September 2019 Clarke-Washington

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



CWEMC wins award



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

Big boss bass or big fish tale?


In the heart of lovely Eufaula, Alabama, stands a statue like no other. About waist high, under shady trees, it is a testament to a town hero, Leroy Brown. What’s so unique about that, you ask? Well, Leroy Brown is a fish. ,

VOL. 72 NO. 9 n SEPTEMBER 2019


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

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



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With fall, comes the time to pull out your team colors and cheer on your favorites!


Artist and birder


Worth the drive

Barry Fleming is a man of diverse talents, from gifted artist and arts educator to world-class birder, and many interests, from nature to culture to human nature.

The Waverly Local offers “fine dining style without the pretentiousness.” And maybe a Wickles pickle or two on your burger.



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

Team spirit


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

In this issue: Page 11 Page 26 Page 28

11 Spotlight 29 Around Alabama 34 Cook of the Month 40 Outdoors 41 Fish & Game Forecast 46 Hardy Jackson’s Alabama ONLINE:

ON THE COVER: This photo, of Clarke-

Washington EMC’s Parker Thompson climbing the pole, was featured on the front of the AREA Directory. It won “best photo” in the 2019 Alabama Rural Electric Association Communications Awards. See story, Page 5. PHOTO: Sarah Hansen SEPTEMBER 2019 3

OFFICE LOCATIONS Jackson Office 9000 Highway 43 P.O. Box 398 Jackson, AL 36545 251-246-9081 Chatom Office 19120 Jordan Street P.O. Box 143 Chatom, AL 36518 251-847-2302 Toll Free Number 1-800-323-9081. Office Hours 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday - Friday (Drive-thru Hours)

PAYMENT OPTIONS Mail P.O. Box 398 Jackson, AL 36545 P.O. Box 143 Chatom, AL 36518 Office During normal office hours at our Chatom and Jackson offices. Phone 855-870-0403

Commitment to Excellence I hope you noticed the cover of our magazine this month which features an award-winning photo made by Clarke-Washington EMC Communications Specialist Sarah Hansen. The photo is of Clarke-Washington EMC’s Parker Thompson practicing his climbing skills. Hansen recently received the award of Excellence for Best Photo from the Alabama Rural Electric Association (AREA). I’m very proud of Sarah and Parker, both relatively new employees of Clarke-Washington EMC as well as all of our employees for their commitment to excellence. We recently adopted a new four-year strategic plan which is very simple but plays to the heart of who we are and what we do as your electric cooperative. Our mission statement is to be “An efficient, innovative, member-focused electric cooperative.” We have experienced the retirement of several long-time employees over the past year and anticipate more in the future. However, we have worked diligently to replace and train new employees to continue to provide our members with the same great service you have come to expect while still operating as efficiently as possible.

we identified several core values that, regardless of new technologies, social media or other changes in the work environment, should always be a part of who we are. Our core values for our employees include a commitment to safety, integrity, respect, a positive attitude and dependability. We value the opportunity to provide reliable, affordable service to our members through our employees who are committed to excellence in all that we do. Our offices will be closed on Monday, Sept. 2 in observance of the Labor Day Holiday but as always, we have a group of dedicated employees on standby in case you need us. I hope you have a safe and enjoyable Labor Day holiday and a great month.

Steve Sheffield General Manager

As we evaluated our Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (SWOT),

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


HAPPY LABOR DAY Clarke-Washington EMC offices will be closed Monday, September 2, 2019 for Labor Day.



| Clarke-Washington EMC |

Clarke-Washington EMC employee receives award You might recognize the climbing photo hanging on the wall if you have visited the new Jackson office. Clarke-Washington EMC Communications Specialist, Sarah Hansen, received the Award of Excellence for Best Photo from the Alabama Rural Electric Association (AREA). “I wanted to provide a visual representation that linemen of rural electric cooperatives do whatever it takes to provide our members electricity,” said Hansen. Parker Thompson was featured in the winning photo that was also selected as the cover of the 2019 AREA Directory. Hansen explained how sometimes it is very difficult for linemen to gain access to some of our lines to make repairs. Although, today climbing is not done on a regular basis like it was in the past, this photo represents history of our cooperative and the future to come. No matter the changes in equipment, there will always be a need for the climb.

Reconnecting with Youth Tour Alumni

check out the cover

Did you attend Youth Tour? Clarke-Washington EMC would love to reconnect with you. Being selected to go to Montgomery and Washington D.C. is a once in a lifetime opportunity and we would love to hear your Youth Tour story. We want to know what you have been up to since your time with Youth Tour, any advice you would give someone thinking about participating, and your favorite memories about Youth Tour.

How can you reach us?

