December 2019 Clark-Washington

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



Traditional European baking Christmas Eve traditions Theater celebrates 100 years



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.

A taste of Italy in Athens

For nearly 13 years, Dan Oliver had enjoyed success owning and operating a popular Italian restaurant in Huntsville. So when property became available in downtown Athens, a town about 35 miles away, he decided it was time to branch out and open a second location of Terranova’s.


VOL. 72 NO. 12 n DECEMBER 2019


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

AREA President Fred Braswell Editor Lenore Vickrey Managing Editor Allison Law Creative Director Mark Stephenson Art Director Danny Weston Advertising Director Jacob Johnson Graphic Designer/Ad Coordinator Brooke Echols Graphic Designer Chyna Miller



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The Elf on the Shelf is a popular tradition in many of our readers’ homes, as seen in this month’s Snapshots.


Man of Troy


Non-traditional foods

Dr. Jack Hawkins has led Troy University for 30 years, longer than any other U.S. college president or chancellor.

Christmas food isn’t always turkey and the trimmings. See what our readers enjoy preparing for their families.



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

Elf on the shelf


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 32 Gardens 34 Cook of the Month 40 Outdoors 41 Fish & Game Forecast 46 Hardy Jackson’s Alabama ONLINE: ON THE COVER: Yuliya Childers of Prattville displays a freshly baked stollen, a traditional German Advent and Christmas spiced cake. A native of Ukraine, Childers sells her artisanal creations to customers in Central Alabama. PHOTO: Brooke Echols DECEMBER 2019 3

OFFICE LOCATIONS Jackson Office 9000 Highway 43 P.O. Box 398 Jackson, AL 36545 251-246-9081 Chatom Office 19120 Jordan Street 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.

Manager’s Comments December 2019

It was a pleasure to see many of our members at the 2019 Annual Meeting of Clarke-Washington EMC. Despite the rain, some five inches in 30 hours, we still registered more than 800 members and had an estimated total attendance of approximately 2,000 people. As I shared in my comments at the annual meeting, it was a busy year for CWEMC. We completed the new facility and opened for business on February 19, 2019. I had an opportunity to visit with many of you at the open house we held in April but I’m sure the annual meeting was the first opportunity that many of you had to visit the site. We developed a new strategic plan over the past year to help guide us with changes both internally and through out the industry. We experienced the retirement of several longtime employees over the past year but have worked diligently to re-staff and train new employees to be prepared to serve your needs. Technology is a big part of the distribution system and we are excited that we were able to continue to strengthen our AMI system and implemented an LED lighting program as well. We continue to invest in the system as part of our long-term work plan and are currently working on upgrades to our power lines in the Coy, McIntosh and Leroy areas. Maintenance is another big part of our daily activities and we were able to continue our right-of-way cutting and trimming this year in areas served by the Perry’s Chapel, McVay and Milly sub stations. We were also able to continue our herbicide application across 1,000

miles of line in areas served by our Carlton, Scyrene, Thomasville, Coffeeville and McVay sub stations. Our maintenance work also included the inspection and treatment of approximately 3,000 poles in areas served by the Four Points, Thomasville and Scyrene sub stations. Equally important, we were able to continue to invest in our students throughout the CWEMC service area through our Montgomery and Washington Youth Tour programs, scholarship program and through school safety programs. Your co-op is in sound financial condition and I hope you enjoyed the annual meeting and your opportunity to see the new facility. As we wrap up a very successful 2019 and look forward to next year, you can rest assured that our number one priority will be to continue to serve the needs of our membership. Thank you for the opportunity.

Steve Sheffield General Manager

Phone 855-870-0403 Online Night Deposit 24/7 at Jackson & Chatom CWEMC App Available from the App Store and Google Play Bank Draft




Merry Christmas



We wish you a safe and wonderful holiday.

the joy of giving

| Clarke-Washington EMC |


Have you downloaded our mobile app? Simply go to your app store and search CWEMC and click download.

Help us make Christmas brighter for others. Join Clarke-Washington EMC by bringing toys, canned food and hygienic items for those in need this holiday season. Bring your donations to Clarke-Washington EMC ofďŹ ces in Jackson or Chatom at any time before December 13. Alabama Living

Energy Efficiency Tip of the Month Laundry Tip: Dry towels and heavier cottons separately from lighter clothing. You’ll spend less time drying the lighter-weight items. Source:


ANNUAL MEETING RECAP Despite the rain, more than 800 ClarkeWashington EMC members registered for the Annual Meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 15 at the new Jackson office. This year’s Annual Meeting was a great success! Registered members not only received a chance to win many great door prizes, but they also get a $10 credit on their electric bill. Members enjoyed food, drinks and wonderful entertainment by the Kendricks. The happiest of all was the winner of the 2012 Chevrolet Silverado, Walter Creighton of Toddtown. “I’m lucky and blessed tonight,” Creighton said. “It was my time, finally. I have been coming to these things ever since they have been going on and I’m a blessed man tonight.” Thank you to all the volunteers and employees who helped make this a success.

6  DECEMBER 2019

Alabama Living

DECEMBER 2019  7

| Clarke-Washington EMC |

| Clarke-Washington EMC |

ARE YOU A K-12 EDUCATOR? If you are a K-12 educator interested in teaching your students more about energy, EMPOWER is for you. This Energy Education Workshop provides an exciting opportunity to learn about electric generation and distribution, with a focus on energy education and fun ways to integrate it into your classroom, using curriculum designed for your students. Other benefits: - Continuing Education Credits for each participant who completes the workshop. - Excellent materials, including a NEED Science of Energy Kit, a class-set of NEED Energy Infobooks (at grade level), access to all NEED Curriculum Guides and supplemental resources. - Opportunities to network with fellow educators.

Learning about Energy can be Energizing!

REGISTRATION DEADLINE JANUARY 31, 2020 *limited availability


Interested? Please Contact Sarah Hansen at CWEMC 1.800.323.9081



| Alabama Snapshots |

ELF on the SHELF

Dylan LaPorte’s elf, Tricky, toilet papered the entire living room after Alabama beat Auburn. SUBMITTED BY Robin LaPorte, Wetumpka.

Elf on a shelf, 4-month-old Behr McDonald, is all smiles waiting for Santa. SUBMITTED BY Gail McDonald, Prattville.

Shelly Elrod, nurse at Harmony School in Cullman County, dresses up as an elf to spread Christmas cheer on the last day of school. SUBMITTED BY Vickie Wood, Cullman.

Collect or build model trains? We want to see them! Submit “Model Trains” photos by December 31. Winning photos will run in the February issue. Alaina’s Elf, Buckles, sent her an outfit all the way from the North Pole. She can see him but Papa and Memaw can’t. SUBMITTED BY Robert and Linda Orso, St. Stephens.

Alabama Living

Online: Mail: Snapshots 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 www.alabamaliving. coop and on our Facebook page. Alabama Living is not responsible for lost or damaged photos. Send a self-addressed stamped envelope to have photos returned.


Spotlight | December SOCIAL SECURITY

Three reasons why Social Security is important for women More women work, pay Social Security taxes, and earn credit toward monthly retirement income than at any other time in our nation’s history. Yet, on average, women face greater economic challenges than men in retirement. Nearly 55 percent of the people receiving Social Security benefits are women. Women generally live longer than men while often having lower lifetime earnings. And women usually reach retirement with smaller pensions and other assets compared to men. Social Security is vitally important to women for these three key reasons. You could be eligible for your own benefits if you: • worked and paid taxes into the Social Security system for at least 10 years and • have earned a minimum of 40 work credits. Once you reach age 62, you could be eligible for your own Social Security benefit. Whether you’re married or not and whether your spouse collects Social Security or not, you could be eligible. If you’re eligible and apply for benefits on more than one work record, you generally receive the higher benefit amount. The sooner you start planning for retirement, the better off you’ll be. We have specific information for women at Email or post this link to friends and family you love.

Whereville, AL Identify and place this Alabama landmark and you could win $25! Winner is chosen at random from all correct entries. Multiple entries from the same person will be disqualified. Send your answer by Dec. 12 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.

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

Letters to the editor

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

Veteran likes column I just read your article in Hardy Jackson’s Alabama, (“The Box,” November 2019). I am a Vietnam veteran myself, but I don’t really think about it all that much. Your article really made me think about all the men and women who have served at different times and different places. What really hit home is when you said that we should do what we can to keep from creating any more veterans. How profoundly true! Amen. Dale Edwards, Flat Rock, Ala. 10 DECEMBER 2019


These oversized Adirondack chairs are located in front of the Eden Career Technical Center (ECTC) in Ashville. Marcus Graves, carpentry instructor at the school, gave us a nice history of the chairs: “Ronnie McFarling, our former director, is a big fan of the website and app ‘Roadside America.’ In the fall of 2015, he and I started talking about the fact that there were no sites listed in St. Clair County. “Mr. McFarling saw two big Auburn and Alabama Adirondack chairs for sale at an outdoor store in Birmingham. He asked me if I thought we could build two of these chairs. We initially planned to build five chairs and paint them in the colors of the five high schools that we serve in St. Clair County. “One day, we saw a picture of four chairs on a beach with the word L-O-V-E spelled out. That led us to the idea of using them as a sign with the letters ECTC for our school. “The chairs were finished in 2016 and we placed them on our property near the intersection of U.S. Highways 231 and 411. They were an immediate hit with the people passing by the school. We started getting calls from people asking if they could stop and take a picture, or if we would build them a chair? “But the best calls and visits were from people that has passed our school for years and never really knew what we did or what we taught. So the chairs have really helped us draw attention to our school and our mission.” (Photo by Allison Law of Alabama Living) To learn more about the ECTC, visit The randomly drawn correct guess winner is Tanya McCord of Coosa Valley EC.

Saw ads in magazine

We had the friendliest couple come in the Welcome Center last week to get information on things to do in Dawsonville. They were raving about our ads in Alabama Living Magazine! I invited them to the Moonshine Festival we had this past weekend, and sure enough, I somehow spotted them in the crowd and had another chat. They also went to Amicalola Falls while they were here because of our ad. Appreciate it, Dustin Heard, Tourism & Events Director Dawson County Chamber of Commerce & Office of Tourism Development Dawsonville, Ga.

