could receive, including potential retirement, disability, and survivors benefits. Once you have an account, you can view your Statement at any time. You’ll want to verify that your recorded earnings are correct, because your future benefits are based on your recorded earnings. We also offer the online Retirement Estimator at retirement/estimator.html that provides immediate and personalized benefit estimates based on your earnings record. And, best of all, the Retirement Estimator is an interactive tool that allows you to compare different retirement scenarios like future earnings and different retirement ages. One sure way to stay on top of your financial future is to join the more than 38 million people who have opened their own my Social Security account at The sooner you start planning for retirement the better off you will be.n Kylle’ McKinney, SSA Public Affairs Specialist, can be reached by email at

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Letters to the editor E-mail us at: or write us at: Letters to the editor P.O. Box 244014 Montgomery, AL 36124

Thanks to linemen

Thank you to Tallapoosa River EC and Alabama Power for your tireless work helping Lee County recover from the tornadoes Sunday, March 3. The linesmen work in the dangerous disaster areas, work in the freezing cold temperatures, and put in the long hours to meet our needs. We cannot thank them enough for their service to our community - and they are not thanked often enough. Michelle Mullinax Smiths Station

Liked legislative section

My wife saw your magazine with the legislative pullout section and she wanted one to try to get to know the new people. If you have extras, could you bring five or six copies to my office. I need one badly (to get to know) all the new people and where they are from. Please give your staff that put it together a “thank you” from us. I will probably keep one in my coat until I get to know all of the new people. Howard Sanderford Alabama House District 20

Lowered blood pressure

I was home from the hospital after having pneumonia with health care coming out (to check). I was having a problem with my blood pressure going high and the nurse told me to read or do something to get my mind off some stress, so I picked up my Alabama Living magazine and started to look for the hidden dingbat. I looked through the book several times for a while and I found it on Page 30 of the top right corner on the Fort Payne map (February issue). Anyway, when my blood pressure was checked, it was normal. I enjoy this magazine. Sarah A. Lipscomb Pea River EC

Shares articles for others

Thank you for your great magazine each month. I enjoy it! My sister and her family lived in Alabama many years ago. The job took them to NE. They came back for summer visits each year. She and her husband were from Mississippi and Alabama. With family here, their memories will and always will echo of the South. I cut out and send her interesting pages from the magazine. We are all older now. She is in an assisted living apartment. They have games and many other activities. In her quiet time I like for her to read and enjoy great memories of the South. Thank you so much! Linda Ford Lisman

Where were you when man first walked on the moon?

Do you remember where you were on July 20, 1969, when Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon’s surface? Did you get to stay up late to watch on TV? Did you or your parents have a special watch party? We want to hear about it! The 50th anniversary of that historic event is coming up this year, and we want to do our part to recognize the crowning achievement of the U.S. space program, which all began in Huntsville, Alabama. (The U.S. Space and Rocket Center is sponsoring a number of special events in July, in cooperation with the Alabama Bicentennial Commission, to mark the event.) Send your memories, no more than 100 words, with your name, address, phone number and email address, and a photo of yourself from 1969, by April 26 to or mail to Moon Landing Memories, Alabama Living, 340 Technacenter Drive, Montgomery, AL 36117. We will publish a selection of those submissions in the July 2019 magazine.

April | Spotlight

Whereville, AL 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 8 with your name, address and the name of your rural electric cooperative. The winner and answer will be announced in the May issue. Submit by email:, or by mail: Whereville, P.O. Box 244014, Montgomery, AL 36124. 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 chosen will also win $25.

MARCH'S ANSWER The “Violata Pax” (Wounded Dove) is a 15foot bronze sculpture by Alabama artist Nall. Created in 2006 as a post-earthquake renovation project for the Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi in Italy, it is a symbol of peace and everlasting life, but also illustrates the shatter-

ing of peace on Sept. 11, 2001. It is a prominent feature of the Janice Hawkins Cultural Park at Troy University. Editor’s note: More than half of this month's contest respondents got this one wrong. The culprit: An incorrect web site, which comes up on a Google search, that indicates the statue is on the Troy Montgomery campus. Be careful with those internet searches! (Photo by Lenore Vickrey of Alabama Living) The randomly drawn correct guess winner is Kimberley Byrd of South Alabama EC.

Find the hidden dingbat! April 3, 1920

Montgomery native Zelda Sayre married novelist F. Scott Fitzgerald in New York. Often the inspiration for characters and themes in her husband’s work, Zelda soon became a symbol of the free-wheeling “flapper” lifestyle and the Jazz Age. An author and artist in her own right, she produced Zelda Fitzgerald more than two dozen short stories and articles and published her only novel, Save Me the Waltz, in 1932. Her artwork is often displayed at museums across the country. Zelda was inducted into the Alabama Women’s Hall of Fame in 1992 and her life is portrayed in the 2017 TV series “Z: The Beginning of Everything.” For a brief period from October 1931 to February 1932, she and Scott lived in Montgomery, and their home in the Old Cloverdale neighborhood is today the Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald Museum, the only museum in the world dedicated to the couple.

Alabama postage stamp unveiled Alabama Speaker of the House Mac McCutcheon helped unveil the Alabama Statehood Forever Stamp in February during ceremonies in Huntsville, site of the state’s first Constitutional Convention in 1819. “It was what happened at this spot 200 years ago that helped bring the state of Alabama into existence,” McCutcheon said. “It created not just the state of Alabama, but a great future that continues and that we continue to celebrate.” As part of the dedication ceremony and to honor the state’s bicentennial, legislators re-enacted the signing of the constitution with a quill pen on parchment. The Alabama Forever Stamp can be purchased at The Postal Store at, by calling 800-STAMP24 (800-782-6724), or at Post Office locations. Photo courtesy of Jay Bigalke, Linn’s Stamp News,

Alabama Living

We didn’t mean to make last month’s dingbat search so hard, but apparently we did! Tucked away at the bottom of Page 34, growing in the midst of some green herbs, was our hidden fourleaf clover. Many of you thought it was on the page featuring Callaghan’s Irish Social Club, but that was a shamrock, not a four-leaf clover. Tricky, huh? This month, it’s time to get out your glasses or magnifying glass and look for the hidden bunny rabbit. Easter is April 21, so get hopping! Our $25 random drawing winner for the March contest is Vickie Nichols of Thomasville. She is a member of Clarke-Washington EMC. Entries must be received by April 5. By mail: Find the Dingbat Alabama Living PO Box 244014 Montgomery, AL 36124

By email:

Drivers, remember: Slow down in work zones Again this year, the Alabama Rural Electric Association (AREA), which publishes Alabama Living, is participating in National Work Zone Awareness Week, April 8-12. This week is held annually to remind motorists that those who work in roadway construction zones face dangers every day they’re on the job. The safety campaign is held in early spring, traditionally the start of the highway construction season. In Alabama, the effort is coordinated by the Struck-By Alliance, a voluntary group of businesses and agencies that have an interest in promoting safety along the state’s highways. AREA member cooperatives employ linemen and right-of-way personnel who often work on state and county roads and face constant danger from inattentive, speeding or distracted drivers. Also involved in the state’s effort are the Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT), the Alabama Associated General Contractors of America and Alabama Power Company, among others. For more information, visit APRIL 2019 11

Ricky Aycock and his grandsons, Aiden and Braxton, in front of the family’s barn in Colbert County. The barn quilt features a log cabin pattern from Aycock’s great-great grandmother.


n the rural roads her job as a traveling nurse often sends her to, Regina Painter saw her first barn quilt. Today, a few years later, she paints many of the colorful metal quilt blocks that adorn old barns along north Alabama’s backroads as part of the Alabama Barn Quilt Trail. The idea of the trail is to attract drivers to take the scenic route in celebration of Alabama’s rural, agricultural and artistic heritage. The trail honors families, hobbies and the beloved pastime of quilting with modular samples of patterns hanging from old barns. Painter is a fabric quilter first, and in May her mother turned 80 years old. In recognition of the milestone, a grandmother’s flower garden pattern block hangs on her barn in Killen. That pattern was 85-90 years old, and the quilt kept Painter warm at night as a child. 12  APRIL 2019

A colorful treasure hunt

Barn Quilt Trail honors tradition, boosts tourism By Jennifer Crossley Howard Photos by James W. Hannon

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Gary Dunhoff’s barn on State Line Road in Loretto, Tenn., has a quilt pattern called “American Horse.”

The Charlie Thompson barn in Lexington, Ala., features an old quilt square with the state bird, the yellowhammer, in the center.

Now, this colorful block, and others like it, warms both the surrounding landscape and the hearts of tourists who pull over for a closer look. “It brightens the countryside,” says Painter, who leads the barn quilt project in Lauderdale County. “We can’t believe it. We’re so excited that it’s catching on.” To drive the trail for yourself, use the Google Map on

Alabama’s Bicentennial Commission included the trail in the state’s 200th anniversary celebrations this year. Painter held a workshop in Russell County in October and another in Lauderdale County in January. Both were full. “It’s very exciting and is yet another way to expose our heritage and has a vast authenticity,” says Susann Hamlin, president of the Colbert County Tourism and Convention Bureau. Hamlin remembers sitting as a young girl playing paper dolls while her grandmother’s quilting circle sewed. The trail is “a fabulous way to showcase artists and their craft and the heritage of the South,” she says. She hopes the trail will attract newcomers to the art of quilting. “People still like the idea of quilting,” she says. “It might inspire people to start quilting again. Who knows?”

Keeping tradition alive

From mosaic-style crazy quilts, lone star patterns, familiar wedding ring blocks and conical haberdashery squares, barn quilts are the latest chapter in the centuries-long history of quilting. Most are heirloom patterns handed down in the family. Others are chosen purely for their geometry and vibrant color. Ricky Aycock’s pattern on his family’s barn on Old Highway 20 in Tuscumbia, just outside Leighton, is a log cabin pattern from his great-great grandmother. Its bold color on a large 8-foot by 8-foot block hanging on a red barn will draw your eyes from the road. Aycock’s father lives in the barn now, and he has noticed drivers pull over for a picture. His family has a history of farming cotton, soybean and cattle in Leighton. The quilts decorate barns that house and shelter livestock and crops, reminding drivers that “the farming community is still a very important and vital part of our lives,” Painter says. There are roughly 40 blocks on the Alabama Barn Quilt Trail and eight more are in the works, including ones in Hamilton, Detroit and Franklin County. The first quilt block in Lauderdale County went up in December 2015, a product of trails that began in Kentucky and Ohio. The trail spread to Colbert, Lawrence, Marion and Winston counties in Alabama and last year received a grant from the state that will add other counties. “We prefer the older barns, but we will put blocks on newer barns sometimes,” Painter says. Word about the trail is spreading.