You can visit and fill out the Youth Tour Alumni form or send an email to s.hansen@cwemc. com. If you want to send a letter by mail, address it to Sarah Hansen at P.O. Box 398 Jackson, AL 36545. Don’t forget to include your name, current address, contact number or email, the year you attended Youth Tour and what trip you attended. We can’t wait to hear from you! Alabama Living

Energy Efficiency Tip of the Month Cookware Tip: Copper-bottomed pans heat faster on the stove. In the oven, ceramic and glass dishes are better than metal. With ceramic and glass dishes, you can turn the oven down about 25 degrees, and your meal will cook just as quickly. Source: SEPTEMBER 2019 5

Local youths win junior world championship title By John N. Felsher Two young Alabama fishermen emerged as the best bass anglers of their age after beating the top youth anglers from around the country in a tough competition for annual bragging rights. Huntley Dees, a 12-year-old seventh grader from Fruitdale, and Triton Graham, a 13-year-old eighth grader from Citronelle, won The Bass Federation Junior World Championship tournament, held Aug. 8-10, on the Arkansas River at North Little Rock, Ark. Fishing for the Citronelle Community Fishing Club, which only formed in September 2018, Huntley and Triton previously won the TBF Alabama state title in April 2019 on the Alabama River near Prattville. That victory qualified them to compete in the Arkansas event against other TBF youth state champions. “I’ve fished with a lot of the best fishermen in the country and these boys are as good as any of them,” proclaimed Keith Dees, Huntley’s father who sometimes serves as a boat captain for the team. “Being raised on the Mobile-Tensaw Delta played a big part in them winning on the Arkansas River.” An adult boat captain accompanies each of the junior teams when they fish tournaments. The boat captain drives the vehicle to the launch and stays with the junior anglers throughout the day. However, the captain does not fish. “Once the boat captain drives the junior anglers to the launch, we just run the main motor on the boat,” added Brian Graham, Triton’s father, who served as the boat captain during the Arkansas tournament. “The boys decide where they want the captain to go. The boys run the trolling motor, select all their lures, pick the spots, net the fish and tie their own knots. The boys have already developed their own styles of fishing. These kids can fish in so many different styles, it’s absolutely amazing to watch them.” During the first two days of the Arkansas event, all anglers competed for their respective divisional championships. For both days, the Alabama boys led the Southern Division in competition against 6  SEPTEMBER 2019

Huntley Dees and Triton Graham won a scholarship from the Bass Federation Junior World Championship. state championship teams from Georgia, Florida, Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee. On the first day of the division championship, Huntley and Triton held fourth place overall out of 31 teams with five bass weighing 10 pounds, 14 ounces. Since they frequently fish the Alabama River and the Mobile-Tensaw Delta, they drew upon their knowledge of river systems to deter-

mine patterns on the Arkansas River. “Neither one of us had ever been fishing out of the state before,” Triton remarked. “We looked for places that resembled places we fish in the delta. A lot of it looked like what we fish at home. We frequently fish rivers, but many anglers in competition with us probably fish mostly reservoirs.” The boys went shallow, fishing rocky

riprap banks with some weed patches. For this, they threw black buzzbaits tipped with black plastic frogs for trailers. Triton preferred a True South buzzbait with a gold blade; Huntley worked a solid black Hildebrandt buzzbait. “The first day was cloudy and raining, but that’s what we wanted,” Triton recalled. “We went down the bank where we found fish in practice and didn’t get much so we had to regroup and adapt to the situation. We went to another place and caught some small keepers so we developed a pattern. The water was about one to three feet deep. We had a lot of confidence in fishing that kind of habitat because it was like what we fish in the delta.” Sticking with the buzzbait and frog combinations, the duo added five more bass weighing nine pounds, 10 ounces on Day 2. With 10 minutes of fishing time left in Day 2, Huntley caught their largest bass of the tournament. Their two-day limit of 10 bass totaling 20 pounds, eight ounces gave them fourth place overall. Although trailing the divisional winners by 2.25 pounds, the Alabama team won the Southern Division championship. That qualified them to fish the TBF Junior World Championship the following day. “On Day 2, the struggle really began,” Triton explained. “The water dropped a few inches and we couldn’t get to where we caught our best fish in practice. We went to a jetty and caught some small fish. Then, we went back to a spot where we caught some decent fish during practice. I caught one fish on a shaky head with a candy bug worm in a little canal, but all the other fish came on buzzbaits.” With all weights zeroed out, only the five division champions could fish the final round for the TBF Junior World Championship title. After a delay while an early lightning storm pounded the area, Huntley and Triton brought in a five-bass limit weighing nine pounds, 13 ounces to seal the victory over the Central, Eastern, Northern and Southwestern Division champions and take the 2019 TBF Junior World Championship title. “On the last day, it was a struggle to catch five keepers,” Huntley said. “We caught a bunch of small fish and missed a bunch of fish, but we doubled up on our two biggest bass of the day. In the morning, we fished rocks and riprap along the shoreline. In the afternoon, we went to the backwaters. The Arkansas River looked a lot like the Alabama Living

Triton Graham and Huntley Dees hold their trophies after winning the Bass Federation Junior World Championship. Photo: Keith Dees Alabama River. We fish the Alabama and the Mobile-Tensaw Delta quite a bit so the Arkansas looked like the type of waters we know how to fish. That helped us figure out where bass might be.” On the last day, the river level rose enough for the Alabama boys to fish their preferred spots with their favorite buzzbaits. However, under dark and angry skies, Triton switched to a white frog trailer on his buzzbait to make it more visible. “On the last day, we had the biggest struggle of all,” Triton detailed. “We found a rock jetty on a point with clear water around it that looked really good. Because of the conditions, I think that color change made a difference.” When anglers around the Citronelle area heard that the boys would be bringing home a world championship title, they decided to organize a welcome home celebration. More than 200 people and 50 boats on trailers lined the road in front of the school in Citronelle to honor the new

champions. “I didn’t expect that kind of a welcome home,” confessed Huntley who wants to become a professional angler when he grows up. “It gave me a pretty good feeling. It feels great to be a champion. Everyone at the school told us congratulations.” “I was really shocked,” echoed Triton, who also dreams of a professional bass fishing career. “I never thought I could really accomplish something that big at my age. I didn’t know if anybody knew about it at school, but I was really surprised at all the support I have.” The Bass Federation Junior World Championship always runs in conjunction with the prestigious FLW Cup, the professional championship tournament for the FLW Tour. To compete in the TBF Junior World Championship, young anglers must be 15 years old or younger as of Aug. 31 of the tournament year.