December | Spotlight

Find the hidden dingbat! OK, we admit it. The November dingbat – a cartoonish turkey – was super-hard to find. In fact, we received only a few hundred correct submissions, about a third of our usual responses. Those who hunted for that elusive bird claimed to find him in several different places, from the tree on Page 21, the grass on Page 16, in a girl’s hair on Page 9 and on the menu sign on Page 26. It was indeed on Page 26, but our turkey was hiding in the platter of fried chicken. At least two readers, Debra Hammonds of Ider and Joan Davis of Andalusia, said they’d hunted unsuccessfully until their granddaughters and nephew, respectively, spotted the turkey right away. Vivian Walker of Union Springs said she found it while she was cooking fried chicken! John Fender of Foley penned this clever response: “Your dingbat is a master of disguise. I located his first cousin on Page 18, then as I pursued him further I came upon some bits and pieces of him on Page 26, deep-fried. I finally concluded that the hunters on Page 21 must have shot poor old Dingbat and dropped him off at the Roadkill Café.” Poet Eleonore Madigan of Dothan wrote: Almost lost my calm I could not find elusive Tom. Afraid he might be on the grill Of Elberta’s Café Roadkill But was relieved he got away By hiding in their buffet tray. Congratulations to Pattie Presley of Moulton for being chosen as the correct guess winner. This month, we’ll try not to make it so hard to find a hidden Christmas tree. Happy hunting! By mail: Find the Dingbat Alabama Living PO Box 244014 Montgomery, AL 36124 By email:

Last month's turkey

Alabama Living

Historic documents on display

Visitors to the Alabama Department of Archives and History will have a rare opportunity in December to see all six of Alabama’s constitutions, on display at the archives in Montgomery through Dec. 31. The special bicentennial exhibition, “We the People: Alabama’s Defining Documents,” also features the 1861 ordinance of secession, which declared Alabama’s separation from the Union on the eve of the Civil War. The exhibition is curated and designed by the staff of the ADAH, where the documents permanently reside. Extensive conservation work was conducted on the documents by the Northeast Document Conservation Center (NEDCC) in Andover, Mass. The Museum of Alabama will offer extended hours on Tuesday and Thursday evenings through Dec. 12. ADAH staff will offer gallery talks on these evenings beginning at 6 p.m. The ADAH’s Museum Store will also be open. More information is at or call 334-3533312.

Alabama 4-H launches capital campaign

The Alabama 4-H Foundation recently announced its new capital campaign, “The Center of It All,” which focuses on expanding the infrastructure at the 4-H Center south of Birmingham. At the center, Alabama 4-H fulfills its mission of providing hands-on learning experiences, including science and camping programs, for the state’s young people. Members of 4-H are put on a wait list to attend signature overnight programs and events at the 4-H center due to lack of facility space. Recently, Alabama 4-H received a gift of 108 acres where the 4-H center is located; new dining facilities and dormitories will be built there to provide more opportunities for young people, and to help build sustainable revenue to support programs. For more information on the campaign or to make a donation, visit or call 334-844-5536.

CORRECTION In the November issue, the photo on Page 18 of two outdoors enthusiasts canoeing was improperly credited. The photo was taken by Billy Pope, Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.

December 17, 1939

Singer Eddie Kendricks, the first lead tenor for the Temptations, was born in Union Springs. Formed in Detroit, Michigan, under Motown Records, the group’s original lineup featured three Alabama natives—Kendricks, Paul Williams, and Melvin Franklin—and became one of the most successful musical acts in history. Throughout their career, the group released fourteen Billboard R&B number-one singles, such as classics “Just My Imagination (Running Away with Me)” and “My Girl,” and won three Grammy Awards. Kendricks also released two number-one R&B singles as a solo artist—“Boogie Down”

The classic lineup of The Temptations in the 1960s consisted of (from left) David Ruffin, Otis Williams, Paul Williams, Melvin Franklin, and Alabamian Eddie Kendricks.

and “Keep On Truckin’.” Kendricks and the Temptations were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1989. article/h-2535 DECEMBER 2019 11

emories of bread back home shaped central Alabama baker By M.J. Ellington


ostalgia for a taste of home may be the simplest explanation for how a classical pianist – who was completely at home on a Ukrainian concert stage – re-molded herself into a cottage industry European bread baker who now sells her artisanal creations to customers in central Alabama. During holiday season every year, Wild Yeast Kitchen bakery owner Yuliya Childers creates baked goods half a world away from her birth country. But for her own family’s special occasions, she likes to include special desserts from her childhood not readily available here. “My holiday table is a complex question,” says Childers, who grew up in Odessa, a cosmopolitan city on the Black Sea. Her family didn’t celebrate Christmas when she was growing up, but “made a huge deal out of New Year.” For Thanksgiving 2018, instead of a turkey, Childers made “a traditional English hot water crust pie” filled with a variety of meats and vegetables. “A whole holiday menu under one crust,” she says. “I was very proud of it.” For New Year’s celebrations growing up, Childers said her mom always made two desserts, one a custard-filled 8-12 layer crust Napoleon cake that is moist and not heavy with sugar. “I still make it occasionally for my family’s most special events. It’s a several hours feat, which is totally worth the time,” she says. The other cake was usually a walnut meringue cake, her grandmother’s recipe.

Yuliya Childers’ first-ever sale at the Prattville Farmers’ Market in June 2016.

12 DECEMBER 2019

A country sourdough bread Yuilya Childers baked while at the San Francisco Baking Institute

A Russian Napoleon cake. Its original form hails from France, but Russians developed their own version that features many individually rolled layers and a thick custard.

New York-style sourdough bagels.

A cross-section of one of Yuliya Childers’ croissants shows off the light, flaky layers.

One of Yuliya Childers’ pretty sourdough breads. Alabama Living


Old-world flavors

ropean bread have missed a different, complex taste that they will not forget.” Childers said her exploration of traditional European baking began beSeeking a better life cause she missed European bread, and Childers, her mother and sister fled “I wanted to see if I could replicate it.” Odessa for hopes of a better life in At the time, she lived in Atlanta and the U.S. in a period of Ukrainian govworked in information technology, A decorative brioche bread Yuliya Childers made for ernmental conflict and depression, first on the Sports Illustrated website a silent auction. This photo was featured in the Bread Bakers’ Guild of America 2018 Calendar for the month with little job opportunity and dwinand later on PGA and NBA websites of November. dling supplies in stores. Once in the for Turner Broadcasting Co. U.S., they lived first in Maryland, near Washington, D.C. There, Childers could not find the kind of bread she remembered Childers gave some classical piano performances and worked as growing up. Relatives and friends suggested ways to find the right an accompanist, using the skills she’d studied in Odessa from age flours and other supplies to make the bread she wanted to replicate. 5 through 24. She also worked as a computer programmer for a When she decided to bake her breads professionally, she named communications firm. her business Wild Yeast Kitchen after the naturally occurring leavWhile music had been her passion in Odessa, computers proening in the grain that causes the dough to rise slowly. The process vided her main livelihood here while she took steps to become a gives complex flavors and robust texture to her breads, much like naturalized U.S. citizen. Classical music continues to be part of her the ones she remembers from Odessa. life, as she still plays piano and sings in her church choir in PrattWhen Childers was growing up, she said, she went on frequent ville and in the Montgomery Chorale. shopping trips to local bakeries near her home. Her family would As Childers’ baking business continues to evolve, she describes leave the bakery with bread so fresh it was still warm, fragrant and the careful steps she took to study the best baking supplies and ready to share at a meal. recipes. Like the process involved in allowing breads to rise slowly, Childers began baking for her husband and daughter while they Childers takes her business development one small step at a time. were in Atlanta. She brought her passion for baking when the famiIn summer 2018, she spent 11 weeks at the San Francisco Baking ly moved to Prattville in 2011 and began selling her breads in 2016. Institute, earning a diploma in the Bread and Viennoiserie ProShe bakes breads, scones, croissants and specialty items – infessional Training Program in recognition of her skill in baking cluding chocolate babka, and breads resembling works of art – artisan bread and pastry using yeast-leavened dough. that she sells on Saturdays at Montgomery Curb Market. She does “I wanted to see if I could live a baker’s hours,” Childers said of home delivery to customers who order ahead in the Prattville and the very early morning baking schedules kept by most small bakMillbrook areas. eries. She found that she could and saved money for the course Her long-term goal is to establish a commercial kitchen with a and the weeks living on the West Coast. She said her husband and large commercial oven so she can bake much more at once. Such a 12-year-old daughter have been very supportive about her develkitchen could put an end to the 20-hour workday she spends withoping business. out sleep now before her weekly bread sales day in Montgomery. The next long-term step will be to establish the commercial She wants to expand to other farmer’s markets. kitchen. She hopes the commercial kitchen will effectively take “Yuliya has a passion for safe, good food that is part of her bakthe business out of the house, enabling her to scale up production ing,” said Kathy Quinn, a registered pharmacist and trained herbwhile “taking the bread quality to the next level.” alist whose Lost Creek Herbs booth is next to Childers’ booth at Childers’ careful, deliberate small steps for an evolving career the curb market. are characteristic of the way she approaches life’s challenges, Quinn “I’m on the same trajectory as Yuliya,” Quinn says. “I try not to says. “We have a gem in Alabama.” eat any bread other than Yuliya’s and I try to know the source of Learn more at where my food comes from. People who aren’t familiar with Eu-

Oatmeal and Molasses Muffins 1 ½ ¾ 2 ½ ½ 2 ½ 1/3 1/3 1

cups white whole wheat or all-purpose flour cup cracked or rolled oats teaspoons baking powder teaspoon salt cup molasses large eggs cup coconut oil (or butter) cup raisins cup seeds (I used a blend of sunflower and pumpkin) zest of ½ orange cup (or a bit more) whole milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease muffin tin thoroughly. Sift flour and add all dry ingredients to it in a bowl. Mix well. Add molasses, lightly beaten eggs and melted coconut oil or butter. Add ½ cup of milk at first and stir very thoroughly until batter is smooth and non-lumpy. Add raisins, seeds and orange zest at this point and stir again. Now keep adding milk in small quantities until batter reaches the consistency of pancake batter (thick buttermilk or thin yogurt). Distribute batter evenly between muffin tin cups. It should fill the cups to about 2/3 or ¾ capacity. Sprinkle additional seeds on top of the batter just for looks. Bake for about 20-25 minutes, or until knife or toothpick inserted into a muffin come out clean. Recipe and photo courtesy of Yuliya Childers 14  DECEMBER 2019

Alabama Living

DECEMBER 2019  15

‘Twas the night before Christmas … for ‘Alabama Living’ readers

Besides being Santa’s busiest day of the year, Christmas Eve for many families holds a special religious or cultural significance. While children are more interested in leaving notes and treats (ones not otherwise consumed by hungry grown-ups) for St. Nick, those old enough to have an appreciation for family and tradition look forward to a candlelight service or a midnight Mass, a reading of the Christmas story, a small gift exchange or perhaps a special meal. We asked readers to share their Christmas Eve traditions. Consider creating a new one this year for your friends and/or families. – Allison Law ILLUSTRATION BY CHYNA MILLER

Some of the submissions were edited for length or clarity.