Bringing people together

The first blocks on the trail were wooden and proved too heavy and cumbersome to hang long term, so Dale Robinson of Florence started stenciling patterns on the same aluminum that road signs are made of. “We found that the metal is so much easier and more durable, and it’s lighter,” he says. He and his wife, Lisa, have been involved with the trail for two years after they read an article about it in the TimesDaily newspaper in Florence. Lisa paints blocks. The quilt trail joins volunteers from all walks of life, including retirees such as Robinson, art students from the University of North Alabama who help stencil and paint blocks and professionals such as Painter for whom the trail has become a meaningful project. Robinson has Parkinson’s Disease and said stenciling quilt patterns keeps his active and his mind sharp. “It’s a challenge,” he says. “My wife enjoys it, so it makes her happy, so it makes me happy.”n The Chuck and Dianne Craig barn in Rogersville, Ala.

For barn owners who would like to display a quilt block: Email the quilt trail coordinators at (this address and other helpful information is on the website at • Patterns must be on 8x8 or 4x4 blocks • The barn must be visible from the road, and has space for drivers to pull over and take photos • No blocks with names or political references or other potential for controversy will be considered. • The web site also pinpoints all barn locations on a Google map, so start making plans for a road trip! 14  APRIL 2019

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Communities pull together after

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Aerial photo shows some of the damage from the March 3 tornado that devastated the Beauregard community in Lee County. PHOTO BY BILLY POPE FOR THE ALABAMA GOVERNOR’S OFFICE

March 3

tornadoes Severe weather dealt a heavy blow to areas across the Southeast on Sunday, March 3, including several co-op areas in Alabama. The entire state mourned the deaths of the 23 people – adults and children – who died in Lee County in the EF-4 tornado that touched down near the Beauregard community, south of Auburn and Opelika.

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Communities pull together after March 3 tornadoes Ninety injuries were also reported; the tornado had winds of 170 mph and had a damage path of more than 26 miles, according to preliminary data from the National Weather Service. There were more tornado deaths in that one day than have occurred nationwide in the past two years, according to The area is part of Tallapoosa River Electric Cooperative’s service territory, in the LaFayette South District. The co-op also reported some damage near Lake Harding, just north of Smiths Station. After the storms, Central Alabama EC sent 16 men, and Pea River EC sent 13 to help restore power to the TREC areas devastated by the tornadoes. At the height of the storm, the co-op reported more than 2,000 outages; crews had restored power substantially by Tuesday night, and by Wednesday to all structures that could receive power. No co-op employees were directly impacted by the storm, but many knew of people in their communities who lost their homes, and in some cases loved ones. As with any severe weather disaster, the co-op employees went right to work after reports of the tornadoes started coming in. Office workers came to the LaFayette office, and crews went to the storm-ravaged areas. Louie Ward, general manager of Tallapoosa River EC, accompanied his crews to the areas. The devastation he saw defied explanation. “All I know to tell you, it looked like a bomb went off,” Ward says. “I’ve seen tornado damage quite a few times in life. This was about as bad as I had seen anywhere.” There has been an outpouring of support, Ward says, from people near and far. “It was very heartwarming to see how the community pulled together,” Ward says. “There was a monumental effort made hours immediately following the tornadoes, and people were boots on the ground providing assistance within hours. I think that speaks to the community and the awareness of how much people needed help.” President Donald Trump approved a Major Disaster Declaration for Lee County on March 5, which triggers the release of federal funds to help people and communities recover from the severe weather. Trump visited Lee County on March 8 to survey the damage and meet with local leaders and victims of the storm.n

A line crew from Pea River EC works to restore power to the Smiths Station area after the tornado of March 3. PHOTO BY BUSTER BISHOP

Ground view showing some of the damage from the March 3 tornado that devastated the Beauregard community in Lee County. PHOTO BY BILLY POPE FOR THE ALABAMA GOVERNOR’S OFFICE

A line crew from Central Alabama EC works to restore power to the Salem area. PHOTO BY BUSTER BISHOP

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Historic town opens its arms to visitors During the Eufaula Pilgrimage many young ladies, like Grace Garvey (white dress) and Annie Kozicki (burgundy dress) here at the Shorter Mansion, wear antebellum dresses to greet the visitors.

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By John N. Felsher


n April 1865, 4,000 much more. We look Union Army solforward to seeing you diers under Gen. this spring in beautiful Eufaula.” Benjamin H. Grierson approached EuWelcome home faula, a port town on Each year, apthe Chattahoochee proximately 7,000 River. Many southvisitors head to the ern cities had already town of about 13,000 burned down during the Civil War. The residents to tour the people of Eufaula, Fendall Hall dates to 1856. During the Eufaula Pilgrimage, evening visitors to the antebellum participating historic relatively untouched mansion can watch local citizens dressed in period clothing talking about the families that homes and experience other events. In by the war so far, owned Fendall Hall during candlelight tours. 2019, the Pilgrimage braced for the worst. will open 12 homes to the public, some during daylight hours and Generals Robert E. Lee and Joseph Johnson had both recently surrendered the two largest Confederate armies, ending the war and some for nighttime tours. sparing the town. “In 1965, 100 years after the Civil War ended, the Eufaula HeriConsequently, many historic mansions and other buildings in tage Association was formed to prevent the loss and destruction of the town built on high bluffs along the Chattahoochee remain inthe town’s historic treasures,” says Pam Snead, the association executive director. “The association purchased the Shorter Mansion tact. With the largest historic district in eastern Alabama and secand started the Eufaula Pilgrimage as a way to raise funds to mainond largest in the state, Eufaula has more than 700 buildings listed tain the mansion. We held the first Eufaula Pilgrimage in 1966. This in the National Register of Historic Places. Six former Alabama governors plus Admiral Thomas Moorer, former chairman of the is the longest running home tour in the state. Besides the Shorter Mansion, all the other homes open to the public this year are priJoint Chiefs of Staff, had all lived in the town named for the Creek vately owned except for Fendall Hall, which is owned by the state.” word describing high bluffs. Many Pilgrimage events occur at the Shorter Mansion at 340 N. Each year in April, the people of Eufaula celebrate how they escaped the devastation suffered by so many other Southern commuEufaula Ave., one of the main roads through town. The mansion nities by opening their historic homes to visitors during the Eufaudates back to 1884 when Eli Sims Shorter of Macon, Ga., built it as la Pilgrimage. Presented by the Eufaula Heritage Association, the a more humble home than the elegant mansion that stands today. 54th annual Eufaula Pilgrimage will run April 5-7. In the early 1900s, an extensive renovation turned it into a Greek “The great tradition continues as we prepare for another Eufaula Revival mansion. The mansion appeared in several movies, most Pilgrimage,” proclaims Jack Tibbs, mayor of Eufaula. “We’re excited prominently, the 2002 film “Sweet Home Alabama” with Reese to see old friends and make new ones as visitors come to enjoy our Witherspoon. Besides the hosting location for the Pilgrimage, the beautiful city. This year, the Pilgrimage should be better than ever mansion also serves as a museum. Construction on Fendall Hall began in 1856. During the Pilwith great shopping opportunities, restaurants, antique shows and Many of the activities during the Eufaula Pilgrimage take place in or around the Shorter Mansion, located at 340 North Eufaula Avenue.

Alabama Living

APRIL 2019  21

grimage, evening visitors to the our visitors something good to eat antebellum mansion can watch before they head home. It’s a wonlocal citizens dressed in period derful meal.” clothing talking about the families Another point of interest that owned Fendall Hall during a Many people stay at Lakepoint Recandlelight tour. Among the other sort State Park just outside of town. characters, re-enactors play Anna People could stay at the park lodge, Beall Young Dent, the second ownwhich offers hotel-style rooms, a er of Fendall Hall, and her husband, first-class restaurant and many othCapt. S.H. Dent, a Confederate war er amenities. Some visitors prefer to hero during the Civil War. rent a cabin or lakeside cottage. Oth“It takes the entire town to put on ers like staying in recreational vehithe Eufaula Pilgrimage each year,” In many of the homes open during the Eufaula Pilgrimage, cles parked in the campground. For Snead says. “Besides the people who musicians play old songs on classic instruments to entertain state park information, see alapark. open up their homes to the pub- guests. Here, two musicians in period clothing entertain com/lakepoint-state-park. lic, we have about 700 volunteers. visitors to the Shorter Mansion. The park sits on Lake Eufaula, Many young ladies wear antebellum one of the best fishing lakes in the nation. Created by a dam on dresses. Everyone puts in a lot of time and effort to get everything the Chattahoochee River, Lake Eufaula spreads across 45,181 acres just right. In some homes, the architecture is the most important spanning part of the Alabama-Georgia border. Officially called thing. In other homes, it might be the antique furnishings or the Walter F. George Reservoir, the impoundment provides outstandhistory of the building, but they all have great histories.” ing fishing for largemouth bass, crappie, catfish, bream and other During home tours and other events, musicians play instruspecies. Some bass exceed 10 pounds. ments such as fiddles, flutes or dulcimers. At the library, children People who can’t make the spring Pilgrimage might consider visdress up like historical figures and talk about their characters. iting Eufaula on Dec. 7. Each year since 2005, the town has held People can also enjoy the outdoor art show on the Randolph a one-day Christmas Tour of Homes. This year, it will feature six Street median, which runs parallel to Eufaula Avenue. Visitors historic homes. can also participate in afternoon teas at the mansion, an antiques “It’s absolutely beautiful!” Snead says. “It’s been a huge success show, photo exhibits and other activities. for us. Besides the home tours, we’ll have a wonderful lunch at the “We always invite a featured speaker to make a presentation at Shorter Mansion. Everything will be beautifully decorated for the the Eufaula Pilgrimage luncheon,” Snead says. “This year, Megan holidays.” Larussa, a stylist from Birmingham, will be teaching the womPeople can purchase tickets for the various events and activities. en different ways to dress with ease. The luncheon takes place on For complete schedules and other information, call 1-888-EUFAUApril 6 at the Eufaula Country Club. On the Sunday of the PilLA (888-383-2852) or visit grimage, we always hold a brunch at the Shorter Mansion to give Left, During the Eufaula Pilgrimage, many town residents get into the spirit of the event by dressing in 19th century attire. Here, Christy Mancill in an antebellum dress and Commander Jan Spitzer, dressed in a 19th century naval uniform, greet visitors to the Shorter Mansion. Right, a town resident dresses in old-fashioned clothing to show off the mansions.

22 APRIL 2019

Alabama Living

APRIL 2019  23

Breathing easy at Camp WheezeAway By Lori M. Quiller


ost recent Alabama data find one in every 10 Alabama adults, or 306,000, suffer from asthma. The data also show more than 12 percent of Alabama children are living with the chronic respiratory disease at some point in their lives. Unfortunately, these children live sheltered lives trying to avoid the triggers that can induce an asthmatic episode. Summer camp was not an option for these children – until Camp WheezeAway opened. “Camp WheezeAway is one of the longest-running asthma camps in the country. It’s a memorial camp dedicated to Patsy Ruff, who was the world’s first successful double lung transplant in 1987,” explained Dr. Amy CaJacob, a pediatric allergist/immunologist and the camp’s medical director. Superheroes fighting asthma, and learning about their triggers.

