Clarke-Washington December 2018

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Stories | Recipes | Events | People | Places | Things | Local News December 2018



Feeding the need Customers pay only what they can at Brewton restaurant

MoonPie over Mobile Party food



Manager Steve Sheffield Co-op Editor Sarah Hansen ALABAMA LIVING is delivered to some 420,000 Alabama families and businesses, which are members of 22 not-for-profit, consumer-owned, locally directed and taxpaying electric cooperatives. Subscriptions are $12 a year for individuals not subscribing through participating Alabama electric cooperatives. Alabama Living (USPS 029-920) is published monthly by the Alabama Rural Electric Association of Cooperatives. Periodicals postage paid at Montgomery, Alabama, and at additional mailing office.

Party time!


The holidays are a perfect time to gather with friends and family and a festive party is an ideal way to assemble everyone. We’ve got some reader-tested snack recipes to help you get that party started!

VOL. 71 NO. 12 n DECEMBER 2018


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

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



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The Alabama Living staff shares their photographic memories of visits with Santa.


Mobile’s Moon Pie


White House history

A 12-foot high, 600-pound electric pastry blends Mardi Gras-like festivities with a Times Square ball drop in Mobile Dec. 31.

An Alabamian heads the White House Historical Association, producer of the popular annual White House ornament.



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

Santa and us


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

In this issue: Page 11 Page 28

11 Spotlight 29 Around Alabama 30 Gardens 34 Cook of the Month 40 Outdoors 41 Fish & Game Forecast 46 Hardy Jackson’s Alabama ONLINE: ON THE COVER: Lisa Thomas-McMillan and her husband, Freddie, are feeding the souls – and stomachs – of those in need, all for free at their Brewton restaurant, Drexel & Honeybee’s. PHOTO: Clay Lisenby DECEMBER 2018 3

Manager’s Comments 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)

PAYMENT OPTIONS Mail P.O. Box 398 Jackson, AL 36545 P.O. Box 143 Chatom, AL 36518 Office During normal office hours at our Chatom and Jackson offices. Phone 855-870-0403 Online Night Deposit 24/7 at Jackson & Chatom CWEMC App Available from the App Store and Google Play



As December approaches and we wrap up another year, it’s not just an ordinary end of the year for CWEMC. I’ve always enjoyed seeing the parts of a plan come together and being able to look back with pride at a job well done. We certainly are seeing the parts of a long running plan come together this year for Clarke-Washington EMC. The management and staff developed a strategic plan in 2014 which was approved by the Board and has been under implementation since that time. Under the direction of Management Consultant Brent Pinehart with Vantage Associates Inc., CWEMC implemented a strategic plan that included the implementation of a new Advance Metering Infrastructure (AMI) system, the construction of a new headquarters facility and the development of a leadership succession plan. As I write these comments on a cool October morning, we have crews on site installing three base stations which will nearly complete the infrastructure needed for a 100% buildout of our Sensus AMI system. The Sensus AMI system is a radio frequency system that allows two-way communication between the meter and a base station using an omi antenna. We have antennas installed on towers and water tanks across the ClarkeWashington EMC service area. The most recent install will allow us to expand coverage to the Coffeeville, Thomasville and Franklin areas. Our immediate needs include meter reading, remote connect and disconnect and voltage monitoring.

However, we plan to offer other services in the future including prepayment. As many of you may have noticed in passing, the construction of a new headquarters facility on Highway 43 north of Jackson is in the final stages of completion as well. Crews have been busy inside installing cabinets, flooring, paint and communication systems and working outside installing sidewalks and preparing to pave the last of the parking lots. We look forward to finishing this project and serving the needs of our members from the new location for many years to come. Last, but certainly not least, with the retirement of longtime manager Stan Wilson, we have implemented the leadership succession plan. We appreciate the opportunity to serve our members and look forward to providing you with the same great service you have come to expect from CWEMC for more than 80 years. I wish each of you a safe and happy holiday season. Our offices will be closed on December 24 and 25 and January 1 for the holidays, but as always, we have crews on standby 24 hours a day to meet your needs.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Steve Sheffield General Manager

Merry Christmas


CWEMC offices will be closed on Monday, Dec. 24 and Tuesday, Dec. 25 for Christmas and Tuesday, Jan. 1 for New Year’s.

We wish you a safe and wonderful holiday.

| Clarke-Washington EMC |

Cooperatives helping cooperatives

(L-R) Charles Brooks, Lester Brown, Jason Pipkin and Cannan Hare.

On Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2018, Hurricane Michael made landfall as a Category 4 storm in Mexico Beach, Fla. With winds as high as 155 mph, the storm slammed the coast and the towns in the area, leveling buildings, flooding streets, and leaving thousands with nothing. Electric co-ops have mutual aid agreements that allow cooperatives to help each other when disasters strike. Other cooperatives have always assisted CWEMC during a time of need when storms come. All expenses are paid by the cooperative being assisted.

CWEMC crews were sent in rotation to electric co-ops in Alabama, Georgia and Florida. The first CWEMC crew was sent to Pea River Electric Cooperative in Ozark and Wiregrass Electric Cooperative in Dothan. The crew consisted of Ronald Franks, Parker Thompson, David Atchison and Mason Odom. When they returned, the next crew assisted Three Notch EMC in Donalsonville, Ga. Men who assisted Three Notch EMC were Harold Hoven, Blake Dunagan, David Bryant and Bobby Pritchard. The next crew left for Gulf Coast EC in Wewahitchka, Fla., and consisted of Charles Brooks, Lester Brown, Jason Pipkin and Cannan Hare. This crew returned home on Nov. 4 and an additional two men were sent on Nov. 2. Dwight Pugh and Jmarr Williams also assisted Gulf Coast EC in Southport, Fla.

(L-R) Dwight Pugh and Jmarr Williams

(L-R) Harold Hoven, Blake Dunagan, David Bryant and Bobby Pritchard.

(L-R) Ronald Franks, Parker Thompson, David Atchison and Mason Odom.

Alabama Living DECEMBER 2018  5

| Clarke-Washington EMC |

Metering system expansion At the end of October, CWEMC set up three new Sensus meter antennas to nearly complete the buildout of the Sensus metering system. The antennas were installed in the Thomasville, Coffeeville and Franklin area. With the completion of this phase of the project we will be close to 100%. The expansion will help CWEMC improve service, get better coverage, build redundancy and monitor the meter from the office. “Not only will the meters send usage, but they can send power quality messages that we can monitor here in the office and we are able to receive energy profiles. The remote disconnect and reconnect is an added benefit of the metering system,” said Tim Carpenter, CWEMC engineer. Meter changeouts for these areas started at the beginning of November. After the antenna installations, CWEMC can then identify weak areas and signal strength throughout the service area.

The tower climber is at 300 feet high in this photo.

6  DECEMBER 2018

| Clarke-Washington EMC |

CWEMC engineer, Tim Carpenter, right, looks on as Sensus engineer programs a transceiver to communicate with meters.

the joy of giving

Help us make Christmas brighter for others. Join CWEMC by bringing toys, canned food and hygienic items for those in need this holiday season. Bring your donations to CWEMC offices in Jackson or Chatom any time before December 16.

Alabama Living DECEMBER 2018  7

hip from the Electric rs la o h sc a r fo ly p ap to e has joined other If so, you are eligible iv at er p o co l ca lo r u ion. Yo the Electric te ea cr Cooperative Foundat to a m ba la A f o out the state ion w ill be awarding at cooperatives through d n u fo e th g n ri sp is ion. Th their education at e u n ti Cooperative Foundat n co to ts en d u labama for st scholarships across A nal schools. o ti ca vo d an y ar d n o post-sec

in a copy of ta b o s, ip h rs la o h sc e t thes from your n For more details abou o ti ca li p ap ip h rs la o e sch an Electric Cooperativ nselor or call : Sarah Hansen, Clarkecou 1-800-323-9081 high school guidance e iv at er p o o C ip sh er Memb Washington Electric m. or online at attachments ed ir u q re l al h it w s n o ti Don’t wait; applica 15, 2019 y ar ru eb F an th r te la o must be received n

| Alabama Snapshots |

Santa through the years... with the

Alabama Living staff family

Alabama Living Editor Lenore Vickrey visits a Pennsylvania department store Santa, Christmas 1956.

Managing Editor Allison Law’s cat, Moe, was not too happy with Santa in this photo, taken for a pet charity fundraiser in 2009.

DeAnn Weston Savage, older sister of art director Danny Weston, did not like this particular Santa. She was 4 years old the Christmas of 1978.

Emmie Echols’ (5 months) first Christmas, 2017. Mom is Brooke Echols, graphic designer/advertising coordinator.

Creative director Mark Stephenson’s children with Santa, December 1999. Amelia (3 years), Laurel (5), Philip (7) and Jessica (3 months).

Gage Stewart’s (5 months) first Christmas, 2018. Mom is Laura Stewart, communications coordinator/youth tour director.