Christmas beach tree

In 1982, we were expecting our first and only child. We were able to take a vacation and some three-day weekends every year. Wherever we were, our tradition was to buy a unique, sometimes custom-made, Christmas tree ornament. As the years went by our tree became a personal tree. As my son was growing up, he would gently take one ornament at a time off the tree, ask about it and look at the date on the bottom. As he got older, he would remember with the excitement of buying an ornament to go on the tree. We passed the special ornaments on to him and his family. In 2014 my son moved to Elberta, Ala., and my wife and I retired to Gulf Shores. We started what we call the Christmas Beach Tree. We are truly beach people and spend many waking hours playing along our Gulf Coast. Our tree is collecting unique ornament from our travels across our southern states. On Christmas eve, our new step grandson takes each ornament off the tree and asks about the date and where it came from. This is a true case of history repeating itself and we enjoy every minute of it. Mike and Cecilia Luna Gulf Shores, Ala.

The Feast of Seven (or more) Fishes

For over 40 years we have celebrated our version of the Italian Feast of the Seven Fishes dinner. Depending on where we lived, availability of fresh fish and seafood sometimes meant less than seven choices. Since our arrival in LA (lower Alabama) we have exceeded seven. We have enjoyed anywhere from eight to 20 guests who anticipate the event yearly. Midnight Mass concludes our event. A great way to make family and friends a priority. Donna Martray Baldwin EMC

16 DECEMBER 2019

Christmas at the cabin

Our Christmas Eve tradition started approximately 28 years ago, when our oldest sister invited all of us to her house for breakfast. We now meet in an old log cabin in Lawrence County, where we have a meal every first Saturday of the month. We begin decorating our cabin about a week after Thanksgiving; we use traditional decorations using stringed popcorn and handmade ornaments. On Christmas Eve, we get started very early in the morning to cook the breakfast, which we cook on an old wood-burning stove. Our menu consists of about 200 biscuits, ham, sausage, bacon, eggs by the dozens, sausage gravy, tomato gravy and homemade jams and jellies and coffee by the gallons. We invite all our friends as well as family, and at times we have around 100 to attend. The sisters always greet our guests on the front porch, wearing their red and white gingham aprons and Santa hats and repeating the old phrase “Christmas Eve Gift,” which we learned from our Daddy. Millie Waldrop

The pickle in the tree

My children and grandchildren come to my house on Christmas Eve. For years I have had a ceramic dill pickle that I hide on my tree. It was told that whoever found the pickle would get an extra gift. Everyone gets one minute to look, but you cannot touch the tree. They keep taking turns until it is found. Sometimes it is easy to find and sometimes not so easy. Whoever finds it gets money. When it gets found before everyone gets a turn, sometimes I have to hide it again. The kids all love it, but the grownups do, too. Even before Christmas when they come to the house they start looking and want to know if I have hidden the pickle yet. So I have to wait until the last minute before they come for Christmas. Linda Dycus North Alabama EC

Family sleepover

Celebrating Czech heritage

Every Christmas Eve, my family gathers to spend the night at the home of my grandparents, Hershel and Sarah Scott (Granny and Papaw). This includes grandparents, siblings and spouses, aunts, uncles, cousins and spouses, and great-grandchildren. A total of 22 spend the night. I remember as a child writing Santa a letter on Christmas Eve, reminding him to drop our presents off at Granny and Papaw’s house. Today, we enjoy eating Christmas goodies and watching the kids play together. Every year before bedtime, a family member reads the Christmas story from the Bible. We gather around the fireplace, sing carols and thank God for another Christmas together. Everyone prepares their beds, sleeping bags and air mattresses for the night. Everyone sleeps upstairs because Santa delivers presents downstairs. This tradition has been around since my parents married 40 years ago. As a child, I always wondered how Santa delivered all those gifts to 22 people. Now, it’s a tradition I share with my husband and boys.

My mother had Czechoslovakian heritage and each Christmas Eve, she made Sauerkraut and Mushroom soup. I still make it each Christmas Eve as well. Before you cringe, it is quite good and to me, seems similar to Chinese sweet and sour soup. She called it simply:

Slovak Christmas Soup 2 tablespoons butter 1 tablespoon flour Dash paprika 1 cup cold water 4 cups boiling water 1 teaspoon salt 1 teaspoon pepper 1 cup cooked or dry mushrooms ¾ cup sauerkraut and juice Optional: You can also add noodles cut in squares. (I leave them out) Brown the flour and butter in small frying pan until brown. Add paprika and cold water, boil until dissolved. Add that mixture to the boiling water, salt and pepper. Add mushrooms, sauerkraut and juice. Simmer for 10 to 15 minutes. Add noodles if you like.

Nicole Bolton Thorsby, Ala.

Rose Rush Talladega, Ala.

Christmas Gift!

Lasagna, cookies and gifts

I was raised playing “Christmas Eve Gift!” and “Christmas Gift!” My paternal grandfather’s family passed on this fun tradition, which is believed to have originated from a nanny and was part of her culture. We are told that in olden days people would fill their pockets with candy or nuts on Christmas Eve. The first to greet the other with “Christmas Eve Gift!” would a receive a candy or nut. Now, after many decades, the fun is in the “getting.” Long ago we dispensed with the candy, nuts or even a gift – but there’s no less joy. Earning “I got you!” bragging rights brings forth joyous squeals and laughter. Diane Taylor Aman Dothan, Ala.

Granna’s Lasagna recipe (courtesy of Nita Walker) Lasagna: 3 2 2 3 2 24 1

pounds ground hamburger meat teaspoons minced garlic tablespoons dried basil tablespoons salt quarts homegrown tomatoes with juice ounces tomato paste small can tomato sauce

Cook the hamburger meat and drain well. Add other ingredients and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Filling: 6 6 1½ 4 1 2

eggs cups cream-style cottage cheese cups Parmesan cheese tablespoons parsley flakes teaspoon pepper teaspoons salt

Alabama Living

Several years ago, I broke Christmas tradition and began cooking lasagna for my family’s Christmas dinner. The key is home-grown tomatoes instead of canned. We have a salad and cheese garlic bread with the meal. One of our traditions is to allow the grandchildren to open one small gift before we eat our food. They are so excited. We also donate clothing or shoes to a child in need. Teaching children to give and share is so important. In addition to these traditions, we also sing Christmas carols. They have enjoyed singing, “O Christmas Tree.” I cut out pieces of large cardboard to make Christmas trees out of. I decorate them with candy canes and paint snow on each one. Then, a hole is cut where they place their faces while singing “O Christmas Tree.” I top the tree with a star, moon and sometimes a snowman hat. We build memories. Then they return to their homes to await the arrival of Santa Claus. Nita Walker Vinemont, Ala.

Other ingredients:

1 box lasagna noodles 2 pounds mozzarella cheese

Mix filling ingredients and place in refrigerator until ready to use. In a four-quart pot, bring 3 quarts water to a boil. Add 1 teaspoon salt and 1 tablespoon oil. Add one box lasagna noodles and cook according to directions. Layer the strips of noodles in a greased 13 by 9 baking dish. Top noodles with half of the cheese filling. Add 1 pound shredded mozzarella cheese. Spread ½ of the meat sauce over the cheese. Repeat layers. Bake at 375 degrees for about 45 minutes. Lasagna can be made the day before and refrigerated; in this case, bake about 1 hour.

DECEMBER 2019 17

The Princess’ neon lights are a welcoming sight in downtown Decatur. PHOTO BY JEAN FRANK

Princess Theatre’s visual splendor continues to charm audiences By Aaron Tanner


he Princess Theatre, which turns 100 this year, is the crown jewel of downtown Decatur. The premier multi-function community arts center showcases films, concerts, and performances from local and national acts in its 677seat auditorium, hosts private events and features a listening room for live music. Initially a location for a livery where horses were parked while patrons shopped downtown, the Princess opened in 1919 showcasing vaudeville acts and silent films. As movies with sound became popular, a decision was made by the owner to remodel the Princess in 1941 into a theater that showed those types of films. “When ‘talkies’ came in, the Princess came into her own as the premier movie house in North Alabama and beyond,” communications director Melissa Ford Thornton says. The Princess’ sleek, elegant Art Deco style, which swept across Europe and the U.S. during the 1920s and ’30s, made the theater an attractive place for people to imitate the glamor of movie stars by dressing up for a night on the town. The bright neon marquee, now an icon of the region, preserved façade and historic lobby, featuring tiles made of the same type of Italian stone used on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, are stunning visual reminders of the theatre’s early years. “The aura that art deco displayed was sophisticated,” Thornton says. As indoor shopping malls and multi-

18 DECEMBER 2019

The Blind Boys of Alabama are one of many national acts that have performed at the Princess. PHOTO COURTESY OF THE PRINCESS THEATRE

screen cinemas with surround sound became popular across America during the 1970s, along with movie channels on TV, many cities saw the bulk of their business shift from downtown to the suburbs. In 1978, the Princess fell victim to this trend and closed. “The rise of malls as the new shopping standard hit theatres and performing arts centers hard nationwide,” Thornton says. Fortunately, the Princess avoided demolition as city officials and the community raised funds to restore the theatre. In 1983, the Princess reopened as a multiuse performing arts center, allowing a new generation of residents to experience excellent entertainment. “There is a love for this place,” Thornton exclaims.