Learning correct inhaler technique.

“Patsy had asthma, COPD and was a smoker for 22 years. One of the things Patsy wanted was a camp for kids because when she was growing up with asthma, she couldn’t go to a summer camp like her friends. She really wanted kids with asthma to have a normal summer camp experience that she never had, and that’s what we try to do at Camp WheezeAway.”

Education as well as fun

Camp WheezeAway is celebrating its 28th anniversary this year and is free to qualified applicants – youngsters ages 8 to 12 suffering from persistent asthma. Applications are due by May 1, and the camp is May 26-31 at YMCA’s Camp Chandler. CaJacob explained the importance of education about asthma and how to handle its limitations is as much a part of the camp as having fun. Asthma affects nearly 25 million people of all ages and races. An estimated 7 million children have asthma, a chronic disease caused by inflammation of the airways in the lungs. During an asthma attack, the muscles around the airway constrict, the lining of the airway passages swell, and the lungs produce excess mucus making breathing difficult, which can lead to coughing, wheezing and shortness of breath. “Every year at camp on the last night we have a smokeless campfire at night after dinner,” she says. “We wheel around an oxygen tank and talk to the kids about the dangers of smoking. We tell them the story of Patsy Ruff, her surgery, and how the camp began. All the campers are at that age where they may want to experiment with smoking, and they are going to be making their own decisions about their health or possibly succumb to peer pressure about smoking. They need to understand how their decisions will affect their health.”

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Alabama Living

APRIL 2019  25

If you think asthma education is boring, think again. CaJacob and the staff of medical volunteers find new ways each year to make it as interactive and fun as possible for the campers – even if it involves grossing out some of the kids. “We don’t want to bore the kids during the education section. The project I do every year is, well – we make mucus. It’s so messy, but the kids love it! The girls not as much as the boys, though,” she laughed. “We’ve done skits of how to avoid asthma triggers where the kids dress up as ragweed or cigarettes and a rescue inhaler. Sometimes it’s just hands-on training so they can learn how to use their inhalers.” Camp co-founder Brenda Basnight said one of the best things about Camp WheezeAway is that it is a huge boost to a camper’s self-esteem and confidence. At school, they are often singled out for being different because they cannot take part in outdoor activities or physical education classes. “The best thing I hear from these children is that at this camp, they’re not different. Everyone at this camp has asthma, and everyone at this camp takes medicine. No one makes fun of anyone, and the children don’t feel singled out for their medical condition,” Basnight says. “The camp really helps to build their self-esteem and confidence.” Because many of the campers are prescribed medications for their asthma and told when to take it, they may not understand why they need that medication. According to Basnight, each camper leaves with a full understanding of their medication and how to use it. “We make sure the children understand their medicine. Why they need it, what to do with it, when to do it, when Campers are taught which inhalers are for “rescue” and which are controllers that keep their asthma in the “green zone”

Daily water sports include banana boat, sailing, the “blob” and paddle boarding.

they need extra medication … And, everyone has a plan of action when they leave so we know they fully understand the disease and their medications when they leave us,” Basnight says.

Being allowed to be normal

All in all, the campers get a well-rounded experience. From shaving cream battles, kayaking and horseback riding to rock climbing and archery – and anything you can think of doing in the lake – plenty of emphasis is placed on kids with asthma being normal kids. In many instances, Camp WheezeAway is a camper’s first sleepover outside the home. Because campers are not allowed cell phones, CaJacob assures parents they should not worry. A mother herself, there are plenty of times when she shrugs off her physician’s coat for her mom hat. “For a lot of our campers, it’s their first time away from home, and we get a lot of homesickness that first night. Part of my job is doctoring that week, but a lot of it is just being a mom! That first night the kids can’t sleep or have tummy aches, but when they settle in and start having fun, everything is just fine! Campers aren’t allowed cell phones, but we take plenty of photos and stay in touch with parents by sending them photos of the activities,” CaJacob says. Camp WheezeAway operates solely by donations. No qualified child pays to attend Camp WheezeAway. All staff, including medical staff, are strictly volunteer. For more information regarding selection or medical qualifications and limitations, contact Brenda Basnight, CRT, at Donations are appreciated and can be made online at 26  APRIL 2019

Alabama Living

APRIL 2019  27

28  APRIL 2019

April | Around Alabama

Photo courtesy of the Baldwin County Strawberry Festival.

5 p.m. Saturday, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday. $5 adults; $2 ages 2-12. More than 100 exhibitors, the new Antique Alley, petting zoo, storytellers, live music, food and children’s activities. Proceeds benefit community projects.

The 32nd Annual Baldwin County Strawberry Festival is April 13-14 in Loxley.


Eufaula, 54th Annual Eufaula Pilgrimage. Alabama’s oldest tour of homes. More than 700 structures listed on the National Register. Take guided tours of homes and sites and enjoy an art show, concerts, a wax museum and more. For more information and an event schedule, visit


Prattville, Wilson Pickett Music and Arts Festival, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Art projects for kids, art vendors, local talent, music, chalk artists, food vendors, giveaways and more. Concert begins at 6 p.m. after the festival. Pratt Park, 460 Doster Road. Free. 334595-0854 or visit


Auburn, AU Fisheries Field Day. Fisheries Field Day and Grand Opening of the Fisheries Learning Center. 9:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. at the E.W. Shell Fisheries Research Center, 2101 N. College St. Features tours of the facilities and ponds, food vendors, extended fish market hours, children’s activities and presentations by faculty and students. Free. 334-844-2874 or email


Enterprise, Annual Mitchell Automotive Chick-fil-A 5K and 1-mile Fun Run to benefit WinShape Summer Camp scholarships. 8 a.m. at Enterprise High School, 1801 Boll Weevil Circle. Register at itsyourrace. com. $25 for 5k, $15 for 1-mile. Registration includes t-shirt and

Family Fun Zone activities. Visit the Facebook event page for more information.


Cullman, 35th Annual Bloomin’ Festival Arts and Crafts Fair. More than 150 artisans. Pottery, brooms, leather art, jewelry, plants and more. Visit Ave Maria Grotto for a reduced-price admission of $3. $5 donation requested; children 5 and under free. Proceeds benefit St. Bernard Prep School. Rain or shine. 9 a.m.-5 p.m. St. Bernard Prep School, 1600 St. Bernard Drive SE.


New Brockton, 2019 Fish, Forestry, Wildlife and Outdoor Skills Event. Speakers from around Alabama will present on various topics. Preregistration $10, $15 at the door. Topics include beekeeping, orienteering, CPR, canoeing, shooting and more. Proceeds will go toward the maintenance of the 55-acre lake at Boy Scout Camp Alaflo. For more information, visit ffwos.wordpress. com. Boy Scout Camp Alaflo, 830 County Road 156.


Theodore, Easter Egg Hunt and Breakfast with the Easter Bunny at Bellingrath Gardens. 8 a.m.12 p.m. Thousands of Easter eggs will be scattered across the Great Lawn. The Easter Bunny will be available for professional photos. The Magnolia Café will host the 6th annual Breakfast with the Easter Bunny from

8-9:30 a.m.; reservations required for breakfast.


Montgomery, Alabama Book Festival in Old Alabama Town. Author presentations, book signings, children’s activities, exhibitors and vendors, including food vendors.

Livingston, Sucarnochee Folklife Festival, Sumter County Courthouse Square. 9 a.m.4 p.m. Features cooking contests, Easter bonnet parade, ghost walk tour, music, food, art and more. For more information, visit


Jemison, Spring Antiques in the Garden Show. Vendors will sell antiques, crafts and collectibles; food vendors will be available. Petals from the Past, 16034 County Road 29.


Arab, Back-When Day, Arab Historic Village. Features oldfashioned activities as such quilting, cornmeal grinding, blacksmithing, storytelling, playing checkers, crafts for children and more. Live bluegrass and gospel music. Event is free; country dinner plates will be sold. 256-550-0290 or 256-586-6793.





Enterprise, 45th Annual Piney Woods Arts Festival. Saturday 9 a.m.5 p.m., Sunday 12-4 p.m. Enterprise State Community College. Juried arts and crafts show features original arts and crafts by more than 100 artists. Children’s activities, food, entertainment, student art display and more. Free. For more information, contact the Coffee County Arts Alliance at 334-406-2787 or visit Loxley, 32nd Annual Baldwin County Strawberry Festival, Loxley Municipal Park, Highway 59 South. More than 180 arts and crafts exhibitors, food vendors, carnival, children’s games, antique car show and live music. Proceeds benefit Loxley Elementary School and the ARC Baldwin County. 9 a.m.-5 p.m. both days. baldwincountystrawberryfestival. org


Fort Deposit, 48th annual Calico Fort Arts and Crafts Fair. 9 a.m.-

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


Wetumpka, French and Indian War Encampment, Fort Toulouse-Fort Jackson Park. This annual event focuses on military, Indian and civilian life at a French frontier fort and Creek village in 1756. Living history demonstrations, periodcorrect re-enactors and vendors. $4 adults, $2 school-aged children Saturday; $2 adults and $1 children on Sunday. Pike Road, Spring Chicken Festival at SweetCreek Farm Market, 85 Meriwether Road. Live music, BBQ cookoff, kids’ activities, corn hole contest, craft vendors, food and more. Free. Visit SweetCreek Farm Market Facebook page for more information.


Troy, TroyFest 2019. Fine art and crafts festival held in honor of Jean Lake in downtown Troy. Juried arts awards, live music, children’s activities and more. 334-674-2455 or

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APRIL 2019 29


| Worth the drive |

Take a look inside Gather at!