Submit Your Images! February Theme: “Father-Daughter Dance” Deadline for Feb: Dec 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


Al News you can use | December SOCIAL SECURITY

Do you think your income-related Medicare premium is incorrect?


edicare is our country’s health insurance program for people 65 or older. Certain people younger than 65 can qualify for Medicare, too, including those with disabilities and those who have permanent kidney failure. If you’re a Medicare beneficiary who has been informed that you must pay more for your Medicare Part B or Medicare prescription drug coverage premium because of your income, and you disagree with the decision that you need to pay a higher premium amount, you may request an appeal. The fastest and easiest way to file an appeal of your decision is by visiting www. Kylle’ McKinney, SSA Public Affairs Specialist, can be reached by email at

You can file online and provide documents electronically to support your appeal. You can also file an appeal online even if you live outside of the United States. You may also request an appeal in writing by completing a Request for Reconsideration (Form SSA-561-U2) at If you don’t have access to the internet, you can request a copy of the form by calling us at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800325-0778). Learn more by reading our publication Medicare Premiums: Rules for Higher-Income Beneficiaries at pubs/EN-05-10536.pdf. Know someone who hasn’t signed up for Medicare yet? They can use our online Medicare application if they: • Are at least 64 years and 9 months old;

• Want to sign up for Medicare but do not currently have ANY Medicare coverage; • Do not want to start receiving Social Security benefits at this time; and • Are not currently receiving Social Security retirement, disability, or survivors benefits. Remind them that they should sign up for Medicare three months before reaching age 65, even if they are not ready to start receiving retirement benefits. They can opt out of beginning to receive retirement benefits now once they are in the online application. Then they can apply online for retirement benefits later. You can learn all you need to know at and easily share these resources with family and friends.


Alabama’s primary care shortage is greater than thought


he federal Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) directs the determination of Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSA) in the United States. According to data provided by HRSA in early 2017, Alabama needed an additional 157 primary care providers placed where the need was the greatest to provide only the minimum (not optimal) service that our population needed. In determining primary care provider shortages, normally one-quarter of Alabama is reevaluated each year, taking four years to reevaluate the entire state. However, HRSA requested a complete reevaluation in all states to be completed in late 2017. Following this complete reevaluation in Alabama, it was learned that our shortage of primary care providers was much greater than was thought. We needed 321 additional providers placed where the need was the greatest to meet the minimum needs of our population. This shortage was more than double what had been thought. Dale Quinney is the founder of Operation Save Rural Alabama, www., and a past director of the Alabama Rural Health Association

10 DECEMBER 2018

The shortage of primary care providers is greater in our rural areas. Of the 54 counties considered as being rural, only Coffee, Escambia, and the northern part of Covington County are considered to have the minimum service available. Thirty-eight entire rural counties and five portions of other counties do not have the minimum level of primary care service available to serve the needs of the population. Seven entire rural counties and four portions of other counties do not have enough primary care service available to meet the needs of the low-income or Medicaid population. The shortage of primary care providers in our rural areas was already considered to be a crisis. Knowing that the shortage is more than double what had been thought creates a situation requiring intense actions. Especially considering the fact that a disproportionate number of our actively practicing primary care physicians are getting older and closer to retirement. At the same time, our total population is aging, with chronic diseases that require more care increasing. Alabama’s 2019 Legislative Session is going to be very important to the future of primary health care in this state – especially in rural areas. Alabama must be

innovative in better using our health care resources and technology. A very innovative concept was proposed in House Bill 20 during the 2018 Legislative Session. This legislation would have authorized the state to pay the tuition for 25 medical students in Alabama medical schools each year in return for a five-year obligation to practice in an underserved area following the completion of residency training. This concept would produce a larger number of primary care physicians each year to deal more aggressively with our large primary care physician shortage. HRSA has a local partner in each state to help gather local primary care practice information used in determining shortage areas. This partner in Alabama is the Office of Primary Care and Rural Health in the Alabama Department of Public Health. For determining shortage areas, primary care includes family medicine, internal medicine, pediatrics, obstetrics/ gynecology, and geriatrics. For additional information on primary care shortage area determination, please visit or contact Alabama’s project director, Niko Phillips, at (334)206-3807 or niko.phillips@adph.

December | Spotlight This Month In


ALABAMA HISTORY Honoring Our People

Dec. 2, 1916 Folk artist Howard Finster was born in Val-

ley Head. A Baptist preacher inspired by religious visions, Finster earned national acclaim for creating fantastical paintings and sculptures. He is best known for his Plant Farm Museum House or Paradise Garden in Georgia, which contains hundreds of multifaceted constructions of items rescued from the trash. Throughout his life, Finster produced more than 46,000 works, including commissioned works for the Coca-Cola Company and musical artists R.E.M. and the Talking Howard Finster's Heads. His works have been exhibited in museums across the country, including the High self portrait. Museum of Art in Atlanta, the Smithsonian Institution and the Library of Congress.

Knife sales support state FFA The second edition of the Alabama FFA Foundation/Alabama Farmers Cooperative Case knife will make a great holiday gift, and will also support the FFA Foundation, which sponsors contests, awards and the state convention for students. Only 500 knives are in production, and will be stamped with the year along with the FFA emblem and the Alabama Farmers Cooperative logo. They will sell for $59.99 and will be sold at select Alabama Farmers Cooperative stores. For a listing of stores, visit

Kick off the Christmas season with a governor’s mansion tour

The Alabama Governor’s Mansion in Montgomery will be decked for the season when it welcomes visitors for its annual candlelight tours. The mansion will be open to the public the first three Monday nights in December. Visitors can view the mansion’s holiday décor, enjoy live choir performances and sample Alabama-made goods at the gift shop. During the tours, several rooms will be open to the public, including the main entrance, dining room, sitting room, sunroom and more. The decorations are provided by volunteer designers from around the state. In addition, the Farley-Hill House, which is next door to the mansion and is typically used as a meeting space, is also decorated and open for public viewing. Tickets are free, and can be picked up at the gift shop across the street from the side entrance of the mansion, at 30 Finley Ave., Montgomery. The tours are come-and-go and will be from 5:307:30 p.m. Dec. 3, 10 and 17. The mansion’s address is 1142 S. Perry St., Montgomery, AL 36104.

Whereville, AL


dentify 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 Dec. 10 with your name, address and the name of your rural electric cooperative. The winner and answer will be announced in the January issue. Submit by email:, or by mail: Whereville, P.O. Box 244014, Montgomery, AL 36124. Contribute your own photo for an upcoming issue! Send a photo of an interesting or unusual landmark in Alabama, which must be accessible to the public. A reader whose photo is chosen will also win $25. Alabama Living


The Alabama War Memorial in Montgomery was dedicated on July 20, 1968 by Medal of Honor recipient Audie Murphy, the most decorated U.S. combat soldier of WWII. The building next to the memorial has offices for the American Legion as well as a Hall of Honor, which holds the portraits and citations for all Alabama veterans who have received the Medal of Honor. Adjacent to the building is the spire (pictured) and a memorial garden, for which the American Legion is raising funds for renovations. Memorial bricks are being sold for $85 and can be purchased at Thanks to Greg Akers of the American Legion for this information. The random guess winner is Linda Daughtry of Pioneer EC. DECEMBER 2018 11

Tasteful giving Brewton couple nourish bodies and souls at pay-as-you-can eatery By Stephanie Snodgrass

Freddie McMillan and Lisa Thomas-McMillan started their Brewton restaurant, Drexel and Honeybee’s, in 2016. PHOTOS BY CLAY LISENBY/THE L HOUSE PHOTOGRAPHY

12 DECEMBER 2018


isa Thomas-McMillan and her husband, Freddie, are feeding the souls – and stomachs – of those in need, all for free at their Brewton restaurant, Drexel & Honeybee’s. In Escambia County, the couple is well known for meeting the hunger needs of their community, with Lisa as the driving force through their non-profit, Carlisa, Inc. In their mission, they’ve fed college students, veterans, those at Thanksgiving and Christmas and any person in need. And they’ve never asked for a dime.

“The thing about hunger is, you don’t know who’s going hungry,” she says. “You can’t see it on their face. You don’t know what’s in someone’s cabinet, or more importantly, what’s not. “If you’re down and out and struggling, coming to a decent place and enjoying a hot meal can lift your spirit,” Lisa says. “It makes that person feel better about themselves. That’s what we do. Sit down here and no one cares what’s in your wallet. We want you to leave full – full of good food and good company.”

The mission

Serving it up

Lisa began campaigning for the hungry in 1995. “People ask us all the time, ‘Why do you do it?’” Lisa says. “I can honestly say, it’s because God led us here.” In 1995, Lisa was a cashier at the local Walmart when she ran into a woman having food problems. The conversation revealed 25 others in similar situations. “That next morning, I started cooking 26 breakfasts and delivering them each morning,” Lisa says. “In my house, in my kitchen. I cooked, and it started something in me. I enjoyed it, and I realized that when you serve people, you feel good. I love that.” From there, the mission grew. While visiting the local campus of Jefferson Davis Community College (now Coastal Alabama), she saw two students pooling change to buy food from the vending machines. Before long, Lisa was on site, serving up hot Sunday-style meals for students for donations. For more than 10 years, she used community donations to stock the kitchen’s pantry, supplementing with purchases made from her own pocket. In 2005, she walked to Washington to gain support for her campaign. She has also authored a book, Living Fulfilled: The Infectious Joy of Serving Others, which relates her journey to help others and is available on Amazon. And as if that wasn’t enough, she added free meals for veterans on Veterans Day and free community lunches on Thanksgiving and Christmas days. “At the college, in my mind, I said, ‘I’d love to own a restaurant where people would pay what they could,’ but of course, I didn’t have any money,” she says. “But, God always provides.

Thomas-McMillan serves up homestyle meat-and-three meals at her pay-as-you-can restaurant.

