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



Giving back Community needs motivate athletes to help others

Traveling with grands

Tips for summer trips

2  MAY 2016



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


VOL. 69 NO. 5 n MAY 2016


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

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



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

Printed in America from American materials Alabama Living

GM Stan Wilson talks about the importance of safety and appreciating one of our cooperative’s greatest assets, our linemen.


Pikeville Store


Chicken salad

A crossroads location where tales of great food meet Southern hospitality.

It occupies an important place in Southern cuisine, and it seems everyone has their favorite version.



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

Lineman Appreciation


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

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9 Spotlight 29 Around Alabama 38 Gardens 40 Outdoors 42 Fish & Game Forecast 46 Cook of the Month 54 Snapshots ONLINE: ON THE COVER: Bo Jackson’s Bo Bikes Bama event has raised more than $950,000 in four years, and is poised to break the $1 million mark this year. Funds support the Governor’s Emergency Relief Fund, which was created to help Alabamians recover from severe weather events. PHOTO: Big Communications MAY 2016 3

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

It is my privilege this month to talk about one of our cooperative’s greatest assets, our linemen. Our linemen are called on to respond to power outages at all hours of the night. Typically, when they are called out, it is in some of the worst conditions. Whether it is hot and humid or cold, dark and rainy, they go to work to ensure service is restored in the quickest, safest manner possible. I certainly appreciate all of our linemen, and I know you do too. Next month, on June 6 we will celebrate Lineman Appreciation Day in Montgomery. We hope to have some pictures from that day to show you soon! Our linemen’s commitment to safety is one of the biggest reasons that we have such a good safety record. The conditions they work in are often dangerous, so it is remarkable that they are able to restore power while maintaining one of the lowest outage times in the state and one of the best safety records. This month is National Electric Safety month, but we place safety at the top of our list of priorities throughout the year. Please take a moment when you get a chance to thank a lineman! All of our employees here at CWEMC are highly trained and experienced and are willing to work as long as it takes to restore your service after severe weather. The linemen are on

the front lines, but they have excellent support and backup from our folks in the office. We always have an on-call after hours crew ready to respond to outages and emergencies. This crew is made up of several linemen and a supervisor that monitors the outages and dispatches the crews from their home or from the office. When there are many outages, all the office employees may be called in to assist with dispatching and handling calls. Together we work as a team, and do what is necessary to get the lights back on. I often get calls and letters commending our employees for their courteous and professional manner of working and communicating with you, the member. I have to tell you that it does my heart good to receive these. They tell of our how our linemen responded quickly and worked efficiently to get the job done. They also compliment our office workers and how they communicated courteously with them and addressed their concerns and needs to resolve them in a timely manner. It gives me a sense of pride in our employees. I know their heart is in the right place as we serve this membership. We all strive to exceed your expectations, no matter what the conditions may be. Thank you!

“Whether it is hot and humid or cold, dark and rainy, they go to work to ensure service is restored in the quickest, safest manner possible.”

Stan Wilson Manager of Clarke-Washington EMC

4 MAY 2016

| Clarke Washington EMC |

1.800.323.9081 to report an outage

Don’t get left in the dark! We need your up-to-date information today! Remember: If you do not call from a phone number that is listed on your account, the outage management system will not recognize you. Make sure all the phones that you would use to call in an outage are listed on your account before the storm comes.

CWEMC offices will be closed on Monday, May 30 in observance of Memorial Day.

Alabama Living

MAY 2016 5

CWEMC Payment Options CWEMC offers several convenient ways to pay!

Online Billing Clarke-Washington EMC now offers a secure way for our customers to pay their bill online. Go to and click on the phrase “Online Billing” and it will link to the online bill paying site. Customers will be asked to login and enter their account number and a password. A personal password will be printed on electric bills. For questions, call the CWEMC billing department at 1-800-323-9081.

Bank/Credit Card Draft Clarke-Washington EMC bank draft makes it easy for members to pay their bill each month on time without having to write a check and mail or drop it off by one of our office locations. With automatic bank draft, you will receive a bill from CWEMC each month indicating the amount of power bill. The amount of your bill will than be automatically deducted from your account on the 10th of each month. If you have questions concerning your bill you may still call CWEMC Billing Department for assistance. There is no charge for using the automatic bank draft option.

Phone Payment Credit Card and e-check payments can be accepted over the telephone at 1-855-870-0403. You will need your account number from your bill.

In-office Members may pay their bill at either office location of Clarke-Washington EMC, in Jackson or Chatom. Our offices accept cash, check and debit/credit cards.

Local Banks Members can pay their electrical bill through the 10th of each month at the following banks: First United Security Bank locations in Coffeeville, Thomasville, Fulton and Grove Hill. Merchants Bank locations in Grove Hill and Thomasville.

Night Drop Clarke-Washington EMC members may also leave their electric bill payments in the night deposit boxes at the Jackson and Chatom office locations.

6  MAY 2016

Washington County Chamber presents

In the PINES Music Festival

graphics by: j amie crouch

| Clarke-Washington EMC |

Featuring Shelby Brown The Voice Season 9 Fat Lincoln Classic Rock-n-Roll Starz Motown Gates Open @ 3:00pm General Admission: $20, Kids 10 & Under Free, $3 Parking VIP: $100, 21 & up only (inside access, steak dinner, comm. center parking, & gifts)

Purchase Tickets at First Community & Capstone Banks or • 251.847.2214 Great Music, Arts & Crafts, Kid Zone

food & alcohol will be sold at the event • no outside food or drink will be allowed chairs are allowed • no umbrellas or tents Alabama Living

MAY 2016 7

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

Mail: U.S. Department of Agriculture Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights 400 Independence Avenue, SW Washington, D.C. 20250-9410 or Fax: (202) 690-7442 or Email: USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer, and lender.

8  MAY 2016

MAY | Spotlight State parks announce seasonal openings


Food, fun and more at Bullock County event Locals and visitors will meet and greet amid the aroma of barbecue and fried fish and the sounds of live music at the annual Chunnenuggee Fair, from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. May 7 along Prairie Street in Union Springs.

Photo by Billy Pope

Rickwood State Park reopened for the season on April 1.

There’s a juried arts and crafts show, live entertainment from local and regional acts, a made-from-scratch cake sale, children’s games and rides and plenty of food. For more information, visit

This spring brings a return to normal operational hours for Rickwood Caverns State Park and certain facilities at DeSoto and Cheaha state parks. Buck’s Pocket State Park’s campground remains closed for now, but the rest of the park will continue to operate as a day-use area. These seasonal changes remain in effect through fall 2016. Legislative transfers in 2015 necessitated a seasonal schedule for select state parks that included closing the DeSoto and Cheaha hotels and restaurants and all facilities at Rickwood during winter months. The Buck’s Pocket campground In our new feature, readers are asked to identify and was also closed.

Guess where this is and you might win $25!

Whereville, AL

State Park seasonal openings: • DeSoto State Park hotel and restaurant is currently open seven days a week. • Cheaha State Park hotel and restaurant is currently open seven days a week. • Rickwood Caverns State Park, including the campground, reopened April 1. The park’s swimming pool reopens this summer (date TBA). Blue Springs State Park, also slated for a seasonal schedule, was able to remain open throughout the winter thanks to volunteers and other local partners. Some state parks that were closed last fall have reopened through local partnerships. Florala and Paul M. Grist state parks are currently open and being operated by local government partners. Bladon Springs State Park in rural Choctaw County will soon open through a lease agreement between the county and the Alabama State Parks Division. There are also ongoing efforts to reopen Roland Cooper State Park through similar partnerships. The public is encouraged to visit these parks as often as possible during the seasonal openings. To plan your next Alabama State Park adventure, visit

Alabama Living

place an Alabama landmark or scene. The winner is chosen at random from all the correct guesses and will receive $25. Multiple entries

from the same person will be disqualified.

If you know where this landmark is, send your answer by May 6 with your name, address and the name of your electric cooperative. The winner and the answer will be announced in the June issue. Contribute your own photo for an upcoming issue! Send a photo of an interesting or unusual landmark in Alabama, which must be accessible to the public. A reader whose photo is used in the magazine will also win $25 Submit: By email: By mail: Whereville, P.O. Box 244014, Montgomery, AL 36124 (no phone calls please)


The Kymulga Grist Mill in Childersburg was built around 1860. Powered by water turbines, the mill was capable of grinding both wheat and corn. Today, it is operated and managed by the Childersburg Historical Preservation Commission, and is part of a wooded park with walking trails and campsites near the creek. For more information, visit

Kymulga Grist Mill

Congratulations to Donna Howell of Seemes who sent us the photo, and to Morris Edwards of Central Alabama Electric Cooperative, the correct guess winner.

MAY 2016 9

| Power Pack |

Honoring our service members on Memorial Day


raditionally, on Memorial Day we honor those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our nation. Social Security respects the heroism and courage of our military service members, and we remember those who have given their lives in defense of freedom. The unexpected loss of a service member is a difficult experience for the family. Social Security helps by providing benefits to protect service members’ dependents. Widows, widowers, and their dependent children may be eligible for Social Security survivors’ benefits. You can learn more about Social Security survivors’ benefits at It’s also important to recognize those service members who are still with us, especially those who have been wounded. Just as they served us, we have the obligation to serve them. Social Security has benefits to protect veterans when an injury prevents them from returning to active duty.

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

A day to honor those who keep the lights on for all of us Grady Smith, president and CEO of Cullman Electric Cooperative and a former lineman, speaks with a member of the TV media during the 2015 Lineman Appreciation Day. Michael Kelley, at podium, is surrounded by linemen from the rural electric cooperatives, Alabama Power and municipallyowned electric utilities as he addresses the crowd at the 2015 Lineman Appreciation Day.