A modern take on comfort food in Atmore Story by Allison Law, Photos by Mark Stephenson


tmore may be best known today as the home of the Wind main reason behind that, but we are a part of that. Makes us feel Creek Casino and Hotel, which towers above the landscape good about what we’re doing, and what we’re bringing to the comoff Interstate 65. munity.” But the locals – and increasingly, What they’re bringing is a simple, travelers too – know that there’s anothstraight-forward approach to food – er draw, one that has brought a new foSouthern classics with a modern twist. cus to Atmore’s downtown area. The menu is traditional, filled with faGather Restaurant, built on the site miliar foods and minimal ingredients. of a Pure Pep filling station, celebrated “We’re not trying to hide anything its one-year anniversary in October. Its with a bunch of ingredients or sauces or owners, husband and wife team Chris garnishes,” Chris says. and Beth McElhaney, are natives of The signature dish is likely the ribeye the area and are proud that their little (it’s also the best-seller), seasoned simrestaurant – it only seats 76 patrons – ply and expertly cooked. But the fish of has helped breathe new life into downthe day is a close second, served with The site of Gather Restaurant was originally a Pure Pep town. pimento grits, green beans and shrimp gas station that dated to the 1920s. Over the years it has “We’re getting some attention from been a hair salon, a car wash and boutique stores. Today, sauce. out-of-towners who say, ‘Gather is it’s an anchor of downtown Atmore. The Un-Smashed Burger may be the what’s drawing us to Atmore,’” says tastiest-looking, and potentially intimiChris, the executive chef. Other businesses are stepping up and dating, dish. The eight-ounce patty is smothered in cheddar, bacon, sprucing up, he says, and the city is working to secure grants to fried jalapenos and homemade barbecue sauce, served with fried continue revitalization projects downtown. “I know we’re not the pork skins and what they call “pimento cheez whiz,” a dipping sauce 30 APRIL 2019

Alabama Living

APRIL 2019  31

Gather Restaurant

111 W. Nashville Ave. Atmore, AL 36502 251-303-8080 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday; reservations highly recommended on weekend nights Search “Gather Restaurant Atmore” on Facebook


that’s a perfect complement to the cheese oozing off the burger. Want more? Add an egg, grilled onions, fried mozzarella, blue cheese … pile it on. Perhaps the most talked-about item on the menu: Chef Chris’ Original Brussels Sprouts. Don’t turn up your nose yet. “That’s our No. 1 appetizer, and it’s phenomenal,” Beth says. Chris flash-fries the tiny cabbages and tosses them in a honey balsamic sauce with shaved red onion, and tops them with pork belly. “We have so many people who say, ‘We hate brussels sprouts, but these have been just life-changing,’” Beth says. As if on cue, a couple of patrons stop by to tell Chris and Beth how much they love them. “I’m a convert,” the man says, and his wife nods in agreement.

The road back home

Chris and Beth grew up in the same small town of Bratt, Fla., just across the state line from Atmore. They were high school sweethearts and lived just a mile apart. Their families still live there and help out with the six McElhaney children, ages 4 to 13. Both were in college when Chris made a decision that would completely change his career path. He was just a few months shy of earning an engineering degree from Auburn when he decided to go to culinary school at Johnson and Wales, then in Charleston, S.C. He worked with award-winning chef Frank McMahon, who became a mentor. Beth and Chris started their career in restaurants — New Orleans, Mobile, elsewhere. “Through all of our travels, we kind of came back through (Atmore),” Chris says. Turns out, the place they kept coming back to was where they needed to be. Nearly 20 years, several jobs and a few disappointments later, the couple partnered with Rob Faircloth of David’s Catfish restaurants to open Gather in Atmore. About six months in, Faircloth offered the couple the chance to buy him out, and since July 2019, Gather has ben all theirs. And they couldn’t be happier. “We feel like we made a good decision,” Chris says. “Since July, it’s just been growing. People are driving here from Birmingham. Not because they’re passing through. Now, they may be going to the casino, but they’re coming here to eat.” Beth agrees. “We’re getting people from Mobile and Pensacola. It’s truly a blessing.” Unsmashed burger, a Gather favorite.

32 APRIL 2019

Chris and Beth McElhaney, owners of Gather, stand in the bar area, which was the original gas station building. The couple has tried to retain the century-old character of the structure, and used reclaimed materials throughout the restaurant.

Making the most of small space

The intimacy of the restaurant is evident. The kitchen is open, which Chris likes, because it’s both an education and entertainment for the patrons. But it is a small space, especially when the staff pumps out 100 dishes in an evening. A side patio with garage doors is open in nice weather. And the cozy brick-walled bar area was the original gas station. Both areas are small, but the McElhaneys have no desire to expand the footprint. But they would love to open other locations. “I think with lots of prayer, that will happen in the next few years. We’ve actually had people bring different offers to us,” Beth says. “That’s flattering, it really is. So definitely, that’s there in the back of our heads.” Chris handles the kitchen, while Beth works in the front of the house and also does all the baking. She started baking just a few years ago, doing it for other restaurants; now she bakes for Gather only, sticking to the simple, Southern-style formula that Chris uses for the savory dishes. “I have lots of my grandmother’s recipes,” she says, and makes such familiar favorites as red velvet cake, lemon ice box pie, and the decadent pecan pie cheesecake – a pecan pie on top of a Graham cracker crust, topped with a brown sugar cheesecake and covered with caramel sauce and whipped cream. “I guess the best compliment you can get is people who say, ‘It feels like I should be here. It’s just a good atmosphere,’” Chris says.n

Alabama Living

APRIL 2019  33

| Alabama People |

Bill Deutsch

Protecting Alabama’s waterways Few, if any, people know Alabama’s rivers, streams and lakes better than Bill Deutsch. He has spent more than 30 years investigating and protecting the state’s 130,000 miles of waterways as an aquatic biologist in Auburn University’s School of Fisheries, Aquaculture and Aquatic Sciences. For 21 of those years, he served as director of Alabama Water Watch, a community-based water monitoring program Deutsch cofounded in 1992. Over those years he gathered stories — his own and those of thousands of other Alabamians who, as he said, “know and love their local waterbodies.” When he retired from Auburn in 2013, Deutsch began using those stories to chronicle the human and natural past, present and future of our waterways. That book, Alabama Rivers, A Celebration and Challenge, came out in 2018 to critical acclaim. Since then, Deutsch has kept a busy speaking schedule talking to diverse groups concerned about Alabama’s water resources and to the students in his Auburn University Osher Lifelong Learning Institute course on Alabama rivers. Here, he answers a few questions about what makes water special — and at risk — in Alabama. — Katie Jackson What spurred your interest in water? When I was a child, my father dug me a pond that was about the size of your kitchen table. He literally hand-made me a net and we went to the local ponds and streams to collect crayfish and little fish to stock the pond. About that time, my father also gave me a can of rust remover to clean up my bicycle. One day when I was away, a neighborhood kid came over to our yard and poured the rust remover into the pond, killing everything in it. That was my first up-close and personal ecological disaster — but it was a formative moment. When I retold this story once at a Water Watch meeting, a woman came up to me and said, “I am so glad that kid poured the rust remover into your pond. It’s put you on a 50-year vendetta to clean up the world’s water.”

What are the greatest threats to our water resources? This question has been recently kicked around by some of my friends and colleagues as we receive calls from reporters. There are answers regarding three areas: water quality, water quantity and flow, and people and society. Water quality is affected by sedimentation, excess nutrients and toxins. Water quantity and flow are affected by storm water runoff and large dams that obstruct fish migrations, change the river substrate and disrupt the life cycles of aquatic organisms. People and society affect our water because of a lack of awareness and concern about how rivers work and the valuable ecological services they provide, outright arrogance and greed and a lack of political will and leadership that could lead to sensible restoration and protection of our rivers. Do you sense a new awareness of our waterways among the general public? I’d like to think that there is. If you wind the clock back just 30 years, which isn’t that long ago, there were no organizations like the Alabama Rivers Alliance, Alabama Water Watch and the eight River Keeper groups. When you think about what the last quarter century has done — tens of thousands of people have been contacted and more diverse groups are joining the conversation. More than 10,000 kids were reached just last year through the 4-H Water Watch program. Many more children were taught how to kayak and be safe and comfortable on the water through the River Kids program of the Alabama Cooperative Extension System. I think these groups are gaining more credibility in their communities, and I am encouraged, but we’ve got a long way to go. What are the most important things citizens can do to help protect our water resources? My book addresses “Seven Challenges” that citizens and policy-makers alike can use to protect our water: 1) keep learning about rivers, 2) expand river education programs, 3) make water conservation a way of life, 4) support river organizations, 5) promote good water policy, 6) develop a personal river ethic and 7) get out on the water to experience and enjoy Alabama’s wonderful rivers! Is there one fact about water that people should know, or a fact that can connect us all to water in a more personal way? Alabama is a river state! The book addresses “Seven Celebrations” that summarize much of what is special about our rivers. Alabama rivers are: full of life, with more types of fish, turtles, mussels, snails and crawfish than any other state; ancient and physically diverse; beautiful, mysterious and spiritually enriching; an intimate part of Alabama’s history and culture; key to the state’s economy, past, present and future; precious and the source of vital ecological services such as breaking down pollution and mitigating flooding and drought; and lastly, vulnerable and need our care! I know you’re in great demand for speaking engagements. Where can people hear you or how can they contact you? The book’s website,, has information on upcoming talks and a link to schedule future talks. You can also schedule me through the Alabama Bicentennial Commission’s Read Alabama program at

34 APRIL 2019

Alabama Living

APRIL 2019  35

The future of farming

Hunger charity changes lives with high-tech agriculture Story and photos by Michael Cornelison


roviding food to a community in need is a challenge the volunteers of Manna House in north central Alabama have been meeting since 2004. But keeping up with the growing demand for the nutrient-rich, flavorful greens prescribed for those going through medical treatments, like chemotherapy and dialysis, required a new approach, and perhaps a bit of divine intervention. As the director of Manna House, Fran Fluhler’s mission for the past 15 years has been to make sure the resources to feed those in need are available. While donated food goes a long way toward supplying what’s needed, it’s always a challenge to find a ready supply of fresh lettuce for more than 3,000 salads each week. “It’s expensive to buy that much lettuce, so we decided there had to be a better way to have a more consistent supply at an affordable price,” Fluhler says. A better way presented itself when their supplier, a grower of hydroponic lettuce in Flatrock, went out of business. As the search for a new supplier started, a conversation with Gary Jordan, a Manna House volunteer and former industrial maintenance technician, led to the idea they could do it themselves. “When Gary brought it up it was like an answer to our prayers because we needed someone with that passion and desire. He feels called to not only feed people but to teach others how to as well,” Fluhler says. Soon after, Jordan spent a week in Florida at Hydroponic Gardening Bootcamp with Chester Bullock, the owner of Hydrostacker. “Chester has been very gracious, giving his time at no charge to come up and help us get everything started,” Fluhler says.

New life

What they started is Manna House’s Fields of Green Hydroponic Garden. Jordan and his group of mostly volunteer workers have transformed an abandoned machine shop in Lacey’s Spring, a small community in northeastern Morgan County, into 36  APRIL 2019

Volunteer Gary Jordan has been an integral part of Manna House’s Fields of Green Hydroponic Garden project.

a 15,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art indoor hydroponic garden capable of producing around 20,000 heads of lettuce every month. “We will plant them in a staggered rotation of 5,000 heads harvested each week, giving us a constant supply throughout the month,” Jordan says. Abundant supply is only one of the benefits of the growing system; freshness and flavor are the real advantages. “We pull the entire plant, roots and all, immerse them in cool water, and deliver them locally within 24 hours,” Jordan says. This method preserves the nutrients in the lettuce while keeping it fresh longer. “The plants are grown in a sterile media within a controlled environment, without being touched by human hands from seed to delivery.” Everything used in the process is all natural and non-toxic. “You can pick it and eat it right there,” he added. Not only did they find an affordable location with the room they needed, but there is also a workforce ready to learn a new trade. “We found in Lacey’s Spring a lot of really great, hard-working people who were willing to learn a new skill set for better jobs,” Fluhler says. Jordan has made training and education part the mission of Fields of Green from the start. “I want to teach people that indoor hydroponic farming is what farms are going to look like in the future,” he says, “and I think we can train people to go into the workforce in this growing industry.” Their goal is to teach other non-profits, schools and even families to grow food in an economical, sustainable way. When fully operational, Jordan expects to employ as many as 15 local workers.

