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



Tag, you’re it!

License plates become rolling billboards for many Business perking for coffee roasters



Manager Stan Wilson

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

From bean to brew

Across the state, the business of roasting coffee beans and transforming them into fresh blends is perking right along. For your next cup of joe, try one from beans ground by Alabama’s small-town roasters .


VOL. 70 NO. 5 n May 2017


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

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



National Country Market 611 South Congress Ave., Suite 504 Austin, Texas 78704 1-800-626-1181 USPS 029-920 • ISSN 1047-0311


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100 years of hot dogs


Helping our heroes

A visit to the state’s capital isn’t complete without a stop downtown for one of Chris’ famous hot dogs, complete with its signature sauce.

Heroes on the Water takes veterans fishing in kayaks to help in their mental and physical healing process.



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

Youth Tour 2017

Four local high school juniors go to Montgomery on the CWEMC sponsored Annual Youth Tour trip.


WE WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU! ONLINE: EMAIL: MAIL: Alabama Living 340 Technacenter Drive Montgomery, AL 36117

In this issue: Page 9 Page 24 Page 28 Page 29

9 Spotlight 26 Gardens 29 Around Alabama 40 Outdoors 41 Fish & Game Forecast 46 Cook of the Month 54 Hardy Jackson’s Alabama ONLINE: ON THE COVER: Personalized and specialty automobile tags are becoming more popular with Alabamians, and the folks who sell them believe Alabama has more varieties of tags than other states. Read more in our cover story on Page 16.

MAY 2017 3

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

Stan Wilson Manager of Clarke-Washington EMC

4 MAY 2017

Safety is of the utmost importance to us here at CWEMC. We strive to be as safe as possible to make sure our members, the general public and our employees are protected. As part of our ongoing safety practices, we are currently working on our Rural Electric Safety Achievement Program (RESAP). RESAP is a set of safety standards for electric cooperatives that we review every three years to promote and ensure public safety and the safety of our employees. We also conduct comprehensive monthly safety training that includes pole top rescue and bucket truck rescue. This month is National Electric Safety Month and so I thought I would talk to you about the importance of being safe around electricity and some things you can do to keep yourself and your family protected.

the wrong thing to do. If you are involved in an automobile accident with a power pole: • Stay in the car. Call 911 to have us or the appropriate utility notified. • Do not leave the vehicle until we or other utility professionals have de-energized the line and advise you that it is safe to get out. • If you must get out of the vehicle because it is on fire, jump clear of it with your feet together and without touching the vehicle and ground at the same time.

The first thing that comes to mind this time of year is yard work. A lot of our lawn and garden tools are electric and need an extension cord. Make sure you are using an extension cord that is rated for outside use. It is really easy for an extension cord that is used outside to become damaged by cutting it accidentally, dragging it around corners or just being damaged by the sun. Inspect your cords carefully and replace regularly; it is not a good idea to try to repair it. Never use electric power tools outside if it is raining or wet.


We all want to keep our children and grandchildren safe, as well. They have all these electronic devices now that we didn’t have and they are always looking for an outlet to plug their chargers in. I would advise you if you have children or visiting grandchildren to install tamper resistant outlets or put those protective coverings over them. Then you can assist them in plugging their devices in. I love it when my grandchildren visit (Bailey and Brayden are our young ones) and just like all grandparents, we do everything we can to keep them safe. I know you want to protect yours too, so teach them to look up and out for power lines when they are outside playing, flying kites or climbing trees. A car accident can happen so quickly and when the car wreck involves power poles, there is an added danger. Knowing what actions to take to stay safe can make the difference between life and death. After a car wreck, it is natural for people to want to get out of the car to assess damage to themselves and their vehicle. However, when the wreck involves power poles and lines, that is exactly

Knowing what to be on the lookout for and knowing the steps to take can make all the difference in preventing accidents. Thank you.

if in an Auto Accident with Power Lines If the car you are in hits a utility pole, your vehicle and the surrounding area can become energized.

Even if you do not touch lines or equipment, you can still be killed or seriously injured.

1. Do NOT leave the car, and warn others to stay away.

2. Call 911 to have the utility notified.

3. Wait until a utility professional has told you it is safe. The only reason to exit the vehicle is

if it’s on fire. If the car is on fire, jump clear of the vehicle: with feet together, and without touching the car and the ground at the same time. Continue to hop away with your feet together as far as you can. Learn more at

| Clarke Washington EMC |

Birds on a Wire While it is safe for a bird to sit on an overhead power line, it is not safe for people to be near overhead power lines. So how can birds sit on a power line unharmed? CWEMC reveals insights into the “bird on a wire” phenomenon and separates fact from fiction. In order for an electrical charge, or electrons, to move from one spot to another, it must be in contact (or sometimes close proximity) with conductive material that has at least two different points of potential. Electrons will move toward lower potential. That is why it is said that electricity is always looking for a path to ground (lower potential). A bird remains safe because it is sitting on a single wire and is at one point of contact—and consequently one electrical potential. If the bird sitting at this one potential was to also make contact with another object of different potential, that bird would be completing a path to ground, causing severe electric shock or electrocution. For larger birds with wider wingspans, reaching and touching another cable is a real hazard. Getting near overhead power lines is also a serious hazard for people. The utility professionals who work near overhead power lines must wear appropriate safety clothing, use tested safety equipment, and take training to be able to do the installation, maintenance, and repair work they do. It is vital that safety equipment is regularly tested as even non-conductive materials, such as rubber, wood, or plastic, can conduct electricity if damp, dirty, or damaged. It is a myth that all power lines are insulated with a protective coating that prevents shocks. Most power lines are

actually not insulated. The coating that is on lines is actually for weather proofing and will not offer any protection from the electrical current. CWEMC urges people to be aware of their surroundings and shares the following safety tips: • Always look up and look out for overhead power lines. Remember that getting too close to a power line, even without touching it, is very dangerous. • Avoid working directly under powerlines. When working with tall equipment such as ladders, poles, or antennas, carry them in a horizontal position as to not risk making contact with overhead lines. • Always assume that power lines, even if they have come down, carry an electrical charge.

1.800.323.9081 to report an outage Remember: If you do not call from a phone number that is listed on your account, the outage management system will not recognize you. Make sure all the phones that you would use to call in an outage are listed on your account before the storm comes. Alabama Living

MAY 2017  5

Youth Tour 2017

6  MAY 2017


n March, high school juniors from all over the state descend on Montgomery for the

| Clarke Washington EMC | Representative Elaine Beech

annual Rural Electric Youth Tour. They are

chosen from their electric cooperatives through an essay contest and a judged interview. This year’s winners from CWEMC were Conner Newell of Fruitdale HS, Valerie Hill of Thomasville HS, Allie Massey of Leroy HS and Kamryn Newsom of Clarke County HS. They, together with around 150 other high school juniors, learned about electric cooperatives and state government and its history.

Senator Greg Albritton

They got to hear from the legislators from their districts and ask them questions. They also learned critical thinking skills and made lots of friendships. Conner, Valerie, Allie and Kamryn are exceptional young people and were outstanding representatives of our cooperative. Conner and Kamryn will be going on to the Washington, D.C. Youth Tour in June.

Alabama Living

MAY 2017  7

| Clarke Washington EMC |

CWEMC Statement of Non-Discrimination In accordance with Federal civil rights law and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) civil rights regulations and policies, the USDA, its Agencies, offices, and employees, and institutions participating in or administering USDA programs are prohibited from discriminating based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, gender identity (including gender expression), sexual orientation, disability, age, marital status, family/parental status, income derived from a public assistance program, political beliefs, or reprisal or retaliation for prior civil rights activity, in any program or activity conducted or funded by USDA (not all bases apply to all programs). Remedies and complaint filing deadlines vary by program or incident. Person with disabilities who require alternative means of communication for program information (e.g., Braille, large print, audiotape, American Sign Language, etc.) should contact the responsible Agency or USDA’s TARGET Center at (202)720-2600 (voice and TTY) or contact USDA through the Federal Relay Service at (800)877-8339. Additionally, program information may be made available in languages other than English. To file a program discrimination complaint, complete the USDA Program Discrimination Complaint Form, AD-3027, found online at filing_cust.html and at any USDA office or write a letter addressed to USDA and provide in the letter all of the information requested in the form. To request a copy of the complaint form, call (866) 632-9992. Submit your completed form or letter to USDA by: Mail: U.S. Department of Agriculture Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights 400 Independence Avenue, SW Washington, D.C. 20250-9410 or Fax: (202) 690-7442 or Email: USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer, and lender.

8  MAY 2017

MAY | Spotlight Celebrate spring’s showy flowers in Mentone The lovely rhododendron blooms in the picturesque town of Mentone get their own festival each year on the third weekend in May (this year, it’s May 2021). Besides the flowers, the Rhododendron Festival highlights the best of the little town perched atop Lookout Mountain. This year’s festival will feature a “Taste of Mentone,” with mouth-watering dishes prepared by local chefs. The festival has been a go-to event in northeast Alabama for more than 30 years. The festival is also a great showcase for musical groups, musicians, artists and craftsmen, says Ray Padgett, chairman of the committee that puts on the festival. “We’ve got a major number of artists and musicians who live in the Mentone area, which has always amazed me,” Padgett says. “Mentone’s been kind of known as an artist’s colony for years.” Around Brow Park, you’ll hear traditional mountain music and an array of live entertainment, and learn about such traditional arts as weaving, pot-throwing, quilting, chairmaking and blacksmithing. The event is free and is sponsored by the Mentone Area Preservation Association. For more information, email or find the event on Facebook.

| MAY 20-21 |

Top photo: Rhododendron and mountain laurel bloom along the bank of the Little River above DeSoto Falls.

Whereville, AL

Guess where this is and you might win $25! Identify and place this Alabama landmark and you could win $25! Winner is chosen at random from all correct entries. Multiple entries from the same person will be disqualified. Send your answer by May 10 with your name, address and the name of your rural electric cooperative. The winner and answer will be announced in the June issue. Contribute your own photo for an upcoming issue! Send a photo of an interesting or unusual landmark in Alabama, which must be accessible to the public. A reader whose photo is used will also win $25. Submit by email:, or by mail: Whereville, P.O. Box 244014, Montgomery, AL 36124.


The Little River Canyon Center, which opened to the public in 2009, is a Jacksonville State University building located in Fort Payne, adjoining the Little River Canyon National Preserve. The educational center features an HD movie theater, gift shop, natural history library, exhibits, classrooms, outdoor amphitheater and trails for both education and exercise. The facility, which is available for rentals, is a part of JSU’s Environmental Policy and Information Center (EPIC). (Photo by John Whitaker, Cherokee EC) The random drawing winner for the April contest is Donna Penrod of Baldwin EMC.

Alabama Living


MAY 2017 9


Your contributions make our nation stronger


n Memorial Day, we honor the soldiers and service members who have given their lives for our nation. Social Security respects the heroism and courage of our military service members, and we remember those who have given their lives in defense of freedom. Part of how we honor service members is the way we provide Social Security benefits. The unexpected loss of a family member is a difficult experience for anyone. Social Security helps by providing benefits to protect service members’ dependents. Widows, widowers, and their dependent children may be eligible for Social Security survivors benefits. You can learn more about Social Security survivors benefits at www.socialsecurity. gov/survivors. It’s also important to recognize those service members who are still with us, especially those who have been wounded. Just as they served us, we have the obligation to serve them. Social Security has benefits to assist veterans when an injury

prevents them from returning to active duty. Wounded military service members can also receive expedited processing of their Social Security disability claims. For example, Social Security will provide expedited processing of disability claims filed by veterans who have a U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Compensation rating of 100 percent Permanent & Total (P&T). Depending on the situation, some family members of military personnel, including dependent children and, in some cases, spouses, may be eligible to receive benefits. You can get answers to commonly asked questions and find useful information about the application process at woundedwarriors. Service members can also receive Social Security in addition to military retirement benefits. The good news is that your military retirement benefit does not reduce your Social Security retirement benefit. Learn more about Social Security

retirement benefits at www.socialsecurity. gov/retirement. You may also want to visit the Military Service page of our Retirement Planner, available at Service members are also eligible for Medicare at age 65. If you have health insurance from the VA or under the TRICARE or CHAMPVA programs, your health benefits may change, or end, when you become eligible for Medicare. Learn more about Medicare benefits at In acknowledgment of those who died for our country, those who served, and those who serve today, we at Social Security honor and thank you.