10 MAY 2016

Military Service page of our Retirement Planner, available at www.socialsecurity. gov/retire2/veterans.htm. Service members are also eligible for Medicare at age 65. If you have health insurance from the VA or under the TRICARE or CHAMPVA programs, your health benefits may change, or end, when you become eligible for Medicare. Learn more about Medicare benefits at In acknowledgment of those who died for our country, those who served, and those who serve today, we at Social Security honor and thank you.¢

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


n June 6, representatives from Alabama’s 22 rural electric cooperatives, Alabama Power and the state’s municipally owned electric utilities will gather at the state Capitol to recognize the contributions made by linemen as a part of a celebration of Alabama Lineman Appreciation Day. This will be the third year for the celebration, which started when the Alabama Legislature designated the first Monday in June as Alabama Lineman Appreciation Day in 2014. Linemen and trucks from several of Alabama’s electric cooperatives, Alabama Power Company and Electric Cities, a coalition of the state’s municipally owned electric utilities, will be on hand for the ceremony in Montgomery. Members of the media will be on hand to cover the event, and Alabama Living will be there to record the day for the magazine and for our social media channels. Linemen are the first responders of the electric distribution system, and they work around the clock on high-voltage lines. Their jobs can be dangerous, but they power through to ensure safe, reliable service for our rural electric members. Alabama Living invites readers to take a moment and thank a lineman for the work he does. Use #thankalineman to show your support for the men and women who light our lives.¢


Protecting against mosquitoes key to preventing Zika virus


hile the Zika virus is a growing threat, the Alabama Department of Public Health is working to prepare, protect, and educate Alabamians to meet the challenges of the virus and its risks to the health of our most vulnerable citizens. To help prevent the local transmission of the Zika virus, protect against mosquito bites: • Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants. • Use EPA-registered insect repellents containing DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, or IR3535 as directed. Everyone needs to help reduce the sources of mosquitoes around their homes. A few infected mosquitoes can cause large outbreaks and put families at risk of Zika and other illnesses. Adult mosquitoes live both inside and outside and bite day and night. To reduce the risk of mosquitoes breeding around your home: • Eliminate standing water in and around your residence. Once a week, empty and scrub, turn over, cover, or throw out items that hold water (tires, buckets, planters, toys, pools, birdbaths, flowerpots, trash containers). • If you have a septic tank, repair cracks or gaps. Cover open vents on plumbing pipes, and use wire mesh with holes smaller than an adult mosquito. • In your home, use screens on windows and doors, repair holes in screens, and use air conditioning when available. Most Zika virus infections have no symptoms, with only about 1 in 5 people infected becoming ill. Symptoms include fever, rash, joint pain, conjunctivitis (red eyes), muscle pain, and headache. Most concerning is the potential effect that Zika virus can have on the unborn baby. While infection with the Zika virus usually causes only mild symptoms, it is the cause of birth defects and other poor outcomes associated with infection during pregnancy. Congenital microcephaly, a condition characterized by an abnormally small head, has been recognized in large numbers of newborns in Brazil since the onset of the current Zika outbreak. Pregnant women should avoid travel to Zika-affected areas. A list of countries

Alabama Living

experiencing Zika outbreaks can be found at Any pregnant woman who has traveled to a Zika-affected area during pregnancy should be evaluated and tested. If a woman is pregnant and has a male partner who has traveled to a Zika-affected area, condoms should be used consistently and correctly or the couple should abstain for the duration of the pregnancy since the Zika virus can be sexually transmitted. Couples considering becoming pregnant should seek counseling and also consider postponing travel to a Zika-affected area. For couples in which one or both partners traveled to a Zika-affected country and were diagnosed with Zika or had symptoms compatible with Zika, men should wait at least six months after symptoms first occur before trying to get their partner pregnant and women should wait at least eight weeks prior to trying to get pregnant. If neither the man nor woman with a travel history had symptoms or was diagnosed, then both the man and the woman should wait at least eight weeks

before trying to get pregnant. Some of the recommendations for males specify a longer time frame since it is thought that the Zika virus can persist for an extended period of time in semen. In general, any person who has traveled to a Zika-affected area and has developed any of the symptoms listed above during travel or within two weeks after return should seek medical follow-up and evaluation for possible Zika virus testing. While much about Zika remains unknown, strides are being made in understanding how to recognize, diagnose, and manage the complications of this virus. For further information, visit www. ¢

Thomas M. Miller, M.D., is Alabama’s State Health Officer.

MAY 2016 11

Former Alabama lineman Antoine Caldwell watches players go through drills at a training camp Caldwell held in 2011. PHOTO COURTESY RIVER REGION SPORTS

Alabama athletes give back to causes

close to home By Tim Gayle It took a 15-year prison term for Sherman Williams to finally understand his lifestyle wasn’t working. About the same time, he came to the realization that if his life were to have any meaning, he needed to talk to children from the same impoverished background and reach them before they started down the self-destructive path he took at their age. That’s why he teamed up with his college roommate at Alabama, former NFL star David Palmer, to start a foundation to help children learn to say no to the vices surrounding them and focus on more important things, such as family and education. “Both of us have mirror-image backgrounds,” says Williams, who won a Super Bowl ring with the Dallas Cowboys. “We just wanted to make sure we put kids in the proper frame of mind and not have to go through some of the same things we went through. We try to give them some testimony about our

Sherman Williams and David Palmer, former Crimson Tide and NFL players, created the non-profit Palmer Williams Group to provide development programs for disadvantaged youth.

12 MAY 2016

experiences so they can have a role model to tell them what things can happen to you if you make bad choices.” It’s a common theme among players who reach the professional level: Earning a celebrity status allows them to give back to their communities. Often, they give back in a manner that is reflective of their own background. There’s New Orleans Saints running back Mark Ingram, who won the Heisman at Alabama while his father, former New York Giants receiver Mark Ingram Sr., was serving time in prison. The Mark Ingram Foundation helps children whose parents are incarcerated. Or former Auburn football star Kendall Simmons, who was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes soon after he was drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers and now calls Alabama home. He sponsors an annual “Swing4Diabetes” charity golf tournament and speaks to children who have diabetes.

A position of influence

“When I got into the NFL, I started talking to other guys that I was close to on the team,” said Montgomery’s Antoine Caldwell, a former lineman at Alabama and with the Houston Texans. Caldwell continues to team up with Tennessee Titans safety Rashad Johnson and former Alabama teammate B.J. Stabler in their For

Former Crimson Tide and Dallas Cowboys running back Sherman Williams with participants in an athletic youth camp held in his hometown of Prichard.

Rashad Johnson puts on a high school seven-onseven tournament, a celebrity basketball game and a youth football camp each year, all of which are free to participants.

the Family Foundation. “I was looking at guys who were doing Having an example things in their own communities and back home and it seemed like Reggie Barlow, the former Alabama State University player and a lot of those guys were doing things involving the kids. It’s somecoach who spent eight years in the National Football League, often thing I already felt was important to do, but once I got their advice ventures back to his childhood haunts to serve as a role model in on it, it just made perfect sense. economically depressed neighborhoods. “You’re in a position where you have some influence, you have a “There are different ways to give back,” says Barlow. “A lot of platform. And when you have that, what’s a better time to give back times, it isn’t about giving money; sometimes, it’s just being presto the kids? That’s when they’re going to be the most attentive and ent there and sharing conversation with some of the people who listening to what you’re saying.” typically wouldn’t be able to talk to a former NFL player.” Johnson, who runs his own Walk-on to Champions Foundation, Barlow said his introduction to the National Football League continues to put on a free football clinic every year in his homeincluded a speech by the Jacksonville Jaguars’ head coach, Tom town of Sulligent, relying on Caldwell, Stabler and other college Coughlin, about giving back to the community. and professional teammates as instructors. The Jaguars required players to give back. “I had ‘Barlow’s BudNot long ago, Roman Harper put on events in his hometown of dies,’ where you selected kids who had shown improvement in the Prattville. But the former New Orleans Saints safety, who is now classroom over the course of the fall term and we’d bring them with the Carolina Panthers, learned a lesson much like the one to the game and celebrate them. It’s almost like the saying, ‘To learned by current teammate and former Auburn [whom] much is given, much is required.’” quarterback Cam Newton, an Atlanta native: For any professional athlete who has learned the While the state of Alabama worships Alabama value of teamwork, providing for the less fortunate and Auburn stars, a professional athlete can raise is a logical path. Those who have the financial remore money in the hometown of his professional sources to do so organize contributions or services franchise. through their respective foundations. Hudson, the Harper’s mother Princess, who runs Harper’s east Alabama native and World Series Champion Hope 4*1 Foundation (a play on Harper’s jersey pitcher, created the Hudson Family Foundation in number, 41), says a foundation is a method of pro2009 to help children from financially struggling tecting the player’s income while allowing him to families. raise money for worthy causes. For example, HarpBut even players who aren’t multi-millionaires er’s “41 Days of Hope” targets needy families in the can still volunteer their time and contribute their 41 days leading up to Christmas, both in Alabama knowledge. Barlow is now in his seventh year as a and in the Charlotte area. state spokesman for the National Football League’s “The foundation was my idea because I knew MLB pitcher Tim Hudson, a native Play 60 campaign, aimed at encouraging kids to be of east Alabama, autographs a it was a way to help people,” she says. “We talked baseball for a young fan. active for 60 minutes a day to combat childhood about the foundation when he won the Super Bowl obesity. (with the Saints in 2009) because, you know, he “It’s really a good program to teach kids to be was a hot commodity at the time and now we can get support beactive. I enjoy doing it.” hind us and help the community.” Several athletes in this state have won national championships But while a professional athlete has his highest visibility in his in college or participated in Super Bowls, the NBA Finals or the franchise’s backyard, it strikes a deeper chord to help young people World Series. And while they wouldn’t trade those experiences for in their respective hometowns. anything, putting a smile on a child’s face has a special meaning Former Auburn baseball stars Tim Hudson and Josh Donaldson, all its own. for example, have provided financial support and volunteered their “There’s nothing like it,” Caldwell says. “While I was out there time for their high schools, Glenwood School in Phenix City and coaching them up and talking to them, I visualized myself as that Faith Academy in Mobile, respectively. Williams, the former Alakid. That’s what made it so impactful. I know for those two hours I bama star, coaches a 6-and-under youth football league team in his had those kids, that’s something they can always remember. Those hometown of Prichard. types of memories and events will stick with them forever.”n Rashad Johnson continues to give back to young people in the area around his hometown of Sulligent in northwest Alabama. Here, he presents a $5,000 check to Hamilton High School.

Alabama Living

MAY 2016 13

Bo Jackson gears up for annual charity bicycle ride By Allison Griffin


e lives now in Illinois just outside Chicago, but Alabama is never far from the mind and memory of Bo Jackson, the Bessemer native, Auburn University standout athlete and entrepreneur who carves out time each year to mark the anniversary of the deadly 2011 tornadoes. A record 62 tornadoes swept through Alabama during that outbreak on April 27, 2011. More than 240 Alabamians died as a result of the tornadoes, and more than 2,000 were injured; the property damage was calculated at more than $4 billion. The suffering touched Jackson personally, and he knew he could use his celebrity status to help his native state. “The reason for this ride is for state unity and to pay homage to the great Alabamians who lost their lives on April 27th, 2011,” he says on his website. “I am my brothers’ and sisters’ keeper.” He created the Bo Bikes Bama charity bicycle ride (not a race), but not for the publicity for himself. “I wanted to do something where the rest of the country can be aware of what has happened here,” he said on ESPN’s “Outside the Lines” in 2012. So he called on some celebrity friends to help out: Lance Armstrong, Scottie Pippin, Ken Griffey Jr. and Picabo Street, among other athletes, have joined in previous rides.