Farmer’s Pie


‘Best of Alabama Living’ cookbook $


Order your copy for $19.95 at, or send a check for $19.95 for each book ordered to: Alabama Living Cookbook P.O. Box 244014 Montgomery, AL 36124

Alabama Living




Please provide the information below and mail with your payment. Name: _________________________________________________ Address: _______________________________________________ City: _________________________ State: _____ Zip: _________ Phone: _______________________ Copies Requested: _____ Email __________________________________________________

1 ½ 2 1 1 1 1 1 4 ½ 1 ¼

pound ground pork sausage, crumbled cup onion, chopped cups shredded Colby cheese cup broccoli, chopped and blanched cup cooked brown wild rice tomato, cored and chopped 2-ounce can sliced black olives 10-inch unbaked piecrust large eggs cup whipping cream teaspoon garlic, crushed teaspoon ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a large skillet over medium heat, brown sausage about 5 minutes. Add onion and continue to cook until onion is fragrant and translucent, 3-5 minutes; drain thoroughly. Remove from heat and stir in cheese, broccoli, rice, tomato and olives. Transfer into piecrust. Combine together eggs, whipping cream, garlic and pepper; pour over sausage mixture to cover. Bake 10 minutes; reduce heat to 400 degrees, bake additional 35 minutes or until brown.

APRIL 2019 37

The power of partnerships

“TVA’s EnergyRight Solutions for Business + Industry now offers incentives for smart energy technologies that support indoor Plants need three things to grow hyrdoponically: water, nuagriculture. Incentive programs like these can help businesses like trients, and light – lots of light. When farming indoors, the light Manna House realize their goals,” Jackson says. comes from electric lamps, which in this case means 1,300 LED Once Joe Wheeler EMC contacted TVA, The Electric Power Refixtures using 105 watts each, equating to an annual usage of search Institute (EPRI) was invited to provide additional support around 1.2 million kWh. with its past experience, and ongoing research, in lighting, HVAC, To help them figure out the most efficient way to power their water heating, buildings, end-use devices and specifically indoor new endeavor, they called their local electric cooperative, Joe agriculture, which EPRI has been researching intensely since 2013. Wheeler EMC. “We really appreciate Joe Wheeler EMC. They have Thus far EPRI has provided Manna House with additional just been great to work with,” says Fluhler. “We are great at feeding ideas to reduce their energy usage, some suggestions about techpeople, but when it comes to electricity, that’s beyond our capabilniques they may be able to use ities, so we called the experts.” to maximize or increase their After assessing the electrical crop yields, and the lab evaluneeds of the grow house and ation of the performance and consulting with Jordan about spectral output of the LED fixupgrading to more efficient ture used by Manna House to equipment, Joe Wheeler EMC assure compliance with specicontacted the Tennessee Valley fications. EPRI’s lab measureAuthority (TVA), the cooperments show LED fixtures conative’s electricity provider, recsumed the power it claimed ommending Fields of Green and had the claimed spectral as an optimal candidate for output with significant porthe EnergyRight Solutions for tions of red and blue spectrum Business + Industry program. light being emitted. This program offers financial The partnerships with TVA, assistance to help reduce the From left, Joe Wheeler EMC General Manager George Kitchens and EPRI, and Joe Wheeler EMC cost of implementing smart en- TVA Program Manager Claire Jackson present a check to Manna House are helping Fluhler, Jordan and ergy technologies. Director Fran Fluhler and volunteer Gary Jordan. The funds helped Manna the volunteers fulfill the origiThese incentives are provid- House start and build its new hydroponic growing operation. nal mission of Manna House – ed through local power compato feed those in need. They will be fully operational by the last week nies like Joe Wheeler EMC in partnership with TVA. The Manof April, supplying the charity with fresh lettuce and selling the rest na House project qualified for an incentive payment of $119,574, to local stores and restaurants, raising money to put back into the greatly offsetting the startup cost of the growing operation and operation of the garden. The target date for the grand opening of helping them get up and running faster. the Fields of Green Garden is the last Saturday in April depending “Investing in emerging electric technologies can reduce the caron the current crop development. bon footprint, increase productivity, enhance brand image and imFor updates and information, prove bottom lines. Indoor agriculture provides growers the ability visit or call to deliver fresh produce year-round in any location,” says TVA 256-653-7883. Program Manager Claire Jackson. Lettuce plants grow in rows at the Fields of Green Hydroponic Garden project. INSET: Because the hydroponic plants do not need the full light spectrum and utilize predominantly light in the red and blue spectrum to grow, the LED fixtures used in agriculture make the grow room glow a bright pink when in operation, requiring workers to wear special glasses when inside.

38  APRIL 2019


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| Outdoors |

Gary Chamlee of Rainsville bagged a number of unusual deer while hunting on his property in DeKalb County. This includes a whitetail buck still in velvet. Deer antlers look like velvet while growing, but they usually harden by the time hunting season begins in the fall; a whitetail buck with a 4-inch third antler growing out of the middle of its head like a unicorn; a whitetail buck with about a 10-inch antler sticking out from under its left eye; and a doe with antlers. PHOTOS BY GARY CHAMLEE

Eli Walston shows off the painted skull of a fanged deer he shot when he was nine years old hunting in DeKalb County with his father, Clinton Walston of Fyffe. Note the fangs protruding out from either side of the mouth near the front of its upper jaw. Eli called the deer “Buckcula” and painted the skull green. PHOTO BY CLINTON WALSTON

Weird racks make for unusual deer trophies


eepers of white-tailed deer records list two different categories for antlers: typical and non-typical. However, some non-typicals look even more non-typical than most! While hunting with his father Clinton Walston of Fyffe, Eli Walston shot possibly the buck of his lifetime at the ripe old age of 9 years old. They hunted on the Sapp Family farm next to property owned by Eli’s grandfather. “We were out of school that week so my dad and I decided to go hunting for a couple hours before dark,” Eli recalls. “About 30 minutes before dark, we started walking back to the truck. The driveway is about 450 yards long. About halfway to the end of the driveway, I was looking through the binoculars and told Daddy I spotted a deer, but he didn’t believe me. He got out of the truck, looked thought the scope and then asked me if I wanted to shoot it. It was the biggest deer I ever had a chance to shoot.” Already an experienced hunter with a 6-point buck to his credit, the young sportsman propped a .308 rifle on the truck tailgate and fired at the deer 252 yards away. When retrieving the 8-point buck, they didn’t notice anything unusual about it and brought Eli’s deer to a taxidermist. When they picked up the skull mount later, the taxidermist pointed out

John N. Felsher lives in Semmes, Ala. Contact him through Facebook.

40 APRIL 2019

two small objects protruding from the top of the deer’s upper jaw. “When we picked up the deer, the taxidermist told us it had fangs,” Eli says. “We never noticed that before. The taxidermist said he had heard about deer like that, but had never seen another one. The taxidermist looked on the internet and said that only six other deer like that had ever been killed in the United States -- six does and a spike buck. Mine was an 8-point, so it was the biggest deer like that ever recorded.” Eli dubbed the fanged “vampire” deer “Buckcula.” “I’ve been hunting since I was about 6 years old and never saw anything like it either,” echoes his father. “We bring it to hunting shows sometime and it always creates quite a stir.” Gary Chamlee, a Walston family friend from nearby Rainsville, never saw another fanged “Buckcula” either. But he bagged more than his share of antlered oddballs while hunting his own property in DeKalb County. This list includes a 7-point antlered doe. Very rarely, a whitetail doe with an imbalance of hormones grows antlers just like a buck. Another big-racked buck taken on that property really sticks out. By that, I mean this weird buck had about 10 inches of antler sticking out from under its left eye. “I’d get a game camera picture of it every now and then,” Chamlee says. “I hunted that deer pretty hard for a couple years, but I didn’t realize that that horn was there. In photos, it looked like he was sticking his tongue out. I was sitting in a ground blind

and killed it with a bow. Nobody could explain to me why it had a 10-inch antler sticking out from under its left eye.” Deer commonly grow deformed antlers for various reasons. Sometimes, deer suffer antler deformities stemming from genetics, maybe nutritional reasons or perhaps because of an injury. Unlike a cow with true horns, white-tailed deer shed their antlers each spring and regrow new ones by early fall. A deer that grows weird antlers one year because of an injury tends to repeat that pattern each year. Chamlee mounted the “stick out” deer’s head and entered it in the Alabama Whitetail Records book. He also takes it to outdoor shows where it always attracts considerable attention. “That deer dropped four inches from every point from the previous year,” Chamlee explains. “It was actually trying to grow another section behind that one. I guess it was pulling calcium out for that piece of antler to grow.” On the same property, Chamlee bagged an odd deer sporting the usual pair of antlers on either side of its head. On this one, though, a third antler grew in the middle of its head. “This property must have odd genetics,” Chamlee theorizes. “Some really neat deer came off this property. This deer had a 4-inch horn growing out of the middle of its head like a unicorn. I also killed an 8-point buck in velvet with what they call ‘devil points’ that stick straight out about an inch long. I never know what I might shoot on that property.”n

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The Moon Clock and resulting Moon Times were developed 36 years ago by Doug Hannon, one of America’s most trusted wildlife experts and a tireless inventor. The Moon Clock is produced by DataSport, Inc. of Atlanta, GA (, a company specializing in wildlife activity time prediction. Alabama Living

APRIL 2019 41

| Gardens |

Spring plant sales:

Great plants for great causes


hat if you could buy excellent plants for your garden and plant your dollars in a worthy cause? You can if you shop at one of the many charity plant sales that sprout up across the state this time of year. Each of these events, typically hosted by local civic, garden and conservation groups, offer unique inventories of plants (and sometimes gardening supplies) which may include shrubs, trees, annuals, perennials, bedding plants, hanging baskets, native plants, ferns, vegetables, herbs and more. Take the recent Lee County Kiwanis Club’s Annual Azalea Sale, which did a booming business back in early March despite intermittent downpours of rain. According to Steve Eden, who has chaired the event for all its 32 years, the Kiwanis sale is put on by a cadre of hardworking Kiwanians dedicated to providing plants for gardeners and funding for local charities. Their dedication pays off for the 10 or more local causes, ranging from children’s charities to the area food bank, that benefit from the club’s hard work and generosity. It’s also paid off in customer support. “We have a loyal following of repeat customers, many of whom have come every year since it began in 1987,” Eden says. What’s the draw? “Quality plants,” says Eden, who noted that the azaleas, camellias, hydrangeas, roses and other plants in their sale are sourced from Alabama growers, which ensures that the plants are healthy and well-suited for local growing conditions. What’s more, customers have access to on-site experts like Eden (a professional landscape contractor), the Lee County Master Gardeners and the horticultural staff at University ACE Hardware, which hosts the event in their parking lot. Other sales are conducted in support of public gardens, such as the Friends of the Birmingham Botanical Garden’s 50th

Anniversary Spring Plant Sale set for April 12–14 in Brookwood Village. According to Mindy Black, director of communications and marketing with the Gardens, this sale is their largest fundraiser of the year, grossing more than $250,000 each year. Proceeds benefit educational programming, such as BBG’s Discovery Field Trips, which bring more than 8,000 Birmingham City School students to the Gardens each year, and also support the day-to-day operations of the Gardens. “At the same time,

the sale celebrates a real passion for gardens, plants and the environment,” Black says. Looking for a sale in your area? Keep an eye out for announcements in area newspapers or other community calendars and newsletters, or check with local public gardens, Alabama Cooperative System Extension offices, Master Gardeners or conservation associations or garden clubs. If you miss this year’s spring sale season, take heart. A number of these groups also host fall plant sales!n

The 30th annual Lee County Kiwanis Club’s Azalea Sale, held last month in Auburn, included a wide range of azalea cultivars and other ornamental shrubs for gardeners eager to get out this spring and plant.