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


What is Alabama’s long-term health care strategy?


ealth care in Alabama faces uncertain and challenging times. Our health care system consists of many operating parts vital to the smooth operation of the entire system. This system is like the human body. If one or more parts are not operating properly, the entire system can be impaired or even threatened. There continues to be debate over the effectiveness of the Affordable Care Act (or Obama Care) and the impact of changes to this program. While this program has resulted in more people having health insurance, it has also resulted in more people being underinsured because of the high deductible amounts that apply to this coverage. It must be expected that the eventual solution will be viewed

Dale Quinney is executive director of the Alabama Rural Health Association, 1414 Elba Highway, Troy, 36081.

10  MAY 2017

as positive in many ways and negative in many ways. One thing is certain: This issue will not be the last that our health care system will face. The health care needs of Alabama today are different from those in the past and will be different from those in the future. The scrutiny of health care access that this issue is creating provides an opportunity to look for better ways to provide and receive health care. Rural Alabama is experiencing chronic shortages in health care access. Our goal is to keep the doors of hospitals and clinics open tomorrow. We are so involved in survival that we have not developed a long-term plan. Our health care industry is subject to the laws of supply and demand. We tend to concentrate on the supply side. To meet the needs of health care today, we must keep our hospitals and clinics open and attract more health care providers to practice where the needs are greatest. Alabama has seven rural counties with no hospital. The majority of our rural hospitals are operating at a loss with many facing threats

of closing. Only two of Alabama’s rural counties (Pike and Coffee) are considered to have the minimal primary care practitioner service needed. What about the other side of the supply-demand issue? What can be done to decrease the demand for health care over the long-term? An obvious answer is that prevention must be given greater emphasis. A second strategy should be the promotion of a better educated population. There is a strong relationship between education, income, and health status. Better education results in a potential to earn a higher income and practice better health behavior. This relationship exists for diverse causes of death. For all causes, the death rate for those with less than a 9th grade education is more than twice the rate for those with a high school education. Those with a high school education have a death rate more than twice that for those with any college. Having a better educated population should be a long-term health care strategy!

| Alabama Snapshots |

Personalized Car Tags 2 1




4 1. My husband and I have 6 dogs: 4 Yorkies, a Cocker Spaniel and a Bichon. We really are K9LOVRs! SUBMITTED BY Marshall Hendrix, Wetumpka. 2. Read as “4 U SISS”. I purchased this tag 4 years ago in honor of my sisters, Charlotte & Linda, who are breast cancer survivors and all sisters who are battling, survivors or in their memory. SUBMITTED BY Pam Buttery, Boaz. 3. Our personalized motorcycle tag. We have traveled across 32 states and Canada! SUBMITTED BY Ridge and Linda Henry, Smiths.

4. This tag is on our 1979 Fiat Spider. Sometimes people aren’t quite sure what kind of a car it is, hence the license plate! SUBMITTED BY Ginger Gilreath, Somerville. 5. Gulf girl. SUBMITTED BY Joni Noble, Foley. 6. Guntersville Lake and Lake Guntersville. SUBMITTED BY Susanlynn Allen, Guntersville.

Submit Your Images! July Theme: “National Monuments” Deadline for July: May 31 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

MAY 2017 11

Runway to success

Alabama designers make their mark in the fashion world


By Jennifer Kornegay

ll through its history, Alabama has produced

an abundance of artists. Our state’s rural landscapes, city streets, past, present and potential have inspired painters, photographers, writers, musicians and craftsmen to share ideas and weave stories in color, words, melodies and other materials. So it should come as no surprise that within Alabama’s borders there are quite a few artists who express themselves with wearable works, a.k.a. fashion designers. And they range from the famous looks of Natalie Chanin and Billy Reid to brand new up-and-comers whose names could soon be hanging in your closet.

Say “yes” to these dresses Heidi Elnora Baker

12 MAY 2017

Today, Heidi Elnora Baker is the creative force behind one of the most sought-after labels in wedding gowns – heidi elnora – and she’s living a dream she’s harbored since childhood. From dressing up in her grandma’s clothes as a youngster and sketching her own styles as a teen to buying her first sewing machine with high school graduation money, she’s always known she wanted to work in fashion. But how she was going to make it from her tiny rural hometown of Morris, Ala., into the fashion industry was something she wasn’t as sure of. As she was nearing graduation from Central Alabama Community College, she found herself at a crossroads. “I was there on a softball scholarship,” she says. “And I didn’t know what I was going to

do next. Money for moving forward to study fashion was an issue.” A full scholarship to the prestigious Savannah College of Art and Design provided the answer and a hands-on education in the basics like sketching, sewing and pattern making. “That’s where it all took off,” she says. When she graduated in 2002, she went to Atlanta to work for Carter’s designing baby clothes, where she stayed for four years. While there, she was chosen to be on the Bravo TV show “Project Runway.” After an accident brought her back home to Alabama to recover, she met a boy, fell in love and ended up marrying him and staying in her home state. She was enjoying nuptial bliss, but not her job.

From dressing up in her grandma’s clothes as a youngster and sketching her own styles as a teen to buying her first sewing machine with high school graduation money, she’s always known she wanted to work in fashion.

Heidi Elnora Baker has created some of the most sought-after designs in wedding gowns today. Alabama Living

MAY 2017  13

“We got married, and I was answering phones at his family’s roofing company and realized, ‘Wait. This is not what I want to do,’” she says. “I decided I wanted to design and make wedding gowns, and I contacted this non-profit called Central Alabama Women’s Business Organization and told them my vision.” The group, which is no longer around, helped Heidi craft a business plan, which got her a loan, and at age 26 she made a dress from scratch for her first bride. She hired the head pattern maker at Carter’s to help her, and her company has continued to grow. Nordstrom picked up her line in 2011. Her reality show “Bride by Design” aired on TLC in 2015, and she is in talks for another project with the network. Her gowns are in stores across the country and as far away as London. But her business is still based in Alabama, in Birmingham, where she recently opened her first heidi elnora Atelier boutique in a renovated historic building downtown. It’s the spot where brides from all over come to choose from Heidi’s three distinct wedding dress lines to find what they’ll wear on one of the most special days of their lives. And that’s what Heidi really loves about what she does – being a part of such meaningful moments. “I love making women feel empowered and beautiful in their own skin, and I think the most beautiful any woman feels is on her wedding day,” she says. “Getting to be a part of that day and journey is humbling and amazing to me.”

Two to watch

Dothan born and bred Megan Dean was raised in a creative family environment where art was pushed as a valuable endeavor. Her grandmother taught her to draw and then to sew. She made her first dress at age 13 and discovered it was its own form of artistic articulation. After studying apparel design at the University of Alabama, and transferring to Auburn to major in business, she ended up working in a bank. It didn’t take long for her to make the move back to fashion, and she started with a longtime hobby. “Textiles have always been my first love when it comes to fashion. My mom and I have collected vintage fabrics for years, so I decided to open a fabric store in downtown Dothan in 2012,” she says. Sales at the store were slow, but the experience rekindled Megan’s interest in finding beautiful fabrics and shaping them into clothes. She made herself a few pairs of high-waisted, wide-legged pants using bold ikat prints, and suddenly, everyone else wanted a pair too. She closed the shop and focused on selling her soft, flowing pants at markets and shows. She had enough success to create an entire line of clothing and show it at New Orleans fashion week in 2016, and she just launched her new Megan Dean line at a show in Birmingham in April. “My clothes have a very high-street bohemian look, in silks and 100-percent cottons that I source from the South,” she says. “I try to keep everything local as possible.” Sustainability is key to Megan too, so her cottons are also organic. She’s even developed her own colors that she uses to hand-dye some of her fabrics. Her studio is in Taylor, right outside of Dothan, and it’s where she does most of her design work, but she’s considering finding a space in Birmingham as well. No matter where they’re conceptualized, Megan’s works will continue to be made in Alabama. “I want to support our local economy, so my clothes will be made here,” she says. “I’m not just going to pack my bags and move to New York City. Alabama is who I am, and so that is the part of the identity of my clothes and my brand. I’m inspired and influenced by home and by the culture here.” Megan Dean’s fashions (far left) have a bohemian look. PHOTO BY DURY SHAMSI-BASHA

14  MAY 2017

Destani Hoffman describes her style aesthetic as “a little outrageous but still pleasing to the eye.” Her designs certainly pleased the judges at Charleston Fashion Week in 2016, where she was named the year’s Emerging Designer for her highly conceptual, striking, almost sculptural eveningwear brand called DH Designs. The young designer was born in Missouri, but moved to Mobile with her family at age 14, and now lives and works in Fairhope. Like Megan, she was surrounded by “artsy” family members who encouraged her self-expression and experimentation, but it took a while before she believed it could be a career. “I started making dresses out of different materials, like paper cups and plates, and it was for fun,” she says. “And then I made a pair of pants out of a pillow case in home economics class at school, and I realized, this is something I could do.” She got a coveted scholarship to Parsons School for Design in New York City, where she went for two years before transferring

Destani Hoffman, who lives and works in Fairhope, describes her style aesthetic as “a little outrageous but still pleasing to the eye.”

to and graduating from Savannah College of Art and Design. The award in Charleston gave her a big boost and the confidence to stick with her original plan. “As a young designer, it’s more common to design ready-towear clothes, but I don’t want to go that route, so I’m working on building my portfolio so I can gain more custom clients and design specifically for them,” she says. That means she’s still working a day job at a marketing firm to support building her brand while also designing and creating prom dresses and wedding dresses for local clients. She was a featured designer at the 2017 Charleston Fashion Week and is prepping now for New York Fashion Week coming up in September. The shows serve as “live portfolios” for Destani, where viewers can get a real sense of her philosophy. “It’s not just clothing,” she says. “I’m evoking emotion. And that’s why I do this. I love stirring feelings in those who see my work and those who want to wear it.” Her goal is to have her own studio and workshop to continue her custom work on a larger scale, and she hopes to do it in Fairhope. “People think you need to be in New York or Los Angeles to be successful in fashion, but I’ve been in New York, and it doesn’t inspire me, so I don’t think that is true. You should be where you are inspired. I think I’d open my space where I am now.”

These designers also have Alabama connections, either by being from here, studying apparel design here, currently designing and creating clothes here and/or all three.

Natalie Chanin Billy Reid Gina Locklear, Zkano and Little River Sock Mill William Bradley Bradford Billingsly Ellen LeJeune Heather Simmons, Tallulah Faire Hunter Bell Shan Latris Lauryn Tankersley Smith Sinrod, bySmith

It’s only natural When Sarah Conklin of Feather Wild in Huntsville first started printing fabrics, it was just for personal use. “I was screen-printing fabrics and using them to make clothes for my daughter and for myself,” she says. “People starting asking to buy pieces, but I didn’t feel like I could sell them because, while the printed fabrics were mine, the patterns I used for the clothing weren’t.” But their interest was primarily in her nature-inspired, minimalist prints, so she started making pieces like scarves, hand towels, napkins, coasters, pouches and tote bags out of her fabrics to meet the demand. “It was something I could do and still be with my kids,” she says. She creates her designs at home and prints them on fabrics sourced from thrift stores and old stock racks at fabric stores using equipment at Green Pea Press in the Lowe Mill Arts & Entertainment complex, where she’s a member artist. Sarah even recycles pieces of her husband’s worn-out dress shirts, hand-dying them and using them as linings for her pouches. Giving old things new purpose by transforming them into items that will be used and loved is a large part of her motivation. “My textiles are pretty but are mainly utilitarian,” she says. “I want to make things that are useful and durable and beautiful Alabama Living

and can be used over and over.” Her prints are rooted in the natural world but are not representational. “They’re my stylized interpretation of things in the outside world, often the woods and creeks I grew up playing in,” she says. Sarah Conklin’s textiles, like the one used for this potholder, are pretty but utilitarian. Conklin’s Feather Wild brand pouch is inspired by the natural world.