The bikes that Bo Jackson rides feature the names of the Alabamians who died in the April 2011 tornado outbreak. PHOTOS COURTESY BIG COMMUNICATIONS

Beyond the awareness, there’s also the money he can raise. His Bo Bikes Bama event has raised more than $950,000 in four years, and is poised to break the $1 million mark this year. The money goes to support the Governor’s Emergency Relief Fund, which was created to help Alabamians recover from severe weather events. So far, funds raised by Bo Bikes Bama have provided, among other improvements, for 579 homes to be repaired or served, 63 community safe rooms to be constructed, and eight emergency warning sirens to be installed.

In the beginning

The first Bo Bikes Bama in 2012 was a 5-day, 300-mile trek that took the twosport athlete through the towns and rural areas that suffered tremendous destruction. All along the way, grateful Alabamians came out to say hello, to cheer him on, and to say thank you.

It was an emotional journey

“On that first ride, I stopped at one neighborhood, and there were four generations of a family sitting there on all that was left of their home: a concrete slab,” Jackson told ESPN in 2015. “The tornado picked up the grandmother’s house and took it a quarter-mile, and she fell out of the house when it was in the air. She was

150 yards out in the field. That’s where her son and grandson found her after the storm – in the field. They were just sitting out there. Just to see the people and the devastation up close like that, you don’t ever forget that.” As an ever-present reminder, Jackson’s custom-made bikes bear all the names of those who died in the tornadoes. After that first year, the event was pared down to a one-day event, with a 60-mile option and a shorter 20-miler. Hundreds of cyclists continue to join him for the journey; so far, nearly 2,400 have come from 31 states and Canada. This year, a rider will come from England to participate. Both routes take riders through the campus of Auburn University; the 60mile route will pass through Tuskegee and neighboring Macon County. The success of Bo Bikes Bama will no doubt only add to the legacy of the multisport athlete and Heisman Trophy winner, who played professional baseball and football through the late 1980s and early 1990s. He retired from professional sports in 1995, but maintains a number of entrepreneurial and charitable endeavors. But the annual bicycle ride is close to his heart. Asked by Outside Magazine in 2015 how long he plans to continue the ride, he said, “As long as a bike can hold me.”¢

Bo gives a pep talk to the cyclists participating in the 2015 Bo Bikes Bama charity ride.

• The event is divided into two rides. The 60-mile ride begins at 8 a.m. April 30, and the 20-mile ride begins at 10:30 a.m. that day. The start and end locations for both rides are at the Auburn Arena. The ride goes on, rain or shine. • A silent auction will precede the ride from 7-9 p.m. April 29 at The Hotel at Auburn University, 241 S. College St. Tickets are $100 and include hors d’oeuvres, beer and wine while browsing a silent auction featuring signed memorabilia from athletes and entertainers. • For more information, visit

14 MAY 2016

Alabama Living

MAY 2016 15

A fading tradition: Decoration Day in Northeast Alabama Story and photos by Robin Ford Wallace


arcell Stiefel strolls across the grass in the May sunshine, making introductions. “My dad and mom are over here,” he says. “That’s my aunt right yonder. Now, this old boy right here, his sister is my first cousin, but I ain’t no kin to him. His dad married my dad’s sister and she passed away and he married again.” Stiefel’s “un-cousin,” Kenneth Black, shoots back a wisecrack about not claiming Stiefel either, but the others Stiefel mentioned say nothing, because, as Edgar Lee Masters wrote, “All, all are sleeping on the hill.” What is this? A family reunion? Yes, but for an extended family, including representatives not just from different clans but from both sides of the grass. We are in the Old Sardis Cemetery near Section, Ala., and this is “Decoration Day,” when the community gathers to remember its dead. Decoration Day – or just Decoration, as most say – is a tradition so prevalent in northeastern Alabama that natives toss off the name like “Christmas” or “Easter.” But

Marcell Stiefel shows what he believes to be a Confederate grave. Decoration participants try to place a flower or two on even unmarked graves.

people who grew up in other parts of Alabama may never have heard the term. The internet is equally clueless. Google “Decoration Day” and you will learn it is another name for Memorial Day and that it

began just after the Civil War, when veterans placed flowers on the graves of the war dead. Today’s Decoration Days do involve putting flowers on graves, and the Old Sardis version does happen on the fourth Sunday in May, so last year it fell on Memorial Day weekend. But some years it doesn’t, and anyway, participants of other Decorations deny any association between the two holidays. “It’s not just the month of May,” says Hobbie Lankford, whose “home cemetery” is Fort Payne’s Lankford Cemetery. “They may start in May but different cemeteries have different Decorations at different times, on into August.” Verenice Hawkins, who attends Decorations in two DeKalb County cemeteries (Beene and Head Springs), says the reason for the staggered dates is that people have family in more than one cemetery and Decorations used to be the annual workday for each. “The rest of the year, people might go and do whatever little cleaning they wanted to, but that was the main day,” she said.

Decoration participants now use plastic flowers like these at Old Sardis, but old-timers remember putting quart jars or tin cans of yard flowers on loved ones’ graves. Other graves are “decorated” with American or Confederate flags or other personalized memorabilia.

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MAY 2016 17

The late Columbus Bailey, who pastored the Old Sardis church for 38 years, is visited on Decoration Day by descendants (left to right) Marlon Pendergrass of Florida and Tony, Lauren and Abby Bailey of Marietta, Ga.

In her girlhood, Hawkins, now in her 80s, says family members would take hoes and rakes to the cemetery – “It was not sowed in grass, it was dirt” – and spend Decoration morning clearing brush and mounding graves up to look new again. Then came the social aspect. At midday, “dinner was spread” and the volunteers would eat and visit before going back to work. Women were known for their special picnic dishes; Hawkins remembers Aunt Belle’s dumplings, and her own broccoli-cauliflower salad is still a Decoration favorite. “This used to be an occasion,” she says. When her daughter was in school, she’d bring her best friend home for the weekend for Decoration at Beene, then go home with her the next weekend for the one at Deerhead Cove. A little woo might even be pitched. “That was a place that you met up with some boys, or you might sit with them and eat,” Hawkins says. “No great big courting, but some courting.” Hobbie Lankford says the Decorations of her childhood were occasions too, almost all-day ones. There was a sunrise service at the cemetery, then the adults spent the morning raking and putting flowers on graves while the children played among the headstones. “It was a workday for them and a play day for us,” she says. A particular food also figures in her tradition, but in a practical rather than social sense. “Daddy would fix a fire and around lunchtime Mother would scramble eggs and we would have scrambled egg sandwiches,” she says. Carlos Bailey, who helps organize the Old Sardis Decoration, says maintenance work there was never on the day itself but in the weeks preceding. “You wanted to have the place looking pristine for Decoration Day,” he says. As for food, though the Old Sardis Decoration is an occasion indeed – canopies and 18 MAY 2016

folding chairs, participants arriving from all over the Southeast, even a hired drone flying overhead taking photographs – no one so much as sips iced tea. “It’s not hardly time for it,” says Marcell Stiefel. “They’ll start leaving out of here around 12 o’clock and maybe going somewhere else and eating.” So traditions vary. Decoration may, for example, replace regular church service, or it may include one with special features, such as the Sacred Harp singing Hawkins remembers. Some Decorations aren’t associated with Sunday service at all – the one at Head Springs is on Saturday, changed from its original Friday as more people left farming and couldn’t take weekdays off. But one thing all participants agree on: Decoration gets smaller every year. Young people don’t come anymore, Hawkins says. “I don’t know how much longer things will keep on.” “My mom and her sister used to get together probably two or three months before Decoration and start making their arrangements,” Lankford says. “I don’t do what they did and I’m sure my children probably won’t do even what I do.” Carlos Bailey says that’s why he’s so anxious to preserve Decoration at Old Sardis. “It’s a dying tradition,” he said.¢

Verenice Hawkins says Decoration Day used to be the only maintenance country graveyards ever got. Now in her 80s, she remembers when neighbors cleaned DeKalb County cemeteries with rakes and hoes, even pitching in to dig graves.

Barry Pickett looks over his catalog of identified graves.

And If Thou Wilt, Remember … Hobbie Lankford remembers her late mother telling her, as they walked through a section of the Lankford Cemetery where graves were marked only with rocks, about an aunt who died in childhood. “She’s in one of those unmarked graves but I couldn’t tell you which one now,” she says. Marcell Stiefel’s mother was the parttime caretaker of, and font of knowledge about, Old Sardis Cemetery, including graves marked only by big stones since moved for mowing. “I didn’t have no interest in it then,” he says. “I wish I’d took notes.” Barry Pickett’s grandfather told him who was buried in each of maybe 100 unmarked graves at the Cheney’s Chapel church graveyard in Jackson County. “Then a little while after that he died,” Pickett says, “and I thought, well, why didn’t I write down all of those names he told me?” Sometimes when you hear the same story over and over, the message finally sinks in. In this case, it’s the theme that underlies Decoration Day, Memorial Day and probably the invention of recorded history: Our bittersweet struggle to remember a past that slides further toward oblivion with every passing year. This human yearning toward permanence is demonstrated even by the plastic flowers that have now replaced the irises-in-a-quart jar or roses-in-a-tin-can that the sources for this article remember placing on graves during childhood Decorations. “They hold up so much longer,” Lankford says. Perhaps forgetting is inevitable, but after his grandfather’s death, Barry Pickett turned remembering into his lifelong avocation. Starting with Cheney’s Chapel, he began cataloguing area graveyards, listing the graves and adding whatever information he could glean from old obituaries he finds in the Scottsboro library. Pickett says the work of a cemetery historian is unpaid but in more or less constant demand, from cemetery trust committees as well as from individuals searching for family members’ graves. “I get calls all the time,” he says.¢

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Spectacular Stephens Gap Cave now open for exploration Story and photos by David Haynes


he numerous limestone caverns of Jackson County in northeast Alabama make this area one of the top destinations in the world for spelunking enthusiasts. Cave explorers often endure the discomforts of wet and cold underground chambers, tight passageways and near total darkness in exchange for the thrill of experiencing the majestic and magical grottos they find below. But Stephens Gap Cave near Woodville is the exception to that rule. This spectacular 143-foot vertical pit cavern has two entrances, one of which allows visitors to shimmy down a side opening that’s large enough to illuminate the interior without the need to carry additional lighting, allowing even novice explorers to experience a cave without the usual investment in specialized gear and training. The Stephens Gap Callahan Cave Preserve, operated by the Southeastern Cave Conservancy (SCC), now offers an online permitting system that allows admission-free access to anyone who wants to visit.