For more information, visit SEPTEMBER 2019  7

| Clarke-Washington EMC |

NATIONAL PREPAREDNESS MONTH Invest in 30 Days of Safety How prepared are you and your family for disasters or emergencies? The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) designates National Preparedness Month as a time to assess and prepare for a number of possible situations: floods, wildfires, severe storms like tornadoes and hurricanes, and prolonged power outages from natural disasters. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), less than half – only about 46% of people – think a natural disaster is likely to happen within their community. The reality is that most people will experience the impacts of some natural event year to year. “Understand the most likely natural disasters for your area, and take steps in advance to weather them safely,” says Molly Hall, executive director of the Energy Education Council. “Prepare by assembling an emergency kit with essentials. Monitor news 8  SEPTEMBER 2019

and weather for impending events. Be prepared to take cover or evacuate when appropriate. Stay engaged online with related websites and social media pages during a disaster.” Be prepared for prolonged loss of power. If you have a portable generator, make sure you know how to use it safely. Place it safely away from the home. Never run a generator inside or near windows. Floods and power outages can affect local water supplies, so keep at least three days of drinking water in your emergency kit. Your supplies should also include non-perishable food and any needed openers, a radio or weather radio, and flashlight with extra batteries. Don’t forget first aid and other medical essentials, and depending on season, extra blankets and seasonal items. Once your kit has been assembled, it’s time to create or review your family’s emergency commu-

nication plan. Know how each of you will stay safe and get in touch if you’re not together when disaster strikes. Establish a meeting place if separated during a disaster. Include measures for pets in your emergency plans. Keep up-to-date with current public health and safety emergency plans in your community. Keep a list of emergency services phone numbers. Consider getting involved with community programs that help others prepare to stay safe. Since natural disasters can quickly and seriously impact quality of life and health, proper planning and preparation is key to staying safe,” Hall concludes. Impacts on drinking water, air quality and environmental contamination are all considerations when it comes to being ready before disaster strikes. For more information, visit

| Alabama Snapshots |

Team Spirit Keri Waters and the Excel High School Lady Panthers won the Championship. Houston Academy Junior Varsity cheerleaders. Go Raiders! SUBMITTED BY Laurie Gilmore, Ashford. SUBMITTED BY Myrtle Waters, Repton.

Bentley Wilson and his JoJo (Joey Robinson) supporting the Braves. SUBMITTED BY Joey Robinson, Prattville.

Tristan, Sammy and Albany Holmes ready for the pep rally and kick-off game. Go Bulldogs! SUBMITTED BY Jessica and Jeremy Holmes, Decatur.

Brittany and Kevin’s father/daughter day to watch Auburn take on LSU in 2008. SUBMITTED BY Kevin Hutt, Dothan.

Submit Your Images! November Theme: “On the farm” Deadline for November: September 30

SUBMIT PHOTOS ONLINE: or send color photos with a self-addressed stamped envelope to: Photos, Alabama Living, P.O. Box 244014 Montgomery, AL 36124 RULES: Alabama Living will pay $10 for photos that best match our theme of the month. Photos may also be published on our website at and on our Facebook page. Alabama Living is not responsible for lost or damaged photos. Alabama Living


Spotlight | September SOCIAL SECURITY

Social Security is here for you Social Security turns 84 this year. With more than eight decades of service, we’ve provided benefits to one of the most diverse populations in history. Regardless of background, we cover retirees, wounded warriors, chronically ill children, and people who have lost loved ones. Knowing that we cover so many different people, we’ve created People Like Me webpages that speak to specific audiences. Sharing these pages could make a positive impact on someone’s life. Here are a few that might speak to you. Do you know someone who needs to start saving for retirement? No matter where they are in their careers, Social Security can help. It’s never too late to start planning. We offer two pages, one for people early in their career at socialsecurity. gov/people/earlycareer and one for people who have been working for a while, Social Security plays an important role in providing economic security for women. Nearly 55 percent of the people receiving Social Security benefits are women. Women face greater economic challenges in retirement. First, women tend to live longer than men do, so they are more likely to exhaust their retirement savings. A woman who is 65 years old today can expect to live, on average, until about 87, while a 65-year-old man can expect to live, on average, until about 84. Second, women often have lower lifetime earnings than men, which usually means they receive lower benefits. And, third, women may reach retirement with smaller pensions and other assets than men. Share this page with someone who needs this information and may need help planning We proudly serve wounded warriors and veterans. They endure sacrifices to preserve the freedoms Americans treasure. Many of them do not know they might be entitled to benefits. Share our resources with them to make sure they are getting the benefits they deserve. socialsecurity. gov/people/veterans. If you didn’t see a page that is important to you here, check out our general People Like Me page at Kylle’ McKinney, SSA Public Affairs Specialist, can be reached by email at


Whereville, AL Identify and place this Alabama landmark and you could win $25! Winner is chosen at random from all correct entries. Multiple entries from the same person will be disqualified. Send your answer by Sept. 12 with your name, address and the name of your rural electric cooperative. The winner and answer will be announced in the October issue. Submit by email:, or by mail: Whereville, P.O. Box 244014, Montgomery, AL 36124. Contribute your own photo for an upcoming issue! Send a photo of an interesting or unusual landmark in Alabama, which must be accessible to the public. A reader whose photo is chosen will also win $25.