MAY 2017 15

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State ’s lice nse p those lates who b as va uy th ried a em s By Em m

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here was a time when automobile tags were little more than car-displayed registration information, basically metallic oatmeal with digits. You’ve come a long way, baby. The humble car tag is now as unique as its Alabama driver. Officially, the state classification is “distinctive plates.” Each is an artistic canvas, supporting a cause, stating beliefs, or singing to the heavens, “I Gotta Be Me.” Currently, approximately 140 tag types are available, including those expressing love for ducks, playing tennis, supporting the arts, and pledging allegiance to Dale Earnhardt Jr. Categories include: 44 specialty license plates (honoring nurses, barbers, wildlife, etc.), 27 collegiate, 26 military-related, 18 generic specialty plates, and 15 generic (automobile) race plates. Another popular feature with Alabama car owners are personal messages, letter-number combinations spelling out unique and creative communication – sometimes too creative. “I have to give them credit, we receive some interesting (sometimes hilarious) personalized tag requests,” says Jay Starling, director of the Alabama Department of Revenue’s Motor Vehicle Division. His agency holds the auto tag program in the road. “We review hundreds of requests, daily,” Starling says. “It is amazing the creativity Alabamians have in stringing number and letter combinations for messages.” It is also amazing what some people try to get away with. In the never ending battle against dirty words on metal rectangles, proposed car tag messages are computer scrutinized. “Our program looks for symbols, letters, numbers, or combinations that may be objectionable,” he says. Additionally, screeners check urban dictionaries, the internet, and other sources for updates on potentially offensive phrases or words. Any letter-number string with the letters ‘F’ and ‘U’ are carefully examined. Messages are turned sideways and upside down. Occasionally, when viewed from different angles, naughty names are detected. Nice try. But try as they may to catch offenders, some slip by and hit the 16 MAY 2017


Of the $50, we receive $41.25. The money funds our Saturn V museum exhibits. - Jennifer Crozier, Executive Director The U.S. Space and Rocket Center Foundation

streets. One Auburn University tag sported a message to Alabama football’s Nick Saban, suggesting the coach do something that defied human anatomy. The tag is no longer on the road. “Even if originally approved, a message can be recalled,” Starling says. “We will offer a chance to replace the message (at no charge), or you can appeal our decision.” But if the state wins, the message can be revoked. For the most part, specialty tags are a win-win for everybody. One typically costs about $50, in addition to all applicable automobile registration fees. The state receives a small portion of the 50 bucks. The tag sponsor receives about $45-$47. “It is a drive around billboard,” says Jennifer Crozier, executive director of The U.S. Space and Rocket Center Foundation in Huntsville. Since 2003, the center’s “Save the Saturn V” specialty plate sales total 36,391. “Of the $50, we receive $41.25,” Crozier says. “The money funds our Saturn V museum exhibits.” Tag sales are impressive for Huntsville’s space center, and out of this world for two prominent colleges. In 2015, The University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa campus, sold 103,321 plates, followed by Auburn University at 68,067. Other state contenders include firefighters at 39,921; the Alabama Wildlife Federation with 19,643; and Fight Breast Cancer, 17,244. But the most popular requested customized vehicle tag, with a whopping 1,168,000 orders, proclaims “God Bless America.” Larger sponsors enjoy decent profits, where smaller groups go more for publicity. “We applied for tag sponsorship to advertise

See reader-submitted tags on page 11!

Do you have a personalized license plate? Let us know on our Facebook page.

our group,” says Elaine Wheeler, President of Alabama Square and Round Dancers Association in Odenville, Ala. “We haven’t made much money, but people see the tag and ask about us.” Most tags are available to the general public, but others have stipulations, such as the “Pearl Harbor survivor” plate, only available to such survivors. Last year 25 were sold. But it does not necessarily mean 25 Pearl Harbor survivors, now in their 90s, are driving. These brave men survived a Japanese air attack. They should not tempt fate on a Birmingham freeway. Big sellers (tags sold in 2015) “Alabama does not “God Bless America” - 1,168,000 require a driver’s liUniversity of Alabama - 103,321 cense to own and regAuburn University - 68,067 ister a vehicle,” StarFirefighters - 39,921 ling says. “But he-she must be a living survivor of Pearl Harbor to buy the tag and it is not transferable.” Other tags, especially military ones, have similar stipulations. “We do not have data on how our sales compare with other states,” says Starling, “but I believe Alabama has more varieties, and I suspect we sell more.” Reasons for purchase are as varied as the tags. “Many are passionate about the cause,” notes the director. “But we see people order plates because the colors match their car.” Plate sponsors meet rigid state guidelines as well. From a good Alabama Living

idea to a Buick’s back bumper is a long journey. Most themes go before the Alabama Legislative Oversight Committee on License Plates (LOC). Candidates cannot submit tag ideas promoting or advertising private businesses or business organizations, certain types of schools, unions, political and religious organizations, groups that promote racial or social disharmony, public officials, and other standards. In addition, the tag must be for an organization or cause that benefits the entire state, and money raised cannot pay salaries. Specialty messages must be original, not duplicated, and that can be a problem. “Everyone competes to be first for a new message,” notes Starling. Having said that, here’s a tip: ‘Roll Tide’ is taken. Try again. After all requirements are met, a prototype made, and everyone’s signed off, the order is placed with the Alabama Department of Corrections. Holman Prison in Atmore “is literally a manufacturing warehouse, within a state prison,” says Alabama Correctional Industries Director Andy Farquhar. “We look at last year’s orders to determine demand for this year’s.” The end product is an automobile registration record, recorded in metal and a work of art. It is a rare example of a state tax that participants volunteer and gladly pay for. More detailed information on tag varieties, ordering, and requirements is available at the Alabama Department of Revenue, Motor Vehicle Division website: MAY 2017 17

bean brew From


Coffee roasters are perking up in Alabama’s towns, small cities By Allison Griffin and Liz Vinson


cross the state, the business of roasting coffee beans and transforming them into fresh blends is brewing along very well. Entrepreneurs have recognized a market for consumers who want a fresh cup of joe that is flavorful and truly original. Now, they’re taking the lead in providing Alabama’s towns and small cities with coffee that is unmatched in quality by the mass-produced, brand-name coffees in the grocery store. Coffee culture is no longer confined to large cities or to areas like the West Coast or Northeast, generally considered to be trend-setters in anything related to food or taste. Small-batch roasters are finding markets all over the state, and even the Southeast and beyond. The work isn’t easy, or necessarily even lucrative; some small town roasters hold down other jobs to keep the bills paid. But most will say that owning their own business – coupled with the pride that comes from practicing an artisanal skill and the satisfaction of educating and pleasing customers – is enough to keep them going.

Education is key

Small-batch roasters follow different business models, but they make money either by selling their roasted beans to coffee shops, which use the beans to make coffee and sell to customers; by supplying bags of coffee beans, whole or ground, to grocery stores; or shipping roasted coffee directly to customers who order them. Rodolfo Alger, owner of Headland Roasting Company, a cus18 MAY 2017

(Inset) Rodolfo Alger, owner of Headland Roasting Co., in his shop; Once Alger roasts the beans, they empty into a large metal tray, where they’re stirred to allow for cooling. PHOTOS BY ALLISON GRIFFIN

tomer of Pea River Electric Cooperative, and his family opened a coffee shop in Daleville, but ended up closing it because it was too far away. Now, the family operates a coffee shop in the Westgate area of Dothan, using their own roasts. But most of Alger’s business is in the grocery stores around the area. They do supply some offices and churches, a market he’s trying to grow. He doesn’t have an Internet store currently, but will ship bags of coffee to customers who reach out to him via Facebook. Alger came to the U.S. from his native El Salvador with his family to visit his sister, who was living in Hartford at the time. They liked the area and wanted to raise their family in a rural setting, so they moved to Headland in 2007. Though the area is rural, he says that the business can easily serve an area within a 100-mile radius. “It’s hard in the sense that the (coffee buying) market is not there, readily available,” he says. “But also, being in a small town, it makes you kind of unique – one of the reasons we named it Headland Roasting Co. is to be connected to Headland, Ala. Better known as just a little town north of Dothan, but a place where there’s a good coffee roasting place.” For Bodka Coffee in rural Sumter County, between the towns of Gainesville and Emelle, building a roasting business has been tough. “A very poor place to have a coffee business,” owner David Warkentin says. His brother-in-law in Oklahoma became a roaster, and Warken-

tin liked the product and the business. He borrowed money to buy a roaster and found a coffee shop willing to buy his product, if he could match or beat the price they were paying and if his quality was good. He has no problems with quality, but having such a business in west Alabama has not been easy. But both his and his wife’s families are from the area, and leaving would be difficult. “I’m quite certain that in town, I would have more business,” he says. He doesn’t roast every day of the week, and in fact his primary occupation is in the construction business. He had originally envisioned the coffee being his sole occupation. Both Warkentin and Alger point to consumer education as the key to future business – making coffee drinkers aware of the difference in quality between a fresh roasted batch and the commercial stuff. A day a month, Warkentin will have a casual roasting day at his shop, a structure where he roasts that isn’t a sit-down coffee shop. But he invites the community to drop by to taste different blends, have some cinnamon rolls made by his wife and talk about coffee or anything else. Most folks leave a donation, if they don’t buy a bag. He’d like to work with the shop he supplies to hold more formal educational events, “where I take multiple origins and brew them. Everybody can drink it and taste the difference, and I can explain the differences and talk about how the coffee’s grown and processed.”

David Warkentin, owner of Bodka Coffee, prepares to weigh coffee at his shop near Emelle.

Alabama Living

MAY 2017 19

Roaster Rufus Ducote’ and owner/roaster Chase Chandler with their machine at Fairhope Roasting Company. Patrons can watch the roasting and bagging process through a large window at the business. Sacks of green coffee beans sit ready to be roasted at Fairhope Roasting company. PHOTOS BY MICHELLE ROLLS-THOMAS

Such events are a big hit for Fairhope Roasting Co. in Baldwin County. The shop holds “Roasting with Rufus” events a couple days a month for a handful of customers to spend a few hours with the roaster (that would be Rufus), watching him and the process. “It’s really fun that we are able to be the people that are trying to educate in this area,” says Chase Chandler, one of the owners of Fairhope Roasting. “It’s a really rewarding part of our job.” Fairhope Roasting started out supplying smaller grocery stores and farmers markets, and didn’t focus on starting a café. The company has now expanded into stores in Birmingham, Pensacola and Mobile. The roaster shares a building with Warehouse Bakery and Doughnuts, and though they’re separate companies, the shared workspace has created a mutually beneficial relationship. Chandler says having the support of the town of Fairhope has been invaluable. And it doesn’t hurt that Fairhope has a natural tourist draw, both on its own and as a pass through to the beaches.

A strong coffee community

The differences in scale between these roasters are vast. Warkentin, of Bodka Coffee, generally roasts 80-90 pounds per week. Fairhope Roasting Co. roasted 2,152 pounds in a recent month. But all the roasters say they are committed to quality. Sarah Barnett Gill, owner of Mama Mocha’s Coffee Emporium

in Auburn, recognized that coffee shops needed the attention from a good roaster. “Coffee shops are everywhere, and there is a need for good and well-sourced coffee,” Gill says. “For those coffee drinkers who seek out excellence in their java, a reputable roaster is worth their weight in gold. Local roasters are so important and give coffee shops a chance to know the science and art of what they’re brewing. It gives the chance to connect on a small scale that brings them one step closer to the farmer.” For Alger, who roasts about 150 pounds per week, being mindful and conscientious of how long the beans are roasted is a delicate and intricate process. Roasters take the beans, which in their pure state are green in color, and roast them for 12 to 50 minutes, depending on how light or dark the roast is meant to be. They also take pride in freshness. “Our coffee is fresh and roasted in the same week, versus something that sits for months on the shelf of a grocery store,” Alger says. And competition isn’t necessarily a bad thing for the roasters. Chandler says his shop gets along well with other roasters, even larger ones in Birmingham. And people learn more about the coffee when they have different options. “I think each roasting company gives everything its own little flair, and will have something it’s known for,” he says. “I think it’s very healthy to have other roasters in your area.”