Visitors descend into the Stephens Gap Cave.

Cavers stand on a pedestal rock inside the Stephens Gap Cave. The cave, while now open to the public, remains in a “wild and natural state� with few safety provisions.

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Tom Whitehurst, one of three preserve managers for Stephens Gap, explains that the SCC acquired the 78 acres that includes the cave following almost a decade of negotiations with the property owner, Nancy Callahan, for whom the preserve is partially named. The Callahan property was purchased in the fall of 2014, but because it was landlocked, the group also purchased another 45 acres that includes the one-mile access trail and parking area. Previously, anyone wanting to visit the cave had to obtain hitor-miss verbal permission and the property was not accessible during hunting seasons. Now it is open year-round. Today, those wanting to visit this unique cave can obtain a permit online by visiting the SCC website at preserves/stephens-gap-callahan-cave-preserve/ and following the links to obtain necessary forms. These include a clean caving questionnaire and liability release form that each visitor must fill out and sign (plus a parental consent form if any visitors are under the age of 19). Once completed, the forms can be emailed back to the SCC, which after review will

issue a permit that is then emailed back to be printed out by the applicant. The printed permit is placed in the rear window of the visitor vehicle or vehicles on the scheduled day of the visit. There is no charge for the service. During the first year of the new permitting system, February 2015 to February 2016, more than 1,100 visitors explored the cave with approximately 200 permits issued, Whitehurst says. A pair of spelunkers from the Huntsville area first discovered Stephens Gap in the 1950s, although it was likely known to locals long before that. Beginning in the 1960s the cave saw increased visits from cavers as vertical rappelling techniques and equipment improved and its popularity grew by mostly wordof-mouth. Today a visit begins at the parking area off Alabama Highway 35. From there, the trail leads upward to the two main openings for the cave. Once at the cave, the 20-foot-diameter vertical opening - which requires rappelling gear and expertise to descend – will likely have a waterfall careening down its face if there has been any recent rainfall. To the left and downhill from the vertical shaft is the larger side-shaft entrance. Entering this way requires climbing down a steep 200-foot incline over large boulders. The opening itself is probably 25-30 feet wide and provides ample light inside the cave to see during daylight hours. Once inside, the visitor is at the midpoint of the vertical pit and can see a ledge extending back toward the main shaft. A large pedestal rock is situated just off this horizontal ledge that was the setting for at least one wedding ceremony in recent years. If the waterfall is running, it cascades down the far side of the vertical shaft and the entire cavern echoes with the sounds of crashing water. Because the waterfalls often create misty or hazy conditions inside, sunbeams are transformed into magical shafts of light illuminating the interior in various directions depending on the time of year and time of day, ensuring that no two days inside this cave will look exactly the same for a visitor. Whitehurst cautions, however, that although the cave and the trail to it are now open to the public, it remains in its “wild and natural state.” This means no guard rails or other safety provisions are present. The trail from the parking lot follows a stream bed and gets progressively steeper as visitors near the cave, with many rocky steps and ledges where footing can be treacherous, especially after a rain. A slip near the vertical shaft opening of the cave could be fatal as its depth is approximately 12 stories. In fact, there have been fatalities at the cave. The most recent was in September 2015 when an 18-year-old man slipped off a mid-cave ledge and fell 45-50 feet to his death. Whitehurst says the SCC is continuing to make improvements to the property with emphasis now on the parking area. He says the caving community and visitors alike have been generous with donations to help offset the $150,000 needed to properly operate and maintain the Preserve. One way that has proven popular among donors is to “buy” a piece of the cave (one-foot-wide strips of the entry portals, for example). Each donor will have his or her name shown permanently on the entrance map for the sliver of the cave they “buy.” These range from $50-$100 each. Other pricier options allow donors to “buy” a feature of the cave, having their name placed on the map adjacent that feature.¢ The top of the 143-foot pit at Stephens Gap. For an idea of the scale, note the size of the people at the top of the frame. Alabama Living

ALABAMA BOOKSHELF In this feature, we highlight books either about Alabama people or written by Alabama authors. Summaries are not reviews or endorsements. We also occasionally highlight book-related events. Email submissions and events to “The Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail: Its History and Economic Impact,” by Mark Fagan, NewSouth Books, May 2016, $125 (Golf) Alabama’s Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail has evolved into an international tourist attraction that averages 500,000 rounds of golf per year and has boosted the state’s economy. This comprehensive volume is the illustrated historical account of the financial, legal, political and economic impact details of the unique multimillion-dollar investment by the Retirement Systems of Alabama. The book features a foreword by David Bronner, CEO of the RSA. “The Summer of Me,” by Angela Benson, William Morrow, April 2016, $14.99 trade paperback (African-American fiction) The book tells the moving story of Destiny, a single mother who discovers the woman she can be in one unforgettable summer. She faces challenging choices and grows in ways she never imagined. Benson is the author of 13 novels and is an associate professor at the University of Alabama. “Apprehensions and Convictions: Adventures of a 50-year old Rookie Cop,” by Mark Johnson, Quill Driver Books, February 2016, $18.95 (memoir/law enforcement) Johnson was a non-profit charity executive until he decided to become a street cop with the Mobile Police Department. Despite derision from younger cops who called him “Paw Paw” and his own self-doubts, he became a decorated officer and eventually a detective. The book chronicles the challenges, disillusionments and dangers he faced in his law enforcement career. “American Organic: A Cultural History of Farming, Gardening, Shopping and Eating,” by Robin O’Sullivan, Ph.D., University Press of Kansas, October 2015, $34.95 hardcover (food/ cultural history) This book traces the organic food movement from the agricultural pioneers of the 1940s to the hippies of the 1960s to consumer activists of today. The author, a professor at Troy University, examines the intersections of farmers, gardeners, consumers, government regulations, food shipping venues, advertisements and more. “Heart of Stone – Remembering Tat Bailey,” by Loretta Wade, CreateSpace, March 2016, $9.99 (biography) Tyrus Cobb “Tat” Bailey, one of north Alabama’s most memorable and eccentric residents, lived a few miles outside of Arab and his home, “The Singing Hills,” was visited by thousands of people. The book features stories, first-hand accounts, and photos by many of Tat’s family and friends. “The Be Attitudes,” by Raymona Bevel, Ed.D., Author House, April 2015, $10.42 paperback (children) This series of seven stories, designed for ages 5 to 12, focuses on positive character traits, and the stories are told by “Little Lue” about people in her neighborhood or at her school. The stories encourage children to take charge of their attitudes and choose to be positive. The author was an educator in Madison County and lives in Marshall County.

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Conserve Alabama aims to protect resources

Photos courtesy Conserve Alabama

Ben Malone, Alabama’s state conservationist with the Natural Resources Conservation Service, speaks to the crowd at the Conserve Alabama launch.

The “Ag in Action” lab, a 26-foot learning lab on wheels, allows Alabama’s elementary and middle school students to experience farming through hands-on activities and audio-visual technology. The lab was on display at the Conserve Alabama launch.


gainst the backdrop of the Alabama River at the Union Station Train Shed, 300 conservation district supervisors, conservation partners, and students gathered to hear the Alabama Soil & Water Conservation Committee (SWCC) launch a new initiative to continue its mission of conserving Alabama’s natural resources. Conserve Alabama is a campaign to increase awareness and engage a greater audience of those who believe in the noble endeavor of conserving our natural resources so future generations can enjoy the same Alabama the Beautiful we know and love. “Whether you live in rural or urban Alabama, you rely on natural resources and you play an important role in their future,” says Frank Nalty, SWCC Chairman. Nalty, who’s been involved in SWCC for more than 30 years, served as the event’s emcee. Montgomery Mayor Todd Strange and Agriculture Commissioner John McMillan offered welcoming remarks. For 76 years, SWCC has promoted healthy soil, sustainable forests, drinkable and fishable water, and clean air by connecting those who use and work the land to education, technical knowhow, and resources that assist in conservation efforts and enhance their stewardship. “Ninety-three percent of the land in Alabama is privately owned, so the greatest responsibility of stewardship is on farmers and landowners,” said Charles Holmes, SWCC board member and Perry County farmer. Conserve Alabama seeks to increase support for conservation efforts on private land, conservation education, small and urban farms, and the farm-to-table movement across Alabama. “As a timberland owner, I’ve always been conscious about how what I do on my land impacts all Alabamians, but we’re facing a new and pressing challenge. As farm land shrinks, urbanization spreads, and our population grows, we have to be even better stewards of our resources. It’s going to take all of us supporting conser24 MAY 2016

State Agriculture Commissioner John McMillan speaks at the Conserve Alabama launch at the Union Station Train Shed in Montgomery.

vation efforts so we can provide for future generations,” Nalty says. Alabama used to boast about 8 million acres of cropland. Today, that number has dwindled to about 3 million. “We’re fortunate in recent years to see a reignited interest in knowing where your food comes from and how it was grown. Through Conserve Alabama, we want to tap into that interest and help people become more aware of how conservation impacts us all,” said Dr. William Puckett, SWCC executive director. “Without healthy soil, we couldn’t grow food and fiber, Alabama’s agriculture industry would not be the $70 billion economic driver it is, and we would not be able to sustain a population. Conservation is truly at the foundation of it all,” Puckett says. SWCC is organized into 67 conservation districts, one in every county, governed by a guiding principle of conservation from the ground up and a board of five volunteer supervisors who assess and direct conservation efforts in their district. A District Administrative Coordinator in each district serves as the connection between the land user and the services and resources available. Conservation districts work hand-in-hand with the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to secure funding and technical assistance for landowners and farmers. The Conserve Alabama launch event included a dozen educational displays, including an Ag in Action trailer, Soil Tunnel, and Rainfall Simulator demonstrating proper conservation practices and educating about natural resources. E.A.T. South from Montgomery, Oakview Farm from Wetumpka, and Eastaboga Bee Company also set up displays. Sixty students from Reeltown and Horseshoe Bend Elementary Schools attended the event. ¢ Support local conservation efforts by visiting Follow Conserve Alabama on Instagram (@conservealabama) and like them on Facebook ( to keep up with news and updates.