The energy of downtown

Today, the Princess and downtown Decatur are thriving, thanks to the creation of an arts and entertainment district. Merchants are experiencing increased foot traffic, thanks to cooperation be-

tween businesses and the theatre. “Downtown Decatur has had a breath of fresh air blown into its lungs,” says technical director Penny Linville, who has been with the Princess since 1990. The Princess and downtown Decatur have become a hub for entertainment, due in part to younger generations looking for authentic, rather than cookie-cutter, manufactured experiences. An example is the theatre’s monthly singer-songwriter series. During the event, the audience is up-close and personal with the artist where music is the focus while the musician tells their story. “The veil between the singer and the audience is torn,” Thornton says. The Princess is an economic boom for downtown Decatur due to the singer-songwriter series and other live shows held at the theatre. Those from out of town often stay at nearby hotels when attending concerts featuring nationally touring acts, such as when recording artists Drive-by Truckers and Larkin Poe performed earlier this year. Sometimes the performers mingle with guests after a show at downtown restaurants. “There is a huge spirit of conviviality between cast, crew, and patrons,” says Carol Puckett of the Bank Street Players, who regularly perform at the Princess. “Getting the Princess returned to the central heartbeat of the Second Avenue commercial district has had a ripple effect in all the nearby businesses.” With help from local college students, Decatur will be getting additional exposure with a live-recorded podcast from the Princess, promoting artists performing that week at the theatre, the Alabama Center for the Arts and elsewhere in the area – along with news from the ConvenLarkin Poe rocked a full house at the Princess Theatre this past summer. PHOTO BY JEAN FRANK

Alabama Living

Original costume worn by a child who tap danced between shows at the Princess Theatre in the 20s. PHOTO COURTESY OF THE PRINCESS THEATRE

tion and Visitors Bureau. “We want to talk about collaboration and cooperation, not competition,” Thornton says. Another way the Princess is involved in the community is through various arts education workshops for different age groups. Thornton is especially delighted when younger students create and showcase a performance before an audience through teamwork. “Having the children step into the spotlight for the first time and having people clap for them is an amazing experience,” Thornton says. Throughout its long history, the Princess has brought the community together through the power of performing arts. Many who grew up in Decatur have fond memories of the theatre, from a first kiss to riding bikes down to the theatre as a child to catch a film. “The Princess captures the essence of the old and new,” Thornton says. “It’s a testament to history, a catalyst for change and a meeting space in between.” The Princess has several special fundraising events upcoming to commemorate its 100th anniversary. For more information about the Princess Theatre, or to get tickets for events, visit princesstheatre. org. DECEMBER 2019  19

The city of

Enterprise continues to persevere By Emmett Burnett


n the heart of downtown, a majestic maiden lifts a prize overhead. Outstretched hands hold a big, black bug. It is the world’s only tribute to an insect pest, in a city just as unique – Enterprise, Ala. The Boll Weevil Monument turns 100 on Dec. 11, 2019. In town, Beetle-mania is everywhere and rightly so. For in Coffee County’s largest city, Anthonomus grandis is not a creepy-crawly. It is the bug of benevolence. The statue symbolizes gratitude to a 6-legged foe turned friend. In the late 1800s boll weevils marched from Mexico, destination Alabama. Cotton was its all-you-can-eat buffet, and the swarm was unstoppable. Farmers grimly waited their turns – except in Enterprise. “But initially, growers did not embrace change,” notes Douglas Bradley, president of the Pea River Historical and Genealogical Society. “With cotton’s boll weevil invasion, we had two choices: diversify crops or cease farming.” In 1913 after witnessing the demise of Texas cotton fields, Coffee County agent John Pittman assumed the role of Paul Revere, warning Enterprise, “The boll weevils are coming! Change your ways!” Meanwhile, local businessman H.M. Sessions explored agriculture outside Alabama and returned with the promise of peanuts. Cotton farmers eventually took heed, planting alternative crops, including peanuts, just in time. By 1915, boll weevils had devoured the region, eating 60 percent of cotton production. But by 1917 Coffee County produced more peanuts than any other county in the U.S. In appreciation of the creature that made it happen, on Dec. 11, 1919, the Boll Weevil Monument was unveiled in tribute. “There is a positive message in that statue,” says Enterprise’s director of tourism, Tammy Doerer, pointing at the display standing 13 ½ feet above street level. “It illustrates how open minds willing to cooperate with new ideas accomplished great things.” The spirit continues. 20 DECEMBER 2019

‘Small’ ideas

Enterprise has the world’s smallest St. Patrick’s Day Parade – one person. “I loved it,” says grand marshal and solitary entry, Sean Roehler. “People lined up to watch.” The parade starts at the town courthouse and loops around the Boll Weevil Monument and back. “Including stops for photographs and handshakes, takes about 15 minutes,” recalls Roehler. “Absolutely I would do it again, except I want others to participate and enjoy as much as I did.” Erin Grantham, president of the Enterprise Chamber of Commerce explains, “Our city encompasses lots of small things. We have a small pest, the smallest parade, and a very small race.” She refers to the city’s Half-K Run, covering about 547 yards. “Our last .5 event had about 400 participants,” Grantham says. “There were conventional racers along with moms pushing baby strollers, people in wheelchairs, and people of all ages.” St. Patrick’s Day Parade participant Roehler ran the race too – donned in his Irish kilt. Mayor William “Bill” Cooper notes, “Enterprise is different from other cities because of our military base proximity. We have Ft. Rucker (U.S. Army) personnel with roots from all over America in town. Such a diverse mix demands diverse services and we give it to them.” Here’s something insiders know and the rest of us should: Enterprise has professional quality theater and wonderfully seasoned food. Southern Broadway, a dinner theater, combines both. The repurposed 1902 former drugstore and barber shop runs sold-out performances. “We seat 80,” says co-owner and set designer Susan Gilmore, preparing sets for the next performance of “The Depot.” “Everybody does everything, we even cook the food onsite.” Plays are also homegrown, written by co-owner Lydia Dillingham. According to patrons, Southern Broadway is comparable to that other Broadway, up north somewhere.

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Other adventures in art are available at the Performing Arts Center, for plays, ballets, musicals and more. Enterprise’s eateries border on artistic too. The Rawls Restaurant is a Main Street must. The former opulent hotel now housing the eatery and bar was built in 1902. Chef Bill Schleusner and wife Daphne came onboard 107 years later. It’s about time. The Rawls’ offerings are abundant and include sautéed grouper, listed in the state Tourism Department’s “100 Dishes to Eat in Alabama.” Or request a signature drink – “The Evil Weevil” - a bourbon-based mixture topped with floating happy local peanuts. “Our restaurant is a continuation of this fine old building,” Chef Schleusner says. “We are honored to be its next torch bearers for those to enjoy good food.” Many local restaurants obtain produce where everybody else does – the farmers’ market. Forty-plus vendors offering fresh fruits, vegetables, and crafts are available three mornings a week all year. “We can’t really track our attendance numbers,” market director Kay Kirkland notes. “But a thousand or more is not uncommon during special events.”

Clockwise from top, Enterprise Mayor William “Bill” Cooper; Rawls restaurant coowners Daphne and Chef Bill Schleusner; Enterprise High School’s Memorial is in memory of 8 students and one nearby resident who died from the deadly tornado on March 1, 2007. Each pillar includes the students’ image and memories – including “band member,” “cheerleader” and others; The Rawls Restaurant building dates to 1902. PHOTOS BY EMMETT BURNETT

Remembering history

In the early 1900s the Enterprise Train Depot was here. Today it is a museum. “This puts history in perspective,” says Diane Napoli, Depot Museum director, as we walk across original 1902 wooden floor planks. “It’s a quiet remembrance of where Enterprise has been.” Across town is another quiet remembrance. A memorial stands on a school campus. It pays tribute to 8 students and a nearby resident who died March 1, 2007 when a 170 mph tornado stuck Enterprise High School. Pillars of brick, each with a heartbreaking image of a teenage victim, are permanent reminders of that tragic day. The inscription reads in part: “The loss of 9 precious lives left an endearing mark on our community and on our hearts.” The town vowed to never forget the victims lost as it persevered in the aftermath. Enterprise has always survived adversity, hardship, and sorrow. The tornado memorial quotes Adlai Stevenson, “It’s not the years in your life but the life in your years that counts.” Perhaps the words also exemplify the city that defied adversity and prospered. For Enterprise is strong. Boll Weevil strong. 22  DECEMBER 2019

Alabama Living

DECEMBER 2019  23

| Alabama People |

Jack Hawkins

Man of Troy Dr. Jack Hawkins celebrated 30 years as chancellor of Troy University this year, making him the longest serving university president in the country. The Mobile native earned degrees at the University of Montevallo, served with the Marines in the Vietnam War, was an assistant dean at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and president of the Alabama Institute for the Deaf and Blind before joining Troy in 1989. In those 30 years, Troy changed its name, moved to NCAA Division 1-A athletics and invested $400 million in new and modernized facilities. Hawkins took some time recently to talk to us about his tenure there. – Lenore Vickrey The average tenure of a college president is about 6.5 years. What’s your secret? I tell students I don’t want them to have a job after they graduate from Troy, which really gets their attention. Then I tell them I want them to have a cause that becomes their commitment and that becomes their career. My advice to them is based on personal experience, as my commitment to Troy University became my career. My secret is simple: After falling in love with this University, Janice and I couldn’t picture ourselves doing anything else. What’s been your proudest moment in those 30 years? Personally, my proudest moments were seeing my daughters Katie and Kelly receive their Troy diplomas. However, if I had to choose one professional moment, it would have to be Friday, December 7, 2007, when the Alabama Commission on Higher Education granted approval for Troy University to offer its first doctoral degree, the doctorate in nursing practice. We have added two Ph.D. programs since then. Thanks to your leadership, Troy is now known as Alabama’s International University. Why is that important? From the start of this journey internationalization was a major part of our vision. In the inaugural address in 1990, I shared my belief that by 2000 our university would no longer be regional in nature. It would become international in outreach. A key component of this educational experience is interaction with classmates from other nations. If you understand people unlike yourself – people from other cultures, speaking different languages – then you can develop an appreciation for those people on a personal level. At that point, true and lasting relationships can develop. In 1990 we enrolled only 40 international students. Today our students come from 80 nations. Further, this past year we sent more than 50 study-abroad delegations to 34 countries.