Mama Mocha’s Coffee Emporium in Auburn plans to expand into downtown Opelika later this year. Sarah Barnett Gill, owner of Mama Mocha’s, right, with her son Samson in front of her company’s roaster. PHOTOS BY LIZ VINSON

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Alabama Living

MAY 2017 21

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Alabama Living

MAY 2017  23


Find your

By Allison Griffin

Music festivals offer live performances in all genres

Below are some of Alabama’s 2017 events, listed by date: Hangout Music Festival, Gulf Shores, May 19-21: Located directly on the white sandy beaches of the Gulf coast, this unofficial summer kickoff festival has become one of the premiere live music events in the U.S. RXR Fest, Alexander City, May 26-28: Bring a cooler, lawn chair, leashed pups and friends to the Russell Crossroads, off Alabama Highway 63 south of Alex City, for the RXR Fest. www. Bluegrass on the Plains, Auburn, May 29-June 4: Fans will gather on the Plains to hear music, enjoy some food and celebrate the Memorial Day holiday.

Rock the South, Cullman, June 2-3: Originally intended as a one-year celebration of the 2011 tornadoes, the event that highlights food, music and culture has continued with great community support. Sloss Music and Arts Festival, Birmingham, July 15-16: This event offers more than 40 music acts on four stages along with craft beer and creative cocktails, arts and crafts, live iron pouring demonstrations and more. W.C. Handy Music Festival, The Shoals area, July 21-30: This celebration, inspired by the “father of the blues” and the musical heritage of northwest Alabama, features more than 200 related events. or call 256-755-7642.

Canceled event

Shaky Knees, Atlanta, May 12-14: Cage the Elephant, X Ambassadors, Pixies, The Shins and Ryan Adams headline the fifth annual indie festival in Centennial Olympic Park. Bonnaroo, Manchester, Tenn., June 8-11: U2, Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Weeknd, Chance the Rapper, Major Lazer, Lorde and The XX are among the many acts this year. www.bonnaroo. com Gulf Coast Jam, Panama City Beach, Fla., Sept. 1-3: Billed as “country on the coast,” this event will feature headliners Luke Bryan, Jason Aldean and Little Big Town.

Toadlick Music Festival, Dothan: This outdoor festival on the grounds of the National Peanut Festival featured a variety of entertainers in country, rock ’n’ roll and Southern rock during its five-year run.

Out of state If you don’t mind driving a bit, festivals in neighboring states feature big-name acts and will no doubt draw big-time crowds:

State kicks off bicentennial celebration


he state is planning a big birthday party for its bicentennial, and you’re invited to be a part of the festivities leading up to it. In 2019, Alabama will commemorate the 200th anniversary of its statehood. Created from the Mississippi Territory in 1817, the Alabama Territory became the nation’s 22nd state on Dec. 14, 1819. But the state’s Bicentennial Commission is getting a jump on things with more than 2 ½ years’ worth of activities leading up to the actual anniversary. And on May 5 of this year, the city of Mobile will host a formal ceremony launching the multi-year birthday celebration, complete with a street party in downtown Mobile and a fireworks display. After that, the Alabama 200 initiative will engage residents and visitors in educational programs, community activities and statewide events that will teach, inspire and entertain. Among the activities planned: traveling exhibitions, a mobile oral history studio, increasing access to family history records, 24  MAY 2017

community workshops, a special “Bicentennial Bookshelf ” and Alabama Reads, a common reading program. Education projects range from Bicentennial Blue Ribbon School designations to new curriculum development to professional development for teachers. Community-hosted efforts include historical marker programs, festivals and fairs, bicentennial gardens, cemetery surveys, reunions and other activities that shine a light on local history. And a Capitol Bicentennial Park will be constructed in an area facing the Capitol in downtown Montgomery. The park will feature bas-relief sculptures telling the history of Alabama. For more information, visit Alabama200. org. At the website, you can learn more about adopting a resolution, forming a committee or connecting with people in your area. Consider involving your school, community, organization or county in the commemoration events.

Alabama Living

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| Gardens |

Appetizing yards

Create a beautiful, edible landscape

A pot of strawberries is a tasty alternative to blooming annuals.


few years back I got this hairbrained idea (or maybe I should say I got another hair-brained idea – they seem to come to me rather regularly). I replaced a section of aged, declining boxwoods beside our garage with three blueberry bushes and a pomegranate shrub. It was my first attempt to begin turning our ornamental landscape into an edible one. The area looked a little barren for the first year, but by the second year the shrubs had filled out and begun producing fruit. The idea worked well enough that I also began filling pots on my back patio with lettuces and strawberries instead of annual flowers. Granted, I’m not producing buckets of berries or bowls of salad from these small plantings, but I am harvesting enough to add fresh, seasonal fruits and leafy greens to our meals and I am on my way to making our landscape attractively tasty. Edible landscapes (also called foodscapes) are nothing new. They’ve been around ever since the human race began cultivating crops and the concept experienced a hey day during the era of victory gardens, when homeowners took to planting fruits and vegetables in areas previously reserved for lawns and flower beds. In more recent years this practice has undergone a revival, especially among gardeners interested in making their landscapes more sustainable and environmentally

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

26 MAY 2017

The petals of pansies are edible.

Blueberry bushes provide foliage, flowers and fruits.

friendly and in eating local food. What’s more local than your own yard, right? The benefits of edible landscapes are plentiful. As with any homegrown produce, this practice helps cut down on food transportation, production and storage costs and allows us to control the safety, purity and freshness of our food. Edible landscapes that take the place of thirsty, labor-intensive lawns and ornamentals can also help reduce water, chemical and fuel usage in our yards. Creating an edible landscape doesn’t mean giving up a beautiful landscape, either. It’s simply an opportunity to incorporate edible plants into a landscape design, and it’s as easy as trading off some non-fruiting plants for fruiting ones or mixing edibles in with ornamentals. For example, use muscadine vines instead of honeysuckle or jasmine vines on a trellis or fence. Perennial herbs, such as rosemary, make fabulous (and fragrant and flowering) shrubs or borders. Cool season annual flowers can be substituted or interspersed with basil, kale and other leafy greens in beds or pots. Containers usually reserved for summer flowering plants can be filled with cherry tomatoes, hot peppers or herbs. A pecan or pear tree can be used as a shade tree. You get the picture. And don’t forget that often the pretty petals of flowering ornamental plants are also edible. Not only are blooms from many herbs (such as basil and chives) and vegetables (such as squash blossoms) safe to eat, so are marigold, violet, rose and sunflower petals, to name a few of the annual and perennial flowers that can become part of a meal. Some of these flowers provide added flavor to dishes while others simply make stunning garnishes, but they

can be fun to experiment with. Just make sure you eat from a list of safe flowers, one of which can be found in the North Carolina Extension publication Choosing and Using Edible Flowers, and don’t eat petals from florist flowers or flowers picked along roadsides as these may have been treated with chemicals. To begin creating your own edible landscape, start small and pick plants and foods you love. An abundance of books and articles on creating edible landscapes is available online or in bookstores and local libraries, but you can get started by checking out the Alabama Cooperative Extension System publication Edible Landscaping. Bon appetit!

May Tips 

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    

Evaluate the performance and condition of spring flowering trees and shrubs while they are in bloom to develop plans for future purchases. Pull weeds from flower and vegetable beds when the soil is moist and before the weeds go to seed. Transplant trees and shrubs before hot dry weather arrives. Direct seed warm-season vegetables such as okra, melons, summer peas and beans and squash. Plant transplants of tomatoes, eggplant and peppers. Clean and fill birdfeeders and birdbaths. Keep an eye out for insect and disease problems. Replace cool-season annuals with warm-season options. Repot houseplants and move hardy ones outdoors.

Alabama Living

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28  MAY 2017

May | Around Alabama


Scottsboro, Catfish Festival at Jackson County Park, 2302 County Park. 8 a.m.-3 p.m. Features car, truck and motorcycle show, live entertainment, food vendors, arts and crafts vendors, children’s play area, and children’s fishing from 8 a.m.-12 p.m. 256-259-1503.


Hot air balloon lovers have two big events to visit this month. The Gulf Coast Hot Air Balloon Festival is May 5-6 in Foley, and the Alabama Jubilee Hot Air Balloon Festival is May 27-28 in Decatur.


Mobile, Join us in the state’s oldest city to launch Alabama’s 3-year bicentennial commemoration. Enjoy music, food and free admission to many of the city’s historic sites. Close the evening with fireworks on the riverfront in the City Born to Celebrate! Mardi Gras Park/ Cooper Riverside Park. 6 p.m.–10 p.m.

Foley Sports Park. Arts, crafts and food vendors, interactive hot air balloon display, tethered balloon rides, musical and other entertainment. Balloons are only visible at dusk and dawn, weather permitting. Schedule of events and ticket pricing available at or call 251-943-3291.



Cullman, 2017 Cullman Strawberry Festival, Cullman Farmer’s Market. The festival features a slate of live music, more than 100 arts and crafts vendors each day, kid’s activities and rides and a vintage car show. Fresh strawberries will be sold at the Farmer’s Market both days of the event, as well as strawberry ice cream, strawberry short cake, strawberry lemonade, strawberry daiquiris and more. For more information, contact the Cullman Civic Center at (256) 734-9157 or


Moulton, 3rd Annual Strawberry Festival, Downtown Square. 9 a.m.-7 p.m. Features live entertainment, Hornet Hero Run/Walk, vendors, car, truck and motorcycle show, co-ed mud volleyball tournament. For more information about the festival, visit For information about the Hornet Hero Run/Walk, contact Heather Hood, 256-565-1950.


Foley, Gulf Coast Hot Air Balloon Festival,

Andalusia, 8th Annual Three Notch Market & Crafts Festival hosted by the Andalusia Junior Woman’s Club. Features local and regional artists, craftsmen, and businesses. Vendors, live music, food, raffle drawings and “kid area” for their enjoyment. Andalusia Farmers Market, 256 Historic Central St. 9 a.m.-3 p.m.


Valley, 41st Annual Hike/ Bike/Run at Valley Haven School. Registration begins at 7 a.m. EDT, event begins at 8 a.m. EDT. Events include one and five mile hikes, 10 and 20-mile bike rides and one mile, 5K and 10.5K runs. Food and children’s activities available. For more information, contact Craig Brown, 334-7567801,


Greenville, Butler County Relay for Life. Butler County Fairgrounds, 6 p.m.-12 midnight. Activities for all ages, giant twister and kids zone. Funds received will go toward cancer research.


Montgomery, 20th Annual Herb Day Celebration of Old Alabama Town Herb Society. Free, fun-filled, public educational event. Offers lectures, demonstrations featuring experts on identifying, growing and using herbs. Live music, activities for children and vendors selling garden-related wares including herbs and other plants, crafts, herbal teas, and goat cheese. The herbs of the year are cilantro and coriander. Annual membership is $20. 301 Columbus St. Oathsblog. com


Arley, Arley Day Festival, Car Show and Parade, Hamner Park. Community festival featuring parade, 5K run, custom car show, unique craft and merchandise vendors, food, live music and games. 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. Free. 205-489-1445.


Montgomery, S.K.I.P (Save Kids of Incarcerated Parents) Bocce Tournament. Tournament begins at 8:30 a.m. Teams of two players will be matched in a single elimination tournament divided by age groups for kids, youth, adults and seniors. Cost per team is $20 and individual participants will be paired together to form a team. Also features a raffle, 50/50 drawing and closest to the line contest. Food and refreshments available for purchase. Aldersgate United Methodist Church, 6610 Vaughn Road. 334-272-3420.