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

42  APRIL 2019

Plant sale shopping strategies

Pop-up plant sales are extremely popular — Birmingham Botanical Gardens’ spring sale alone draws some 7,000 shoppers each year — so you may need a Black Friday-like shopping strategy. Here are a few tips to make the experience fun and productive. • Shop early for the best selection. However, if you’re looking for a bargain you may be able to find one during the last hours of a sale. • Many sales let you pre-order plants, and their plant lists may be available in advance to help you compose your shopping list. • Use a plant guide to look up the growing characteristics and needs of unfamiliar plants and ensure you’re purchasing plants suited for your needs and site. • Take along old newspapers or plastic trash bags to protect your vehicle’s carpets and other interior spaces. • Though many sales accept credit cards, play it safe by taking along cash (in small denominations) and/or a checkbook. • Be prepared to get your purchased plants in the ground as soon as possible or protect them from extreme temperatures and dehydration until you can plant them.

Upcoming plant sales

• April 4-7, Baldwin County Master Gardener Plant Sale, Fairhope; • April 12-14, Birmingham and Huntsville Botanical Gardens Spring Plant Sales; and April 20, Auburn University Davis • Arboretum Azalea Festival and Spring Plant Sale; arboretum/ • April 25-27, Aldridge Garden Plant Sale, Hoover; • April 27, Capitol City Master Gardeners Plant Sale, Montgomery; www.

APRIL TIPS • Prune spring-flowering shrubs after they have flowered.

• Plant peppers, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, eggplants and parsley.

• Sow seed for corn, squash, cucumbers, beans and melons.

• Plant summer annuals and bulbs and container-grown roses.

• Begin fertilizing warm-season lawns and landscape and houseplants.

• Keep newly planted shrubs and trees well-watered.

• Look out for emerging weed, 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. Alabama Living

APRIL 2019  43

| Alabama Recipes |

Short Sweet &


Though it can be fleeting, our state’s strawberry season surely is sweet.


ue to our state’s size and varied growing zones, strawberry season across the entirety of Alabama can last for several months, beginning in the southern section and spreading to the north. But in in each specific spot, it’s rarely that long. Some years, it’s only a scant few weeks. But no matter its duration, it’s always greeted with enthusiasm. The ruby gems are a sign that winter is really over and spring is in full swing. Plus, they herald more good things to come; as one of the first fruits to arrive each year (peaches and other berries come later), their heady scent and juicy, candy-like flavor whet our appetites for the abundance of fresh produce that later spring and summer will bring. Fervent fans of the fruit have likely been dreaming of their first bite into the season’s inaugural ripe strawberry since sometime in early February, when Valentine’s Day paraphernalia resembling the berry’s plump, curved shape brings them back to mind. Their appearance’s similarity to hearts is no coincidence to those who truly love them. And for the wholly devoted, not just any ole strawberry will do. A perfect strawberry should be shiny and cardinal red. It should carry slightly lighter shades of this exterior hue inside; there should be very little flavorless white core. It should be soft but still a bit firm between the teeth, and it should flood the tongue with simple sugar and a tiny tang at the end of the taste. Even an average strawberry is a treat eaten straight out of hand, but if you’d like to incorporate them into your cooking, we’ve got you covered with these reader-submitted recipes.

44  APRIL 2019

Cook of the Month

Arneather Gaines, Black Warrior EMC

Strawberry Jam Cake 1 2 1 5 1 1 4 1/2 1 1 1 1 1 1

cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened cups granulated sugar teaspoon vanilla extract eggs teaspoon baking soda cup buttermilk cups cake flour teaspoon salt teaspoon ground cinnamon teaspoon ground nutmeg teaspoon ground allspice teaspoon ground ginger cup chopped pecans 18-ounce jar strawberry jam Confectioners’ sugar for dusting

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and lightly flour three 9-inch round cake pans. In a large bowl, cream the butter, sugar and vanilla extract until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating the mixture well after each addition. In a small bowl, stir the baking soda into the buttermilk. Set aside. In another bowl, sift together the flour, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and ginger. Add the dry ingredients, alternating with the buttermilk, to the creamed butter and sugar mixture, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients; mix well. Fold in the pecans and 1/4 cup of the jam. Set the remainder of the jam aside. Mix well. Divide the batter evenly into the prepared cake pans. Bake for 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of each layer comes out clean. Remove from the oven. Cool the layers in the pans on wire racks for 10 minutes, then unmold the layer on wire racks to cool completely. After the layers have completely cooled, transfer each layer, one at a time, to a serving platter. Spread the remaining strawberry jam between each layer and on top of the cake’s edge. Garnish the top of the cake with confectioners’ sugar. (I sprinkle confectioners’ sugar between the layers as well.) Makes one 9-inch cake.

Keep ‘em sweet & sound Strawberries are a delicate fruit, so the key to keeping good ones just right is careful consideration when handling and storing them. • Store them in the fridge (unless you are using them within one day). • Keep the stems on until right before eating. This will prolong freshness. • Don’t wash them until you’re ready to use them. Any water left on strawberries will bring on mold. • Be on the lookout for overly ripe or already spoiled berries in your bunch. If you find any, discard them. They’ll make the rest of the strawberries spoil more quickly. Alabama Living

APRIL 2019  45

Strawberry Cheesecake Crust: 1 pack graham crackers, crushed 51/2 tablespoons butter, melted Filling: 8 ounces cream cheese 21/2 tablespoons butter 1/3 cup honey 2 teaspoons vanilla 1 cup frozen strawberries, blended Crust: Mix together melted butter and crushed graham crackers. Pat into 9-inch pan. Filling: Blend cream cheese. Add butter, honey and vanilla. Then mix in blended strawberries (don’t blend them in though). Pour filling into crust and freeze overnight. Top with a strawberry after it’s frozen. Cook’s note: Don’t put in the refrigerator. This cheesecake thaws very quickly. Caleb Pittman Joe Wheeler EMC

Strawberry and Satsuma Salad 1 pound strawberries, hulled and sliced 4 satsumas (clementines or oranges can be substituted) 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, plus more to taste 21/2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh mint, plus a sprig for garnish

Strawberry oatmeal bars

Strawberry Oatmeal Bars

Strawberry Trifle

1/4 cups all-purpose flour 1 11/4 cups quick-cooking oats 1/2 cup sugar 1/2 teaspoon baking powder 1/4 teaspoon salt 3/4 cup butter, melted 2 teaspoons vanilla extract 1 cup strawberry preserves ½ cup flaked coconut

uncan Hines French Vanilla cake mix D 2 12-ounce cartons Cool Whip (lite or sugar free works best) 1 pint to 1 quart fresh strawberries, sliced (or 16-ounce bag frozen sliced strawberries) Toasted pecans, chopped

In a bowl, combine dry ingredients. Add butter and vanilla; stir until crumbly. Set aside 1 cup. Press remaining crumb mixture evenly into an ungreased 13×9inch baking pan. Spread preserves over crust. Combine coconut and reserved crumb mixture, sprinkle over preserves. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until coconut is lightly browned. Cool on a wire rack. Cut into bars. Makes 3 dozen. Mary Lindley Joe Wheeler EMC

Place strawberries in a bowl. Peel and separate the satsuma pieces from 3 of the satsumas and add to the bowl with the strawberries. Over a separate small bowl, squeeze the juice from the remaining satsuma. Add the lemon juice and brown sugar to the freshly squeezed satsuma juice and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Pour over the strawberries and satsuma segments and gently toss to combine. Sprinkle with fresh mint. Taste and add more lemon juice if desired. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, then garnish with a sprig of fresh mint.

Strawberry Fool

Olivia Vacalis Baldwin EMC

Linda Persall Cullman EC

46  APRIL 2019

2 1 1 1 1

cups fresh strawberries, crushed tablespoon granulated sugar teaspoon lemon zest cup heavy cream, whipped tablespoon grated dark chocolate Fresh lemon balm, optional

In a large bowl, combine strawberries, sugar and lemon zest. Fold into whipped cream. Spoon into decorative glasses and garnish with grated chocolate and lemon balm sprigs, if desired. Serves 4.

Custard: ¼ cup all-purpose flour Dash of salt ¾-1 cup sugar (depending on sweetness of strawberries) 3 egg yolks (whites used in cake) 3 cups milk 1 teaspoon vanilla extract Prepare cake mix according to package directions, reserving egg yolks for custard. Custard: combine flour, sugar and salt in double boiler. Beat egg yolks, add in milk and mix well. Stir into dry ingredients. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until smooth and thickened (not quite as thick as for banana pudding.) Stir in vanilla. Remove from heat. Cut cake into bite size pieces and place one half of the cake in the bottom of a trifle dish. Place half of the strawberries on top of the cake and pour half of the custard on top of the strawberries. Spread one container of Cool Whip on top of mixture. Sprinkle half of the toasted pecans on top of the Cool Whip. Repeat for second layer. Martha Belser Tallapoosa River EC

Strawberry Buttermilk Cake

Strawberry Velvet Cake

11/2 cups all-purpose flour 1 teaspoon baking powder 1/4 teaspoon salt 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature 1 cup granulated sugar, plus 1/4 cup for sprinkling later 11/2 teaspoons vanilla extract 2 jumbo eggs (or 3 large) 1/4 cup sour cream 1/4 cup buttermilk 14 ounces fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced

1 4 1 1 1/2 5

Set oven to 350 degrees. Lightly spray a 9-inch spring form pan. Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt: set aside. Cream the soft butter and sugar together in a stand mixer for 3-4 minutes, until light and fluffy. Scrape down the side of the bowl a couple of times. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, and then beat in the vanilla. Stir the sour cream and buttermilk together and then add the flour to the mixing bowl alternately with the wet ingredients, beginning and ending with the flour. Mix until combined, but don't over mix. Fold in the strawberries and turn into the prepared pan. Smooth out the top. Sprinkle the surface of the cake liberally with granulated sugar. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until the cake no longer jiggles in the center and the top is golden and slightly crackled. You can insert a toothpick in the center to test. Let cool briefly, and then unlatch the spring and remove the outer ring. I like to run a spreading knife along the edge first to loosen any parts of the cake that are sticking to the pan. Cool completely on a rack before slicing.