In 2008, Troy was the first U.S. university to award a college degree in Vietnam. Having served as a platoon leader in the Vietnam War, that must have been an emotional trip for you. When I left Vietnam in 1969 I never envisioned I would return. Returning to Vietnam in 2002 was a profound personal experience. My earlier time in-country had a major impact on my life, so you can imagine re-entering the country brought back a wave of memories and emotions. However, apart from the personal aspect, I knew that establishing degree programs in Vietnam was the right thing for Troy to do. In 2002 we established teaching programs in Hanoi and in Ho Chi Minh City. The Vietnamese people covet a degree from a U.S. university, and teaching overseas has been a hallmark of Troy. On Feb. 28, 2008 Troy University became the first American university to award the bachelor’s degree in Vietnam. Today, I am proud we have more than 1,000 alumni working and leading in Vietnam. Do you have a favorite spot on campus? Yes. The Janice Hawkins Cultural Arts Park is a beautiful and contemplative spot. Janice has done so much for Troy University besides being a gracious first lady. She has made major contributions to the beauty of the campus. She was instrumental in creating our Troy for Troops program, which serves our military and veteran students. Her commitment to the fine arts led to the transformation of an old dining hall into a beautiful arts center. And, she has been an advocate for studyabroad programs. Plus, she does so much behind the scenes that is invaluable to Troy. At age 74, you could have retired years ago, yet you recently signed a new fouryear contract. What are your goals for those years? We are working on the creation of a new Center for Materials and Manufacturing Services, which will conduct research in polymer science. We are working closely with KW Plastics in Troy, the largest plastics recycler in the world, in this area. We also want to work to increase the employability potential for every graduate by requiring an internship in every discipline. Continued internationalization is important. I want to see every Troy student have a studyabroad experience, and we award every student who studies outside of the U.S. a $1,000 scholarship to defray expenses. I would like to see a health sciences and technology facility to house nursing and allied health programs, as well as our School of Science and Technology. These are and have been exciting times…but for Troy University, the best is yet to be! be! PHOTO BY MARK MOSELEY, TROY UNIVERSITY

24 DECEMBER 2019

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DECEMBER 2019  25

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December crossword Our December crossword puzzle will put you in the Christmas spirit! So make a cup of hot cocoa, put your feet up and your glasses on, and enjoy! Let us know what you think at Answers on Page 45. Across 1 Famous present giver 4 One of the Christmas reindeer 8 Tomato Pie and Pork on Greens and Grits, for example 9 Was compassionate 11 __ and behold! 12 Alabama neighbor, abbr. 13 Color of Santa’s suit 15 “Jingle ___” song 19 He guided the sleigh 21 Scrooge’s outburst, “___ humbug” 25 Yellowfin tuna 26 Tea variety 27 Santa’s helpers 31 Harry Potter, for one 33 Alabama river 37 Crimson Tide or Tigers for example 38 She’s lazy in the kitchen? 39 Noted Snowman

28  DECEMBER 2019

Down 1 Present transport 2 Cashews or almonds 3 Had some turkey 4 Upscale 5 Rainbow shape 6 Joyful song 7 Went on horseback, e.g. 10 Whole shebang 14 Call forth 16 Popular TV drama 17 Aquatic rodents common in Alabama 18 Santa comes down it 20 Apple or pecan 21 Leadoff batter’s success, 2 words 22 Expression of relief 23 Cumin and cardamom 24 Traveling vehicle, for short 28 Zodiac sign 29 And so on 30 Breakfast meat 32 Wide shoe fitting 34 Tax that led to the party in Boston 35 Light brown colored 36 Sale abbreviation

| Around Alabama ten live scenes celebrating the time before, during and after the birth of Christ. 251-714-0513.


Troy, Ole Time Christmas at the Pioneer Museum of Alabama, 6 to 8 p.m. Colorful decorations, holiday treats, storytelling, ornament making, Christmas music, Santa and Mrs. Claus and more. Adults $10; seniors $9; students $8; members and children 5 and under free. 334-5663597 or


The three-year Alabama Bicentennial celebration ends this month. (contributed photo)


month Mobile, Magic Christmas in Lights at Bellingrath Gardens and Home. The dazzling nighttime display features more than 1,100 set pieces, 3 million lights and 15 scenes, set in a walking tour throughout the 65-acre estate. 251-459-8973 or .

with the play at 7:30 p.m.; Sunday is a matinee only at 2:30 p.m. Play is $15, dinner is $15. 334-738-8687 or


Montgomery, Governor ’s Mansion holiday candlelight tours, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. These self-guided tours are free, but tickets are required and available at the Governor’s Mansion gift shop across the street. 334-834-3022.

Montgomery, 49th Annual Montgomery Gem, Mineral and Jewelry Show. Garrett Coliseum, 1555 Federal Drive. 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. Beads, crystals, geodes, gemstones, tools, mineral and fossil specimens and more. Adults $2 or $3 for weekend pass; 18 and under free with student ID and one paid adult ticket.



2, 9, 16

Fairhope, Alabama Sustainable Agriculture Network (ASAN) 2019 Food and Farm Forum and Youth Food and Farm Forum. This statewide, grassroots network of farmers, gardeners, community leaders and good food advocates convene to swap stories, ideas and wisdom to help build a more robust local food system in Alabama. Camp Beckwith, 10400 Beckwith Lane. forum19 or call 256-743-0742.


Union Springs, “A Doublewide, TX, Christmas,” Red Door Theatre, located at Prairie Street and U.S. 82. In this comedy, it’s Christmastime in the newest – and tiniest – town in Texas, and it’s beginning to look a lot like trouble in Doublewide. Thursday through Saturday, dinner is 6 to 7 p.m.

Bridgeport, Citizens United for a Better Bridgeport (CUBB) Christmas Parade begins at 11:30 a.m. in the downtown area. The theme is “America the Beautiful.”


Millbrook, Christmas Market on the Village Green, 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. at Village Green Park. Spirit of Christmas Parade begins at 2 p.m. (rain date is Dec. 8) at the Smokehouse on Main Street. Arts and crafts, food vendors and entertainment from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. 334-285-7231 or search MillbrookSpirit on Facebook.


Cullman, Christmas Tour of Homes presented by the Share Club of Cullman, 1 to 5 p.m. Tickets are $20 each; proceeds will go to Good Samaritan Clinic, Hospice of Cullman and Cullman Caring for Kids.


Dothan, Victorian Christmas at Landmark Park, 1 to 4 p.m. Annual open house with hot chocolate, apple cider, Christmas music, a church service by a circuit riding preacher, wagon rides, crafts and a visit with Santa. Visitors encouraged to bring nonperishable food items to donate to the food bank.


Tuscumbia, Plantation Christmas at Belle Mont, 1 to 5 p.m. Traditional live decorations, period Christmas music, vintage ballroom dancing and refreshments. Costumed docents will be in place throughout the mansion, built circa 1828, to explain its history. $6 adults, $3 ages 6-12, 5 and under free. 256-381-5052 or visit


Opelika, Victorian Front Porch Christmas Tour. Sixty homes in the town’s historic district are decorated with life-size Santas, angels, toys, carousel horses and Christmasthemed figures. Self-directed driving tour, but on Saturday evening, North 8th and 9th streets are closed to traffic so visitors can enjoy the homes up close and listen to carolers and characters in Victorian attire. OpelikaVictorianFrontPorchTour. com.


Frisco City, 10th annual live Nativity from 6 to 8 p.m., 200 School St. Free hayride, or drive yourself through

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

Montgomery, Bicentennial culmination. The grand finale of Alabama’s three-year bicentennial celebration is a free, daylong event that begins at 10 a.m. with a parade from Court Square Fountain. At noon, Gov. Kay Ivey will lead ceremonies that include the unveiling of Alabama Bicentennial Park on the State Capitol steps. The familyfriendly Bicentennial Festival begins at 1 p.m. with historical re-enactors, arts and crafts, games, performances (including talks, readings and dance), tours and open houses and special exhibits. And at 4 p.m. the concert and light show will feature popular musicians from Alabama. 334-2424537 or visit


Bay Minette, 37th annual Christmas Festival, Courthouse Square in downtown. Vendors, food, Santa photos, Christmas parade, ping pong prize drop, live music, children’s activities, entertainment and more.


Decatur, Historic Decatur Christmas Tour, 3 to 8 p.m. Homes in the Old Decatur and Albany Historic districts are open for public tours. Westminster Presbyterian Church, the tour headquarters, will have refreshments for ticket holders, a holiday market and handbells concert. DecaturChristmasTour. com.


Wetumpka, Christmas on the Coosa, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Food, arts and crafts all day; car show until 1 p.m.; street parade at 2 p.m.; wakeboarding Santa show at 4 p.m.; and fireworks at 6 p.m. 334567-5147.

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DECEMBER 2019 29


| Worth the drive |

Family recipes

bring a taste of Italy to Athens By Lenore Vickrey


or nearly 13 years, Dan Oliver had enjoyed success owning and operating a popular Italian restaurant in Huntsville. So when property became available in downtown Athens, a town about 35 miles away, he decided it was time to branch out and open a second location of Terranova’s. “Athens is a wonderful, growing, caring community,” he says, “and they did not have an Italian restaurant, so when the situation presented itself, we were all in!” Terranova’s, located right on the city square, has been a hit with locals and visitors since it opened in June 2018. The most popular entrees are Italian specialties Chicken Marsala, Pasta Portofino (bowtie pasta sautéed in creamy sauce with smoked bacon, mushrooms and scallions), and Terranova’s Trio (Chicken Parmesan, lasagna and Fettuccine Alfredo), but the ribeye bistecca (a 12-ounce ribeye steak seasoned with Italian marinade) and grilled salmon have their fans as well. “All of the recipes, except for one, are my recipes,” says Oliver, who describes himself as the “chief cook and bottle washer.” “Believe me, I had a lot of ones that didn’t pan out, but the good ones stuck and are still kicking.” Not hungry enough for a full entrée? Terranova’s appetizers, soups or salads could fill you up. The corn-crab soup, full of sweet, sautéed corn, onions, peppers and blue crab claw meat is a house original. Fried green tomatoes are given an Italian twist with a bechamel sauce, mozzarella, and baked with a sweet red pepper and basil topping. Got room for dessert? There’s Italian cream pie, tiramisu, crème brulee and of course, cannoli.

Terranova’s Italian Restaurant 105 Jefferson St., Athens, AL 35611 256-800-8016 or 256-800-8061 Hours: 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday; closed Monday; 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday; 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday; 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday 30 DECEMBER 2019


Terranova’s building was built in the early 1900s to store cotton, Oliver was told, and was later used as a bowling alley after its cotton days were over. Oliver has decorated the exposed brick walls with a variety of architectural elements, from 1840s antique doors originally from Alexandria, Egypt, to an old wooden church register board and Italian directional road signs. Walk through the front side door into U.G. White Mercantile, an eclectic general store that’s been in business since 1917, when Athens was a hub for the cotton and railroad industries in Limestone County. Check out the homemade chocolate candy counter, get a U.G. White soft T-shirt, and take home a bar of homemade soap, a funky kitchen towel or jar of homemade pickles or fruit preserves. Why the name Terranova’s? Oliver borrowed it from one of his favorite TV shows. “It came from a TV series in the late 1980s called ‘Wiseguy,’” says Oliver. “It was a show that every episode built on the previous show. The lead actor was named Vinny Terranova, and he worked undercover for the OCB, the Organized Crime Bureau, and he would filter into organized crime families, gather info on the people and then finally at the end of the season, he would bring them all down and arrest them all. It was a truly awesome program with famous actors who are still acting (today).” Terranova’s is open every day but Mondays, for lunch on Sundays, and on weekend evenings, diners get a special treat. Local self-taught accordion player Brody Wilhelm, 15, entertains patrons with folk music and American classics. Brody, who’s been entertaining patrons since June, also plays xylophone in the James Clemens High School Marching Band in nearby Madison. “Brody is a pleasant, gifted and kind young man and his talents in music complement those characteristics,” says Oliver. “I believe it is a reflection of his wonderful, loving family.” Just one of the many reasons Terranova’s is worth the drive.