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Before you hang up the car keys, learn more about senior driver safety By Carole Howell


’m a member of what modern culture describes as the sandwich generation. That puts me squarely between my two inexperienced teenage drivers and my parents, whose driving skills are equally questionable at times. Statistically, I have reason to be concerned. Inexperienced, risk-taking teenagers are involved in the greatest number of accidents overall and senior drivers cause or are involved in a greater share of fatal crashes for the number of miles they drive. Alabama is one of the top ten states with the highest percentage of drivers 65 and older – 18 percent. The population of older Americans 65 and older is projected to grow by 60 percent over the next 15 years. And because of better health, recreation opportunities, and safety technology, seniors are expected to remain mobile and active for much longer than just a few decades ago. But even though older drivers are more likely to buckle up and not be distracted by the radio or cell phone, health problems, disabilities, and slower reaction times can make driving more dangerous for seniors. According to data collected by David Brown, PhD, of the Center for Advanced Public Safety of the University of Alabama, problems for older drivers seem to appear around the age of 72, but age is not necessarily an indicator of driving ability. “Alabama pretty much mirrors any other place when it comes to driver safety,” says Jamie Harding, AARP Alabama communications director. “You could have an 85-year-old driver who is a better or safer driver than a 55-year-old person with health issues.” Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease raise obvious red flags, but age-related problems like glaucoma, hypertension, cataracts, diabetes, and sleep disorders may also contribute to decreased ability behind the wheel. Even medication changes can cause problems on the road. Clues to possible impairment include unexplained damage to the car, more fender-benders involving other drivers, confusion or forgetfulness. Unlike many other states, Alabama imposes no additional licensing or testing requirements for older drivers. Vision, written, and driving tests are not required unless licensing authorities believe that a driver has a condition or limitation that would affect his or her ability to drive safely. 26 MAY 2016

In Alabama, a licensed physician may request that a driver be tested or have their driving privileges restricted. Restrictions can include no nighttime driving, no freeway driving, or limiting trips to local destinations like the store or to the doctor. Despite obvious safety concerns, be aware that losing driving

“There’s not really a magic age that you need to take away the keys.” privileges can be devastating to a senior, symbolizing the end of independence and control. It can also lead to feelings of anger, isolation, and depression. Before you decide to hang up the keys for good, there are several things to try. Harding said that last year more than 400 Alabama drivers took advantage of Car Fit, a program of AARP, AAA, and the American Occupational Therapy Association. Trained volunteers help drivers modify their cars to make them safer, and simple things such as proper seat and mirror adjustments can make a world of difference. Adaptive equipment such as a larger mirrors or hearing aids can help. Simply understanding the symptoms of a medical condition or side effects of medications can help a senior driver understand when they need to call for a ride. AAA and AARP also offer driving refresher courses and safety assessments for older drivers. For families, AARP offers a free online seminar called “We Need To Talk” on that explores several topics, including the strong emotions attached to automobile independence, ways to begin the conversation, and ideas for substitute transportation. “There’s not really a magic age that you need to take away the keys,” says Harding. “It’s important to remember that older drivers are not necessarily worse drivers as a function of their age. They tend, actually, to be very good drivers as long as they don’t have impairments such as vision, hearing, health, or medication issues.”¢ To learn more about Alabama’s driver safety programs for all ages, visit

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ore than 150 high school juniors flooded downtown Montgomery March 15-17 for The Electric Cooperatives of Alabama Montgomery Youth Tour. Sponsored by your local cooperative and the Alabama Rural Electric Association, Montgomery Youth Tour is part of a grassroots program to educate high school juniors on electric cooperatives, cooperative ideas and various aspects of state government. Representing 19 electric cooperatives from all over Alabama, the students had the opportunity to take part in many different activities and become more familiar with the history of their Capitol City. While in Montgomery, they had the opportunity to visit the state Capitol, the Civil Rights Memorial, Dexter Avenue King Memorial Church and the Alabama Voices exhibit housed at the Alabama Department of Archives and History. Their evenings were spent getting to know fellow representatives from other cooperatives. From cosmic bowling to a dinner dance and photo booth, students were able to spend time getting to know one another. Students also spent time doing team-building activities with other cooperatives. Speaker Cea Cohen-Elliott challenged the students to think outside of the box through various activities and encouraged them to make a difference in their communities through her inspired sessions. The Youth Tour delegation had an opportunity to meet with state legislators during a meet and greet at the State House. Twenty-five legislators were able to attend and offered insight to the students on the political process and current issues and took time to answer questions. 28 MAY 2016

Forty-seven of the Montgomery Youth Tour students will have the opportunity to attend the Washington D.C. Youth Tour June 10-16. Alabama students will join more than 1,600 students from all across the country for the Rural Electric Youth Tour, sponsored by the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association. Students will have the opportunity to visit many of the historic and tourist destinations while in D.C. For more information about Alabama Youth Tours, contact your local electric cooperative or Laura Stewart, Youth Tour Director at

May | Around Alabama


Cullman, 2016 Annual Strawberry Festival. Friday will be Senior Day from 9 a.m.-2 p.m., with a free lunch provided to the first 300 seniors. The festival will be from 4 p.m. to 11 p.m. on Friday and 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Saturday. Come join us for the freshest strawberries in the state, live music, a crafts show, free games and activities for the kids. Festhalle Market Platz. cullman





Fairhope, The 62-mile Good Life Ride will be on Mother’s Day weekend. The ride is of moderate difficulty with a flat terrain through a rural route. Proceeds benefit bicycle safety awareness. The ride will end with an after-race party at Tacky Jack’s. Admission is $35.


Dothan, The Wiregrass Master Gardeners, along with Coffee County and Claybank Master Gardeners, will hold the AMGA 26th Annual Conference, 126 North Saint Andrews St. Breakout sessions, roundtable discussions and speakers, door prizes and a silent auction. The registration fee of $130 covers two dinners and a box lunch in addition to the conference.

Scottsboro, The 17th Annual Catfish Festival at the County Park will feature fried catfish plates, arts and crafts, vehicle shows and concerts. Free. 256-259-1503,


Danville, 29th Annual Multicultural Indian Event, Oakville Indian Mounds Education Center. Festival features living history demonstrators, arts and crafts vendors, traditional drum and dance groups, flute music, native and festival foods, and free hands-on children’s activities. Learn more about flint knapping, pottery making, weaving, trading and jewelry making of the past. There will also be $1 wagon rides, canoe rides, and facepainting. Free, $2 parking donation. 10 a.m.-5 p.m.


Arab, Poke Salat Festival, 9 a.m.-10 p.m., Historic Downtown Arab. Featuring a Poke Salat cookoff, 5K and fun run, pet parade and arts and crafts vendors.


Florence, 6th Annual UNA Front Porch Storytelling Festival. Featuring a variety of professional storytellers as well as musicians. Come embark on a journey to different times and places through the vivid stories of

The Arley Day Festival will have many vendors and activities for all ages.

Photo courtesy of the Arley Women’s Club, Inc.

Montgomery, The 19th annual Herb Day will be held at the “Living Block” at Old Alabama Town, 301 Columbus St., 8 a.m.-3 p.m. Free, educational event for the entire family. Lectures and demonstrations featuring experts on identifying, growing and using herbs, including a cooking demonstration. There will be music, children’s activities, herbs and other plants, crafts, herbal teas, goat cheeses and yard art for sale. The festival will also feature a student art exhibit, children’s hands-on activities to take home, music in the gardens all day and many herb plant vendors to choose from., 334-240-2290.

Prattville, Prattville Cityfest will kick off with a free concert from The Tip Tops on Friday from 7 p.m. until 11 p.m., and Saturday from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. Vendors will be selling homemade goods and crafts. Activities for children, great food and live entertainment along the creekwalk. Free Friday night, $2 Saturday, 5 and under free.

Learn how to make your backyard a bird paradise May 26 at the NaturePlex in Millbrook.

Geraldine Buckley, Doloras Hydock, Minton Sparks, Tim Lowry and many others. 256-765-4557,


Mentone, Rhododendron Festival features artists and craftsman with their handcrafted wares. Live entertainment and food vendors on site. Potted rhododendron plants avaliable for purchase.


Arley, Arley Day Festival, Car Show & Parade, Hamner Park. Annual community festival featuring a 5K Run, pancake breakfast, parade, antique car show, food & merchandise vendors. Entertainment provided by local artists, games for all ages. Free to the public. 7a.m. till 3p.m., 205-489-1445.


West Blocton, The Cahaba Lily Festival will feature presentations about the Cahaba lilies, lunch and a trip to the river to view the lilies. Free to attend, but donations accepted to cover lunch.

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


Millbrook, NaturePlex, 3050 Lanark Road. How to make your backyard a birding paradise. Doyle Keasal, our Conservation Education Specialist, will teach how to make your backyard a paradise for the numerous bird species that call Alabama home. Learn what species of plants birds like, and where to place bird feeders. Community Room, admission $5. Out of State

June 4-5

Douglasville, Ga., Penny McHenry Hydrangea Festival. The 9th Annual Penny McHenry Hydrangea Festival will be in Douglas County. The hydrangea theme for 2016 is the “Blue Wave,” complementing the America the Beautiful theme. For tour and schedule information, visit

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MAY 2016 29


Traveling Traveling with with grandchildren grandchildren

a new generation a new generation a new experience a new experience By Marilyn Jones


became a grandmother Jan. 12, 2015, when Ainsley Hazel Moore arrived. One of my dreams for this sweet little girl is for her to enjoy the excitement and adventure of travel like I do and I think she has a pretty good start. She visited eight states her first year! As a travel writer for the better part of three decades, my own children certainly saw the world; great practice for this time in my life. I also talk to other grandparents and travel experts, taking note of some of the ways I can make vacations with my granddaughter into wonderful and positive multi-generational experiences. This is what I have learned.

Talktotothe theParents Parents Talk

Who else knows their children better? What they like to do, their current interests, and sleeping and eating habits. Parents will also know if their child is ready to be away from home without them. To make sure children are ready, many grandparents take their grandchildren on a close-by weekend adventure. Nancy Humphrey, a grandmother of five – ages five to 17 – started by having each child spend the night at her house followed by long weekends at attractions and hotels to see how it went. “I took them places they had never been before, making sure I stayed within 100 miles of their home,” she

says. “After the test runs I knew when each child was ready for a longer trip away.” Humphrey also says each child is different. Some are ready at a much younger age. This “trial run” also helps grandparents find out about their own limitations. Children have seemingly endless energy. If you have trouble keeping up on a short trip – even if everything else goes well – you may want to wait until the child is older for a longer vacation.