Easy Strawberry Pie

box yellow cake mix eggs cup vegetable oil 3-ounce box strawberry Jell-O cup boiling water ounces frozen strawberries in syrup (1/2 of a 10-ounce carton, thawed) 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk 2 lemons, juiced 2 cups sliced strawberries 1 cup chopped pecans 8 ounces Cool Whip 1 10-inch pre-baked pie crust or 2 8-inch pie crusts

Frosting: 1 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened 1/2 stick butter, softened 1 16-ounce box confectioners’ sugar 1/4 teaspoon strawberry extract 2 tablespoons strawberry preserves

Combine condensed milk and lemon juice in a bowl and blend well. Let stand 5 minutes. Stir in the strawberries and pecans. Fold in the whipped topping. Pour into baked pie shell. Chill, covered, until set. May prepare the day before and freeze. Yield 6-8 servings.

Combine cake mix, eggs (one at a time) and oil. Beat on medium speed until well blended. To the side, mix Jell-O and boiling water. Stir until dissolved and add to cake mixture. Mix well and fold in strawberries and extract. Pour into a greased tube or Bundt cake pan and bake at 325 degrees for about 1 hour or until cooked through. Remove from oven and let cool before frosting.

Celeste Spivey Pea River EC

Frosting: Place the cream cheese, butter, confectioners’ sugar and strawberry extract in a large mixing bowl and beat with mixer until smooth. Fold in strawberry preserves and stir until well blended. Add a bit of red food coloring to the frosting, if you desire. Frost cake and serve. Mary McGriff Cullman EC

Marsha S. Gardner Baldwin EMC

Fresh Strawberry Cake 1 box white cake mix 1 package strawberries, washed and thinly sliced 1 pouch strawberry glaze 8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature 16 ounces Cool Whip, thawed 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar 1/2 cup white sugar Bake white cake mix according to the directions on box. Let cool. Using a piece of kitchen twine horizontally cut the two layers in half so you have 4 layers. In a large bowl, whip the cream cheese, cool whip and both sugars. In a separate bowl, mix sliced strawberries and glaze. Begin assembling the dessert with a layer of cake, top with cream cheese mixture, then strawberry glaze. Repeat process with all cake layers. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Kisha Cantrell Tombigbee EC

Themes and Deadlines: July: Grilling | April 5 Aug.: Weeknight Suppers | May 10 Sept: Onions | June 14 Please send us your original recipes (developed or adapted by you or family members.) Cook of the Month winners will receive $50, and may win “Cook of the Month” only once per calendar year. Alabama Living



prize and title of


of the


3 ways to submit: Online: Email: Mail: Recipes, P.O. Box 244014 Montgomery, AL 36124 To be eligible, submissions must include a name, phone number, mailing address and co-op name. Alabama Living reserves the right to

reprint recipes in our other publications.

APRIL 2019 47

| Consumer Wise |


Breaking down seven energy-saving claims

By Pat Keegan and Brad Thiessen Q: Is it true that turning lights off and on uses more energy than just leaving them on? A: Not true. Turning off lights definitely reduces energy use. Turn off LED and incandescent bulbs every time you leave the room. The situation is a little different with compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs). Turning them off does save energy but can shorten the life of the bulb. The rule of thumb for CFLs is to turn them off any time they won’t be used for 15 minutes or more.

Q: Would replacing my old windows with new, more efficient

ones really cut my energy use in half? A: No. While replacing inefficient windows with new, energy efficient windows can cut the heat loss through windows in half (or more), windows typically account for only about 25 to 30 percent of your space heating costs. The amount of energy you use for heating and cooling is likely one third to one half of your total energy use, so replacing your old windows might only reduce your total energy costs by about 10 percent. When you consider the high cost of new windows, you may not recoup your investment for 15 or 20 years, or even longer.

Q: Burning wood in my fireplace should save on my heating costs, right?

A: Possibly, but certain conditions need to be met. The wood

should be dry and burned efficiently in a properly-installed, properly-placed, high-efficiency wood stove or fireplace insert. Otherwise, it’s likely you’ll lose as much heat through your chimney as you’re distributing throughout the house. Patrick Keegan writes on consumer and cooperative affairs for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, the Arlington, Va.-based service arm of the nation’s 900-plus consumer-owned, not-for-profit electric cooperatives. Write to for more information.

48  APRIL 2019

Q: My kids claim using the dishwasher is just as efficient as washing dishes by hand. Are they right?

A: Yes – in fact, it’s usually more efficient! Properly used dish-

washers actually use less water while doing a better job, and as a bonus, they will save you more than 200 hours a year. For maximum energy savings, make sure your water heater is set to about 120 degrees and use the most efficient wash/dry settings.

Q: I’ve heard it’s better to heat individual rooms with an

electric space heater and keep the doors closed to trap the heat. Is this true? A: It’s possible to save money with an electric space heater if you use it only a few hours a day and reduce your home’s thermostat setting by a couple degrees. Space heaters can cause fires, so they need to be used wisely and should never be left unattended. Which brings us to the question…

Q: Should I close the vents in rooms that aren’t being used? A: Most experts advise against this because closing supply

registers forces your furnace or A/C unit to work harder. They advise keeping all your vents and doors open. If your system supplies too much heat to some rooms and too little to other rooms, you should talk to a heating and air conditioning professional about modifying your ductwork.

Q: Does the age of my home determine how energy efficient it is?

A: Newer homes tend to be more efficient because energy codes

have improved, but every home can have hidden energy issues, no matter its age. If you want to evaluate the efficiency of your home, it’s best to schedule an energy audit with a professional.n

Stories | Recipes | Events | People | Places | Things | Local News JANUARY 2016



GulfQuest Museum

Celebrating the Gulf’s maritime heritage

Community needs motivate athletes to help others

Gospel of greens

Vitamin-rich and cooked slow, these veggies are Southern staple

Perfect picnic

Creativity, planning key to a great outdoor meal

Traveling with grands

Whitewater enthusiasts to converge on state

Paying for college

Tips for summer trips

Native azaleas

Loans, scholarships come in all sizes

Take the chill off with homemade chili


Giving back

A conversation with beloved Alabama musician

River races

June 2016



Randy Owen

Announcing the Best of Alabama

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

May 2016



You voted!

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

April 2016


Cooperatives of Alabama


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

March 2016




The skinny on snails Cooking with garlic

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

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

July 2016





Just peachy

Raising the steaks

Alabama astronauts

Alabama cattle farmers setting the bar high

Peach season is in full swing State has proud heritage of training for the skies

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

College football : Can Bama repeat?

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





for a full ye ar!

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



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

November 2016

October 2016

September 2016

August 2016




December 2016




Idol chat

Tradition returns

Redeveloped Toomer’s Corner ready for Auburn fans

Catching up with American Idol’s Taylor Hicks

Living color

Brewing up business State-made spirits making impact on economy

Centre nursery ready for poinsettia season

Picture postcards tell our story

Season’s greetings

Archives’ card collection provides link to milestones in history

Biscuit bounty

Alabama Living

APRIL 2019 49

| Our Sources Say |

A win-win for saving energy and money By upgrading to a high-efficiency heat pump, manufactured homeowners use less electricity for heating and reduce the amount of energy needed during times of peak demand


anufactured homes provide affordable housing across Alabama. The state ranks fifth in the nation for the percentage of residential manufactured homes, and manufactured homes account for more than a third of homes in parts of PowerSouth’s service area. To make manufactured homes more affordable to purchase, they typically come equipped with electric furnaces. This heating system is very cost-efficient for the dealer but the least energy-efficient. In some cases, homeowners with electric furnaces face winter electric bills that are higher than their monthly mortgage payments. That’s why PowerSouth and its members launched a manufactured home heat pump rebate program last July, designed to make it more affordable for end-use members to upgrade their new or existing manufactured home to a high-efficiency heat pump. The program allows manufactured homeowners to see lower winter electric bills and increased comfort, and helps PowerSouth and its members reduce overall demand for power. This helps manage wholesale power costs and assists in keeping rates stable for PowerSouth’s distribution members and the members they serve. The program is a win-win for everyone. For members purchasing a new manufactured home, the program covers the difference between the cost of a high-efficiency heat pump and an electric furnace. This rebate is paid to the manufactured home dealer.

Members who already own a manufactured home are eligible for a $400-per-ton rebate (paid to the member) when they upgrade to a high-efficiency heat pump. By upgrading to a high-efficiency heat pump, manufactured homeowners use less electricity for heating and reduce the amount of energy needed during times of peak demand (such as a cold winter morning). This equates to an average savings of $550 per year on heating costs. That frees up household budgets to provide for the family in other ways. The program is off to a strong start, with 22 new home rebates and 222 existing home rebates processed since the program began. The effort has already helped reduce PowerSouth’s total system winter peak demand by almost one megawatt. That’s enough electricity to power 100 homes for about an hour. As a not-for-profit electric cooperative, PowerSouth seeks to deliver reliable, competitively priced wholesale power at the lowest cost possible. Programs that equip people to use energy more efficiently benefit everyone. That’s a winning strategy.n This article was written by PowerSouth’s Communications department, as President and CEO Gary Smith enjoys a respite from writing to focus on issues important to PowerSouth, its members and those they serve.

Baynard Ward is Communications Manager at PowerSouth Energy Cooperative.