This small, picturesque chapel is on the property known as Booker’s Mill, on Conecuh County Road 22, northwest of Evergreen. We received a lovely response from owners Don and Grace Stinson: “The little chapel at Booker’s Mill is a classic small country chapel on our property. The chapel is used for weddings, special event services and is a meditation place for travelers and tourists. We are proud (of the property). Thank you!” Photo by Mark Stephenson of Alabama Living. The randomly-drawn correct guess winners are Tony and Sharon Palmer, Southern Pine EC.

Find the hidden dingbat! If July’s issue was too hard, maybe the August issue’s dingbat contest was too easy. We had more than 1,250 correct answers and no incorrect ones! Our readers correctly found the hidden yellow school bus on Page 17 in the shark measurement photo. Seeing the school bus brought back memories for Hazel Taylor of Central Alabama Electric Cooperative. “I drove one just like this for 27 years for the Elmore County School system,” she wrote. She retired 14 years ago at the age of 75. “As the students who rode my bus would say, ‘Here comes another yellow cheese wagon.’” Our reader poet, Eleonore Madigan of Wiregrass EC, was inspired to pen a few verses: I am retired So I couldn’t get fired Searching for sunglasses on the moon? Not trying to be witty Your designer must have felt pity And placed the dingbat where it can be seen Above the emergency exit sign on Page 17.

Along the same lines, Charlotte Graves of Collinsville, a member of Sand Mountain EC, said she was glad this dingbat was not on the moon. Congratulations to James Sandlin of Central Alabama EC, whose correct entry was drawn as the winner. For you sports enthusiasts, this month we’ve hidden a football. Remember: It won’t be on Pages 1-8 or in an advertisement. We’ll try not to make it too easy OR too hard. Good luck!

By mail: Find the Dingbat Alabama Living PO Box 244014 Montgomery, AL 36124 By email:

September | Spotlight Festival will celebrate Hispanic culture, Bicentennial

Legislators honored for support of cooperatives

Fiesta, Alabama’s largest celebration of Hispanic culture and heritage, will hold its 17th annual festival Saturday, Sept. 28 in Birmingham’s Linn Park from noon to 8 p.m. Everyone is invited to join Fiesta to celebrate the rich and storied history of Alabama’s Hispanic community, as well as its 200 years of statehood, as part of Alabama’s Bicentennial. Fiesta provides the opportunity for more than 15,000 patrons to journey through more than 20 represented countries and experience the best of Hispanic art, music, food and dance. The festival gives Alabamians the chance to experience Latin America in their own backyard. Fiesta features two music stages, authentic Latin food vendors, a cultural village, a community village, children’s activities, a health and wellness village and more. Regular tickets are $10, with children ages 12 and under free with a ticketed adult. To purchase tickets, visit

The Alabama Rural Electric Association of Cooperatives honored two legislators during the AREA Summer Conference for their support of electric cooperatives during the past legislative session. On hand for the presentation were, from left, AREA Vice President for Public Affairs Sean Strickler; Sen. Greg Albritton of Atmore, Senator of the Year; Rep. Nathaniel Ledbetter of Rainsville, Representative of the Year; and AREA President and CEO Fred Braswell.

Earlier, a legislative panel addressed issues of concern to cooperative directors and managers, including the expansion of broadband into cooperative territories. Strickler, right, moderated the panel whose members were, from left, Sen. Dan Roberts of Birmingham, Sen. Albritton, Sen. Steve Livingston of Scottsboro, Rep. Randall Shedd of Cullman, Rep. Ledbetter, and Rep. Kelvin Lawrence, Hayneville.

This Month In


ALABAMA HISTORY Honoring Our People

September 4, 1937 Hunter Key Underwood buried his coon dog Troop at the site of the future Key Underwood Coon Dog Memorial Graveyard in Colbert County. Underwood buried Troop in one of their favorKey Underwood ite hunting sites, a pine bluff PHOTO COURTESY OF COLBERT COUNTY named “Sugar Creek,” and TOURISM & CONVENTION BUREAU marked his grave with a large stone engraved with his name and birth and death dates. Today, the cemetery is the final resting place of more than 150 coonhounds with headstones made of wood, granite, and natural stone. The Tennessee Valley Coon Hunters Association maintains the cemetery -- which receives nearly 7,000 visitors each year -- and hosts a celebration each Labor Day to commemorate the cemetery’s founding. Alabama Living

Letters to the editor About ‘Eatin’ dirt’

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

In reference to Hardy Jackson’s “Eatin’ dirt” column (August 2019), as a field geologist on the Tenn-Tom Waterway, I was sent to take samples of bentonite clay from open pit mines in northern Mississippi. One was near Aberdeen in Monroe County, and another near Fulton in Itawamba County. While bentonite clay has many uses, I was surprised to learn that it is sometimes added to ice cream as a thickener. About a half century ago in Uniontown, Alabama, my great aunt’s cleaning woman always brought her jar of white clay. She would put it in her cheek and said it calmed her nerves! John Shaw Magnolia Springs, AL SEPTEMBER 2019 11