Road trips Road trips

Your road trip experience doesn’t have to be all “are we there yet,” if you plan

Birmingham Zoo is a great destination for children. PHOTO BY JEFF GREENBERG

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MAY 2016 31

right. In the planning stage of a vacation, order road maps (yes they still make them), brochures and area guides. They are free and easy to order online from city convention and visitors bureaus or from state tourism boards. Show where you’re going on the map and ask where the child might want to stop. When traveling with grandchildren it will end up being more about them than you anyway, so plan accordingly. If you have a portable DVD player, bring it and ask your grandchildren to bring along their favorite movies. Or other activities — even the old standby coloring books and crayons are all some children need to pass the time.

Bring food that they like, but that won’t make a mess. And search on the Internet for games to play in the car. Of course, this all depends on the child’s age. Older children seem to adapt better to long trips than smaller children. Stop often. It’s good for children and adults.

You’re the guardian. You’re the guardian. prepared BeBe prepared

During a vacation, you are responsible. Always have the children’s proper identification — photocopies of birth certificates should be fine for all needs if staying in the United States, medical histories, and

health insurance cards including prescription cards, dental insurance cards and secondary insurance cards. Carry contact information, recent photos and notarized authorization from their parents in case they need medical attention. Some countries do not allow entry of minors not accompanied by both parents unless the children have written notarized permission from the absent parents. The rules vary from country to country, so it’s best to always be prepared. Passports are essential for any international travel. And, it is always a good idea to purchase travel insurance. So plan, prepare and have a great time.¢

The Cat in the Hat and other Dr. Suess characters are on hand to entertain children on Carnival cruises. PHOTO COURTESY CARNIVAL CRUISE LINE

Alabama: The Kid-Friendly State! Alabama has so much to offer vacationers traveling with children from the mountains in northern Alabama to the beaches on the Gulf coast. Hike, bike, fish, kayak or swim if you and your grandkids are the outdoor types. Alabama has several

award-winning zoos, state parks, historic destinations, and water parks and boat tours. Museums often underline lessons children have learned in school including natural science, art, music, folklore and world history.

By Marilyn Jones

Many grandparents I talked to say they like to cruise with their grandchildren because cruise lines often offer special programs for the younger set. Beginning this November, Carnival Cruise Lines will be offering four- and five-day cruises from Mobile to Cozu-

mel, Costa Maya, and Progreso, Yucatan. In addition to a full schedule of activities – all complimentary – catering to kids in three age groups, babysitting is an option when grandparents need some “me” time as well.¢

A great website that lists just about anything and everything you can think of to do with your grandkids in Alabama is 32 MAY 2016

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| Worth the drive |

Al Online

See video of the Pikeville store at

The Wilkersons claim there’s no secret ingredient in their burgers, just a personal touch that goes into each one.

Down at the Crossroads

Pikeville Store serves a warm welcome (and tasty burger) to all comers By Drew Woolley


here’s a spot in North Alabama the locals have long referred to as “Black Ankle” for the rich, black soil that used to cover the feet of people hoofing it through the area. These days, it serves as the intersection of three county roads: From the east, 31 dead ends into 470, bound north, while 21 joins them from the west before swerving due south. For more than 100 years, the Pikeville Store has stood at that crossroads, and for most of that time it’s been in Dwayne Wilkerson’s family. The original store on that property, built in 1906, was torn down in the ’60s and replaced by the building people all across the state know today. For three generations — from Dwayne’s grandfather to his mother, then to he and his wife, Connie — the Pikeville Store was your typical general store with a couple of gas pumps out front offering diesel and non-ethanol fuel. But in 1993 the Wilkersons decided they wanted to do something more.

The atmosphere the owners cultivate is a big part of the store’s unique character. With Connie ready to move on from her work in a local dentist’s office, the couple installed a grill, added a section in the back for additional seating and transformed the longstanding store into one of the state’s hottest burger spots. 34 MAY 2016

“I really just thought it would be a good idea for the farmhands around here to have something for them, and it worked out,” says Connie. “It worked out better than we could’ve expected.” While the venture may have started with farmers in mind, it now serves anyone and everyone from Huntsville, Birmingham and throughout the Southeast. It’s out of the way for many, especially considering that they won’t find the unofficial community of Pikeville anywhere on a map – but it’s certainly worth the trip for those lured to the crossroads by tales of great food and Southern hospitality.

Labor of love

Drop by during one of the store’s weekday 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. lunch rushes and you can feel the greasy spoon buzz as locals and strangers alike come in to chat and grab a bite to eat. Dwayne works the crowd out front and manages the register, while Connie, who no longer has the time to mingle like she used to, runs the grill. But it’s Saturdays when the community really descends on the Pikeville Store. The Wilkersons don’t keep a close head count, but since most visitors would be out of their mind to order anything but a cheeseburger, Connie can work up a close guess at their weekend business by tallying the buns she goes through in the kitchen. After some culinary mental math (15 trays of 20 large buns, plus 15 of 12 small buns), she estimates that they serve about 500

burgers on an average weekend. “We’ve started trying to stay open later to spread it out because our normal hours just get so jammed,” Connie says. “There’s an hour wait sometimes, and I hate for people to have to do that. But it’s like they don’t mind; it’s a big party.” That kind of success doesn’t come easy, and their hard work has earned appreciation from fans throughout the state. When asked its readers for their favorite burgers in 2014, the Pikeville Store rode a wave of support into the top 15. But as tasty as the burgers are, the atmosphere the owners cultivate is a big part of the store’s unique character. In 2006, the Wilkersons were temporarily forced to lease the business to an out-oftown owner as they took a few years off for Dwayne to fight prostate cancer. Same location, same equipment, but the store never thrived the same as it had under its previous owners’ care. The new owner eventually moved on, and for a short time the Pikeville Store sat in silence, until Dwayne’s health improved in 2012. Pikeville Store N Deli 5182 County Road 21 Scottsboro, AL 35768 256-259-0262


Hours: Tuesday-Friday 6 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday 10 a.m.-8 p.m.

Alabama Living

MAY 2016 35

“The building was just sitting here empty, so I just said, ‘Now that you’re better, let’s go back,’” Connie recalls. “Because you miss the people. I missed the people in the community; I missed the atmosphere.”

A Melting Pot

TOP: After a six-year hiatus, Dwayne and Connie returned to running the Pikeville Store in 2012. ABOVE: Business has never been better for the Wilkersons. Judging by the buns they go through, Connie estimates the store serves around 500 customers on an average weekend.

36 MAY 2016

Since that return, things haven’t slowed down for Dwayne and Connie. The fast pace of Saturdays continues to pick up as increasingly varied customers check in from all parts of the Southeast. “I wish I had a ledger of all the people who come in here,” says Dwayne. “We serve doctors, lawyers, judges and regular people like ourselves. Of course, if they’re from out of town, we don’t know if they’re a lawyer or sleeping under a bridge.” For some people, catering to such a diverse group might be a challenge, but for Dwayne it’s just a matter of treating strangers and regulars with the same warmth. As for the food, Connie’s only secret (that she’s willing to admit) is cooking every burger as though it’s her own. “People come in and basically know each other, they go from table to table,” she says of the hum that pervades the store. “It’s a melting pot really. Lawyers come in and sit next to farmers. It’s just like one big, happy family.”

One photo on a back wall attests to that family bond. Many members of the Wilkerson clan have pitched in from time to time, and when she was 16, Connie’s niece would work in the kitchen. On a particularly busy Saturday, she asked her aunt to find out who one of the customers, a young man, was — but be discreet. With no time for subtlety, Connie waltzed out and called to the boy’s father, asking how old he was and whether he was single. Her niece may have turned a shade of crimson, but she got his number, and her photo with her now husband of 6 years hangs in the store as a reminder. “He said that’s the most expensive cheeseburger he’s ever gotten,” Connie says with a laugh. “I started telling people if you want to come work here, we’ll find you a husband.” With the growing pace of the business, the Wilkersons figure they only have a few more years of running the store left in them. But they can rest assured that the importance of the Pikeville Store as the heart of its namesake community won’t diminish. The invisible town’s boundaries may not be set in stone, but Connie has a pretty good idea of where it begins. “I think Pikeville starts right here,” she says with a smile. “If you sit here you’ll see all types walk in. And we love it.”

Alabama Living

MAY 2016 37

| Gardens |

Want more plants? Go forth and multiply!


f you want more of the plants you love but don’t have a big plant-buying budget, just go forth and multiply the ones you have by using some tried-and-true propagation methods. Botanical propagation — the process of making new plants from existing ones — is something plants do naturally either by spreading their seeds or spores (called sexual propagation) or by growing new offspring from their own stems, leaves, roots, bulbs, rhizomes, and the like (known as asexual or vegetative propagation). Sexual propagation, because it relies on the DNA of two separate plants, results in offspring that are genetically different from the parents, while asexual propagation results in offspring that are genetic replicas of the parent plants — clones if you will. Though there are myriad propagation methods to try, some require more expertise than many garden-variety gardeners (myself included) possess. However, we home gardeners still have plenty of simple and inexpensive options at our fingertips. Among the easiest are: collecting seed

May Tips • • • • • • • • • •

Plant summer annuals and perennials. Plant ornamental grasses and fallblooming perennials. Seed new lawns and begin fertilizing established ones. Remove emerging weeds from garden beds before they become established. Plant eggplant, pepper, and tomato transplants. Sow seed for sweet corn, squash, okra and lima and snap beans. Fertilize houseplants that are actively growing or blooming. Prune dead winter damaged limbs from shrubs, trees, and vines. Keep bird feeders and baths full and clean. Visit spring plant sales, garden tours, and farmers markets.

38 MAY 2016

(which works well for many vegetables, a number of flowers and some herbs), digging young seedlings (great for many trees and shrubs) and dividing or separating clumps of herbaceous perennials and bulb- or rhizome-producing plants (ornamental grasses, hostas, geraniums, daffodils and irises, to name a few). Another easy method is to root new plants from stems, leaves and roots. Propagate succulents and houseplants by carefully breaking or snipping off healthy leaves and rooting them in a sterile growing medium or in water. Most other plants, however, must be propagated from either stem or root cuttings or by layering.