Alabama Living

When Lisa heard about rock star Jon Bon Jovi’s Soul Kitchen, the New Jersey community restaurant where diners can donate or volunteer to cover the cost of their meal, she found the blueprint for her Brewton location. “I went on his website to see what I could learn, because I knew we could do it (in Brewton); I just knew it,” Lisa says. “We wanted it so bad, and we did it. We’re still working out the kinks, but we’ll get it down.” It was 2016 when the no-pay restaurant idea took seed. This March, it bloomed inside the Lee Street location Lisa found while scouting locations for the community Thanksgiving meal. It took a year and a half to pay the $45,000 note. Then with a $20,000 grant from the Brewton City Council and “my Visa card,” the couple undertook the massive renovations. “My husband said we had to get the building paid for before we started the renovations,” she says. “We did. It is everything I dreamed of. It’s a nice building and a nice place for people to come and eat. Anyone – no matter of their ability to pay – can eat at our table.” And eat they do, enjoying a daily meat-and-three fare of oven-fried chicken, meatloaf, chicken pot pie, hamburger steak, BBQ ribs, fresh vegetables, rice, macaroni and cheese and more.

No cash, no problem

There are no prices posted in the building. Volunteers staff the restaurant and donated food – everything from canned vegetables and garden bounty to wares purchased from local grocery

Drexel & Honeybee’s is open Tuesday through Friday from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m. and is located at 109 Lee St., Brewton.

DECEMBER 2018  13

stores – fill plates. When it comes time to pay, diners are directed to a curtained area equipped only with a donation box. “If you can give, give; if you can’t, don’t – we don’t care,” Lisa says. “That’s between you and God. We don’t worry about that. Freddie said we’re going to keep this restaurant going. We’re going to feed people. Period. We did have a problem with people hearing when you dropped change in the box, but a little fabric in the bottom of the box fixed that.” To help with costs, the McMillans also accept tax-deductible donations through their non-profit, Carlisa, Inc. “There is a hunger need in every community,” Lisa says. “Between March and September, we provided 12,200 meals. That’s a lot of food. We only ran out once. The hours are long; the cost is high, but it’s a calling for us. The notes people leave in our box tell us how much a need there is. “I got one the other day that said, ‘Because of you, a family of four was able to eat today,’” she says. “That’s worth a million dollars to me – the notes like that. I’ve had people come in and say they only had $2. I made her keep that $2, but she left full. The stories like that, that means it’s a wonderful mission. “My life is full. I get up at 5:30 a.m. I don’t hesitate, grumble that I don’t want to do it. I jump out of that bed, get ready and get on down here. I work until about 3:30 p.m. and know that it’s been a good day. “I thank God that He gave me the chance, the strength and no ailments to be part of all the blessings He bestows when you reach out to help others,” she says. “This is a community thing. Everyone helps. Without our donations and our volunteers, we couldn’t make it. But we know it’s all worth it in the end.”

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Alabama Living

DECEMBER 2018  15

Over the Moon (Pie) Mobile celebrates an iconic snack on New Year’s Eve By Emmett Burnett


ook, up in the sky! It’s a bird! As the giant electronic circular It’s a plane! It’s a Moon Pie! pasty is suspended above, its ediYou heard me – a 12-foot, ble counterpart is distributed be600-pound electric pastry with low. Like all moon pies, this one is enough LED lighting to guide produced by Chattanooga Bakery. ships at sea. As thousands cheer, Don’t try this at home. the iconic cake of Carnival illumiMobile’s concoction-in-the nates the past, shines on the future, round is custom made for the and has a good time doing it. party. It serves 190. Uncut, the This is MoonPie Over Mobile, crust-encased creamy filling the celebration that puts the happy weighs about 150 pounds with in Happy New Year. an estimated 45,000 calories – if Now in year 11, the Dec. 31 served with Diet Coke. spectacle blends Mardi Gras-like “Typically we start slicing and festivities with a Times Square serving around 8:30 p.m.,” Phillips ball drop. Overlooking it all is the says. “It kicks off the event.” But mammoth simulated confectionmuch more occurs on 2018’s final ary disc suspended from the top night. of the RSA Trustmark Tower, 34 More than the Moon Pie stories above downtown Mobile. At press time, final details were Meanwhile back on earth, the still unfolding about featured engood times roll. tertainment. Past headliners from “Attendance depends on the all musical genres have included weather,” says the event’s marketThe Village People, .38 Special, ing director, Kinnon Phillips. “We Three Dog Night and last year’s have experienced New Year’s Eve George Clinton. Professional ennights that were freezing and then tertainers are great, but this is the some like summer. But on a good Randy Garvin, left, and Ryan Lambert, RSA employees, pose with the giant MoonPie during a summer inspection at the RSA Tower. people’s party. clear evening, 50,000 people are The two men work the controls on New Year’s Eve night for the Typically at least two parades possible.” PHOTO BY EMMETT BURNETT moon pie drop. meander through downtown MoUnderstandably, a giant moon bile, ending at Bienville Square. The main procession often feapie with embedded computers and synchronized lighting is a tures city leaders and special guests. The Second Line Parade innewsworthy event. The drop is seen on CNN, The Today Show, cludes anybody who wants to be in it. FOX News, Good Morning America, national magazines, a Participants showcase their strutting skills or lack thereof. Evworldwide audience, and ships in the bay. erybody is either in the parade or watching it. Many folks take Kinnon adds, “As far as New Year’s Eve celebrations go, ours the opportunity to sign the Resolution Wall, a large banner where is definitely a unique item. Because of the originality, we receive goal-driven scribes post hopes and wishes for the new year. a lot of national attention.” Yeah, it’s different all right. Take the And then it happens. At midnight, moon pie magic begins. A world’s largest edible moon pie, for example. Photos, from left: The crowd gathers at midnight at the annual MoonPie Over Mobile celebration, now in year 11. A New Year’s Eve tradition is the cutting of the world’s largest edible Moon Pie, which serves more than 100; Mobile Mayor Sandy Stimpson and City Councilman Fred Richardson are shown cutting the cake. A band leads the parade during MoonPie Over Mobile. PHOTOS BY TAD DENSON

16 DECEMBER 2018

The MoonPie Over Mobile’s midnight drop delights tens of thousands of fans on New Year’s Eve. PHOTO BY TAD DENSON

chorus of Auld Lang Syne erupts. All eyes gaze skyward. Most people have little idea about the behind-the-scenes endeavor of lowering a disc the size of a minivan down a building. It takes coordination, teamwork, and precise synchronization. It takes two men and a moon pie. Atop the Trustmark Tower’s late night roof, Randy Garvin huddles in The Moon Pie Building. Beside him is the building’s namesake colossal disc, awaiting activation. Randy’s finger is on the button. “As soon as I receive the ‘go’ signal, the moon pie starts its 69-second journey,” he says. “It takes 9 seconds to maneuver out of the building and 60 seconds to descend 475 feet, landing exactly at midnight.” The moon pie is lowered by a track system of three steel cables: Each run through the frame, one on each side and one through the middle of the pie in the sky. The cable trio prevents it from swaying in the wind. And down it goes to the 6th floor landing spot cradle. Ironically, Garvin, who is RSA’s building manager and has been the moon pie controller for all 11 years, has never seen it drop. “Once I press the button, it moves outside the building and suspends from its cradle. When the moon pie starts dropping I lose sight of it.” The other half of Team Moon Pie is Ryan Lambert, RSA infrastructure engineer. He monitors the event from a nearby building, also high above Mobile. From his perch, Lambert mans the laser light show, oversees fireworks and the Moon Pie drop. He gives Garvin the signal to let it go. “It’s a really neat job,” Lambert says. “You can expect anything – heat, fog, freezing, every weather combination possible.” But he adds about coordinating the drop, “The key is communications – if communication breaks down, it could fall too late or not at all.” The drop flops. But in 11 years, MoonPie Over Mobile has run relatively trouble free. It turns the pages of a fresh calendar the way it should be turned – with a glowing pastry above, shining on happy people below. A great start to a new year. Alabama Living

DECEMBER 2018 17

Ho Ho Holidays

at Walt Disney World Story and photos by Marilyn Jones

“Want to go see Santa Claus?” I ask my 3-year-old granddaughter Ainsley as we wait for her parents and uncle to ride Twilight Tower of Terror at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. She enthusiastically agrees this is a great idea, so we queue up with other preschoolers this balmy December day to meet the jolly old elf. You might not think of Santa Claus as a Walt Disney World character, but he is if you are visiting in December. You also may not know one of the best times to visit the land of Mickey Mouse are the first three weeks of December when crowds are smaller, and all the fanfare of the holidays is on full display. Disney’s Hollywood Studios

New for 2018 is Toy Story Land which features special seasonal fun, such as holiday songs on Of all the parks, Disney’s Hollywood Studios is Alien Swirling Saucers. the most festive. Its 1930s-era streets are decorated in period finery making a visit here nostalgic Magic Kingdom and fun. As soon as we walk through the tunnel under We arrive early in the day and opt to go back to the railway station, a giant Christmas tree comes the hotel in the afternoon to rest and for Ainsley into view. As we walk along Main Street toward to take a nap. For this park, it works well because Cinderella Castle, I two of its most popunotice all the shop lar holiday attractions window displays featake place in the eveture Disney characters ning. in different holiday Sunset Seasons scenes. Overhead are Greetings are proold-fashioned silver jections of Disney bells and wreaths all Characters – Mickey along the street. Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Other than the Olaf and others beauty of Main Street, – sharing their there are few holiday favorite seareminders unless you sonal stories Sunset Boulevard is decked out in traditional holiday attend Mickey’s Very as holiday décor. Merry Christmas Parmagic transty, a specially ticketed, limited-attendance celforms the famous Hollywood Tower ebration that takes place on select nights. Make Hotel into scenes of the season. sure to check the schedule whether you are atJingle Bell, Jingle BAM! is another tending or not. The days the party takes place, the over-the-top show combining statepark closes early. of-the-art projections, fireworks, If you do attend the party, there is an excluspecial effects and music. In Desive showing of Holiday Wishes fireworks and cember, with the sun setting earlier, performances of Mickey’s Once Upon a Christyou can take in the nighttime fun mastime Parade, A Totally Tomorrowland Christwithout being out too late for the mas and Mickey’s Most Merriest Celebration stage little ones.