Cook Museum of By Aaron Tanner

educates an


ifty years ago, it was a humble bug collection. Today, it’s a multimillion-dollar, state-of-the-art, handson, fully immersive museum, with more than 62,000 square feet of space dedicated to the study of all aspects of nature. This is the Cook Museum of Natural Science in Decatur, which opened in June after being closed for three years while the new location was being planned and built. The non-profit museum allows visitors to learn about nature through a vast array of exhibits and interactive experiences, designed to captivate kids of all ages. In the late 1960s, John Cook Sr. of Cook’s Pest Control started opening his private collection of insects – which until then had been used primarily for employee training – by appointment to various groups in North Alabama. The collection grew to include mounted wildlife, and the original museum opened in 1980 with additional displays of rocks, minerals, fossils and insects. In its more than 30 years of existence, what was the Cook’s Natural Science Museum welcomed more than 750,000 visitors. But in 2012, the Cook family was at a crossroads about the future of the old museum after John Cook Sr. died in 2009. “The Cook family had the museum for so long that they did not want to close it, but they were not sure what to do,” marketing and public relations manager Mike Taylor says. After extensive market research, in 2015 the decision was made to build a new museum. After closing the old museum in 2016, the Cook family began moving their existing collection into the new museum while acquiring additional artifacts for the new location. The biggest challenge the new attraction faces is describing the number of new features to those familiar with the original Cook Museum. “It is hard to put the museum into words,” Taylor explains. “You


Children and adults alike enjoy the wonders and mysteries of cave exploring. PHOTO COURTESY COOK MUSEUM

of Natural Science

nd entertains all ages have to come see it.”

All about nature

A life-size beaver dam is one of several play structures available for young visitors. PHOTO BY AARON TANNER

An insect-themed playground allows children to burn off extra energy. PHOTO BY AARON TANNER

There are eleven different themed galleries dedicated to the diverse habitats of Alabama, the Southeast, and North America, including a life-size replica of a cave and a mesmerizing collection of rocks and minerals on display from different parts of the world. North Alabama’s space industry is represented at the new museum with a meteorite from the original location. Visitors can learn about the whooping crane, common at the nearby Wheeler Wildlife Refuge, in the Rivers and Streams Gallery. Meanwhile, the Arctic and Desert Gallery helps the visitor compare and contrast wildlife from those particular regions. Mr. Cook’s original insect collection, along with hundreds of new species of insects, is available for viewing in the Wonderful World of Insects. Giant aquariums hold different types of jellyfish and saltwater fish in the Oceans Gallery, while a large beehive stores as many as 60,000 live Italian honey bees. There are even live baby alligators acquired from an alligator reservation in south Alabama along with displays of other various reptiles from North America. Trained staff members, including an on-site veterinarian, are tasked with treating the live animals humanely. Once the animals outgrow their space in the museum, the museum will release them back into their appropriate habitats.

Keeping kids interested

Everyone enjoys getting their hands in the sand in this display. PHOTO COURTESY COOK MUSEUM

Alabama Living

The museum’s different hands-on exhibits, which include a virtual game that involves balancing the Earth’s atmospheric conditions and a station where you can digitally design a seashell, allow visitors to discover the planet through various ways of learning. “We put a lot of thought and money into the different types of learning showSEPTEMBER 2019 13

cased in the different types of exhibits,” says Kara Long, manager of collections and gallery experience. Children can burn off energy by peering inside a life-size beaver lodge, walking on a rope bridge above a replica of a Southeastern forest, or crawling around in the museum’s insect-themed playground. To get students interested in nature, different classrooms inside the museum will hold various programs to encourage future careers in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math. “Using a child’s internal motivation to explore and learn, we can help them develop an early appreciation, sense of wonder, love, and respect for the natural world that is so awe-inspiring,” Taylor says. The museum will also host field trips, birthday parties, and sleepovers to encourage children and young students to visit the attraction. “There is already interest from across Alabama who want to take their students on a field trip to our museum,” Taylor says. The museum also serves as a community center for Decatur, with a cafe and meeting space for events. It will also serve as a regional attraction for north Alabama and the Southeast. “This museum is a rising tide for North Alabama,” president and board chairman Brian Cook says. “We see this museum as being a significant part of regionalism and are thankful for the many sponsors

in North Alabama and beyond who made this museum possible.” Cook is thankful that his grandfather’s legacy will live on with the new museum. “I recently asked my grandmother if she ever imagined that opening the doors to a few small school groups or Boy Scouts back in 1968 would lead to this,” Cook explains. “She laughed and said, ‘no, I never saw this happening.’” 

The inviting entrance to Cook Museum of Natural Science. PHOTO COURTESY COOK MUSEUM

These children gaze into the ocean exhibit with amazement. PHOTO COURTESY COOK MUSEUM

For more information on the museum, visit 14  SEPTEMBER 2019

Alabama Living

SEPTEMBER 2019  15

Big boss bass or big fish tale? Leroy Brown’s legacy still alive today in Eufaula By Emmett Burnett