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

Huntsville, Biergarten Stein & Dine, US Space and Rocket Center. Features authentic German cuisine created by renowned chef David Oreskovich. Dine under the Saturn V Apollo moon rocket and a portion of the food sales will go to Ashakiran, a non-profit which serves residents of foreign origins. Free admission with food and beverages available for purchase. Imported and domestic beers and wines from the German region. Family friendly and dogs welcome on the Apollo Terrace. For more information, email


Decatur, Alabama Jubilee Hot Air Balloon Festival, Point Mallard Park. Saturday morning is the ‘hare & hound’ race in which balloons try to follow a ‘hare’ that will land and set out a target they will drop beanbags on. During the evening balloons light up the night with a balloon glow. Sunday evening many balloons also offer free tethered rides, while some choose to fly. All balloon flights, glows and tethers are early and late in the day. The best time to arrive at the field is at, or before, 6 a.m. for morning flights and 6 p.m. for evening events. Admission to the event is free. Schedule of events:

June 2-3

Georgiana, 38th Annual Hank Williams Festival, Hank Williams Park. A fun-filled weekend with country music, arts and crafts, food and drink. 2p.m.-10p.m. and 8 a.m.10p.m. Tickets are $20-$40.Information: 334-376-2396 or email

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MAY 2017 29


| Worth the drive |

 Celebrating 100 years of

Take a closer look at Chris’ Famous Hot Dogs online at

hot dogs in Montgomery By Lori Quiller


estled at the bottom of Dexter Avenue in Montgomery just a few blocks from the steps of the Capitol sits one of the city’s most beloved lunch spots. Tucked away under a green and white awning is Chris’ Famous Hot Dogs, which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. When you walk into the restaurant, the rich smells of spicy chili and French fries fill the air. Hanging on the walls are photos from the restaurant’s 100-year history, including some original menus, mementos, souvenirs and even some knickknacks donated by loyal patrons. “People ask my dad what’s the secret to being in business for so long,” explained Gus Katechis, who runs Chris’ with his father, Theo. “That’s pretty easy. You just have to be here. You don’t get to take a lot of vacations.” The restaurant was opened on May 1, 1917, by his uncle and grandfather, Chris, under the name Post Office Café & Fruit Stand because it was next door to the city’s post office, says Gus. So, why would immigrants from Greece want to open a hot dog restaurant? “My grandfather, Chris, was so proud when he came over from Greece and became an American citizen,” Gus says. “He never thought of himself as a Greek-American. He was proud to be an American, and he wanted his restaurant to be part of American culture. The hot dog is straight-up American food.” Chris hit on something special with his hot dogs, and when he added his special chili sauce, he had a winner. Today, Theo makes about 10 gallons every other day – but don’t ask for the recipe. Only a few people know that. Being located on Dexter Avenue has allowed the restaurant and its patrons a front-row seat to much of Montgomery’s rich history. From the birth of the civil rights movement with the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks to its many famous patrons who stopped by, such as Clark Gable, Elvis Presley, Jimmy Stewart, Hank Williams and Tallulah Bankhead, to Presidents Harry Truman, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush. Every Alabama governor has made a 30 MAY 2017

stop at Chris’, which is conveniently located between the State Capitol and the Governor’s Mansion. But one governor had a hand in saving the day when hot dogs were in short supply.

A governor to the rescue

According to Gus, in the restaurant’s 100-year history, there have only been a couple of times when the store almost ran out of hot dogs. The local company that Chris’ used to get their hot dogs from had a trucking strike. The strike lasted long enough that the company eventually closed. “Gov. George Wallace sent the Air National Guard to Chicago to get our hot dogs, no lie,” Gus laughs. “That would never happen today, but back in the day? There was one other time we almost ran out of hot dogs, too. Years ago someone posted on a blog that we were going out of business. Of course we weren’t, but our phone rang off the hook for months!” That was when Gus and his father, Theo, realized they needed to adapt themselves. Patrons can find them online at, as well as on Facebook. But, the Katechis family still believes in the power of civic relationships and being there for the people who have been there for them for so long. You’d be hard pressed to find a large event in Alabama that doesn’t serve a Chris’ Famous Hot Dog. In fact, the largest hot dog order so far was for the USS Montgomery on Sept. 16, 2016, in Mobile. Gus said it took six people about four hours to produce 2,500 hot dogs. Back in Montgomery, Theo was heading out the door with a couple dozen dogs for the grand opening of a new furniture store across town. “It’s all about community,” Gus says. “And, this is home.” Chris’ Famous Hot Dogs

From top: Chris’ Famous Hot Dogs has a prime downtown spot in Montgomery. The interior features mementos of some of Chris’ famous patrons. Gus Katechis and his father, Theo, continue to run the family restaurant. An old menu shows just how much prices have changed over the years.

138 Dexter Ave. Montgomery, AL 36104 334-265-6850 Facebook: @ChrisHotDogs Hours: 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday-Thursday; 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Friday; 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Saturday


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MAY 2017  31

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

Caption correction A friend sent me your March 2017 article on D.L. Hightower and his work. I thoroughly enjoyed the piece. Thanks for providing it for all. I do believe there is a mistake in the caption of the picture of Gov. “Big Jim” Folsom. The person he is talking with in this photograph is identified as state Sen. Clayton Preston. I believe his correct name is Sen. Preston Clayton. Thanks again for an interesting article. Bill Baxley Birmingham Ed. note: The former attorney general and lieutenant governor is correct. Our apologies for the mixup.

More large cats

Loves the cookbook

Our most discussed story of the last year continues to be our Outdoors column on the big cats that once prowled Alabama: I was told by a retired UNA biology professor that the large black cats are jaguarundi. They have migrated to this country from Mexico. I saw one 20 years ago in Flaming Gorge National Park. And again along Nance Creek in the Red Bank community of northwest Lawrence County three or four years ago. A neighbor saw what was probably the same cat a few weeks later.

I am a long-time member of the Southern Pine Co-op. For many years, I have enjoyed the Alabama Living magazine, but mostly for the recipes. I have noticed that for months now, I find myself reading it from cover to cover! My compliments to your staff which puts together such a top-notch magazine, both interesting and informative! Love the color photos! My compliments also to all who work on the Alabama Living cookbooks. I have four of them. I think I am missing the one from 2008. (is it possible to still get that one?) The latest, “The Best Of ” is just wonderful! Great job! I collect cookbooks and I was very happy to add this one! Suggestion: Put all the “Worth the Drive” articles in a book, (with recipe(s) from each, if possible). That would be an interesting book to me, even without recipes! Well done!

Grant Posey Town Creek

Rodeo clown grateful Trent and I would like to thank you both for running the article on Trent in the March issue (“A Barrel of Laughs,” March 2017). We have received tons of calls, text, emails, & Facebook messages. Everyone loved the article! We appreciate your support! Wendy McFarland Hope Hull

Linda Burt Ed. replies: We are sorry but the 2008 Alabama Living cookbook has been sold out for several years.

A special gift for a very special woman Our new cookbook makes a great Mother’s Day gift! favorite re from Alabacimpes a’s largest lif magazineestyle

More than 200 recipes from Alabama cooks, with color photos and features on some of our top contributors! 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 Please provide the information below and mail along with your payment Name: _____________________________________________________________ Address: ___________________________________________________________ State: ______________ Zip: ____________________ Phone: _________________________________ Copies Requested: _____

32 MAY 2017

Alabama Living

MAY 2017  33

| Alabama People |

William Lee Golden

This Oak Ridge Boy still going strong He’s been a performer for more than 50 years, but now William Lee Golden is indulging in a passion that takes him out of the spotlight and puts him behind the artist’s brush and photographer’s lens. Golden is the longtime baritone for the Oak Ridge Boys, the iconic country and gospel group that continues to make new music today. He joined the group in 1965, and except for a nine-year break in the 1980s and early 1990s, he’s been a part of the Boys’ lineup. They still perform about 160 shows a year, and show no signs of slowing down. But Golden, 78, is perhaps most passionate now about painting and photography, hobbies he took up about 15 years ago to help him fill the time while out on tour. He was inspired by much of the American landscape he saw on the road. “I love landscapes and traveling and seeing all these beautiful places.” The Pensacola Museum of Art has had a showing of his artwork, and the Pensacola airport has exhibited some of his photography. He’s even sorting through his photos to compile a coffee table book. He’s also embraced social media as an outlet for his works, and has followings on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. “I use that as an outlet to get a feedback and response for how certain photos affect an audience,” he says. Besides his active career and hobbies, he’s also found joy in his personal life. He married longtime friend Simone De Staley in 2015, and they make their home in Hendersonville, Tenn., near Nashville. But Golden hasn’t forgotten his roots in Brewton, Ala. The father of four sons, seven grandchildren and two great-grandchildren talked with Alabama Living about his life and what’s ahead. – Allison Griffin

sang a song with him. David is the hottest producer in Nashville right now. Chris Stapleton is his artist. Some other young acts that he’s had are breaking big too. Do you find at your concerts that you have generations of fans? We do. That’s the great thing about what we do. Joe (Bonsall, tenor of the group) mentions that sometimes on stage. There are these kids down there singing our songs. He’ll say, ‘These were way before you were born. How do you know these songs?’ It’s from their grandmother playing records, or their granddad’s 8-tracks. The grandmother will come to the show, the daughter and the granddaughter. So we’ve been kind of passed down in the family.


alk about your upbringing in south Alabama. I was born and raised south of Brewton. Our family farm was there, right on the Alabama-Florida line. My dad was a big cotton and peanut farmer. I lived there until I was out of school and married and working at a paper mill down in Brewton. I grew up on that big farm, and that’s actually where I learned about singing and playing music. My sister and I would play and sing. She played mandolin, and I played guitar. We’d sing in church. My Granddaddy Golden was a fiddle player and had a radio show. Once a week, my sister and I would get to go over and do a song on Granddaddy’s radio show. We would play at churches, high school assemblies. We were always playing and singing, my sister and I. I still go back home to Brewton to visit my family. My sister is still there, around the family farm. My sister also has a house on Lake Martin, and sometimes we’re able to meet there. My brother is in Atlanta and has a beach house down in Florida.


or the early part of the Oak Ridge Boys’ career, you were a gospel group. Is gospel still a part of who you are as a group? That’s true. I’d say an hour, an hour and 15 minutes into our show, we go back and revisit our roots for two or three songs some nights, at least a song or two every night. It’s something we do because of our love for what we do. It’s where we got our start. Our families feel close to that music, too.


hat helps you stay healthy? I’ve kind of made it a habit to keep up my physical condition and stay active and healthy. I enjoy going out and walking four or five miles. Workouts always make me feel better. Now, every day when I’m on the road, I sit in the floor and I do like 100 situps every day. Sometimes I’ll do 125. It really helps me sing so much better. It’s so much easier to sing when I’m in shape.


re the Oak Ridge Boys working on new music? We’re scheduled to go into the studio in July with David Cobb, who we’ve worked with before. We met him through Shooter Jennings, when we 34  MAY 2017

Alabama Living

MAY 2017  35

A spring spectacular:

Third of a three-part series

Wildflower viewing in central Alabama Story and photos by Alfred Schotz


he landscape of central Alabama is one of striking conembellish the Heart of Dixie, with many occurring across the trasts and immense beauty, a mingling of high mouncentral portion of the state. tains, rocky shoals, and open grasslands amid a setting Springtime brings about some of our most distinctive and of verdant forests. Through the powers of nature and the pasattractive species, with the lady’s-slipper orchids being easiest sages of time, the region has been sculpted into a profound to recognize. The fruiting capsule of this and many other spearray of natural environments that, in turn, have nurtured a cies of Alabama’s native orchids produce thousands of minute remarkable diversity of dust-like seeds that can wildflowers and native travel vast distances, carplant life, some found ried by the slightest breath only here and nowhere of wind. else on the planet. With such an abunFrom the budding dance of seeds, one would novice to the seasoned naturally assume orchids aficionado, those who adto be as common as kudmire the state’s wildflower zu. But by its very design, riches eagerly anticipate the seed of an orchid does the spring season to benot have the necessary apcome reacquainted with paratus to germinate on favorites from the past or its own, instead relying on begin searches anew for a specialized fungus in the “life species” that have soil to stimulate growth long aroused intrigue and and provide nutrients. fascination, but evaded Given such precise redetection. quirements, however, Perhaps of all the flowonly a few of them ever ering plants bestowed find suitable conditions upon central Alabama, for germination and deorchids are surely among velop into new plants. The the most cherished and remainder – often thousought after. Their exquisands – will scatter into site display of colors and oblivion. forms evoke an air of fanThe splendor of wild tasy and are a symbol of orchids and spectacular all that is exotic. pageants of other wildFor many, the general Pink lady’s-slipper orchid, near Mt. Cheaha. flowers will be on display perception of orchids is for those taking the time one of mystical and disto explore the many trails tant lands of the equator, and rightly so, for orchids are most in central Alabama’s parks and preserves, including those decommonly encountered in tropical regions. However, severscribed below. al species are distributed across the cooler regions of North Upon packing supplies (plenty of food, water, and of course, America, and are as rich and varied as the landscape in which a camera) in preparing for a half or full day outing, the need to they grow. travel afar will not be necessary, for many of the region’s finest Alabama, with its fertile soil, ample rainfall, and temperate displays are within easy reach of central Alabama. climate, is prime orchid country, producing an opulence of vivid colors and bizarre shapes adorning all facets of the state’s Alfred Schotz is a botanist with the Auburn University Museum landscape. In fact, a number of orchids – 58 species in all – of Natural History.