50 APRIL 2019

Alabama Living

APRIL 2019  51

| Our Sources Say |

Cooperatives remain members’ most trusted energy partner Consumers are starting to expect the freedom and flexibility of managing their home and lifestyle energy usage through everything from “smart” thermostats and hot-water heaters to solar panels and electric vehicles.


rust is a powerful thing. Just ask any of Alabama’s 22 electric cooperatives. Theirs is a business built on long-standing trust with members and the community, and their desire to play a vital role in the collective economic well-being of those served. That is why, as digital “smart” devices revolutionize the way consumers manage energy consumption and new-to-market energy providers begin offering more renewable products that promise self-sufficiency and convenience, members can rest assured their electric cooperative will remain their most trusted source of information, technology expertise and customer service. Consumers are starting to expect the freedom and flexibility of managing their home and lifestyle energy usage through everything from “smart” thermostats and hot-water heaters to solar panels and electric vehicles. With those advanced energy products come new value propositions and new-to-the-community third-party businesses. Alabama’s electric cooperatives can provide valuable expertise to members during the research phase of their purchase journey to evaluate energy efficiency and true cost, as well as the potential lifestyle enhancements and financial incentives. In their long-time service to members and the community, member-owned electric cooperatives are better equipped to fill the energy advisor role than any other provider. In our connected world, the relationship between consumers and cooperatives is no longer based solely on the power company’s ability to “keep the lights on” but also on their understanding of what its customers value. That is why Alabama’s electric coop-

eratives are working behind the scenes to prepare the interconnected power grid for the emerging lifestyle-enhancing technologies that offer members comfort, choice, convenience, control and cost-effectiveness. Next-generation technologies installed by cooperatives on the electric system will allow members – residential, commercial and industrial – to connect renewable energy sources -- like rooftop solar panels and battery storage -- and “smart” devices to the grid. These enhancements to the electric system are a win-win for cost-conscious consumers and electric cooperatives alike. A cornerstone of the electric cooperative model is service to consumer-members, which is demonstrated through energy efficiency and efforts to keep costs low. As the automation of digital energy platforms continues to develop and consumer-members become increasingly aware of how to manage both their usage and their electricity budget, they will enjoy an even more synergistic relationship with their cooperative. Conscientious energy usage benefits both consumers and the power companies, and is an important part of many cooperatives’ strategy for providing their consumer-members with stable and affordable electricity rates. Whether you’ve begun to invest in the brave new lifestyle technologies of the future or remain satisfactorily served by the technologies of today, rest assured your electric cooperative is ready to help meet your needs. Alabama’s electric cooperatives are ideally suited to fulfill their role as your most trusted energy partner now and into the future.n

Nathalie Strickland, APR, is vice president of communications for the Tennessee Valley Public Power Association, Inc.

52 APRIL 2019

| Classifieds | How To Place a Line Ad in Marketplace Closing Deadlines (in our office): June 2019 Issue by April 25 July 2019 Issue by May 25 August 2019 Issue by June 25 Ads are $1.75 per word with a 10 word minimum and are on a prepaid basis; Telephone numbers, email addresses and websites are considered 1 word each. Ads will not be taken over the phone. You may email your ad to; or call (800)410-2737 ask for Heather for pricing.; We accept checks, money orders and all major credit cards. Mail ad submission along with a check or money order made payable to ALABAMA LIVING, P.O. Box 244014, Montgomery, AL 36124 – Attn: Classifieds.

Miscellaneous METAL ROOFING $1.80/LINFT – FACTORY DIRECT! 1st quality, 40yr Warranty, Energy Star rated. (price subject to change) - (706) 226-2739 WALL BEDS OF ALABAMA - SOLID WOOD & LOG FURNITURE – Outdoor Rockers, Gliders & Swings, HANDCRAFTED AMISH CASKETS $1,599 - ALABAMA MATTRESS OUTLET – SHOWROOM Collinsville, AL – Custom Built / Factory Direct (256)490-4025,, KEPLINGER ALUMINUM BURIAL VAULT CO. in Gardendale, Alabama sells water tested burial vaults to the public saving up to $3000 or more per vault versus funeral home prices. Our vaults protect the contents against water and last indefinitely. Cardboard wrapped, standing up requires 6 1/2 sq. ft. to store and take to cemetery when needed. Alabama made with American materials. $1400 cash, includes local sales tax. Call 205-285-9732 or 205-540-0781 or visit www.keplingeraluminumburialvaults. com WICKED WOOD, LLC – CUSTOM SAWMILLING – Beams, Slabs, Rough-Sawn Lumber – (334)3010880 CHURCH FURNITURE: New pews, pulpit furniture, cushions for hard pews. Big Sale (800)231-8360, 18X21 CARPORT $1,195 INSTALLED – Other sizes available - (706) 226-2739 FREE MATERIALS: SOON CHURCH / GOVERNMENT UNITING, suppressing “RELIGIOUS LIBERTY”, enforcing NATIONAL SUNDAY LAW, Be informed! Need mailing address only. TBSM, Box 99, Lenoir City, TN 37771 –, (888)211-1715

Vacation Rentals PANAMA CITY BEACH CONDO – Owner rental – 2BR / 2BA, wireless internet, just remodeled inside and outside – (334)7900000,, www. PET FRIENDLY – Save $$$ by booking directly from Verified Owners. GULF SHORES/FT MORGAN BEACH HOUSE Pet Friendly,WiFi, Non Smoking (256)418-2131, GULF SHORES GULF FRONT – CRYSTAL SHORES UNIT – 2BR / 2BA, 14th floor, newly renovated, direct Southern view – (256)352-5721, Alabama Living

GULF SHORES - 1BR / 1BA w/bunks at GRAND BEACH RESORT - ground floor, wifi, pool, hot tub - Affordable rates. Across from State Preserve, easy beach access, short walk to restaurants – (256) 352-5721 amariewisener@ MILITARY / SERVICE DISCOUNTS on dozens of rentals. No Booking Fees. (251)333-6500, OWNERS – Claim your FREE trial listing with the fastest growing regional site in Alabama! Verified Owners, no booking fees or commissions. Alabama Vacation Home rentals. Locally Owned and Operated. (251)333-6500,

Education FREE BIBLE CORRESPONDENCE COURSE – write to P.O. Box 52, Trinity, AL, 35673 WWW.2HOMESCHOOL.ORG – Open Year round K-12 enrollment. Contact Dr. Cerny (256)6532593.

Pets CHIHUAHUA PUPPIES. Registered, guaranteed healthy, raised indoors in loving home, vet records and references. (256)796-2893

GULF SHORES / ORANGE BEACH / FORT MORGAN – Choose from hundreds of beach houses and condos! Verified Owners. No Booking Fees. GULF FRONT PANAMA CITY CONDO – Splash Condominiums – Owner Rental – 1BR / 2BA w/ hallway bunks, sleeps 6, 18th floor balcony view of Ocean – (706)566-6431, bjeffers3@hotmail. com ORANGE BEACH CONDO, 3BR/3BA; 2,000 SQ.FT.; beautifully decorated; gorgeous waterfront view; boat slips available; great rates - Owner rented (251)604-5226 GATLINBURG – DOWNTOWN LUXURY CREEKSIDE CONDO – 2BR / 2BA, sleeps 6 –, (256)599-5552 AFFORDABLE BEACHSIDE VACATION CONDOS – Gulf Shores & Orange Beach, AL – Rent Direct from Christian Family Owners – Lowest Prices on the Beach!, (251)656-4935, (205)556-0368, (251)752-2366 DESTIN, FL OWNER RENTALS – – Pat Green Bush, owner –, (334)244-6581 or (334)312-6630 PCB 2 CONDOS – PEACHTREE II – 2 miles West of Pier Park, 400 feet to beach – 2BR / 2BA, sleeps 6, pool, internet - (850)573-2182, Jeff. LAKE HOMES / CABINS – Verified Owners. No Booking Fees. ORANGE BEACH – CUTE BEACH COTTAGES – OWNER MANAGED - three to choose from. Pet friendly, boat docks, pools. Near Gulf of Mexico on calm canal. No parking passes required. ...away from the condo crowds and chaos... (251)975-7003, email: www. MENTONE, AL LOOKOUT MOUNTAIN COTTAGE RENTALS – Best brow views, River Front –, Call or text (504)4818666

Real Estate Sales FOR SALE – HIGHWAY 148, CLAY COUNTY, ALABAMA – 136 Acres with Brick Home – (256)404-2432

Musical Notes PLAY GOSPEL SONGS BY EAR - 10 lessons $12.95. “LEARN GOSPEL MUSIC”. Chording, runs, fills - $12.95 Both $24. Davidsons, 6727AR Metcalf, Shawnee Missions, Kansas 66204 – (913)262-4982

APRIL 2019  53

| Hardy Jackson's Alabama |

Illustration by Dennis Auth

Can’t sleep? Here’s the answer


pring. The Masters in Augusta. Golf. Yawn. According to a recent poll taken by Calm, which bills itself as “the #1 app for meditation and sleep,” if you are plagued with insomnia, the best cure is to watch golf. Yessir. Calm’s pollsters handed a bunch of folks a list of 10 popular sports and asked them to pick the “dullest, most sleep-inducing one to watch.” Golf won. Big. Not that I’m surprised. Watching golf reminds me of what Oscar Wilde observed about foxhunting, “the unspeakable in full pursuit of the uneatable.” This attitude toward golf, golfing, and golfers left me ignorant of the game and unprepared for an opportunity that came my way when I was a graduate teaching assistant at the University of Georgia. One bright spring day, a student from Augusta who was failing my class offered me Harvey H. (Hardy) Jackson is Professor Emeritus of History at Jacksonville State University and a columnist for Alabama Living. He can be reached at

54  APRIL 2019

two tickets to the Masters – shamelessly trying to influence his grade. Since I knew nothing of the Masters and had no desire to drive a couple of hundred miles to see men knock a little white ball into a hole, I turned him down. Later I learned, to my dismay, that I could have sold the tickets and covered my tuition for the next year. This did nothing to change my opinion of golf, but it did imprint the Masters on my mind so that every spring I turn on the TV to catch a glimpse of the azaleas and the manicured greens. Then I remember this is golf, and I change the channel to something exciting, like “Storage Wars.” So, you can imagine how little attention I was planning to pay when a few years ago the Masters became the center of a rip-roaring controversy that contained in it all the elements of a good old-fashioned Southern culture clash. Here’s how it unfolded. The National Council of Women’s Organization discovered that the Augusta National Golf Club, the organization that hosts the Masters, did not admit women to membership. A woman could play as a guest, but not on her own. Outraged at this, the chairwoman of NCWO asked for the policy to be changed. “Hootie” Johnson (gotta love the name), chairman of the Club, said “no.”

Not one to take “no” for an answer, the chairwoman sent letters to CEOs of major corporations that sponsor the tournament asking them to drop their sponsorship or face a boycott from NCWO members. Hootie responded, “Let ‘em. The Masters will go on anyway.” The NCWO, unable to move Hootie, tried to get CBS to cancel the broadcast. CBS, knowing FOX or ESPN II or maybe the History Channel would move quickly to fill the breach, politely declined. Finding the controversy as boring as the game itself, a local wit suggested that the protestors should ignore Hootie and visit Hooters, which was just down the block. The NCWO, I am told, was not amused. The more I thought about it, the more I wondered why women would want to hang around with a bunch of men who, according to golf historian Herbert Warren, “stand under the great trees at Augusta National Golf Club on fine spring days” and talk about golf. Meanwhile the men of the Augusta National membership committee did what men have historically done when women want something – they caved in. Women joined the club. But I missed it. I was taking a nap.n

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