n the heart of lovely Eufaula, Alabama, stands a statue like no other. About waist high, under shady trees, it is a testament to a town hero, Leroy Brown. What’s so unique about that you ask? Leroy Brown is a fish. Leroy was a larger than life, livin’ large, largemouth bass. This is the story, his legend, a fish tail – I mean tale. On a sunny Eufaula Lake day in 1973, Tom Mann caught the bass that changed his life. “Dad knew something was different when the line yanked,” recalls his daughter, Sharon Mann Dixon. “Leroy weighed less than two pounds but fought hard because he was a king and knew it.” Now most fish caught in Eufaula – “Big Bass Capital of the World” – are either destined for the trophy case or a rendezvous with tartar sauce. In addition, the boisterous bass was not reeled in by an angling amateur. Tom Mann was an expert, owner Tom Mann with of Mann’s Bait Company, Tom Mann’s Fish the Leroy Brown World, and a fishing lure inventor. headstone before it was moved to Typically gamefish and fishermen are downtown Eufaula. adversaries but not this time. The litPHOTO COURTESY OF tle fish with the barracuda attitude went SHARON DIXON home with Tom and placed in the family’s cement pond. Later he was transferred to Mann’s Bait Company’s 18,000-gallon aquarium. Sharon noted, “He instantly owned the tank.” The aqua-pet was hand fed minnows. It was trained to jump through a hoop held over the aquarium’s water surface. When Tom walked to another side of the massive aquarium, Leroy followed from the inside looking out. “Its weakness was strawberry jelly worms – dad’s invention,” adds Sharon. “That’s the bait Leroy was caught on.” If other lures didn’t interest Leroy, his majesty the fish allowed tank mates to eat it. “He was also a ladies’ man,” smiles Eufaula Mayor Jack Tibbs, who fondly recalls the fish’s life and times. “Leroy had several girlfriends and shielded his love interests from would be suitors.” But the gilled guy’s heart belonged to Big Bertha, a 12-pound female tank mate. “They were inseparable,” recalls Sharon, who relayed a bittersweet love story. “A critically ill fish typically floats near the water’s surface when it is dying,” she explains, relaying the facts of Bertha’s demise. “In her last days Bertha floated near the top and Leroy continuously attempted to push her back down, deeper in the water.” The Mann family named their pet after a popular 1970s song of the day, Jim Croce’s “Bad, Bad, Leroy Brown.” The name fit and word spread. Eufaula was seized by fish fame. People came from everywhere to behold the bass. He received fan mail from around the world. Leroy made the front page of the Atlanta Constitution, was featured in Southern Living magazine, and in news stories as far away as Africa and Australia. In August 1980, Tom Mann discovered his prized pet floating. 16  SEPTEMBER 2019

Eufaula Mayor Jack Tibbs and Sharon Mann Dixon, daughter of Tom Mann, pose with the city’s monument to Leroy Brown, the largemouth bass in downtown Eufaula. The statue would have been Leroy’s burial headstone had thieves not stolen the body.


Alabama Living

SEPTEMBER 2019  17

Silence had seized the fish that roared. Leroy Tibbs met with Sharon Dixon to ask Ray Scott’s Brown died of natural causes. permission to return the stone to Eufaula. Scott Tom’s close friend Ray Scott, founder of the Bass agreed. Anglers Sportsman Society (B.A.S.S), was consultOn Oct. 13, 2016, the marble monument to ed. They agreed that Leroy deserved a funeral. Leroy Brown was dedicated on East Broad Street Approximately $4,000 was spent on a customized where it remains today. Tom Mann died in 2005. headstone. A casket was made from a satin-lined But the legacy lives. tackle box complete with strawberry jelly worms Last April in a re-enactment coinciding with to accommodate Leroy in the hereafter. Eufaula Pilgrimage week, 11-year-old Eufaula ElAt Lake Point Lodge, approximately 800 people ementary School fifth-grader Mackenzie Young attended the funeral for a big mouth bass. Palldressed in costume of a largemouth bass. Assumbearers included Roland Martin and other fishing ing the role of walking Leroy, she told the story celebrities. The Eufaula High School Marching Eufaula Elementary School 5thto the assembled. “I am Leroy Brown,” she said Band played “Bad, Bad Leroy Brown” and Ala- grader Mackenzie Young, dressed proudly with fins raised high. “I wasn’t a large fish bama Gov. Fob James declared a Day of Mourning as the legendary largemouth but you could tell me apart from the others. I was bass, portrays Leroy Brown during for the fallen fish. the most famous fish in America.” But at nightfall something fishy happened. Le- Eufaula’s Pilgrimage Celebration Visitors constantly question Mayor Tibbs, askin April. She is the 11-year-old roy’s casket was not buried the day of the funeral daughter of Scott and Lauran ing is the story true? “We answer yes, it is,” Eudue to intense rain, making the gravesite too wet. Young, of Abbeville. faula’s municipal leader notes. “Of course, some of The casket was stored in a freezer. Thieves in the them look at you funny when told we had a funerPHOTO COURTESY OF LAURAN YOUNG night stole the body and left a ransom note: One al for a bass.” million jelly worms for Leroy’s return. Sharon Dixon works at Southern Charm, a quaint boutique Weeks later the remains were found at the Tulsa, Oklahoma Airacross the street from Leroy Brown’s monument. “I see it from the port’s Lost Baggage department. The fish carcass was never returned front window,” she smiles, patting the head of Leroy’s stone likeness. to Eufaula nor the grave robbers ever found. “Every day it brings back memories.” For years Leroy’s monument lay idle, to be discovered by Tibbs, On the front of the memorial are Tom Mann’s words immortalthe mayor. “I was fishing at Ray Scott’s fishing lodge ized in stone: in Pintlala and saw it on the property,” Tibbs re“Most Bass Are Just Fish But Leroy Brown Was Something calls. “I thought, ‘Wow, that’s Special.” Leroy Brown!’” Rest in Peace, Eufaula’s king of fish.