36 MAY 2017

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Mt. Cheaha State Park

How to get there: Mt. Cheaha is the highest point in Alabama, roughly 15 miles south of Anniston, off State Route 281. Several options exist for wildflower viewing with the Mountain Laurel and Pulpit Rock Trails, offering the finest displays. Trail condition: Trails are well maintained and easy to follow. Both trails are rated easy to moderate. Best time to visit: Late April – late May. Mountain laurel and the orange-flowered Cumberland azalea are generally at their prime during the second and third weeks in May. Late April and early May are good for pink-flowered azaleas and flowering dogwoods.

Perry Lakes Park Trail Complex

How to get there: Entrance to the park is on the east side of State Route 175 alongside the Marion State Fish Hatchery roughly 2.25 miles north of State Route 183, approximately 7 miles northeast of Marion. Trail condition: Trails consist of boardwalks and dirt-based pathways, both being well-maintained and easy to follow. Trails are level and can become muddy following heavy rainfall. Best time to visit: Mid-March – mid-April. Considered one of the finest viewing areas for early spring wildflowers in central Alabama. Many trails exist, with the Basswood, Perry Lakes, and Round Lake trails offering some of the nicest displays. A trail map is available online.

 

Old Cahawba Prairie Trail Complex

How to get there: From Selma take State Route 22 west roughly 8.5 miles to Dallas County Road 9, turn left on County Road 9 and continue approximately 3.4 miles to County Road 1, and then turn right on County Road 1, traveling about 1 mile to a parking area and kiosk on the right side of the road. Trail condition: Trails are well maintained and easy to follow. Trails are generally level and can become slippery following rainfall; appropriate footgear is suggested. Best time to visit: Late March – late May. Three trails exist, each traversing a mix of prairie and woodland. Colonies of early spring wildflowers can be observed in March and April along the forested sections of the trails, whereas the prairies come into their prime in May and into June.

Smith Mountain Trail

How to get there: Smith Mountain is roughly 5 miles west of Dadeville, located along the northeastern portion of Lake Martin. There’s a parking area at the end of Smith Mountain Road, and can be only reached by driving south on Smith Mountain Drive roughly one half mile from Young’s Ferry Road. Trail condition: Trail is well maintained and easy to follow. Trail difficulty is rated as easy to moderate, with the uppermost section nearest the summit becoming more strenuous. Best time to visit: Late March – mid-May. Mountain laurel in all its glory is the star attraction during the last two weeks of April and early May. Beginning in late March and extending to mid-April the trails are also accented with colorful blazes of azaleas, rhododendron, fringetree, and sparkleberry, particularly at lower elevations.

Central Alabama wildflower trails 38 MAY 2017

Alabama Living

MAY 2017  39

| Outdoors |

Veterans find healing on the water


any people find gliding along silently in a kayak, listening to nature, quite soothing, even therapeutic. But for injured veterans, such an experience could be life-changing. “Not all war injuries are visible,” says Brian Carson of Bay Minette, who serves as the coordinator for the South Alabama chapter of Heroes on the Water. “We try to help veterans Brian Carson, Heroes on the Water’s South Alabama with post-traumatic stress disorder, chapter coordinator. PHOTOS BY JOHN N. FELSHER but we won’t hesitate to help someone “He was a little nervous about particiwith a physical limitation. We treat all vetpating,” Carson recalls. “He called me a erans the same.” couple weeks after the tournament and With about 80 chapters nationwide, insaid, ‘That time on the water gave me a cluding three in Alabama, and some interchance to reflect and look back on what’s national chapters, HOTW (heroesontheimportant. If I can get out on the water in takes veterans fishing in kayaks. a kayak and fish, I can do anything.’ That’s These adventures give veterans opportua recurring story with many vets. Anothnities to relax and decompress from their er person was on the verge of committing stress, which helps with their mental and suicide when one of our people invited physical healing. him to fish. He went and it changed his life. “We put them on the water in a fishing He’s now helping other veterans to come situation to unwind and disengage from back from these dark moments.” their daily activities,” Carson says. “It’s a The South Alabama chapter holds a healing process and a ‘thank you’ for their paddling event about once a month. Each service. We provide the kayaks, the padfall, the chapter hosts a kayak fishing tourdles, fishing gear, the guide – everything. nament, next slated for Sept. 16, 2017. The veterans never pay a cent.” Veterans and guides will fish for several Carson reached out to one young solspecies found in Mobile Bay and associatdier who suffered serious injuries while ed waters. serving in Iraq. After returning home, the “I knew how to kayak before my brain man did not adjust very well and conteminjury, but I forgot it,” says David Atkins of plated suicide. Carson invited him to fish Mobile, who used to work on Apache hethe annual HOTW kayak tournament.

licopters while in the Army and participated in a recent kayak fishing trip in the Mobile-Tensaw Delta. “Heroes on the Water is reteaching me how to kayak more efficiently and correctly. You have to live, laugh and love when you can.”

Team River Runner

The South Alabama chapter teamed up with another group to help veterans heal through a relaxing day on the water. With more than 50 chapters in 31 states, Team River Runner ( “creates an environment of healthy adventure, recreation and camaraderie for healing active duty, veteran service members and their families through adaptive kayaking,” reads the organization mission statement. “I teach adaptive boating and help people with disabilities,” says Tonya Butler-Collins, the TRR South Alabama Chapter coordinator. “I’ve kayaked for many years, but I haven’t done much fishing from one. Brian takes care of the fishing and I do the kayaking. We put these two skill sets together to give more opportunities to vets.” Not just a coordinator, but a beneficiary, Butler-Collins served in the Army and suffered a traumatic brain injury. Now a medical massage therapist, she sees both sides of rehabilitation. “I’m a vet who went through a lot of this myself,” she says. “At the time, I didn’t

Take a closer look at Heroes on the Water online at

Tonya Butler-Collins with Team River Runner instructs others on the proper ways to paddle a kayak while participating in a South Alabama Chapter of Heroes on the Water paddling event held in the Mobile-Tensaw Delta near Spanish Fort, Ala.

40 MAY 2017

Contact information HOTW North Alabama Chapter Jason Hyche HOTW Central Alabama Chapter Jimmy Cantrell Jr. HOTW South Alabama Chapter Brian Carson 251-327-8557 Team River Runner South Alabama Chapter Tonya Butler-Collins 404-316-7225

have a lot of support. Now, I help veterans with brain and spinal cord injuries regain a sense of independence through sports, recreation and community involvement. I’d like to break down some barriers for other female veterans to get out and do more outdoors sports. A lot of female vets love being outdoors, but many organizations forget to invite them.” Many of the people who participate in events with Carson or Butler-Collins never sat in any boat before, much less such a small, tippy craft as low to the water as a kayak. Some people with physical injures need extra help or special equipment. “Depending upon the injury, we can adapt a kayak to meet the needs of that person,” Butler-Collins says. “For instance, if the person has a spinal injury, we have special seats that hold them up, but they can still paddle on their own. We also have pontoons that we can add to kayaks so they won’t tip over.” To hold events, both HOTW and TRR need help. They could use more volunteers to donate their time. People can also make tax-deductible contributions of equipment or money. With more boats and fishing gear, they could help more veterans who wish to participate. Never wish a veteran “Happy Memorial Day” because it is not meant to be a happy day. On Memorial Day this year, simply say, “thank you,” or get involved with a group like HOTW and TRR that helps vets who served all of us. John N. Felsher is a freelance writer and photographer who writes from Semmes, Ala. Contact him through his website at www.

Alabama Living

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

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

MAY 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31

03:22 04:37 08:52 11:07 09:07 09:37 03:37 04:07 04:37 --01:22 02:07 02:52 03:52 05:22 07:07

07:52 08:07 12:52 01:37 02:22 02:52 10:07 10:52 11:22 05:07 05:52 06:22 07:07 07:37 08:22 09:22 10:52

11:37 ---01:37 03:22 10:07 10:52 11:52 07:07 08:07 08:52 09:37 10:37 11:37 12:37 --

03:37 04:22 05:07 06:22 07:52 09:07 04:37 05:22 06:22 12:07 12:52 01:37 02:22 03:07 03:52 04:52 05:52


08:22 09:22 02:52 03:22 03:52 04:22 ---01:22 01:52 02:37 03:22 04:22 05:37 11:07 08:07 01:52 02:37 03:07 03:52 04:37 -01:07 01:52 02:37 03:37 04:37 05:52 --

01:37 02:22 10:07 10:37 11:07 11:37 04:52 05:22 05:37 06:07 06:37 07:07 07:37 08:22 09:22 07:07 01:07 08:52 09:37 10:22 11:07 11:52 05:22 06:07 06:52 07:37 08:22 09:22 10:37 07:22

01:07 02:52 04:07 10:07 10:52 11:22 07:07 07:52 08:22 09:07 09:37 10:22 10:52 11:37 12:22 -01:22 03:22 09:22 10:37 11:22 12:22 07:52 08:37 09:22 10:07 10:52 11:37 12:22 12:22

07:07 08:22 09:22 05:07 05:52 06:37 12:07 12:37 01:07 01:37 02:07 02:37 03:07 03:52 04:37 05:37 06:52 08:07 04:37 05:37 06:22 07:07 12:37 01:22 02:07 02:52 03:37 04:22 05:07 06:07

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

MAY 2017 41

| Consumer Wise |

Windows to the world Where to start when replacing your windows By Pat Keegan and Brad Thiessen


We recently bought a home with windows from the 1960s that are drafty and need replacing. We would like to ensure that our new windows are energy efficient. Can you offer any tips?