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Alabama Living

DECEMBER 2018  19

show with all the characters dressed in their festive finery. Frozen characters Anna and Elsa, along with mountain man Kristoff and snowman Olaf also present a musical performance. The seasonal show finishes when Queen Elsa presents a gift to everyone in the kingdom by transforming Cinderella Castle into a sparkling, icy centerpiece for the celebration.


Epcot does a great job of bringing the holidays to its visitors. With subtle hints in Future World like vegetable wreaths decorating The Land, to the international extravaganza in World Showcase, the park is a wonderful place to find the holidays. A massive Christmas tree divides the two worlds. We pass flower beds filled with poinsettias, meet Père Noël in France and sample a few delectable sweets at special Holiday Kitchens. A fun activity for older children is Chip and Dale’s Christmas Tree Spree scavenger hunt. After purchasing a map and stickers from select merchandise locations, participants travel around World Showcase looking for the famous chipmunks with their ornaments. Once the map is completed, guests can return their completed maps for a festive surprise. One of the most popular Epcot traditions is the Candlelight Processional. This retelling of the Christmas story features a celebrity narrator accompanied by a 50-piece orchestra and a choir. Performances are presented three times each night throughout the holiday season. And the nightly fireworks display, IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth, features an additional holiday finale.

Disney’s Animal Kingdom and Disney Springs

Of all the parks, Disney’s Animal Kingdom is the least celebratory of the parks. Only a Christmas tree is present shortly after entering the park. But new this year is a welcome holiday touch with the inclusion of Diwali, the holiday Festival of Lights in India. Disney Springs, on the other hand, is alive with festivities. The

A beautiful Christmas tree divides Future World and World Showcase at Epcot.

20 DECEMBER 2018

Father Christmas greets guests in Epcot’s World Showcase.

free Disney attraction offers holiday shopping, dining and entertainment. The Christmas Tree Trail is lined with custom-decorated holiday trees, each dedicated to a popular Disney theme featuring characters like Mary Poppins, Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse and many others. At Santa’s Chalet, Santa Claus is on hand and, from December 25 through 31, Santa Goofy will take over after Old Saint Nick heads back to the North Pole. If you go: We visited Disney Springs and all four parks in the span of six days including flight time. If possible, try to add a day or two to relax and visit the many resorts. Each has its own holiday flair and special exhibits, including a life-sized gingerbread house, impressive decorations and themed holiday merchandise. For more information about visiting during the holiday season:

Alabama Living

DECEMBER 2018  21

| Worth the drive |


he trains no longer stop at the historic Auburn depot, but they continue to charge down the tracks outside the landmark, lending a charm of times gone by to the upscale restaurant that now occupies the beautifully restored space. While The Depot is rooted in history, this gulf-coastal restaurant is pushing the boundaries of Alabama’s culinary scene, bringing globally inspired cuisine to the heart of the South with ingredients sourced locally and from both coasts. Executive chef and co-owner Scott SimpBy Law native, but has extensive sonAllison is a California experience working abroad and studying under some of the world’s finest chefs. That international background – he’s worked as a chef in South America, the Caribbean and southeast Asia – is evident in the menu. “My idea was to bring Gulf coastal cuisine with a worldly flair to Auburn,” Simpson says, taking a break after a busy lunch service. “The idea is to either bring international or exotic products and put a Gulf coastal flavor to it, or take local Gulf catch and seafood and try out other items available locally, and present it with a more international, ethnic, cultural preparation.” As an example, he notes on the menu a fish that he has flown in overnight from Hawaii, which he serves with a kimchi fried rice and Korean pear glaze. But even with exotic preparations, Alabama diners will still find entrees that are familiar and non-intimidating: Carolina Mountain Rainbow Trout, Gulf Amberjack and Blackened Blue Crab Cakes, to name a few. And the rotating daily specials always feature at least six different oysters, sourced from the Gulf and both coasts.

All aboard!

A new life for an old landmark

Simpson came to Auburn in 2014 to become executive chef and culinary educator at The Hotel at Auburn University, and as a culinary instructor in the school’s hospitality program. Matt and Jana Poirier, who own The Hound in Auburn, wanted to expand and create another concept restaurant; they reached out to Simpson for ideas and to gauge his interest. Simpson felt the area lacked a high-quality seafood-focused restaurant. The Poiriers found the depot location, which had fallen into disrepair over the years (the last passenger train pulled into the depot on Jan. 7, 1970.) They worked with the city to restore the landmark and make it suitable for a restaurant, while maintaining the integrity of the historic structure. The Depot restaurant opened in September 2015. The result of the renovation is an inviting, spacious atmosphere – a classic look with industrial, 19th-century touches. Pieces of its 22 DECEMBER 2018

To see more of The Depot, go to!

A D o S P w B B a

The Depot features modern cuisine in a historic location By Allison Law Photos by Mark Stephenson

Among the specialties at The Depot in Auburn are fresh oysters, like these White Stone oysters from Windmill Point, Va., and Gulf Amberjack with Hoppin’ John Risotto, Braised Collards and Crawfish Butter. Inset: Executive chef and co-owner Scott Simpson.

Alabama Living

past have been retained: The heartwood pine that was once the trail platform is repurposed into the chef ’s table, bar and hostess stand. Original doors were restored. The black and white floor tiles harken to another era. The Depot is one of several establishments that has helped boost the culinary scene in Auburn and Opelika. Simpson says professors and business people have been exposed to nice meals in other places, so the demand is there. And the area pulls diners from Columbus, Ga., and Montgomery, so there’s obviously a desire for more options and upscale dining. Its clientele is not the younger college crowd that’s constantly on social media. “What gets the social media exposure is not really representative of what’s coming up in our community,” Simpson says.

Exceeding expectations

The Depot started out with dinner service, but soon branched into lunches – designed to be fast and affordable, but still well-prepared – as well as brunch on weekends. “For lunch, I tried to grab iconic dishes from all over the world,” Simpson says. “With lobster, what’s the most famous worldwide lobster dish I could do? I went with a Maine lobster roll. I tried to pick some great fish tacos from Mexico, and do them as authentic as possible.” The same attention is put into the dishes that originated a little closer to home. The Gourmet Gumbo, for example – with Cajun andouille, Poblano rice, crawfish and Gulf shrimp – gets comments from diners who say it’s better than any gumbo they’ve had in New Orleans. In addition to the regular menu, there are happy hour specials – like all-you-can-eat mussel night, or dollar oyster night – each one paired with cocktail specials. The seats are always full, Simpson says. The occasional wine dinners sell out with little promotion. The seafood may be the star, but the meat and poultry entrees receive just as much praise. A diner told Simpson recently that The Depot’s New York strip was the best he’d ever had, and that he’d eaten at steakhouses all over the country. “We want people to be blown away, to exceed their expectations,” Simpson says, “and make sure that eating here is a noteworthy, lingering memory.”

The Depot

124 Mitcham Ave. Auburn, AL 36830 334-521-5177 Online: (reservations recommended but not required, and can be made through the website) Hours: 5 p.m.-9 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday; 5 p.m.-10 p.m. Friday & Saturday; brunch from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday-Sunday


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Alabama Living

DECEMBER 2018  25

| Alabama People | Alabama native Stewart McLaurin is in his fifth year as president of the White House Historical Association, the non-profit, non-partisan educational organization whose many projects include production of the annual White House Ornament at Christmas time. He was formerly vice president for development at Mt. Vernon, and has held senior positions at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation, the Motion Picture Association, Georgetown University, American Red Cross and the Department of Energy. McLaurin, a proud graduate of Shades Valley High School in Birmingham and the University of Alabama where he studied American history and political science, is an avid Tide fan who travels back to Tuscaloosa for home football games. He was eager to talk with us about this year’s White House ornament in time for the holidays. – Lenore Vickrey How did you come to be involved with the White House Historical Association? I had known about their work the entire time I’d been in Washington. I started collecting the ornaments when I moved here in 1983. They began in 1981 and I bought the first two to catch up, and now have a complete set. Back then I didn’t know all the other things the association did, and I also knew that the person who’d led the association had been there many years, 22 years when I took over. It wasn’t a job that came open that often, and earlier in my career I wouldn’t have been in a position to take on that opportunity.

Stewart McLaurin so for 2018 we were in Independence, Missouri for Truman, and in 2019 we will be in Abilene, Kansas for President Eisenhower. The ornaments are made here in the United States by a company founded by an American service veteran in Rhode Island. How does that work? It’s a very complicated process. It has to stay a certain weight so the postage stays the same. It’s coated metal so there is some weight and substance to them. Each one is hand made. There’s a machinery process that cuts the pieces from the metal and coats them with the colors they have to have, but all the assembly is done by hand. If you go to the plant you’ll see multiple rooms in assembly lines with people putting on different parts, polishing parts, assembling elements, attaching the ribbon, putting it in the boxes. It’s quite a detailed process all done by hand. Besides by mail order, where else can you buy the ornaments? We have three stores in Washington, DC that sell them. We send out a catalog in the fall with ornaments and other education-oriented products. Many post offices also sell them. Church groups, scout groups and others buy them in bulk at a discount and sell them as fundraisers.