Layering can occur naturally

Layering, which often occurs naturally when low-lying limbs or runners stay in contact with the soil long enough to sprout new roots along the limb, is one of the best ways to propagate many shrubs, trees, vines and some herbs. The baby plants have the advantage of still being attached to the parent plant, which supports them as they mature. A number of layering techniques can be employed, including ground and air layering. If you’re new to layering, practice by burying the tip end or a section of a young, supple, low-lying limb in a shallow hole beneath the parent plant. Secure it in place with a brick or rock. Then, when the buried site develops enough new roots to be self-sufficient, clip it away from the parent plant and transplant it elsewhere. To propagate from cuttings, snip off young, supple root or stem sections, place them in water or a rooting medium and let them develop a healthy root system before transplanting them elsewhere. Whenever you take cuttings, be sure to use sharp, sterile knives or clippers. You may also want to treat the cut areas with a rooting hormone to promote faster growth. And if you’re growing cuttings in a soil mixture rather than in water (the choice of which may also depend on the type of plant you’re rooting) use a sterile, well-draining soil mix — not soil from your garden, as it may contain diseases or pests that can kill new plants.

Propagating many plants can be as easy as dividing their roots, bulbs or rhizomes. This single iris clump yielded three large, healthy rhizomes that could be replanted or shared.

Research before starting

How and when you gather seed, take cuttings or start the layering process varies among different plants, so do a little research on the type of plant you’re propagating before you get started. Typically, seeds are harvested as they start to dry on a plant; stem cuttings and layering are done in the spring, summer and sometimes into the fall; and root cuttings are usually best taken in the late fall when plants are dormant. It may take several weeks, months or even a year or two for new plants to develop enough roots to be replanted elsewhere, but with a little patience you’ll have a whole new family of the plants you love to keep for yourself or share with others. More detailed information on how to propagate plants is available online and through your local Alabama Cooperative Extension System office, or borrow a book on plant propagation from your local library.¢

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

Alabama Living

MAY 2016 39

| Outdoors |

Trophy trout Fishing for bigger trout requires more focused approach with Harrison Inshore Charters & Guide Service. “In the summer, I look for mullets in water no deeper than six feet deep. The west end of Mobile Bay can produce some big trout. The Mobile River has produced a lot of 6- to 7-pound trout over the years.” People can catch trophy trout on just about any jig, spoon and other temptation, but large topwater baits frequently produce the most strikes from monster specks. Topwater baits come in poppers, prop baits and walk-the-dog varieties. Some of the best topwaters zigzag across the surface, mimicking wounded baitfish. Many anglers work baits with a continuous retrieve, but big trout frequently attack when a bait slows down or pauses occasionally. “Topwater baits are great baits for attracting big trout,” Rutland says. “The two biggest trout I ever caught came on Super Spook topwater lures. Both weighed more than eight pounds. I caught one near Sand Island and the other close to the Mobile River. I released both of them.” When all else fails, offer fish fresh meat. Some excellent live baits include mullets, pogies, also called menhaden, pinfish and croakers. A 5-pound trout can easily swallow a 12-inch mullet. When fishing for big trout, many anglers free-line live baitfish. Others prefer to use popping corks or slip cork rigs that hold baits vertically at pre-determined depths. “In the spring and early summer, I really like to use



eople often hear about that novice who fishes five minutes and lands a fish of a lifetime. Sure, that happens occasionally. Anyone who fishes along the Alabama coast could land a giant speckled trout on any cast with any bait on any day, but to consistently catch trophy trout, anglers need to specifically fish for big trout. “Fishing for trophy trout requires a lot of patience,” says Richard Rutland with Cold Blooded Fishing of Mobile. “People won’t get a thousand bites a day. If I had to pick months to catch big trout in the Mobile Bay area, I’d say December, January, April and May.” Anglers fishing for trophy speckled trout might spend long hours casting hundreds of times while hoping for one or two bites. They must ignore nearby anglers filling ice chests with smaller school trout. Bigger trout sometimes follow schooling specks, not to eat the shrimp or baitfish that the schoolies want, but to eat other trout. They lurk beneath the school waiting to pounce on one of their unsuspecting smaller speckled cousins. Also, fish at odd hours like at night when fewer people roam the waters and avoid fishing on holidays or weekends whenever possible. Loners, big trout often act more like redfish or largemouth bass than other trout. Trophy trout typically lurk around cover to wait for morsels to venture too close. They hang around oyster reefs, rock piles, sunken boats, jetties, gas wells or other hard, irregular structure where they can ambush prey. Humps, isolated reefs or channel drop-offs offer fish access to deep sanctuaries and shallow feeding flats, making them excellent places to look for big trout. While a giant speck would slurp any shrimp that passes too close, big trout generally prefer to eat finfish. Bigger fish might not feed every day. They typically want to grab one big, slow meal that doesn’t require too much energy to catch rather than chase down a bunch of tiny morsels. “Bait is the key for catching big trout,” says George Harrison

Jacob Wood shows off a speckled trout he caught.

40 MAY 2016

Alabama Living

MAY 2016 41

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

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

This speckled trout hit a topwater bait, always a good choice for producing big fish.

live croakers,” Rutland says. “If I can’t find croakers, I’ll use live pogies. I free-line them with just a hook and no weight.” Pick a good spot with easy access to both deep and shallow water and abundant bait. When fishing with live bait, place several rods in holders. Offer the fish various live temptations at different depths. Put some baits on the shallow side of a drop or structure and some in the depths while free-lining other baits in the mid-depth ranges. Although Alabama waters rarely produce trout exceeding 10 pounds, the state can produce many trout in the 4to 8-pound range with some bigger fish. Wilfred A. Ducharme landed the state record, a 12.25-pounder, while fishing off Orange Beach in May 1980. “For catching a 5- to 7-pound trout, I recommend fishing around Dauphin Island in the spring,” Rutland says. “Fishing oyster flats

42 MAY 2016

in April and May can be very good. The area around Dauphin Island bridge is a great area for that. I also like the western end of Dauphin Island, the grass flats on the north side and along the beach on the south side.Ӣ For more information, visit: and

John N. Felsher is a freelance writer and photographer who writes from Semmes, Ala. Contact him through his website at www.

Steven Felsher shows off a speckled trout he caught while fishing in the Gulf of Mexico.

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Alabama Living

MAY 2016 45

| Alabama Recipes |

don’t be



ven if you’re already a devoted lover of chicken salad, don’t be shy about branching out beyond the basic and finding a new favorite. My relationship with chicken salad has not always been a rosy one, and while it was me who knowingly and willingly put a formidable distance between us, it wasn’t my fault alone. It was chicken salad’s own bad behavior on several occasions that really caused the rift. For years, I wouldn’t touch the stuff. In my mind, every scoop or plate of this Southern luncheon staple was the same: the same bland, rubbery chunks of chicken, hunks of boiled egg, inchthick slices of soggy celery smothered in copious amounts of mayonnaise (and not even good mayo, probably some low-fat pretender). That was my first experience with chicken salad. I was dismayed. “Everyone loves it. It’s served at pretty much every bridal shower, church tea and favorite small-town restaurant in the South. I must be wrong. It has to be good.” Those were my self-shaming thoughts, so I gave it a second chance. And a third. I won’t name the cooks and eateries that almost kept me separated from chicken salad forever with their sad renditions of the classic dish. Thank goodness, after years of intentionally being apart, I gave it one more shot and finally

found some good – make that great – chicken salad. Now, I never push a plate of chicken salad away. I’ll eat chicken salad all by itself, on crackers, in a hollowed out tomato, on top of lettuce, whatever. And despite an initial fear (based on past experience) of trying anything other than the chicken salad that finally won me over, I now enjoy any and all types: basic with just salt, black pepper and mayo; with all kinds of fruits and nuts; with little or no mayo; heck, even with jalapeno and pineapple. When it comes to chicken salad, the only thing I won’t do ever again is eat the bad stuff, the chicken salad imitators that offer only mere shadows of the tastes and textures that make all true chicken salad delicious. But how do I avoid them? I rely on the recommendations of trusted friends when it comes to ordering chicken salad in a restaurant, but the best way to ensure lasting chicken salad bliss is to just make it for yourself. Here are a few chicken salad recipes from our readers, some like grandma made and some with fun, flavor-packed twists. Find one that seems like it suits you and don’t be afraid to fall fully in love with a new version of an old favorite.

- Jennifer Kornegay

Cook of the Month Ernestine Pace North Alabama EC

Ernestine Pace doesn’t remember how long she’s been making her Ginger Chicken Salad, but she knows what inspired her to add blueberries. “My brother grows blueberries, and they are just so good in it.” The sweetness of the ripe berries plays off the zip of the lemon and the crunch of the almonds. And it’s the title ingredient that truly sets it apart. “That ginger really makes it, I think,” Ernestine said. “It’s not too strong, and some people can’t really put their finger on what it is, but it just brings something extra that makes it really refreshing and perfect for spring and summer."

46 MAY 2016

Ginger Chicken Salad 2 cups cubed cooked chicken 1½ cups fresh blueberries 1 cup seedless green or red grapes 1 cup chopped celery ½ cup slivered almonds

Dressing: ½ cup mayonnaise ¼ cup sour cream 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice 1½ teaspoons grated lemon peel 1½ teaspoons sugar ½ teaspoon ground ginger ¼ teaspoon salt

In a large bowl, combine chicken, blueberries, celery, grapes and almonds. In a small bowl, mix dressing ingredients. Pour dressing over chicken. This salad is good served with cantaloupes, served on a bed of lettuce or served in a Pita pocket.


Picnic Perfect


Ranch dressing, buffalo wing sauce and celery

Soy sauce, curry powder and green onion



Mango chutney, bananas and cashews

Avocado, salsa and cilantro

Easy Hawaiian Pineapple, almonds and grapes

Alabama Living

Black and Blue Blue cheese dressing, walnuts, grapes

MAY 2016 47

Doris’ Chicken Salad 3 cups chicken breast, cooked and chopped 1 ½ cups celery, diced ¼ cup dill pickle, finely chopped 1 ½ cups seedless red grapes, quartered 1 cup pecans, toasted and chopped 2 small apples, peeled and chopped 2/3 cup mayonnaise 1 tablespoon sugar ½ teaspoon salt 3 tablespoons lemon juice Mix mayonnaise, sugar, salt, and lemon juice together in a small bowl. Mix rest of ingredients together in a large bowl. Add mayonnaise mixture and mix well. Chill in refrigerator for at least an hour before serving. Delicious with crackers or homemade bread. Sheila Copenhaver Southern Pine EC

Black & Blue Grilled Chicken Salad 3 1 ¼ 1 ¼ ¼ ½

skinless, boneless chicken breasts golden delicious apple cup red seedless grapes celery stick cup walnuts cup mayo cup blue cheese dressing Salt and pepper

Salt and pepper the chicken. Grill on direct heat 8 minutes per side. Set aside to rest. Chop celery and walnuts; peel, core and chop the apple and chop the grapes. In a large bowl, mix mayo and blue cheese dressing. Chop the chicken and add to the bowl along with other ingredients. Mix well, add salt and pepper to taste. Kirk Vantrease Cullman EC

Who knew? Most sources claim its origins are in Rhode Island, with the first chicken salad being made from leftovers in that state in the mid-1800s.