shading, windows can let in too much direct sun in the summer, driving up indoor temperatures and air conditioning costs. Window buyers have a number of choices to make. Double-pane windows are necessary to meet code for most applications, but the additional cost for triple-pane windows could be worth the investment if you live in an area with Replacing your windows is extreme temperatures. Choosing often the most costly and least cost-effective energy efficienArgon or Krypton gas between the cy investment you can make. But panes adds a little more efficiency. there are sound reasons besides A common option that can energy efficiency to invest in new be well worth the investment is windows, such as comfort, resale a low-emissivity coating added value and aesthetics. to the glass. The most important As you look into window rebenefit of this “low-e” coating is placement, think about your goals. its ability to reflect heat back into If reducing your energy costs is imthe interior space, which reduces portant, you should weigh an inheating bills and increases comfort. vestment in new windows against These coatings reduce solar heat the other energy efficiency opporgain as well, which can help with tunities you may have. An energy air conditioning costs. audit by a qualified auditor is the Window frames can be made best way to compare your options. of wood, composite materials, fiThe auditor can perform a diag- An energy auditor uses an infrared camera to look for areas around berglass, aluminum or vinyl. Each has pluses and minuses in terms of nostic test to determine how leaky the window that are leaky or poorly insulated. cost, maintenance, durability and your windows are. These tests often PHOTO: PIEDMONT ELECTRIC MEMBERSHIP CORP. show that windows, even old ones energy efficiency. like yours, are not as leaky as you might think and that you have Fortunately, windows are rated for energy efficiency, so you more significant air leakage problems elsewhere in the home. don’t need to know all the details about their construction. The You may discover there are ways to reduce heat loss through most important indicator of a window’s energy efficiency is the your windows without replacing them, such as storm windows or U-factor, which measures the rate the entire window loses heat. window coverings. More on that next month. Lower U-factors are more efficient. The window framing material, As you begin to explore window replacement, ask yourself if the number of layers of glass and the special coatings on the glass you’re happy with the number of windows you have and with the all contribute to the overall U-factor. In more extreme climates, it size and location. You could decide to increase or decrease the size makes sense to have more efficient windows. Another simple measure to look for is the ENERGY STAR laof a window, or to replace a window with an exterior door. Somebel. Only windows that are substantially more efficient than the times these types of changes are quite affordable, but the cost can code requires receive the ENERGY STAR label. The ENERGY be much greater if significant changes to the wall framing are required. STAR website (, which is maintained by the When considering whether to add more windows, remember U.S. Department of Energy, has a climate zone map and a list of that even very efficient ones are much less effective insulators than windows, doors and skylights that qualify for the ENERGY STAR a home’s exterior walls, which means they will be colder to the label. touch than the wall in the winter. Depending on orientation and Working with a professional is important because a poor installation can result in long-term damage. Moisture problems are common if windows are not installed properly, which can create mold, mildew and rot in the wall. This can prevent the window Patrick Keegan writes on consumer and cooperative from operating properly, or cause the paint to peel. affairs for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Bids for new windows vary a great deal, so it’s worth requesting Association, the Arlington, Va.-based service arm of the nation’s 900-plus consumer-owned, not-formore than one and comparing qualifications as well as price for profit electric cooperatives. Write to energytips@ something that will change the look and comfort of your home for for more information. many years to come.


42  MAY 2017

New executive order calls for review of the Clean Power Plan

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By Dan Riedinger

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hroughout the 2016 campaign, Donald Trump pledged to review burdensome federal regulations when he became president. On March 28, President Trump took an important step to follow through on that commitment by signing an executive order to promote energy independence. The order also calls for review of the Clean Power Plan. “Electric co-ops have two key missions—providing electricity and other services to more than 42 million consumers and empowering the communities they serve,” said Jim Matheson, chief executive officer at the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA), the national service organization for the nation’s more than 900 electric coops. “The Clean Power Plan jeopardizes co-ops’ ability to accomplish both.” “If implemented, the plan would hit many of our electric cooperatives extremely hard by forcing them to prematurely shut down existing power plants. Those co-ops would in essence be charged twice for their electricity—once to continue paying down the loans on the closed power plants and again for the cost of purchasing replacement power,” he said. Co-ops were so concerned about the economic impacts of the Clean Power Plan that they petitioned the courts to review and reject the regulation. The Supreme Court sided with co-ops and imposed a stay of the rule—essentially freezing its implementation. This pause created the Trump administration’s opportunity to review the rule. Electric co-ops put the interests of their members first when deciding how to best meet their energy needs. The Trump executive order allows co-ops to continue reducing their carbon footprint while keeping traditional energy resources in the mix. This is critical as co-ops work to preserve both the reliability and affordability of electricity. It will take the Trump administration a long time to navigate the maze of administrative, regulatory and legal procedures necessary to review the Clean Power Plan. In the meantime, electric co-ops will keep doing what they do best—delivering a consumer-focused energy future

Alabama Living

that empowers cooperative members and their communities. Dan Riedinger 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-forprofit electric cooperatives.

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Alabama Living

MAY 2017 45

| Alabama Recipes |

Gifts Gulf from the

Indulge in shrimp and other shellfish fresh from Alabama's Gulf Coast waters. By Jennifer Kornegay | Food prepared and photographed by Brooke Echols

If you’re a fan of shrimp, crabs, oysters and more, count yourself lucky to live in Alabama. Our state’s Gulf Coast waters are teeming with these tasty animals, and dedicated men and women – some who’ve been in the seafood industry for decades – are working hard to snatch them up and get them to consumers. With a ready supply of Alabama seafood available, it makes good sense to “ buy local” when you can. For one thing, shrimp and shellfish caught closer to you will be fresher, retaining more flavor and maintaining their proper texture longer. Plus, you’re helping support the livelihoods of fellow Alabamians as well as the state’s overall fiscal health. In 2014 alone, the Alabama’s shrimp fleet brought in more than 17 million pounds of shrimp and that same year, the economic impact from total commercial fishing in our state was $573 million. So when you’re shopping for the ingredients for this month’s reader-submitted recipes, look for Alabama shrimp and shellfish at your market, and if they’re not there, ask if they can get some for you.

46 MAY 2017

Kathy's Green Tomato Shrimp Creole 1 2 2 1 2 2 1 1 1

small onion, diced cloves garlic, minced green tomatoes, chopped red tomato, chopped tablespoons olive oil tablespoons butter cup ham bouillon or broth can green chilies, rinsed & drained teaspoon Cajun seasoning Hot sauce as desired ¼ cup catsup or tomato paste 1/2 pound medium shrimp

Sauté onion and garlic in olive oil. Add tomatoes and green chilies. Cover and cook on medium high about 5 minutes or until tomatoes begin to break down. Add remaining ingredients except shrimp. Cook on medium heat, uncovered, for about 10 minutes or until liquid is slightly reduced and thickened. Add shrimp. Cover and cook 2-5 minutes or until shrimp just turn pink. Serve over rice or grits. Salt and pepper to taste.

Cook of the Month

The first time Kathy Skinner made her Green Tomato Shrimp Kathy Skinner, Creole, it was on a whim and as a way to use up some ingrediTallapoosa River EC ents. “I’d been making a really big batch of fried green tomatoes and had a a lot of already sliced tomatoes left over,” she said. “I also had some shrimp on hand, so I decided to try something new.” She took the basic flavors and methods of traditional shrimp creole and subbed tart green tomatoes fresh from her backyard garden for red ones, and it turned out tasty. “I loved it, and I’ve been making it for a long time now,” she said. “It has become one of my favorite ways to cook shrimp.”

Shrimp and Artichoke Bake

Lower Alabama Spicy Shrimp

Quick Crab Cakes with a Kick

2 tablespoons butter 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour 11/2 cups half and half ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese ¼ cup sherry 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce 1 teaspoon creole seasoning 2 egg yolks 1 13-ounce can artichokes, drained 1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined ¼ pound mushrooms, sliced or chopped 3/4 cups grated cheddar and Monterey Jack cheese Paprika

2 pounds (30-count) Gulf Wild Shrimp, shells removed 8 ounces sliced mushrooms 4 teaspoons Old Bay seasoning 2 teaspoons Chef Paul’s Blackened Redfish Magic 1 teaspoon paprika 1 teaspoon salt 2 14-ounce cans artichoke hearts, drained and quartered 1 stick butter 11/2 tablespoons garlic, minced 4 servings spaghetti or pasta of choice

12 ounces crab meat 1 egg 2 teaspoons lemon juice 3 tablespoons mayo 1 teaspoon sriracha sauce 1/ teaspoon cayenne 11/2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped 3 green onions, chopped 1/2 cup regular bread crumbs Salt and pepper, to taste 1 tablespoon olive oil for frying

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Melt butter in a large saucepan. Blend in flour to make a paste and add half and half. Stir until thick. Add parmesan cheese, sherry, Worcestershire sauce and creole seasoning. Cook over medium heat for 5 minutes. Temper egg yolks with 2 tablespoons of the hot mixture. Add tempered eggs to the sauce. Mix artichoke, shrimp and mushrooms in a baking dish and pour sauce over. Sprinkle top with grated cheese and paprika. Bake for 3045 minutes. Serve over rice. Angela Bradley Clarke-Washington EMC

Prepare pasta according to package instructions, drain and set aside. Place a large frying pan or dutch oven over medium heat. Melt butter and add mushrooms. Cook mushrooms until they begin to darken, add artichokes and garlic, mix well; cover. Reduce heat to low for 20 minutes. Liquid will form in the bottom of the pan. Blend all seasonings together to make one seasoning. Increase heat to medium-high and add shrimp to the pot. Add seasoning and mix very well until seasoning coats everything evenly. Cook until shrimp are pink and form a tight “C”. Add pasta and mix, turn off heat. Let stand 15 minutes; pasta will absorb remaining liquid.

Add all ingredients, except oil, to a bowl. Mix gently. Form into patties. Heat oil in cast iron skillet over medium heat. Place patties in skillet and cook only 3 to 4 at a time so they cook evenly, about 4-5 minutes per side. Cook until golden brown. Crab cakes can also be baked in the oven at 375 degrees for about 15 minutes. Flip patties half way through cook time. Jennifer Tijsma Sand Mountain EC

Jean Vick Baldwin EMC

Editor’s Note: Alabama Living’s recipes are submitted by our readers. They are not kitchen-tested by a professional cook or registered MAY 2017 47 dietician. If you have special dietary needs, please check with your doctor or nutritionist before preparing any recipe.

Alabama Living

Janet's Alabama Voodoo Shrimp

Shrimp/Crab Gumbo Shrimp Jambalaya ¼ 1 1 2 1 1 1 3 1

cup cooking oil pound smoked sausage, sliced pound chicken, cubed pounds peeled shrimp cup onion, chopped cup bell pepper, chopped cup green onion, chopped garlic cloves, minced 16-ounce can diced tomatoes, drained, reserving juice 1½ cups chicken stock or water 1 teaspoon thyme 1 teaspoon black pepper ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper 1 teaspoon salt 1 cup converted rice 1½ tablespoons Worcestershire sauce In a heavy dutch oven, sauté sausage and chicken until lightly browned. Remove from pot. Sauté onion, bell pepper, green onion and garlic in meat drippings until tender. Add tomatoes, thyme, pepper and salt. Cook 5 minutes. Stir in rice. Mix together liquid from tomatoes, stock (or water) and Worcestershire sauce to equal 2 ½ cups; add to rice mixture. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and add raw shrimp, sausage and chicken. Cook uncovered, stirring occasionally, for about 30 minutes or until rice and shrimp are done. Rev. J. B. Wells Coosa Valley EC

4 strips bacon, chopped 1 bell pepper, diced 2 medium sweet onions, diced 4 cloves fresh garlic, chopped 3 bay leaves 1 to 2 cups chopped okra (your preference) 1 large can diced tomatoes 1 small can tomato sauce Salt and pepper, to taste 21/2 pounds peeled raw shrimp 2 pounds crab meat (either lump, claw or mixed) Whole crab bodies and cracked claws (add water as needed), optional Dice about four strips of bacon into large soup pot. Brown the bacon and remove from grease. Add bell pepper, onions, chopped garlic and bay leaves, sauté until tender. Add 1 to 2 cups chopped okra, adding enough water to cover and simmer until okra is tender. Add the bacon, crumbled, and 1 large can diced tomatoes and 1 small can tomato sauce. Add more water if too thick. Season with salt and pepper. Remove the bay leaves. Bring to almost a boil and add 2 1/2 pounds peeled, raw shrimp and 2 pounds crab meat (either lump, claw or mixed). Better yet, whole crab bodies and claws if you are so lucky. Simmer just until shrimp have turned pink. You may add some file seasoning, if preferred. Serve over steamed white rice. We put out a bottle of hot sauce and let each person add if they want some zing to it. Stevie Walker Baldwin EMC

48  MAY 2017

1/2 pound fettuccine 1 pound Kelley's Baby Link Sausage (this comes pre-cooked, available at most grocery stores and is made in Elba, Alabama) 1/2 cup butter or margarine 1/4 cup olive oil 1 teaspoon Old Bay 1 teaspoon Tony Chacheres Creole Seasoning 1 teaspoon and a dash garlic powder 1 teaspoon salt 1 teaspoon onion powder 2 teaspoons lemon juice 2 teaspoons Worcestershire Sauce 1 pound small Alabama Gulf Coast Shrimp (peeled, deveined, tails off ) Boil fettuccine 1 minute less than directed in water seasoned with 1 teaspoon of salt and a dash of garlic powder. (Tip: Do not add any oil or butter to the water. This will help your sauce stick to the noodles.) Cut Kelley's Baby Link Sausage into 1/2-inch pieces. In a large 10-inch skillet, over medium heat, combine butter, olive oil, Old Bay, Tony Chacheres, garlic powder, onion powder, lemon juice and Worcestershire sauce. Stir constantly allowing butter to melt and seasonings to combine, about 3 minutes. Add sausage and shrimp. Sauté together, stirring well until all pieces are well covered with the sauce. Cover and simmer for 6 minutes, stirring occasionally. Toss in fettuccine and mix well for 1 minute, until fettuccine is covered with sauce. Best plated in a bowl, so you can add extra sauce over the top. Makes 4 large servings. Note: It takes less than 20 minutes to make this meal from start to finish, if you purchase your shrimp already peeled, deveined and tails off. Janet Kynard Central Alabama EC

Recipe Themes and Deadlines: July Tomatoes Aug. Summer Salads Sept. Cheese, please!