In addition to the ornaments, what else does the Association do? It was founded by Jackie Kennedy in 1961. She thought the White House should represent the best of American furnishings and decorative arts. She Tell us about the ornaments. knew she would need a private They’re very collectible but partner to do that, so she crethey’re also teaching tools. ated us to be that partner. We Each is designed to tell the The 2018 White House teach and tell the story of the story of the White House Ornament honors White House through many during a specific presiden- President Harry S educational programs, teacher cy. They started in 1981 with Truman and features the institutes, partnerships with Washington. Mrs. Reagan de- Truman Balcony, added other organizations such as to the White House in cided that we would feature 1947-48. More info: the Boys and Girls Clubs. We each president sequentially. publish books and a quarterly That was a very wise decision magazine, have public proon her part because it took politics out of gram, lectures and symposiums. the game. Now we’re up to Truman this year (with a few pauses every few years for Why is this history important today? special recognitions like the bicentennial of So much of American history has takthe White House in 1989). en place in the White House or impacted those who’ve lived and worked there. Early How far in advance are the designs done? inventions were deployed and tried at the We’re about the finalize the 2019 orWhite House. President Wilson signed the nament, so the design of the ornament is declaration of war in World War I there. So about six months before its release on Presmany things have happened in that house, idents Day weekend. We do that at the site times of mourning and grief. Eight presiof the presidential library of the president, dents have died in office. On the other side 26 DECEMBER 2018

of that coin, it has been the site of weddings (18, according to the association website), and it has been the home of the president and his family. I could work here the rest of my life and not know all there is to know.


White House


Alabama Living

DECEMBER 2018 27

28  DECEMBER 2018

December | Around Alabama and a wakeboarding Santa show on the Coosa River, culminating with a fireworks show at dusk. 334-567-5147.


Photo courtesy of Christmas in Candyland.

Fairhope, “The Nutcracker.” The Bay Shore Ballet Academy offers three performances of the holiday classic at the Fairhope Civic Center.

Explore the village of cottages at Andalusia’s Candyland on Court Square Dec. 1-22.


Millbrook, Christmas Festival at Village Green. Food and craft vendors, entertainment and parade. Craft fair is 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Parade begins at 2 p.m. down Main Street. For more information and parade route, visit the City of Millbrook on Facebook.


Andalusia, Candyland on Court Square. Each weekend in December, a winter wonderland adventure takes over downtown, with a village of cottages built especially for children, a snow show, light show and skating, tubing and train rides at nearby Springdale. All Candyland events are free, though skate and tubing rentals are $5.


Montgomery, CloverdaleIdlewild Art Trail. Six artists in the Cloverdale-Idlewild neighborhood open their studios for self-guided tours and holiday sales. Featuring pottery, paintings, photography, jewelry and more. 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday, 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Sunday. For more information, visit the Cloverdale-Idlewild Art Trail on Facebook.


Livingston, Christmas on the Square, 3-6 p.m. in downtown. Photos with Santa, merchant tree contest and music from a local band and choir. Presented by the Sumter

County Chamber of Commerce. For more information, visit the Chamber’s Facebook page.

decorating and story time. For more information, contact Lynne Karel, 256-582-7745.



Centre, Women’s Club of Weiss Lake Annual Tour of Homes. 1-4 p.m. $5. For more information, visit the Women’s Club of Weiss Lake on Facebook.


Mobile, Playhouse-in-the-Park presents the Victor Herbert classic “Babes in Toyland.” Follow classic storybook characters as they come to life and work together to save Christmas. $20 admission at the door. 7:30 p.m., 6 South Joachim St.


Opelika, Victorian Front Porch Christmas Tour. Tour more than 60 homes in the historic district on North 8th and 9th Streets. Homes are decorated for the holidays with life-size Santas, angels, toys and other Christmas décor. The streets will be closed on Saturday night for a walking tour of the homes. Free. Driving tour is 5-10 p.m. Dec. 5-9. Walking tour is 6-9 p.m. Dec. 8. opelikavictorianfrontporchtour. com


Guntersville, Downtown Merchants’ “Night Before Christmas.” Visit with Santa and Mrs. Claus, enjoy horse-drawn wagon and carriage rides, ice skating, cookie

Frisco City, 9th Annual Live Nativity Drive-Thru. Celebrate the birth of Christ with the 10-station drive-through nativity. 200 School St. For more information, contact Anne Brown, 251-714-0513.

7-8, 14-15, 21-22

Arab, Santa in the Park. Arab’s Historic Village is transformed into a winter wonderland for a visit from Santa himself. Visit the toy shop, the Elvin Light Museum, Smith Country Store, Phillips Blacksmith and more. 6-9 p.m.; $5 per person but not more than $20 per family. 256-586-6793 or 256-586-8128.


Millbrook, 11th Annual Christmas at the Alabama Nature Center at Lanark. Hayrides, Christmas crafts, decorating cookies, make your own nature ornament and a special Christmas movie. 9:30 a.m.-3 p.m. General admission cost of $5 applies.


Wetumpka, Christmas on the Coosa. This extravaganza includes arts and crafts, street parade, food, classic car show, entertainment, activities for children

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


Dothan, Landmark Park’s Victorian Christmas. Featuring old fashioned desserts, syrup making, Christmas carols and wagon rides. 430 Landmark Drive.


Hillsboro, Christmas at Wheeler. Tour Pond Spring, the home of General Joe Wheeler, from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Enjoy refreshments, “sleigh rides” in a horse-drawn buggy, choral concerts and visits with Santa. $8 for adults, $5 for seniors, college students and military. $3 for children 6-18, ages 5 and under free. 12280 AL Highway 20. 256-637-8513


Prattville, A Main Street Christmas. Support local businesses and eat, shop and enjoy the magic of Downtown Prattville. 5-7:30 p.m. For more information, contact the Cultural Arts Office, 334-595-0854.


Troy, Ole Time Christmas at the Pioneer Museum of Alabama, US Highway 231 N. 6-8 p.m. Adults $10, seniors $9, students $8; members and children 5 and under free.


Coffeeville, Christmas Gala honoring First Responders and Veterans. $25 for individuals, $45 for couples. Tickets are limited. Includes hors d’oeuvres, dinner and dancing. Gulf Coast Prep Academy Gymnasium. 334-357-1950


Orange Beach, Reelin’ in the New Year at the Wharf and Kids Confetti Drop. This street party features live bands, familyfriendly and adult-centered fun all rounding off at midnight with a marlin drop and fireworks. Admission free; various kids’ activities are $5$10.

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DECEMBER 2018 29


| Gardens |

Take care to prepare plants for winter's frosty grip


ong winter naps aren’t just for humans. Plants need a cozy rest this time of year, too, and now is the time to tuck them in properly. Even in winter dormancy, perennial landscape plants have a few basic needs, moisture and warmth being top among them. Their needs, and neediness, vary depending on the type of plant — herbaceous and shallow-rooted woody plants tend to need more winter water and warmth than deeply rooted woody plants, for example. How well established plants are in the landscape is also a factor: New plantings almost always need additional winter watering and cold protection. Let’s address moisture first. It may seem counterintuitive to water plants during Katie Jackson is a freelance writer and editor based in Opelika, Alabama. Contact her at

30  DECEMBER 2018

cold weather, but proper soil moisture helps plants absorb nutrients and warmth from the soil, and winter wind and cold often dry out soil and plant foliage. How much water do they need? If you received plenty of rain this fall, your soil moisture levels may be fine. If rainfall has been scarce, however, give them a slow soaking before the ground freezes and continue to water every week to 10 days before the first hard freeze. After that, especially if this winter is dry, apply about half as much water as you would in the summer when the soil around the plant’s base is dry to the touch. Try to do any winter watering early in the day, and water only on days when the temperature is at or above 40 degrees F. Now let’s address warmth. In addition to the warmth they get through soil moisture, many plants need an extra blanket of protection in the form of winter mulch. Mulching helps retain soil moisture around plant roots and also helps insulate the soil from temperature fluctuations, which can push plant roots closer to the surface where they are more easily harmed by freezing temperatures. Like moisture, mulch is especially important for newly planted shrubs and trees and also for tender perennials. Plus, a nice mulching job is aesthetically pleasing. Though you can apply mulch almost any time of the year, for plants that are particularly cold-averse, experts suggest applying it after the first hard freeze. Place 2 to 3 inches of organic mulch (straw, pine needles, hay, compost, leaves, bark chips and the like) evenly around each plant’s base. Don’t create a mulch “volcano” by mounding it high against a plant’s trunk, though, and leave a couple of inches between the mulch and the trunk to reduce disease and pest issues and increase airflow and oxygen availability to the plant and soil.

Resist the temptation to fertilize or severely prune most plants until spring is on the way. Both practices promote new, delicate growth, which may be damaged by cold temperatures. Plants such as roses and many fruit and nut trees, shrubs and vines actually need a bit of dormant winter pruning but check with an expert if you’re not sure which ones or how much to prune them. You can also trim away weak or dead limbs that may fall in blustery or icy winter weather and take clippings of hollies, evergreens, magnolias and other holiday plants to use for decorations. In addition to preparing your plants, now is also a great time to tuck your gardening equipment in for the winter. Thoroughly clean gardening tools, power equipment and empty pots before storing them in a secure, protected area. After your landscape is ready for winter, concentrate on yourself. Gather in a supply of gardening books, magazines and catalogues and to read on those long winter nights and short winter days. There’s nothing like cozying up with a good winter read to rejuvenate — and educate — yourself for the spring to come.