The marble monument to Leroy Brown on East Broad Street in Eufaula. PHOTO BY EMMETT BURNETT


Alabama Living

SEPTEMBER 2019  19

A group representing the Alabama electric cooperatives traveled to rural southwest Bolivia in April to scout the site of this fall’s electrification project. The group got to meet with the residents of Iscohoco, one of the six project sites.

Alabama T co-ops to bring power to rural Bolivia

hey have little in the way of material things. But in rural southwest Bolivia – a high desert land of fierce altitude and quiet beauty – the people are modest, hard-working and gracious. And thanks to Alabama’s electric cooperatives, they will soon have electricity. This fall, volunteers from five Alabama cooperatives and the Alabama Rural Electric Association (AREA) will travel to the municipality of Challapata, in the department of Oruro, to bring power to about 60 households that have never had electricity. AREA is coordinating the project with the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association’s philanthropic NRECA International Foundation. While some Alabama co-ops have undertaken individual rural electrification projects abroad, this is the first for AREA, which will unite the efforts of individual co-ops under one umbrella for Alabama. It will be a gratifying, and perhaps life-changing, experience for the co-op employees who will participate. “These teams return infused with energy and priceless experiences that aren’t comparable to those possible within the borders

By Allison Law

The volunteers for the project:

Kyle Hutto

Allen LaFavor

Central Alabama EC Central Alabama EC

Heath Whatley Pea River EC

20  SEPTEMBER 2019

Brody Parker

Central Alabama EC

Bert Champion

safety/engineering support Covington EC

Josh Till

Clay Walker

Lamar Daugherty

Central Alabama EC project foreman Central Alabama EC

project foreman Covington EC

Randall Helms Covington EC

Zane Johnson Dixie EC

Jeffery Odom Covington EC

Johnathon Ozbirn Tombigbee EC

Josh Winburn Covington EC

Scotty Seal

Tombigbee EC

Jacob Qualls Covington EC

of our country,” says Matty Garr, vice president of statewide services for AREA, who is helping to coordinate the project. “Our amazing line workers continually come to the need of our local communities time and time again after storms to restore power,” Garr says. “In Bolivia, they will come to the need of people with so little and spread their light while bringing electricity to drown out the darkness.” The linemen will spend 11 working days in the area this fall, working on six separate projects to construct about seven miles of line. The project areas are geographically close, but still very isolated. By one estimate, more than a third of the households in the rural areas of Bolivia do not have access to electricity. The Ende Deoruro utility, out of the medium-sized city of Oruro, is the state electric power distributor and has agreed to connect the Challapata project to its existing system and support the customers, who will receive electricity 24 hours a day.

The residents rely on subsistence agriculture, mainly quinoa and potatoes, with some grazing sheep and alpacas. Most live in very modest homes of stone with thatch roofs; they cook using biomass and have no access to refrigeration, lighting or appliances we take for granted. “There’s not been one person who has participated in any of these projects who hasn’t been emotionally impacted by the experience,” Young says. “Simply seeing first-hand the excitement and gratitude that people display when they are able to have electricity for the first time in their lives is an indescribable feeling.” Jhovana Choquechambi, in the modest two-room home she shares with her family in the remote area of Willikikawa.

It will be a gratifying, and perhaps life-changing, experience for the co-op employees who will participate.


Members of the Alabama group discuss the project with NRECA engineer Fernando Ghetti, far left, and Rene Leon, in beige jacket, director of the Oruro Department of Energy. PHOTO BY ALLISON LAW

Changing lives

Julie Young, vice president of business and administrative services at Central Alabama Electric Cooperative, has been on similar projects in Guatemala with the coop and will be a part of the Bolivian trip. She’s seen how the projects change lives – both of the volunteers and the recipients. “We heard from old men who said they had waited a lifetime for that day, and now they knew that their children and grandchildren would have a better life,” Young says. “We heard from mothers who expressed their appreciation because their children would have light at night.” The area of Challapata is an agricultural community located at an altitude of about 12,000 feet, which will be a challenge for the volunteer linemen, who will do much of the construction work by hand.

Alabama Living


| Alabama People |

Barry Fleming

Mastering the art of observation You never know what Barry Fleming might be up to — spinning mud into art, slapping a watermelon slice on a homemade biscuit, provoking and inspiring creativity in his art students, fueling his “live music problem” from backstage at Bonnaroo or scanning a Gulf Coast shoreline for marbled godwits. Fleming is a man of diverse talents, from gifted artist and arts educator to world-class birder, and many interests, from nature to culture to human nature. He’s also a firm believer that life’s experiences, especially those lived in the moment, are essential to the artistic process, and he’s a master at immersing himself in an experience and taking note of every detail. Those observational skills are invaluable to Fleming’s birding, art and teaching, but also to another of his talents – storytelling. When Fleming, who now lives in Opelika, bends your ear in his Tennessee twang, you never know where the story might be going, but you can bet it will be entertaining, enlightening and thought-provoking. – Katie Jackson

You admit to having a “live music problem,” an obsession with hearing really good music performed live, and you’re an expert on several musical genres. How did this music thing get started? A lot of Nashville musicians lived in Hendersonville, so they were always around. I played ball against Conway Twitty, and Barbara Mandrell would show up at church and cry — I don’t know why she cried so much. We’d see Johnny Cash at the drugstore a lot, too. One of the original Oak Ridge Boys, who also sang backup for the Carol Lee Singers at the Grand Ole Opry, lived down the street from us and his son was one of my buddies. He’d take us with him when he sang at the Opry and we would hang out backstage and listen. We knew it wasn’t “cool” music, but we knew some of it was good and we’d show up at the junior high and tell people “Grandpa Jones is just as good as Jimi Hendrix.” They would say “NO WAY!”