Easy Hawaiian Chicken Salad 2 3-ounce packages cream cheese, softened 1/3 cup mayonnaise 1 8-ounce can pineapple tidbits, drained 3 5-ounce cans chunk chicken, drained 1 cup slivered almonds 1 ½ cups seedless grapes, halved In a medium bowl, beat cream cheese until creamy. Add other ingredients and mix well. Chill until ready to serve. Robbie Vantrease Cullman EC

Buffalo Chicken Salad 4 cups shredded chicken, cooked 1 8-ounce block cream cheese, softened ½ cup ranch dressing ¾-1 cup buffalo wing sauce 1 cup shredded cheese ¾ cup chopped celery Mix the chicken and cream cheese together first, stirring until the cream cheese is smooth throughout the mixture. Stir in all other ingredients until evenly combined.

Picnic Perfect Chicken Salad 2 1 1 1

cups cubed cooked chicken cup diced celery crisp apple, diced (Fuji, Gala) bunch green onions, white and green parts diced ½ cup chopped nuts (I used roasted sliced almonds, but pecans or walnuts are also good) ¼ cup regular soy sauce 1/8 teaspoon curry powder Mix all together and stir to make sure everything is coated. If you use low-sodium soy sauce, you may want to add salt. Taste and add additional curry powder to taste. (Start with a very small amount as curry can overwhelm the salad.) Karen Harrison Cullman EC

Avocado Chicken Salad 2 2 3/8 1/8 2

tablespoons olive oil tablespoons lime juice teaspoon sea salt teaspoon black pepper cups shredded skinless, boneless rotisserie chicken breast ¼ cup chopped cilantro ¾ cup refrigerated salsa 1 ripe avocado, peeled and chopped

Combine first four ingredients in a medium bowl, stirring with a whisk. Toss in chicken and cilantro. Right before serving, add salsa and avocado. Serve with chips, pita bread or on top of salad greens. Pamela Martin Arab EC

Rebecca Hullett Sand Mountain EC

Lawson Chicken Salad

Chicken Salad

4 1 1 ¼ 3 1 ¼

2 cups chicken breasts, cooked and shredded ½ teaspoon celery salt ½ teaspoon onion powder 1 red delicious apple, chopped 1 cup mayonnaise 1 teaspoon soy sauce 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce ¾-1 cup red seedless grapes, chopped

cups chicken, cooked and shredded cup chopped celery cup mayonnaise cup sour cream tablespoons lemon juice teaspoon salt teaspoon pepper

Add all ingredients in a large bowl and mix well. It tastes best after having had time to fully chill in the refrigerator. Serve with your favorite cracker, bread, or just eat it straight from the bowl as you will be tempted! Cassie Lawson Joe Wheeler EMC

Hot Chicken Salad 4 cups cooked chicken breast, shredded 3 cups cooked white rice 1 ½ cups shredded cheddar cheese 1 cup diced celery ¼ cup lemon juice 1 cup sliced water chestnuts 1 cup sliced roasted almonds 1 teaspoon salt 1 teaspoon pepper 1-1 ½ cups mayonnaise 1 sleeve Ritz crackers, crushed ¼ cup melted butter Mix first 9 ingredients. Add just enough mayonnaise to blend. Press into a greased 9-inch by 13-inch baking pan. Mix crushed crackers and butter together, and sprinkle on top of salad. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes out hot. Cut into squares to serve; serves 8 to 10. Sarah Stephenson Dixie EC Please send us your original recipes, developed by you or family members, and not ones copied from a book or magazine. You may adapt a recipe from another source by changing as little as the amount of one ingredient. Cook of the Month winners will receive $50, and may win “Cook of the Month” only once per calendar year.

Alabama Living

Combine the chicken, celery salt, onion powder, apple and grapes in a bowl. Combine the soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce and mayonnaise in another bowl. Add this to the chicken mixture and mix well. Serve on croissant or sandwich bread of choice with lettuce, if desired. Margaret Long Baldwin EMC

Mimi’s Chicken Salad 4 1 1 2

cups cooked chicken cup seedless grapes (chopped) cup cashews sliced bananas



before you die

Several restaurants around the state make chicken salad good enough to earn a spot on the “100 Dishes to Eat in Alabama Before You Die List”: Carlisle Drug Soda Fountain in Alexander City and Cups Café at Unclaimed Baggage in Scottsboro. And here are two of my personal favorites: curried chicken salad at Shashy’s Bakery in Montgomery and the chicken salad at O’Carr’s Deli in Birmingham.

Send us your recipes! Recipe Themes and Deadlines: July Peaches May Aug. Canning June Sept. Muscadines July

8 8 8

Dressing: 1 ½ cups mayonnaise 1 cup mango chutney 1 teaspoon lemon juice Salt and pepper to taste Combine first four ingredients. In a separate bowl mix mayonnaise, mango chutney and lemon juice. Pour over chicken mixture and blend together. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours, best overnight. I serve with a croissant and fresh fruit salad with a dollop of peach yogurt on fruit. Enjoy! Dora Powell Baldwin EMC

Share a story about your recipe! Whether it’s your grandmother’s best cake or your uncle’s camp stew, every recipe has a story behind it. We’ll pay $50 for the best recipe-related story each month.

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Submit: Online: Email: Mail: Recipes, P.O. Box 244014 Montgomery, AL 36124

MAY 2016 49

ATTENTION HVAC, PLUMBING, ROOFING, LANDSCAPING, CONSTRUCTION, AUTOMOTIVE, HEALTHCARE, INSURANCE, FINANCIAL SERVICES, IT & TELECOM, MANUFACTURING, ETC. As a local business, you may not need to advertise to the entire state. But what about the 15,000+ consumers in the Clarke-Washington EMC market? Alabama Living, the state’s largest publication, is offering this page to the first local business that wants to stand out from the competition and put its product/service in front of Clarke-Washington’s members.

This page will be gone fast. It’s efficient and effective marketing. Call 800.410.2737 or email:

50 MAY 2016

Alabama Living

MAY 2016  51

| Our Sources Say |

Cooperative values Where the priorities are safety and concern for the members


ver the past couple of years I have written a number of articles on global warming and regulations the Environmental Protection Agency has imposed or is attempting to impose on the electric utility industry. I receive emails and letters about those articles. Most of the comments are positive and supportive of the positions and issues I discuss. Some even encourage me to be more aggressive and public with my positions. However, a minority of comments are negative, critical, and at times attack me personally. The personal comments often accuse me of only following the “almighty dollar” and ruining the earth for our children. I take offense to those personal attacks. Electric cooperatives run their businesses with the best interests of the customer-members and the communities they serve as the first priority. The corporate values of PowerSouth Energy Cooperative, in order of importance, are: • Safety • Member Relations • Reliability • Cost of Service • Community Development • Employee Development This month I will discuss the first priority--safety for our employees, our customers and the public. Electricity is around us all the time. It makes modern life possible. We take it for granted, but it can be dangerous, even fatal. Making, transmitting and distributing electricity is extremely dangerous. You don’t have to work for an electric utility to know that putting something other than an electric plug into an electrical outlet is very dangerous. Electric generation is a heavy industrial process that involves high temperatures, very high pressures, heavy moving parts and dangerous chemicals. Electric transmission is high voltage with the danger of contact injuries. Electric distribution involves deadly infrastructure within the reach of ladders, antennas and poles. It is all dangerous. We have had a number of serious accidents at PowerSouth through the years. I will never forget sitting in the funeral of a

fellow employee who was killed in a workplace accident at one of our generation plants. It was one of the saddest days of my career. We don’t want that to happen to anyone else.

A foundation of safety

Electric cooperatives have made safety the foundation for their operations. They promote a culture of safety–planning the jobs safely, executing the work safely, and watching after their co-workers and the public. We have devoted resources of money and people to build an effective safety program and a work environment of safety. We have implemented safety practices around all jobs to direct work in a manner that protects people and property. We encourage workers to talk about safety and point out potential unsafe conditions. We have tailgate safety meetings before any job is started to ensure the scope of the job is understood and dangerous circumstances are discussed. We hold celebrations and provide incentives for meeting safety goals. But, we stress that a safety record is not good enough. The next accident is the one we are concerned about and the one we want to prevent. We recognize most accidents happen because someone was in a hurry and rushed the work to save time. We stress that the job must be understood and managed in both a productive and safe manner. We ask our employees to go home at the end of every day the same way they came to work. If our employees don’t comply with our culture of safety, we implement sanctions to ensure the safety of our employees and property are not compromised. We have made an investment in safety, and we insist our employees make an investment as well. PowerSouth Energy Cooperative’s safety record is not perfect. We have had a couple of years without a lost-time accident. Last year we only had one lost-time accident and six recordable incidents. That record is good but not good enough. We expect zero accidents from our people. PowerSouth and its member systems are committed to reliable and affordable service to the people and communities in our service areas. We are devoted to providing that service in a safe way for our employees, customers and the public. If you know us, you know that is what we are truly about. I hope you have a good month.

Gary Smith is President and CEO of PowerSouth Energy Cooperative

52 MAY 2016




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Additional delivery may apply pending location.


Alabama Living

MAY 2016 53

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

Hand-made fence decorations. SUBMITTED BY John Hughes, Smiths Station.

Pot-man. SUBMITTED BY Tammy Martin, Fyffe.

I made this

Bentley Hooks, 1 ½ years old, making cookies. SUBMITTED BY Linda Parker, Guntersville.

A replica of my old home place and made with wood from the original home built in the mid 1800’s. SUBMITTED BY Bob Ed Reed, Jones.

Hand crafted birdhouse made by Carl Craig. SUBMITTED BY Connie Richardson, Chatom.

Submit Your Images! July Theme: “Celebrating Independence” Deadline for July: May 31 SUBMIT PHOTOS ONLINE: or send color photos with a self-addressed stamped envelope to: Photos, Alabama Living, P.O. Box 244014 Montgomery, AL 36124

54 MAY 2016

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