DECEMBER TIPS • Make and hang edible outdoor ornaments to feed the birds, a great project for kids! • Remove garden debris from vegetable and flower beds and from under trees and shrubs. • Keep an eye out for damage to plants from wildlife such as deer and rodents. • Plant shrubs and trees. • Plant tulips and spring bulbs. • Get your soil tested. • Turn and amend garden beds. • Make a list of garden seeds and plants you want to purchase in the coming year.


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Alabama Living

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| Consumer Wise |

Electricity grows cleaner By Pat Keegan and Brad Thiessen


We’re considering buying an electric vehicle and switching from a propane furnace to a heat pump. We care about the environment and are wondering if using more electricity would be beneficial.


The decisions about how to heat your home and how to fuel your transportation needs are among the most important environmental decisions you can make. There are a number of changes happening in the energy sector, and with electric coops in particular, that are making your electricity cleaner. Decades ago, coal was the preferred fuel for electricity generation. As investments in environmental upgrades took hold, the energy industry increased the use of low sulfur coal, and found ways to clean the coal and burn it more efficiently. Scrubbers were installed in coal plants to reduce sulfur emissions, but even after these improvements were made, natural gas turbines were still considered environmentally preferable to coal plants. In 1990, utilities depended upon coal to generate more than half of their electricity, but by 2016, that dropped to less than one third. In recent years, solar and wind generation have taken off and now provide more than 8 percent of utility energy generation. Electric co-ops have installed solar at a record pace, with solar capacity growing more than four times since 2015. Electric co-ops have pioneered community solar Improvements in the technology and state sponsored renewable energy requirements have encouraged the development of wind generation. SOURCE: PIXABAY.COM

programs, where members subscribe to a community project and the co-op installs a large array that is much less costly per kilowatt than smaller rooftop projects. Nearly 200 co-ops offered community solar programs in 2017, and more than 500 co-ops across the country use electricity generated by wind power. These statistics are national, but the environmental impacts of electricity depend upon where you live and where your electric co-op purchases electricity. Many co-ops publish this information on their website or in their annual reports on the sources of electric generation. Some include information on carbon emissions. With all that in the back of your mind, let’s get to the decisions you are looking to make: home heating and vehicle purchase. The heat pump you’re considering is a good option. Heat pumps are about 1.5 times more efficient than they were in the 1970s, and they’re functioning better in colder temperatures. Heat pumps take care of your cooling needs as well, and can do so with about half the energy they required in 1990. The best choice for home heating and cooling depends to a large degree on the climate where you live. In more extreme climates, you’ll need more heating or cooling capacity, and can justify splurging for the more energy efficient models. As our energy supply becomes cleaner, electric vehicles are becoming a better environmental choice across the country. The environmental advantage depends upon

how electricity is generated in different locations, and there are other factors to consider when looking at an electric vehicle. The fuel cost of an electric vehicle is, on average, half as much per mile as a gasoline vehicle. Electric vehicles generally require less maintenance, but the batteries eventually need to be replaced. Battery costs are dropping, but potential buyers should note this will still be a hefty bill. Electric vehicles cost more upfront than their gas counterparts, but the cost is coming down with every new model. As you make your decision on a heating system and new vehicle, remember there are other things you can do to reduce the environmental impact of your energy use. You can insulate and seal the air leaks in your home. You can set the thermostat a little lower in the winter and a little higher in the summer. You can also check with your local electric co-op to see if they offer a community solar program or additional energy-saving tips. I hope these ideas help you make your decision. Patrick Keegan writes on consumer and cooperative affairs for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, the Arlington, Va.-based service arm of the nation’s 900-plus consumerowned, not-for-profit electric cooperatives. Write to for more information.

Electric co-ops have pioneered community solar programs, where members subscribe to a community project and the co-op installs a large array that is much less costly per kilowatt than smaller rooftop projects.

The network of electric vehicle charging stations is growing rapidly. SOURCE: PIXABAY.COM


32  DECEMBER 2018

Letters to the editor Article brings back memories for a retired aviator The article on Maxwell Air Force Base and its “100 years of service” (Alabama Living, November 2018) awoke in me some 67-year-old memories. In 1951 I was a French Aviation cadet in the class of 52-A being trained by the U.S. Air Force together with my classmates and a group from Belgium, Norway and some Americans. We were some of the last classes to be trained as fighter pilots on the F-51D (earlier known as the P-51s made famous by the Tuskegee Airmen in WWII) at Craig Air Force Base outside Selma. As Europeans, we played intramural games of soccer between ourselves. The officers of the Air University of Maxwell AFB heard about us and wanted to learn the game. The recreation officers of each base got together and scheduled a couple of training session to go over rules, positions etc. Within a couple of months thereafter, the officers team of the Air University invited our team to play a game with them at Maxwell AFB. We accepted, of course, and we were bused over to their home field. (I must say that our first encounters during the training sessions were really physical. Some of those officers had been football players and applied some of the tackling and roughness of the American football games). We had informed them that those tactics would bring many penalties. On our way there, we prayed that they would have learned and practiced the game without applying undo roughness. The game turned out to be a real nice friendship encounter. The Air University team had been quick learners. However, after a game of two halves of 30 minutes each, the European cadets were victorious on a 3-0 result. (I was the goalkeeper). There was real good sportsmanship altogether and quite a lot of good fun. Following the game we were invited to share sandwiches, finger food and soft drinks before returning to Craig AFB. Vincent G. Ripoli (Maj. U.S. Army Ret.) Skipperville Alabama Living

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

‘Trail’ story needed more I read your article (“Alabama has its place in the Trail of Tears,” October 2018) regarding the forced removal of the Cherokee people, my ancestors, but was disappointed at the lack of more to the story. Fort Payne was barely mentioned and Rainsville not at all, with trail markers in Rainsville at the crossing and one in Fort Payne at the office of their electric co-op. There’s others I’m sure throughout DeKalb County that I’m not even aware of. As y’all made mention, there’s several trails that lead to the main one. Wish there could have been more on these as well, because all had a role in the forced removal of the Cherokee people. Also the article should mention Sequoyah who came up with the only written language for the Cherokee. If I’m correct, the Cherokee were the only native American Indians to have a written language. I know you’re a small magazine, but I wish more could be told about the Cherokee people and their forced removal. Thanks for your time. Donnie Haymon



Relates to hunting stories I couldn’t stop laughing at your column, “Memories of Hunting Season.” (Hardy Jackson’s Alabama, October 2018). I’ve got friends a lot like you, as well, that gave it a try and just simply gave it up. I can absolutely relate to everything you said; however, I’ve always been an avid hunter and been fairly successful at it. Now that I’m 63 years old, I’ve come to enjoy the campfire and watching my game more every year. I do need some venison for the freezer from time to time but not chasing them as hard as I used to when I was young. Hunting is good....however, it is a dying sport because young people are not exposed to the great outdoors to what God has provided for us. Some people are just born to hunt. It’s a tradition going back thousands of years. Yes, there are a lot of deer on the road ways. My sisterin-law bagged so many last year with her Nissan that her insurance company gave her a ticket. Hardy - the campfire stories that I hear are the best! Oh, well - pass the potatoes and gravy, and Happy Thanksgiving! Mike Evans President, Dothan Hunting Club (DHC) Barbour County




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| Alabama Recipes |


The holidays are the perfect time to gather with friends and family, and a festive party is an ideal way to assemble. At seasonal social events, we chat and catch-up, strengthening existing bonds and maybe forging some new ones too. And while connecting with other people is the main point, almost anytime folks get together, eating is on the itinerary, so food is an essential ingredient in a successful soiree. But the food doesn’t have to be fancy. Forget the idea that “holiday party” is synonymous with a banquet of delicacies served on fine china or a feast fit for a king. Don’t worry about conforming to some preset list of holiday flavors like peppermint or gingerbread. Our busy lives and packed schedules (that somehow manage to get even busier this time of year), often keep us from attending holiday parties. Add to that the idea that any mixing and mingling we’re in charge of needs to be supported by a massive spread of seasonally appropriate dishes, and there’s little chance we’ll consider actually hosting one. So shrug off any obligation you feel to “go all out” and just do it. Have a party. Bring those you love together to celebrate grace and goodness and whatever else the holidays mean to you. No formal invitations; an email or text will do just fine. No decor other than what you pull out and put up any other year. And don’t bother dragging out and dusting off the fine china or crystal either. And for the food, keep it simple. It can still be satisfying and delicious enough to ensure your guests don’t leave hungry or unhappy. Need some ideas? We’ve got plenty of them, tried and tested by our readers at many holiday parties past.

34 DECEMBER 2018

This holiday season, party hard without the hard work.