Ashton Parker is ready to serve canneloni, a popular pasta dish.

Spaghetti with meat sauce.

Terranova’s building dates to the early 1900s.

Alabama Living

DECEMBER 2019  31

| Gardens |

Make soil the first crop to grow in 2020 T

his can be a tough month for gardeners who want to be outside digging in the dirt but know it’s too early in the season to grow much of anything. Luckily, there is something that can — and should — be grown right now and for months and years to come: soil. Can soil be grown? Definitely, because soil is a living entity that can be generated and regenerated. Should we grow soil? Absolutely, because we need soil, and it needs us. But why should we care so much about dirty old dirt? Because we’re not talking about dirt — we’re talking about a complex, interconnected natural resource that is critical to our existence. Soil, which forms the crust of our planet, exists in layers (or horizons), each of which provides its own unique ecosystem functions. The uppermost layer (topsoil) is the soil we want to grow because it is teeming with life. In that layer is an amalgamation of minerals, gasses, liquids, organic matter and living creatures (micro-organisms, worms, insects and small mammals) that work together to create and sustain one another and other life on Earth. Dirt, on the other hand (or foot), is the residue of mineral components in soil, which are not teeming with life. In other words, by itself, dirt is dead. Add the other ingredients, though, and you have soil, which is very much alive. Topsoil provides essential life-supporting services. For example, soil sustains plant growth, from which we, directly or indirectly, get our food. Soil also provides Katie Jackson is a freelance writer and editor based in Opelika, Alabama. Contact her at

32 DECEMBER 2019

habitat for other creatures that play their own parts in the food chain and in ecological balance. In addition, soil has engineering functions that clean, capture and store water and clean our air and atmosphere. Though humankind has long appreciated the importance of soil and tried to protect it from erosion and degradation, more than half of the world’s topsoil has been lost during the past 150 years, and we continue to lose it at a rate of 36 billion tons per year globally. Just as we lose it, we need it even more to feed growing world populations but also to mitigate climate change. That’s because well-managed, healthy soils can capture (sequester) carbon and decrease greenhouse gas emissions, which are driving the rapid advance of climate change. Conversely, poorly managed and depleted soils release carbon into the atmosphere (as carbon dioxide, or CO2), which contributes to climate change. So, yes, we should grow soil, and we can do that in our very own yards and gardens. Here are a few simple ways to get started. • Keep soil covered, either with plants or mulches, to stop erosion and start building soil quality. • Disturb the least amount of soil possible by using minimum- or no-till practices and by planting perennials, including fruits and vegetables, rather than annuals, whenever possible. • Increase biodiversity by planting native species, rotating annual species and breaking up large areas of monocultured crops (including lawns). • Minimize soil compaction by reducing foot and vehicular traffic wherever possible and avoiding working soil when it’s wet.

• Build soil and improve soil quality by amending soil with organic matter (compost, for example) and planting legumes and other soil-building plants. • Test soil to determine its nutritional profile and needs, especially before adding fertilizers. These are just a few ideas on growing soil, an undertaking supported by a diverse array of organizations ranging from the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization, USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, the Environmental Protection Agency to the Union of Concerned Scientists, Green America and Kiss the Ground. To learn more, contact any (or all) of the organizations above, or search the Web using keywords such as “garden soil restoration,” “regenerative farming” and “green gardening.” Before long, you’ll be well on your way to growing soil, the most important crop for you and for the planet.

DECEMBER TIPS  Prune small limbs and suckers from

trees and shrubs but avoid heavy pruning until winter.  Clean fallen limbs, dead fruit and emerging weeds from garden beds, orchards and landscape areas.  Add mulch (1-2 inches deep) around tender plants and newly planted shrubs, trees and vines.  Plant shrubs, trees, spring-flowering bulbs and flowers.  Get a soil test and apply recommended soil amendments.  Clean and store garden tools and equipment.  Review garden notes and new seed and plant catalogues.

Alabama Living

DECEMBER 2019  33

| labama Recipes |

Twist Tradition on


Seafood Gumbo

Is your regular holiday menu getting a little stale? You can always freshen up a tradition without forgetting the meaning behind it.

34 DECEMBER 2019


e throw around the word tradition a lot, and usually use it in a favorable light. That’s with good reason: It’s good to have customs and to remember old ways. It connects us to our history – both our collective and our personal pasts. Some wider traditions reinforce cultural ties; others are just for us and keep family bonds strong. Basically, at their best, traditions ensure good things keep going. But ritual can become routine, and in so doing, dull the very meaning that makes a tradition important. When we’re only going through the motions, the significance of the tradition may be lost. And at its worst, a tradition can hold us back, stop us from branching out and trying something new or from seeing something in a new way. If you only and always eat that one menu at every annual holiday meal, what else are you missing out on? What (or who, even) are you leaving out? These questions aren’t meant to suggest you should

forgo your traditions all together, stop making or quit eating your traditional holiday recipes. But consider adding one or two new dishes and giving the favorites a little twist or two. Shaking up a tradition doesn’t mean getting rid of it. It’s just breathing fresh life into it. Finding ways that traditions can be flexible, allowing them to evolve as we evolve, is the best way to keep a tradition going. And for traditions that really matter, the significance is in the spirit, not the specifics. When it comes to holiday meals, it’s more about togetherness than what’s on the table. With these ideas in mind, we invite you to think beyond the borders of your traditional feast (beloved though it may be) and try one of the “non-traditional” holiday recipes we got from readers this month. And in strictly keeping with the tradition of good ole Southern hospitality, we wish you and yours a very merry and bright holiday season (no matter what you’re eating).

Cook of the Month

Pamela Donahoe, Joe Wheeler EMC A few years ago, a terrible car accident left Pamela Donahoe with a brain injury. As part of her recovery, she began cooking more often. She was relearning how to speak, how to read and how to do math. “I started really basic, leaning on recipes that were favorites and that were familiar,” she said. One dish that checked both boxes is her Old Fashioned Chayote Casserole. “I learned to make it when I lived in Louisiana, and I love it because the chayote has a great texture but doesn’t have a strong flavor, so it is a fun veggie to play around with,” she said. “This casserole is a great way to use it, and you can add all kinds of things to it if you like. It’s really versatile.” She wanted to share the recipe since it’s not a common holiday dish in Alabama, and because it has such special meaning to her. “I thought people who’ve never had chayote would enjoy it,” she said. “And I just love the part it played in my recovery, and now that I’m doing so much better, I wanted to share it for that reason too.”

Old Fashioned Chayote Casserole Meat mixture: 6 chayote squash (aka: mirliton) 1 tablespoon butter 1 pound spicy Italian sausage 1 yellow onion, diced 1 tablespoon minced garlic Salt and pepper, to taste Tony Chachere's Creole seasoning to taste Binder: 2 eggs 1 cup milk Salt and pepper, to taste Tony Chachere's Creole seasoning (may substitute Tabasco and cayenne pepper, to taste) Topping: 2 cups seasoned breadcrumbs 3 tablespoons butter Lowry's Seasoned Salt, to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Boil chayote (skin on) in enough water to cover them for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until fork tender. Drain and let cool. Do not blanch. Peel the skin. Cut in half lengthwise and remove the seed. Cut into ¼-inch dices. Discard any excess liquid. Sauté Italian sausage in 1 tablespoon butter until browned. Add onions and sauté until transparent. Add garlic, salt, pepper and Tony's to taste; stir and add chayote. Grease a 9x13-inch pan. Add mixture, gently pressing. Mix eggs, milk and seasonings. Pour over casserole. Lightly toast breadcrumbs in remaining butter for 1-2 minutes, being sure to incorporate butter into breadcrumbs. Pour breadcrumb mixture over casserole, lightly pressing. Lightly season entire surface of casserole with Lowry's Seasoned Salt. Cover with foil. Bake 1 hour. Remove foil and bake an additional 30 minutes or until top is golden brown.

(Ed. note: Be advised that for some persons, peeling raw chayote can cause skin irritation and some numbness in hands and fingers. You may want to peel them under cold running water or use gloves when handling.)

Alabama Living

DECEMBER 2019  35

Christmas Morning Crockpot Rotel Grits -2 pounds Velveeta cheese 1 1 can Rotel tomatoes 1 stick butter 1 pound Conecuh sausage 2 cups Jim Dandy quick-cooking grits 8½ cups water Salt, to taste

Seafood Gumbo

Stuffed Beef Tenderloin

4 2 2 2 2 3 3 1 2 2 1

1/4 pound beef tenderloin 3 6 ounces spinach 4 slices bacon, finely chopped 1 cup mushrooms, finely chopped 1/2 onion, finely chopped 1 cup provolone cheese, shredded 1 cup red wine (recommended: Pinot Noir) 1 cup beef stock 1 stick butter 2 tablespoons olive oil 1 tablespoon garlic Salt and pepper, to taste

slices bacon, cut into small pieces tablespoons all-purpose flour medium onions, diced medium cube steaks 15-ounce cans tomatoes cloves garlic, diced small boxes frozen okra pound shrimp, shelled and deveined cups crab meat (fresh is best) sea trout or other mild fish package crab boil Salt, pepper, red pepper, and oregano to taste

Make Roux: Lightly oil a Dutch oven. Fry bacon until crispy. Remove bacon and reserve grease. (Bacon may be added back to finished gumbo) Add the flour and cook on low heat, stirring often, until roux is dark in color (the color of an old penny), but not burned. The secret to a good gumbo is in the roux. Add onions, cube steaks, tomatoes and garlic. Cook until cube steak falls apart and tomatoes are cooked down, about an hour. Add 2 cups water and okra. Bring back to a simmer. Add seafood, crab boil and seasonings. Cook slowly until flavors are blended and seafood is done. Kathy Skinner Tallapoosa River EC

Heat a large skillet on medium heat. Add olive oil and bacon, cook for 2 minutes. Add onion and mushrooms and cook 5 minutes. Increase the heat to high heat and add butter, garlic, beef stock, red wine, salt, pepper and spinach, and cook until spinach wilts. Using a sharp knife, slice beef tenderloin down the middle but not all the way through. Open up the tenderloin, cover with wax paper and pound it with a mallet until about ½- inch thick. Spread the mushroom onion mixture evenly over the beef and sprinkle the provolone cheese. Take one end and roll the beef, securing it with kitchen twine. Pour the liquid from the skillet into a casserole baking dish and place the rolled tenderloin in the center of the baking dish. Bake for 45 minutes on 450 degrees until the internal temperature of the beef is 125 degrees. Remove twine and cut across the grain to serve.