May 8 June 8 July 8

Coming up in June...Berries!

Shrimp and Crab Au Gratin

Shrimp Destin

Seasoning: 2 tablespoons salt 1 teaspoon garlic powder 1 teaspoon onion powder 1 teaspoon paprika 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper 1/4 teaspoon pepper 1 /4 teaspoon oregano 1/4 teaspoon rosemary

6 ounces angel hair pasta, broken into halves, cooked and drained (but still warm) ½ cup extra virgin olive oil 1 bunch green onions, sliced, including some of green stems 2 medium garlic cloves, minced 1/2 -2/3 pounds shrimp, peeled and deveined 1 teaspoon each seasoned salt, black pepper and Greek seasoning (such as Cavender’s) ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper ¼ cup dry white wine 1 chicken bouillon cube dissolved in ¼ cup water 2 Roma tomatoes, diced ¼ cup Italian parsley, minced 1-2 teaspoons cornstarch Freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Sauce: 2 tablespoons bacon drippings 1 small onion, finely chopped 1 bell pepper, finely chopped 4-ounces cream cheese 2 cups milk 2 tablespoons flour 2 cloves garlic, smashed Red Pepper Flakes, to taste 4-ounces smoked Gouda cheese 1/2 cup heavy cream Filling: 1 pound gumbo shrimp (90-110) 1 pound crab meat (chop fine if using imitation) 2 green onions, chopped Bacon drippings Parmesan cheese for topping Seasoning: mix seasoning ingredients in a small bowl. Sauce: in a medium saucepan, melt bacon drippings. Add finely chopped onion and bell pepper and sauté about one minute stirring frequently. Add garlic, then one teaspoon seasoning. Stir frequently for one to two minutes. Add flour gradually mixing well. Stir in milk and bring to simmer whisking frequently. When mixture thickens, add cream and bring to boil whisking constantly. Remove from heat and add cream cheese, Gouda cheese and red pepper flakes. Stir until cheeses melt. Filling: in a large skillet, melt bacon drippings. Add shrimp and sauté about one minute, stirring occasionally. Stir in crab meat, two teaspoons seasoning mix and green onions. Stir occasionally and be gentle if using real crab meat. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes until shrimp are almost done. Stir in sauce and bring mixture to boil. Remove from heat. Ladle/pour mixture into gratin bowls. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese on top. Bake at 350 degrees until cheese is melted and starts to brown. Serve hot! Clyde Helmer Baldwin EMC Alabama Living

cooking spray. Cook the orzo (rice shaped pasta) according to the package directions, being careful not to overcook the pasta. Combine the orzo with 2 teaspoons of olive oil, tomato, green onion, feta, lemon zest and juice, and pepper; place in prepared baking dish. Combine shrimp with fresh basil and arrange on top of pasta mixture. Cover with foil and bake for 25 minutes or until the shrimp is done. Drizzle with remaining olive oil. SaLena Embry Covington EC

Heat olive oil in a skillet on medium high. Sauté green onions for 1 minute. Add garlic and cook for 1 additional minute. Add shrimp and seasonings (salt, pepper, Greek seasoning and cayenne pepper) and cook for 1 minute; turn shrimp and cook only 1 minute more. Add wine, bouillon mixture, tomatoes and parsley and cook 1 to 2 minutes (according to size of shrimp). Add 1-2 teaspoons cornstarch, stirring to slightly thicken. Toss the mixture with warm pasta. If a little dry, add additional water with bouillon. Top with grated parmesan cheese. Jeanne McKinney Alexander City

Shrimp with Orzo and Feta Nonstick cooking spray 1 cup orzo (cooked according to package directions) 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided 11/2 cups fresh tomato, diced 3/4 cups onion, chopped green 1 cup crumbled feta cheese 1 teaspoon lemon zest 1-2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice 1/4 teaspoon black pepper 1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined (fresh or frozen raw shrimp work well: defrost frozen under running water prior to using) 1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Spray a 9x13-inch baking dish with nonstick

Send us your recipes! Please send us your original recipes, developed by you or family members, and not ones copied from a book or magazine. You may adapt a recipe from another source by changing as little as the amount of one ingredient. Cook of the Month winners will receive $50, and may win “Cook of the Month” only once per calendar year. Online: Email: Mail: Recipes, P.O. Box 244014 Montgomery, AL 36124 Please include a phone number and co-op name with submissions! Alabama Living reserves the right to reprint recipes in our other publications. MAY 2017  49

Energy Efficiency Tip of the Month Vacuum your air filter grilles regularly to reduce dust buildup. Make sure furniture or other items are not blocking the air flow from your vents or to your filter grilles. -Source: U.S. Dept of Energy

50  MAY 2017

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Alabama Living

MAY 2017 51

| Our Sources Say |

A real face of cancer


e all know someone who has or has had cancer. If it is someone close, you have shared their physical pain, their mental doubt and the many changes in their lives. We fly cancer victims to cancer hospitals for treatment. We also help Pilots for Christ with their mission to fly cancer patients to cancer hospitals. (Pilots for Christ is a wonderful organization based in Monroeville that provides assistance to people in need; you should consider a contribution.) We get to know the victims and their families. We share their pain and suffering. We have learned they are not characters in a story. They are real people with real lives, real families and real dreams. It hurts to watch them as their hopes ebb, their dreams die and their families suffer. This month I share the words of Joshua Adair, the husband of Rhonda Adair, a cancer victim. He sent me the following report after months of treatment, as Rhonda was being transported home from MD Anderson after a last attempt to save her life. We came to know Rhonda last fall when she was diagnosed with a rare aggressive cancer. She was a beautiful young woman with a family and a bright future. She was also pregnant. Anna Parker was delivered at 33 weeks of gestation. After undergoing local treatment, Rhonda’s cancer became resistant to current therapy. She was advised to go home and accept hospice, but Rhonda was a fighter. She went to MD Anderson to fight for her life on January 1.

Joshua’s words:

“She is finally sleeping with pain under control for now. It was a rough day for her – having to be moved to different locations in order to get home. More movement today than in the last two weeks, it seems. “The cab ride was awful. We hit at least 20 bumps or potholes, causing intense pain for her. The plane ride was great! It got bumpy there for a bit with a weather front coming in, but the pilots that have been flying us are top notch. They really take control as much as they can for the sick passengers they often carry. Those guys re-

ally helped my wife and family, and I will never forget them. I won’t mention their names for privacy sake, but they do a tremendous service to people who need. “The future is unknown, yet I am thankful for every second with my wife and girls. I have some of the most wonderful family members who have taken up caring for my two girls, and I could never repay them. I have missed some time with my girls, especially Anna, but I have the rest of the time God gives me to make up for it. “My two sisters-in-law already had enough stress caring for my girls, and I’m so thankful for them. My mother-in-law has been a machine! I can only imagine what she is feeling with her having to go through this. I tell you, if you want something done or need to light a fire under someone, then she’s the one to see. How she kept herself together multitasking for 20 hours a day for months is beyond me. She was a workhorse for this family the last few months and also a rock when we were falling apart. She is a remarkable woman. “My Mom and sister and the rest of the family on both sides who tirelessly worked and organized and handled anything and everything back home – they are saints. We could not have been where we are if not for them. I am surrounded by some special people that I think deserve a lot more credit and praise for all they do than what they normally receive. And the people who came through today in a moment’s notice – who donated and let us borrow things for Rhonda that we needed medically for her – thank you from all of my heart. “I could go on and on about every little gesture of kindness to all of the donations and work put into a living hope, and I am sure I will in time. But this is what is on my mind right now. We asked God in the beginning to give us the best chance to fight this. He gave us a sea of people to make it all happen. A sea of hope.” Despite her family’s and our hopes and prayers, the Lord took Rhonda home. She leaves her husband and two young daughters – one only months old. She leaves a caring and loving family. She leaves dreams of watching her girls grow into young women. She leaves a husband who must raise their girls without her. They will miss her as much as she will miss them. The Lord must have a higher plan for her. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt – really badly. This is the season for the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life. Do what you can. The face of cancer is very real. I hope you have a good month.

Gary Smith is President and CEO of PowerSouth Energy Cooperative

52 MAY 2017

| Market Place |



There’s a reason so many of our advertisers are still on our pages, month after month, for more than 40 years. Year after year, Alabama Living remains the best value for your dollar.

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270.776.7869 MAY 2017 53

| Hardy Jackson's Alabama |

The best wedding I never attended I t is wedding season. Weddings, as you surely know, are a big deal in Dixie. Southern brides start planning theirs from the time they are flower girls, and when their wedding rolls around they have a closet full of bridesmaid dresses in colors never seen in nature and in styles they would never be caught dead in, except on “that day.” All in preparation for “their moment.” I was privy to the planning of one wedding where discussions focused on the length of the bridesmaids’ dresses – same distance from the floor or same distance below the knee. (Think about it. Unless the bridesmaids are the same height, you got a problem. You never thought about it? Me neither. But the bride-to-be did.) And the bride must be the center of attention – which is why bridesmaids have ugly dresses, but not so ugly that they would be the center of attention instead of the bride. What role does the groom play? When he ain’t even the “best man” at his own wedding, you know where he is in the pecking order. He, his “best,” and the preacher sneak in while everyone is watching the center of attention come down the aisle. Then somebody sings something to drag the whole thing out a little longer. Well, none of that for Beth Ann. When she got married, nobody came. I have known Beth Ann since she was a toddler. She teaches school like her Mama, hunts like her Daddy, cuts hay, raises cows and rides horses. Which is how she met her husband. He is a farrier. For the uninitiated, a farrier shoes horses. A farrier is not a blacksmith, though they can be, and to many folks the two are the same, and sometimes they are. 54  MAY 2017

Beth Ann’s horse needed shoeing. They started dating, and soon people began asking: “When you gonna get married?” Then more questions: “Will y’all be married on horseback?” “What will she wear?” “What will her sisters wear?” Then all the questions were answered. The horses stayed in the stable. Mama and sisters weren’t even invited. Neither was Daddy, Pop, Mamaw, cousins and friends. No, they didn’t run off, sneak away, elope or whatever. They simply told everyone up front that they did not want to get married in a church full of everybody, with Mama and sisters all frilled up and Daddy giving her away in a rented tux, with she and the groom-to-be and the families on both sides shelling out bucks that could be better spent on breeding stock or a new saddle. When they were ready they went down to the courthouse and got the license. Then they met with a preacher friend who married them. The preacher’s wife was the only witness. And nobody got upset. And later, when there was a hint of fall in the air, they had a party. It’s the cowgirl way. It’s Beth Ann’s way. And nobody worried about the length of anyone’s dress.

Harvey H. (“Hardy”) Jackson is Professor Emeritus of History at Jacksonville State University. He can be reached at