Alabama Living

DECEMBER 2018 35

Seasoned Pretzels

Sweet and Tangy Meatballs

Pizza Pinwheels

2 16-ounce packages mini pretzels 1 teaspoon lemon pepper seasoning 1 teaspoon garlic pepper 1 package Hidden Valley ranch dressing mix 12 ounces Orville Redenbacher popcorn oil

2 pounds ground meat (beef, turkey or pork) 1/2 medium onion, chopped 1/2 cup green onion, chopped 2 eggs Salt and pepper, to taste Garlic powder, to taste Accent, to taste 2 tablespoons olive oil 1 cup honey 1 cup Sriracha hot sauce 1/2 cup lemon juice

2 cans refrigerated crescent rolls 4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature 1 package pepperoni, chopped 11/2 cups pizza sauce 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Put seasonings in a 2-gallon Ziploc bag and mix well. Add oil and mix well. Add pretzels, mix and turn bag over periodically. Let stand overnight. Eat and enjoy. Michelle Tucker Covington EC

Pepper Boats 6 jalapenos 8 ounces cream cheese, softened 1 container of spicy pimento cheese 3 Red Hot link sausages Bacon Cut jalapenos in half and remove seeds and ribs. Mix cream cheese and pimento cheese in a bowl. Chop Red Hot link sausage and add to cheese mixture. Stuff the pepper boats with the sausage and cheese. Cut bacon and cover the top of the pepper boat. Grill on high, indirect heat for 40 minutes. Kirk Vantrease Cullman EC

Cheese Pennies 1 ½ ½ ½ 1

stick (1/2 cup) margarine, softened pound grated cheddar cheese package dry onion soup mix, shaken well before opening teaspoon salt cup all-purpose flour

Cream margarine and cheese together. Add remaining ingredients and blend well. Divide dough into fifths. Shape each section into a long “snake” one inch in diameter. Chill. Cut into ¼-inch slices. Spray cookie sheet with cooking spray. Bake slices at 375 degrees for 10 minutes or until well browned. Remove immediately and cool completely. Makes 3½ to 4 dozen “pennies.” Store in an airtight container. Peggy Key North Alabama EC 36  DECEMBER 2018

Preheat oven to 365 degrees. In a large mixing bowl, combine ground meat, chopped onion and green onions. Add eggs in one at a time. Season the mixture with salt, pepper, garlic powder and Accent to your preference. After all is mixed well, take and shape meat into 1 to 11/2-inch balls and place on a baking sheet. Once all meatballs have been shaped, bake uncovered for 35 minutes. In a medium saucepan heat olive oil, honey, Sriracha and lemon juice on low heat. Once meatballs are done cooking remove from oven and drain any excess grease from meatballs. Pour sauce mixture evenly over meatballs. Let them cook for another 15 minutes and then serve. Sharlene Parker Baldwin EMC

Festive Pecan Rolls 1 1 1 1

7-ounce jar marshmallow crème pound package confectioner’s sugar teaspoon vanilla 14-ounce package assorted vanilla and chocolate caramels 3 tablespoons water 1-1½ cups chopped pecans Combine marshmallow crème, sugar and vanilla, mixing well with hands. Shape mixture into five 4x1-inch rolls. Mixture will be very dry. Chill for 2 to 3 hours. Combine caramels and water in a microwave safe dish. Microwave for 4 minutes on high until smooth, stirring after 2 minutes. Dip rolls in melted caramel and roll each in chopped pecans, chill 1 hour. Cut in slices to serve.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Roll out one can of crescent rolls onto wax paper and seal perforations to make one whole rectangular shape. Mix cream cheese, chopped pepperoni, pizza sauce and mozzarella in a bowl until creamy and well combined. Spread half of mixture on crescent rolls. Starting at long side, roll up crescent roll into a log. Wrap in wax paper and refrigerate 1 hour. (This makes pinwheels easier to slice) Repeat with other can of crescent rolls and refrigerate. After 1 hour, remove first roll and cut into 1/4-inch slices and place on a greased cookie sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown. Continue until all pinwheels have been sliced and baked. Lynn Bowen Marshall-DeKalb EC

Caramel Popcorn 5 cups popped popcorn 1 1 cup brown sugar, packed ½ cup margarine ¼ cup light corn syrup ½ teaspoon salt ½ teaspoon baking soda Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Divide popcorn between 2 ungreased 9x13inch baking pans. In a saucepan, heat sugar, margarine, corn syrup and salt. Stir until bubbly around the edges. Continue cooking over medium heat for 5 minutes. Remove from heat, stir in baking soda until foamy. Pour over popcorn, stirring until well coated. Bake one hour, stirring every 15 minutes. Brenda McCain Coosa Valley EC

Ann Varnum Wiregrass EC

Bacon-Wrapped Blue-Cheese-Stuffed Dates 1 1 1 1⁄3

pound bacon 8-ounce package blue cheese package of dates (pitted preferred) cup brown sugar

Cut bacon strips in half. Stuff dates with blue cheese, enough to see a little poking out. Wrap strips of bacon around dates and place the end of the bacon down on baking sheet. (I suggest using a wire rack over a backing sheet to allow the bacon fat to drip off. This helps to get the bacon crispy.) Once all dates are filled, wrapped and placed on sheet, top each one with a little brown sugar. Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes. After bacon has cooked through, place dates on a cooling rack. Make sure to place something under dates as the bacon will still be dripping grease. Cool for at least 15 minutes.

Nana’s Awesome Party Mix Flavoring: 2 sticks salted butter 2⁄3 cup Worcestershire sauce 2 tablespoons (heaping) Lawry’s Seasoned Salt 1 teaspoon garlic powder 1 teaspoon garlic salt Dry mix: ½ package Rice Chex® ½ package Corn Chex® ½ package Honey Nut Chex® 4 cups Cheerios® 1 8-ounce bag Pepperidge Farms Pretzel Goldfish® *Note for cereals: use large box for lighter flavor or smaller box for robust flavor. Pre-heat oven to 250 degrees. Microwave flavoring ingredients until butter is melted, mix well. Place dry mix into a large disposable aluminum tray. Evenly disperse dry mix. Pour flavoring evenly across dry mix (making sure the dry mix is evenly coated.) Pouring the flavoring onto the back end of a spoon or spatula will help with an even spread. Every 15 minutes remove the mix from oven and carefully stir to keep the flavoring even. Remove when the mix feels dry (about 2 hours). You can add in other dry items like nuts, other cereals, or candies. If you do, consider increasing the amount of flavoring. Lucy Manly Dixie EC

Alabama Living

Cook of the Month

Amy Hitchner, Baldwin EMC Amy Hitchner enjoys both the ease of eating and the taste of Bacon-Wrapped, Blue-Cheese-Stuffed Dates and so do her party guests. “They are always a hit, their mix of savory, creamy and sweet all in one small bite,” she said. They’re also simple to whip up and and can be made ahead. But Hitchner offered a warning: The enticing blend of flavors can make that risky. “You can prepare them up to a day beforehand, and they keep well, but you may not be able to keep from eating them all up before your event if you do!” she said.

Amy Hitchner with son Aid en.

Send us your recipes for a chance to win!

Themes and Deadlines February: Pasta | Dec. 3 March: Instant Pot | Jan. 1 April: Strawberries | Feb. 4

3 ways to submit: Online: Email: Mail: Recipes, P.O. Box 244014 Montgomery, AL 36124

December's prize pack winner is Edwina Faith-Bell of Clarke-Washington EMC! Cook of the Month winners will receive $50, and may win “Cook of the Month” only once per calendar year. One gift basket winner will be drawn monthly at random and each name will be entered only once. Items in basket may vary each month. To be eligible, submissions must include a name, phone number, mailing address and co-op name. Alabama Living reserves the right to reprint recipes in our other publications.

DECEMBER 2018 37

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| Outdoors |

State opens more lands for public hunting A labama sportsmen recently gained a new public hunting property – a very special one. Portland Landing Special Opportunity Area covers 4,744 acres in the famed Black Belt region, with another 4,000 acres set to open for limited public hunting in the 2019-20 season. Located in Dallas County about halfway between Selma and Camden on Highway 41, the property borders Wilcox County. The varied habitats support diverse wildlife species including whitetail deer, squirrels and turkeys. The original 4,744 acres already held some special hunts this season with more opportunities to come. The addition will offer similar types of hunts beginning in the 2019-20 season. “The property is right in the heart of some of the best hunting in the state,” says Chuck Sykes, director of the Alabama Wildlife & Freshwater Fisheries Division. “Habitats include cedar glades, the traditional Black Belt prairie habitat, pine stands, upland hardwoods and mixed forests with sloughs and creeks. The additional property has some frontage on the Alabama River. This area has absolutely produced some big deer in the past. The genetics are there. The numbers are there and the habitat is there. I was fortunate enough to hunt this property some years ago when it was private. It’s a special place.” At Portland Landing and other SOAs, sportsmen can apply to hunt designated game on specific days. Sportsmen can still apply for small game and turkey hunts at Portland Landing and other SOAs from Dec. 3, 2018, through Jan. 3, 2019. If selected, that person and a guest gain sole access to hunt a section of the property for designated days, all for the cost of an Alabama hunting license and a wildlife management area permit. John N. Felsher lives in Semmes, Ala. Contact him through Facebook.

40  DECEMBER 2018

Cedar Creek mentor teaching woodsmanship.

“When people apply and are selected to hunt, they get a designated area of around 500 acres all to themselves, but they can invite a friend to hunt with them,” Sykes explains. “We do not hunt every unit on each property each day. We rotate the areas to keep pressure to a minimum. A property like Portland Landing is not big enough to just open the gates and let everyone hunt when they want. We want this to really be a special area.” Other small Special Opportunity Areas offering similar hunts include the 6,400acre Cedar Creek in Dallas County and the 4,435-acre Uchee Creek in Russell County. Crow Creek, a 400-acre property in Jackson County, offers archery hunts for deer and waterfowl hunts. For waterfowl hunts, the permit holder can invite up to four guests. People can also apply to hunt the Fred T. Stimpson and Upper State Sanctuary properties. Both in Clarke County, Fred T. Stimpson covers 5,200 acres and Upper State another 1,920 acres. To apply for SOA hunts, see hunting/special-opportunity-areas. “We’ve had Fred T. Stimpson and Upper State Sanctuary areas for a long time, but they were not hunted by the general public,” Sykes says. “When we were trapping deer and turkey to relocate them in other parts of the state years ago, many of them came from that area. The SOA program has something for every sportsman in the state. We are looking at adding more waterfowl, dove and other hunting opportunities in the future.”