Cube Velveeta and place in Crockpot along with Rotel and butter. Turn heat on high. Cook Conecuh sausage and slice into bite-size pieces and add to the Crockpot. Cook grits according to package directions. Add cooked grits to Crockpot and simmer. Amy Miller Clarke-Washington EMC

Cheesy Chili Baked Potato Casserole 4 baking potatoes 16 ounces cheddar cheese 15 ounces canned chili 2 sticks butter 1 cup sour cream 1 cup Fritos corn chips 1/2 cup jalapeños, chopped Olive oil Salt and Pepper Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place the 4 baking potatoes in a casserole dish and cover each potato with olive oil. Poke each potato with a knife and bake for 1 hour. When potatoes are soft cut each potato down the middle and open it. Cube the 2 sticks of butter and spread evenly over the potatoes. Layer 8 ounces of cheddar cheese, then the 8-ounce can of chili over potatoes and bake for 10 minutes. Top casserole with 8 ounces of cheddar cheese, sour cream, chopped jalapeños and crumbled Fritos corn chips. Kirk Vantrease Cullman EC

Kirk Vantrease Cullman EC

36  DECEMBER 2019

Try these twists on holiday favorites

Mac ‘n Cheese: Mince some pickled (or fresh) jalapenos and add to the cheese sauce for a kick.


Green Bean Casserole: Stir some cooked and crumbled bacon into the sauce and/or top the casserole with roasted pecans or walnuts for crunch instead of fried onions.

Roasted Veggies: Go sweet and spicy by tossing your potatoes, carrots, onions or other root veggies in a bit of oil, sriracha and brown sugar before baking.


Makes a great gift

prize and title of

the best of


Cook the Month

Themes and Deadlines: March: Peanut Butter | Dec. 13 April: Pimento Cheese | Jan. 10 May: Avocados | Feb. 7 Please send us your original recipes (developed or adapted by you or family members.) Cook of the Month winners will receive $50, and may win “Cook of the Month” only once per calendar year.

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

Cornbread Dressing: Dice up and sauté some smoked sausage (like Conecuh Sausage) and mix it in before baking. Be sure to drain off the sausage’s grease first.


Christmas orders must be received by Dec. 13.

Mail order form and payment to: COOKBOOKS Best of Alabama Living Cookbook @ $19.95 EACH: (Shipping included) P.O. Box 244014 TOTAL Montgomery, AL 36124-4014 ENCLOSED: $

Name: Address: City:



reprint recipes in our other publications.

Phone Number:

Alabama Living

DECEMBER 2019 37

| Consumer Wise |

Bright ideas for smart home lighting By Pat Keegan and Brad Thiessen


I’ve heard a lot about smart lighting for the home. What is it, and will it save energy?


It seems like every device is getting smarter these days. Since smarthome lighting is so new, many of us could use a little introduction. At its heart, smart lighting covers a range of bulbs, controls and lighting systems that are programmable through an app on a mobile device, computer or smart speaker. Smart lighting can do more than just turn on and off at the right time. Some smart lighting systems can dim at various times. Some can be connected to a sensor or motion detector so that a light goes on when a door is opened, or someone enters a room. Some smart lighting systems can change color so you can set up a holiday light show indoors or outdoors. It can also be practical, providing lighting that matches sunlight during the day and is more relaxing in the evening. You may even be able to play music directly from the bulb! In most cases, you control smart lighting through your home Wi-Fi. You can communicate to individual smart bulbs or to a hub that, in turn, controls individual bulbs. Patrick Keegan writes on consumer and cooperative affairs for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, the Arlington, Va.-based service arm of the nation’s 900-plus consumer-owned, not-for-profit electric cooperatives. Write to energytips@collaborativeefficiency. com for more information.

Many smart lighting systems can be controlled through smart speakers like the Amazon Echo shown here. PHOTO COURTESY AMAZON

38  DECEMBER 2019

In some cases, you can use Bluetooth® on your phone to control smart lighting, but you’ll need to be within range of the bulb or hub. Smart lighting can also be used outdoors, but the range of your control device could limit this approach. If the smart bulbs are the type that connect through a hub or connect directly to your Wi-Fi network, you should be able to control them via smart speakers like Google Home, Amazon Echo or Apple HomePod, and remotely through the internet or smartphone. While a hub-based system is more expensive, it allows lights to be grouped by floor or room, and also uses less bandwidth on your network than running many separate bulbs. Some hub kits also allow you to use regular bulbs instead of requiring more-expensive smart bulbs, which could save you money. Will smart lighting save energy? That depends on how you light your home and control your lighting now, and on how you would control the smart lighting you install in the future. If you use smart lighting to turn lights off when they aren’t needed, like when rooms are empty or no one’s home, or to reduce the wattage, you will save energy.

How much can you save?

How much energy can you save? Lighting accounts for about 6% of electricity use in the average home, which means your total cost for all the lighting in your home might only be $100 per year. If you have some high wattage bulbs that are on for long periods of time every day, your light-

ing use could be significantly higher than average. Investments in smart lighting are not likely to pay back as quickly as some energy efficiency measures that control heating or air conditioning. Smart bulbs are more expensive than typical LED bulbs, ranging from $15 to $80, and a hub can cost of up to $125, so it could take a long time to make your money back. Chances are, you’re better off investing in smart lighting for the features than the energy savings. One alternative to smart lighting is smart wall outlets or wall switches. For example, you can plug a lamp with a standard bulb into a smart wall outlet, or you can have several lights wired to one smart switch. The downside to smart switches and outlets is that installation could be more challenging, and you may not have as many options and features that come with smart lighting. Another strategy for smart lighting that has been around for a long time and is reasonably priced is to use occupancy sensors, motion sensors or timers as control devices. The wide number of options and costs makes it difficult to select the best smart lighting for your situation. We suggest you do the research to make sure it’s worth your time and money to make the change. This column was co-written by Pat Keegan and Brad Thiessen of Collaborative Efficiency. For more information on smart lighting, please visit:

Wall-mounted smart tile lights, like the ones from Lifx shown here, can add mood lighting to your room. PHOTO


Smart lighting systems that run through a hub, like the Philips Hue shown here, can control all the lighting inside and outside your home. PHOTO COURTESY PHILIPS

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Alabama Living

DECEMBER 2019 39

| Outdoors |

Rabbit hunting makes for challenging fun


age. When they grow up, those hunters teach new generations. ome distance away, dogs erupted in excited howling as they On this frosty morning, my son Daniel and I joined James and jumped another cottontail. Tensing with anticipation and an his dad, Jim Sealy, Roy Shofner and Steve Byrd. I envisioned an adrenaline rush as the frantic ruckus rumbled closer to my easy hunt where dogs did all the work pushing rabbits out of dense position, I anticipated a quick shot. Surely, the rabbit would zip cover while I picked my shots. Instead, I spent most of my day right past me. chasing the dogs and trying to guess where a rabbit would burst Instead, it quietly slipped through high grass about 40 yards from cover. I never fired a shot, although other more, experienced behind me and disappeared into tall brush. With every carnivore rabbit hunters in our party did bag some bunnies. wanting a rabbit meal and little defense except speed and stealth, “Many times, people make the mistake of listening to the dogs cottontails know how to miraculously disappear into the most impenetrable briar patches, thickets, log piles and anything else that and trying to spot the rabbit right in front of the dogs, but the might conceal them from predators. rabbit will be way out in front of them,” says Larry Meeks, a rabbit hunter from Huntsville. “When rabbit hunters hear the dogs “A rabbit is hunted day and night from all kinds of predators heading toward them, they don’t really need to hide, but they need on land and from the air,” says James Sealy Jr. of Citronelle. “They to stop, keep quiet and are constantly trying to start looking for the rabavoid predators much bit. Hunters must keep more skilled than human alert. Rabbits are pretty hunters. They can see a sneaky.” person and disappear While most rabbit without that person ever hunters use dogs, sportsknowing it. Hunting rabbits with beagles is not men can sometimes bag as simple as one might one without canine help. think, but it’s a lot of fun.” Occasionally, a squirrel Because rabbits thrive or bird hunter jumps a in entangling cover, most cottontail. Some hunthunters turn to dogs for ers take turns smashing help. Trained beagles through thickets, kicking grass clumps or fallen can enter the roughest logs as their companthickets to flush rabbits. ions watch for anything However, dogs sniffing to bolt from the edges. out rabbits does not necessarily guarantee a shot. A pair of canvas pants Everyone who follows or leather chaps comes beagles loves shooting, Charles Koger watches his beagles to see if they pick up a rabbit scent during a hunt in handy when busting but most sportsmen take near Bay Minette, Ala. Many hunters use beagles to hunt rabbits because the small through thorny thickets. to the fields and forests dogs can go into the thickest cover where rabbits like to hide. For a really challenging hunt, carry a .22 rifle for fun and camaraderie. PHOTO BY JOHN N. FELSHER and walk along the edge Rather than sitting quiet, of a field, powerline or other opening at first or last light. A fresh still and alone in a tree all day, rabbit hunters spread out, talk and clear-cut or recently burned forest makes a great place to look for socialize while listening to the dogs howl. rabbits in low light. Rabbits frequently leave their protective cover “Rabbit hunting is a very social sport,” Sealy says. “Most rabbit to feed on tender new shoots at dawn or dusk. Some deer hunters hunters enjoy the company. They’ll take a person out and show sit in their stands overlooking food plots with scoped rifles waiting that person a good time. We get in competition with other hunters to pick off rabbits as they emerge from cover to feed. and tease each other, but it’s all in good fun. The camaraderie is Practically any wildlife management area in Alabama with what I enjoy most about hunting rabbits – that and hearing my thickets, fields, brush or similar habitat should hold rabbits. Some dogs!” better WMAs include Barbour near Clayton, Blue Spring near AnThe sport of chasing rabbits with beagles dates back hundreds of dalusia, Choccolocco near Heflin, Freedom Hills near Cherokee, years. European colonists brought the tradition to North America Geneva State Forest near Florala, Lowndes near White Hall, Mulcenturies ago. Most people probably began hunting rabbits by following their fathers, grandfathers or other relatives at a very young berry Fork near Tutwiler, Oakmulgee near Tuscaloosa, Perdido River near Gateswood and James D. Martin-Skyline near Scottsboro. John N. Felsher lives in Semmes, Ala. Contact him Rabbit season runs through March 8, 2020, with a daily limit of through Facebook. eight per person per day. Season dates and other regulations might differ on some public lands. 40  DECEMBER 2019


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We Th Fr Sa Su Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa Su Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa Su Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa Su Mo Tu We Th Fr