Adult mentored hunts Sportsmen can also sign up for “mentored” deer, squirrel and turkey hunts. In a mentored hunt, program officials will pair experienced hunters with novices at least 19 years old. The partners will hunt together so the novice will learn woodsmanship skills from the experienced one. “For the pilot program in 2017-18, 100 men and women applied,” Sykes says.


“They ranged in age from 19 years old to 75. In the first six weeks of registration for the 2018-19 season, we had more than 250 applications including people from six other states. Everybody stays at the camp together and enjoys good fellowship.” Besides hunting, AWFFD representatives teach the participants firearms safety and training, plus how to scout for game and other topics. If someone shoots a deer, participants learn how to track, find and finally process it to eat. In the evening, state officials present some seminars and everyone enjoys a wild game supper. “For decades, every state has been doing programs to educate people and build its base of hunters,” Sykes notes. “Nationwide, hunting license sales are declining and have been for years. Our department gets its funding from hunting and fishing license sales, not the general fund. We looked at efforts on how to grow the hunting base. Most state agencies including ours offer youth hunting opportunities and special youth hunting seasons to recruit the next generation of hunters. “We’re trying to connect with a segment of the population that’s kind of overlooked. Many young adults have made up their minds that they want to try hunting and usually have enough financing to continue doing it.” Mentored hunts will take place in several SOAs and traditional wildlife management areas. At Portland Landing, participants can stay at a lodge on the property. For more on the Adult Mentored Hunts, see This month’s Hunting and Fishing Forecast on Page 41 is provided by DataSport, Inc., maker of the Fish & Game Forecaster, using the “Moon Clock” developed by the late wildlife expert and inventor Doug Hannon. See more at Please let us know what you think via email to


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DECEMBER 2018 41

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Alabama Living DECEMBER 2018  43

| Our Sources Say |

Michael and hope I

have missed writing articles for the last couple of months. I have had some personal commitments that required a lot of time, and we have had a number of challenges at PowerSouth, one of which I will write about next month. At the first of October, a disturbance popped up near the Yucatan peninsula. It was predicted to be a rain event for the northern Gulf of Mexico coast. It intensified until it was a tropical depression and then a tropical storm that took the name Michael. Within a few days, Michael was predicted to be a Category 1 hurricane when it made landfall on the northern Gulf. By Oct. 8, it was projected to be a Category 2 and then a Category 4. It came on shore Oct. 10 and was measured as a Category 4. It will likely be reevaluated as a Category 5 once all the final wind measurements are concluded. We have dealt with Opal, Ivan, Rita, Erin, Dennis and other named storms over the past 25 years. I have seen the damage they inflicted. I have talked to people that worked repairing damage after Andrew and Katrina. They were devastating storms. However, with due respect to other people’ storms, I have never seen anything approaching the damage Michael inflicted on the people and property in northwest Florida, southeast Alabama and southwest Georgia. Michael came on shore near Panama City. It almost completely leveled Mexico Beach slightly to the east, leaving only flattened homes and businesses. Panama City and suburbs to the east of it were almost completely destroyed. PowerSouth’s transmission system was utterly ruined in some areas east of Panama City and damaged well north into Alabama. In some areas, miles of transmission structures were broken off near the ground and blown into tree lines 50 feet away. When we surveyed the damage to our transmission system after the storm, there was no electric service from Panama City into southern Georgia. Hundreds of electric distribution poles were broken off or blown apart. Electric wire was lying in the roads and hanging in broken trees. The majority of power poles were either destroyed or severely damaged. Many buildings were destroyed. Others had fallen trees on them. Hundreds of thousands of acres of pine plantations were broken off about six feet off the ground. Roads were barely passable, and very often only one lane was open. The people in the area were still in shock, and some did not have an idea of where they would live or whether their lives could be rebuilt. The destruction was so complete I thought it would be months before basic electric, water or sewer services would be restored. I wondered if the area would recover for decades or would ever be the same.

Gary Smith is President and CEO of PowerSouth Energy Cooperative

44 DECEMBER 2018

However, I underestimated the determination and resolve of the people to rebuild their lives. Eleven days later, we again traveled our transmission system. Roads were cleared. Thousands of vegetation-clearing personnel, electric linemen and contractors were working to restore basic electric infrastructure. Destroyed houses were being removed. Others were being repaired. Businesses were reopening in the areas that had electric service. PowerSouth’s crews commuted for three weeks to the Panama City area, working 12-hour days with contractors to rebuild our transmission system. Transmission service was restored to all substations nine days from the time Michael made landfall. All our substations were connected to the grid within two weeks, and the system was totally rebuilt within three weeks. Our people and the work they accomplished were remarkable. It is amazing what people can do when challenged with a crisis and working together. I couldn’t be more proud of what PowerSouth’s people did to restore electric service to a devastated area so quickly. They went well beyond the call of duty to restore electric service to a shattered area. By the first of November, electric service was restored to all customers that were able to take service. The restoration, while not nearly complete, was well under way. Hope was real, and it was evident. Crises can tear communities down, but they can bring people together, too. It was remarkable to see the communities and people come together and work together to rebuild lives. Thousands of workers came into the area and worked for weeks to restore basic necessary services. Cooperatives are known to work together, and they did, but others joined the restoration effort, too. The area still has a long way to go to be back to normal, but great progress has been made with the investment of so many people. There is certainly hope again, just three weeks after Michael destroyed the area. Anything is possible with hope. I hope you have a good month.

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| Hardy Jackson's Alabama |

Make cake while the moon shines Illustration by Dennis Auth


he other day I got a copy of John Schlimm’s new book Moonshine: A Celebration of America’s Original Rebel Spirit. Really enjoyed it. Now let me say, up front, that to my certain knowledge I have never drunk homemade whiskey. However, I have eaten it. I’ll get to that in a moment.

Get you a copper kettle Get you a copper coil Cover with new made corn mash And nevermore you’ll toil Albert F. Beddoe, “Copper Kettle”

That bit of verse tells you a bunch. Schlimm tells you more. He tells how hardscrabble farmers saw making and selling whiskey as a way to supplement their meager incomes, and how prohibitionists, temperance advocates, revenue agents and other busybodies tried to stop them. Think about it from the farmers’ perspective. Most everybody grew corn, so the market was flooded. But take that corn, convert it into alcohol and you have not only reduced the bulk, making it easier to transport, you have created a commodity for which there is a ready market. “And nevermore you’ll toil.” Harvey H. (Hardy) Jackson is Professor Emeritus of History at Jacksonville State University and a columnist for Alabama Living. He can be reached at

46  DECEMBER 2018

The result is a story of innovation, entrepreneurship, manufacturing and distribution, a tale filled with folk heroes and daring-doings. What can be more American than that? Closer to home, it is also an Alabama story. I grew up in a “dry” county that was surrounded by “dry” counties. Without getting into the convoluted history of prohibition in our fair state (I’ll save that for another column) it will come as no surprise that thirsty citizens of my county turned to moonshine, which was cheaper and more readily available. It was cheaper because it was neither taxed nor regulated by state or federal governments. Local authorities tried to suppress it, but to little avail. I recall as a boy walking into the sheriff ’s office in our courthouse and seeing scores of gallon jugs full of a strange, brownish liquid. (My Daddy’s office was next door, which is why I was allowed in.) A deputy, seeing me staring, picked up one of the jugs, shook it, and watched the trash in it settle to the bottom. “Tea leaves,” he said. “Put in there to give it color so they could sell it as bourbon.” Which gets us to yet another reason not to touch the stuff. You never know what’s in it. Some distillers were said to put horseshoes in the mash to give it iron. Others reputedly added snakeheads to give it bite.

And there is the cat that fell into the mash and gave a name to a Monroe County community – Cat Mash. When copper coils were not available, innovative distillers would use car radiators, the lead from which would poison the drinker. Little wonder that at one time along rural roads in the state were billboards that read “Moonshine kills.” But moonshine also flavors. It flavored the fruitcake in Truman Capote’s short story “A Christmas Memory.” And in To Kill a Mockingbird, Scout reports that “Miss Maudie baked a Lane cake so loaded with shinny it made me tight.” Considering those literary endorsements, it is no wonder that in 2016 Alabama designated the Lane cake as the Alabama State Dessert (recipe on pp. 96-97 of Schlimm’s book). So it was, and so it is, that moonshine has been part of our history ever since some of our sainted ancestors began running it off and selling it out. If you want to know more about it, and learn a whole bunch of ways to make it presentable to discriminating eaters and drinkers, John Schlimm’s book is a good place to start. (MOONSHINE: A Celebration of America’s Original Rebel Spirit by John Schlimm, was published in September by Citadel Press, an imprint of Kensington Publishing.)



Alabama Rural Electric Association’s


Quilt Competition Our 2019 theme is:

Alabama’s Bicentennial

Mail, form below or E-mail information for your entry package. Deadline to submit quilt square is January 25, 2019.

Name: ________________________________________________ Address: ______________________________________________ City, State Zip: __________________________________________ Mail to: Linda Partin AREA E-mail: ________________________________________________ 340 TechnaCenter Drive Montgomery, AL 36117 Phone: ________________________________________________ Cooperative: ___________________________________________ or Phone: 334-215-2732 E-mail: (The electric cooperative name on front of this Alabama Living.)

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