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3:30 - 5:30 4:18 - 6:18 5:06 - 7:06 5:54 - 7:54 6:42 - 8:42 7:30 - 9:30 8:18 - 10:18 9:06 - 11:06 10:42 - 12:42 11:30 - 1:30 NA 1:06 - 3:06 1:54 - 3:54 2:42 - 4:42

3:54 - 5:54 4:42 - 6:42 5:30 - 7:30 6:18 - 8:18 7:06 - 9:06 7:54 - 9:54 8:42 - 10:42 9:30 - 11:30 11:06 - 1:06 11:54 - 1:54 12:42 - 2:42 1:30 - 3:30 2:18 - 4:18 3:06 - 5:06

9:57 - 11:27 10:45 - 12:15 11:33 - 1:03 NA 1:09 - 2:39 1:57 - 3:27 2:45 - 4:15 3:33 - 5:03 5:09 - 6:39 5:57 - 7:27 6:45 - 8:15 7:33 - 9:03 8:21 - 9:51 9:09 - 10:39

10:21 - 11:51 11:09 - 12:39 11:57 - 1:27 12:45 - 2:15 1:33 - 3:03 2:21 - 3:51 3:09 - 4:39 3:57 - 5:27 5:33 - 7:03 6:21 - 7:51 7:09 - 8:39 7:57 - 9:27 8:45 - 10:15 9:33 - 11:03






3:30 - 5:30 4:18 - 6:18 5:06 - 7:06 5:54 - 7:54 6:42 - 8:42 7:30 - 9:30 8:18 - 10:18 9:06 - 11:06 9:54 - 11:54 10:42 - 12:42 11:30 - 1:30 NA 1:06 - 3:06 1:54 - 3:54 2:42 - 4:42 3:30 - 5:30 4:18 - 6:18 5:06 - 7:06 5:54 - 7:54 6:42 - 8:42 7:30 - 9:30 8:18 - 10:18 9:06 - 11:06 10:42 - 12:42 11:30 - 1:30 NA 1:06 - 3:06 1:54 - 3:54 2:42 - 4:42 3:30 - 5:30 4:18 - 6:18

3:54 - 5:54 4:42 - 6:42 5:30 - 7:30 6:18 - 8:18 7:06 - 9:06 7:54 - 9:54 8:42 - 10:42 9:30 - 11:30 10:18 - 12:18 11:06 - 1:06 11:54 - 1:54 12:42 - 2:42 1:30 - 3:30 2:18 - 4:18 3:06 - 5:06 3:54 - 5:54 4:42 - 6:42 5:30 - 7:30 6:18 - 8:18 7:06 - 9:06 7:54 - 9:54 8:42 - 10:42 9:30 - 11:30 11:06 - 1:06 11:54 - 1:54 12:42 - 2:42 1:30 - 3:30 2:18 - 4:18 3:06 - 5:06 3:54 - 5:54 4:42 - 6:42

9:57 - 11:27 10:45 - 12:15 11:33 - 1:03 NA 1:09 - 2:39 1:57 - 3:27 2:45 - 4:15 3:33 - 5:03 4:21 - 5:51 5:09 - 6:39 5:57 - 7:27 6:45 - 8:15 7:33 - 9:03 8:21 - 9:51 9:09 - 10:39 9:57 - 11:27 10:45 - 12:15 11:33 - 1:03 NA 1:09 - 2:39 1:57 - 3:27 2:45 - 4:15 3:33 - 5:03 5:09 - 6:39 5:57 - 7:27 6:45 - 8:15 7:33 - 9:03 8:21 - 9:51 9:09 - 10:39 9:57 - 11:27 10:45 - 12:15

10:21 - 11:51 11:09 - 12:39 11:57 - 1:27 12:45 - 2:15 1:33 - 3:03 2:21 - 3:51 3:09 - 4:39 3:57 - 5:27 4:45 - 6:15 5:33 - 7:03 6:21 - 7:51 7:09 - 8:39 7:57 - 9:27 8:45 - 10:15 9:33 - 11:03 10:21 - 11:51 11:09 - 12:39 11:57 - 1:27 12:45 - 2:15 1:33 - 3:03 2:21 - 3:51 3:09 - 4:39 3:57 - 5:27 5:33 - 7:03 6:21 - 7:51 7:09 - 8:39 7:57 - 9:27 8:45 - 10:15 9:33 - 11:03 10:21 - 11:51 11:09 - 12:39



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

DECEMBER 2019 41

42  DECEMBER 2019

om the Electric fr ip h rs la o h sc a r fo to apply If so, you are eligible ative has joined other er p o co l ca lo r u Yo . n io create the Electric Cooperative Foundat to a m ba la A f o e at st out the ill be awarding w n io at cooperatives through d n u fo e th g n ion. This spri nue their education at ti Cooperative Foundat n co to ts en d u st r fo labama scholarships across A cational schools. vo d an y ar d n o ec -s st po

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| Our Sources Say |

The Circle of Life continues T

he holiday season is upon us. Thanksgiving is over, and we are preparing for Christmas. As we get older, we recognize holidays are more a time for giving thanks for the many blessings of life and for remembering family than they are about turkeys and presents. This was the first Thanksgiving and will be the first Christmas our family has celebrated without my mother, Lottie Smith, who passed away July 13th. These holidays are a time for reflection and a time to remember all the good times and good things Mom did and the love she had for all of us. The holidays are a time to remember what she meant to us and the sacrifices she made for us. Mom was always there for me, my brother Bob, my daughters and their children. As Bob said to me at her funeral, “She never gave up on me, although I gave her so many opportunities and reasons to.” She never gave up on any of us, because she loved us. Her love was uncompromising and unconditional. We were her boys, and she supported us. She gave us advice. She wanted us to be better and demanded we get a college education. She set high standards for us and pushed us to achieve those standards. She was tough on us, but she protected us against everyone else. She was our guiding light and was always there if we needed her. And, we too often needed her. She was equally faithful to her friends. She would make drapes and altered clothes for them. She was a good cook and took great pleasure in making food for her friends. She was a guiding force to some of her younger friends and gave them encouragement to further their education. As her Circle of Life grew and she became older, she became less able to take care of all of her needs or the needs of her family and friends. However, she talked to her friends regularly until the end of her life, checking in on them and encouraging them about their lives or health conditions. The heavy hand of time takes its toll, and in 2014 we moved Mom to an independent living retirement community in Birmingham to be closer to her granddaughters and great-grandchildren. She was able to be more of a part of their lives for the

past five years than she would have been in her native Corinth, Mississippi. It was difficult to watch one of the most important people in your life become more and more reliant on others and to lose the mental sharpness that had been her most valuable asset. People express their condolences and sympathies for my loss of Mom. We all have our time, and our Circles of Life all end. Mom had a hard life, but also a good life. She lived 90 years, almost of it at her home. She was raised without a mother by her father, and an aunt and uncle. She didn’t have electricity until her senior year in high school. She was raised on a farm like so many of her generation and mostly knew hard work and only simple pleasures. Her father was taken from her too early, shortly after she married. She suffered through many difficulties, yet she built strong relationships and friendships that survived until her death. She also raised two sons the right way with little support from anyone. I have written here a few times here about the Circle of Life and how one generation passes on to the next and how our Circles of Life become more intertwined as our relationships change. With Mom’s death, I am now the oldest generation in my family. That is a little unsettling. Mom was always there to listen to our problems and to offer support. But, she is now gone, and it is now my generation’s responsibility to provide the same guidance and leadership to the other people and family in our Circles of Life. As we become older and our Circles of Life grow, it is our responsibility to share the important things in life to our children and to our grandchildren. We spend too much time arguing about things that we cannot control instead of things we can control and enjoy – like our families and our time together. We should look for opportunities to help people. Helping people with their struggles, family or not, is what is truly important and redeeming in life. Those are the things we will be remembered and appreciated for long after our Circles of Life end – for the same things and the same way Mom is remembered. I hope you have a good month and a wonderful Christmas.

Gary Smith is President and CEO of PowerSouth Energy Cooperative.

44 DECEMBER 2019

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Answers to puzzle on Page 28

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Alabama Living

DECEMBER 2019  45

| Hardy Jackson's Alabama |

Christmas in Dixie:

Illustration by Dennis Auth

Not quite what it used to be


oday Christmas down South looks pretty much like Christmas in other parts of the country -- without the snow. But it wasn’t always that way. At one time, Christmas in Dixie was marked with customs and practices unique to the region. What happened? Let’s look back a bit. By the time Christmas came here, it was already established in the English countryside as a mid-winter festival for farm folk. The harvest was in. There was food 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 2019

in the pantry. So, they cut what greenery remained, decked the halls, laid out the feast, and had one last merry time before winter descended with a vengeance. In Dixie, as in England, Christmas was celebrated most enthusiastically among the lower classes, who used the opportunity to engage in activities frowned upon by their “betters.” For example, on December 25, 1796, Indian Agent Benjamin Hawkins, down close to the forks of the Coosa and Tallapoosa, wrote disapprovingly of how he was visited by a party of slaves who had been released from their work to have “a proper frolic of rum drinking and dancing.” What bothered Hawkins most was that “white people and Indians met gen-

erally at the same place with them and had the same amusement.” Southern yeomen farmers often celebrated Christmas in the open. With the weather still warm enough for outdoor activity, it was common “for a crowd of young men to band together, with guns and every sort instrument of music, or of noise, [and] go ‘Christmasing’ among their neighbors,” from whom they demanded “a treat.” Southern towns and cities witnessed a variation on the same theme, as bands of people -- usually men, usually young, and usually from “the lower orders” -- wandered about the streets, making merry and making mischief. Well into the late 19th century, these boisterous celebrations continued, but slowly they changed as the region changed. The Post-Civil War “New South” imposed a commercial culture on Dixie and the region’s rising middle class abhorred all kinds of rowdyism. The approach these community leaders took to civil conduct was to restrict activities that threatened peace and tranquility. Also contributing to the calming of Christmas was the growing influence of evangelical religious groups that encouraged worship instead of revelry. Meanwhile, other forces were beginning to have an impact on the way Southerners celebrated Christmas. Although the commercialization of the holiday was nothing new, during the late 19th century increasingly sophisticated advertising campaigns elevated gift-giving to a national passion and made Santa Claus a national icon. In short, Christmas became a national holiday. Today Southerners still add a few distinctive twists to the season. We buy and shoot more fireworks and hold more parades (remember the weather). But for the most part, the modern South is solidly within the national mainstream when it comes to celebrating Christmas. So, if you are looking for evidence of the Americanization of Dixie, there is no better time or place to start than Christmas. Now excuse me, I’ve got to go buy my firecrackers.

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