You have a deep appreciation for, and knowledge of, plants, animals and the environment. When did that affinity for nature begin for you? I was born in Laguna Beach, Calif., but I was transplanted to Tennessee at age 3, first to Inglewood and then to Hendersonville, which was a growing town at the time with lots of woods and creeks all around. I was a mischievous little kid and my parents pretty much let me go, so I got to be a serious fisher and also got into collecting snakes that I’d bring home and keep in my room, along with crawdads and mice and fish for the snakes to eat. My mom is not an animal person — she doesn’t even like a dog or a cat — but she let me have all those varmints, including the snakes that would escape sometimes in her house. It was a great way to grow up.

Even when you were quite young, I understand you showed a real talent for drawing, but during grade school you were more interested in sports than art. What brought you back to art as a career? When I got out of high school, I was working construction and didn’t know what I wanted to do, so I enrolled in the local community college. I took a drawing class there and during the final critique at the end of the semester the teacher asked us, “Why does someone become an artist?” Someone answered, “To make money.” “No,” she said. “For fortune and fame?” “No.” “To hang out with good looking people?” “No! You become an artist because you have to.” I was sitting there having a religious experience. I thought, “Yeah, I’ve got to do this.” So, I transferred to Western Kentucky University, where I got a BFA (in painting and ceramics, 1985), and then got my MFA (in painting, 1988) from the University of Tennessee.

When did birds become part of that mix? It was one bird on one day that did it. When I was in high school, I was fishing out in the headwaters of Drake’s Creek and up on a tree limb right above my head was a black-crowned night heron sitting there in full breeding plumage. I thought, “That’s something I need to know about. I bet you there’s a book that has this stuff in it.” So, I eased myself up to the Hendersonville public library, got me a bird book and started learning all the herons. Once I had those down, I thought I shouldn’t discriminate, so I started learning the other birds.


During the three decades you taught art at Auburn University (1988-2017), you developed a reputation as an easy-going, supportive professor, but also one who challenged students to think and work harder. What was the most important lesson you wanted your students to learn? I think my main job is to flip my students’ minds and teach them to be observant and remain open to new things. I think inspiration often comes from life experiences, so I tell them, “If you open yourself up to different kinds of art, or music or ideas, you’ll enrich your life and your art even more.”

Alabama Living

SEPTEMBER 2019  23

| Gardens |

Mighty oaks:

Trees of beauty, function and diversity


o fully admire a mighty oak, you may need to look up. To fully appreciate the might of oaks, however, just look all around. You’ll see oaks and their many contributions to our lives everywhere. Oaks are native to the Northern Hemisphere (primarily Asia, North Africa, Europe and the Americas) and are members of the genus Quercus, which includes 500600 diverse species worldwide. Approximately 90 oak species are native to the U.S., and 40 of those — more than any other state in the nation — are found right here in Alabama. The diversity and abundance of Quercus in our state means we have lots of different kinds of oaks for use in our home landscapes, but it also means that our woodlands and other wild landscapes are stronger. That’s because oaks act as keystone species — dominant species in an ecosystem that support other plants and animals sharing their natural community. Keystone species are so important to their ecosystems that removing them will drastically change, perhaps even destroy, natural habitats. Oaks are also vital to our species. Like other trees, oaks provide vital functions that support humankind such as turning carbon dioxide into oxygen, filtering and cleaning air and water and holding soils in place. Their strong, beautiful wood is used to construct many of the buildings that shelter us (not to mention boats that move us around, furniture, flooring and so much more) and their bark has medicinal qualities and is also used for inks and dyes. In addition to meeting many of our basic needs, oaks also provide us with such luxuries as barrel-aged wines and whiskies, earthy-flavored truffles and even the subtle nuttiness of acorns (yes, we can eat them, though they may require a bit of preparation and some are tastier than others). And for eons, oaks have been a source of something of inestimable value to human society — inspiration, from which has sprung Katie Jackson is a freelance writer and editor based in Opelika, Alabama. Contact her at

24  SEPTEMBER 2019

art, literature, mythology, symbolism and many other spiritual and cultural touchstones. Of course, oaks can also beautify our landscapes, and the choices are vast. Oaks are segregated into one of two categories, white oaks and red oaks, based on distinct leaf and acorn characteristics. Both categories, however, offer a wide range of options for tree size (towering giants to petite shrubs) and shape (spreading, towering, rounded and more), as well as diverse leaf types (deciduous to evergreen; lance-like, oval, many-lobed, palmate and many other shapes) and acorn characteristics (large to small, pale to dark and bitter to sweet). Among these two groups are many longlived (surviving 200 years or more; the Seven Sisters Oak in Louisiana is believed to be more than 1,000 years old) species but also some with shorter lifespans. Most oaks tolerate a wide range of growing conditions, including droughty conditions once they are established, and oaks typically require only minimal pruning and fertilizer. Despite all those fine attributes, however, oaks are often snubbed for home and urban landscapes, mainly because they have reputations for being either slow-growing or for overgrowing their space and because their leaves and acorns can make a bit of a mess. But those issues can be overcome if we pick the right oak for the right spot. Begin by assessing the site (or sites) where you’d like to plant an oak. Determine how much space you have for the tree to grow (both in height and width) and how close the area is to buildings, driveways,

parking areas, patios, utility lines and other structures that may cause problems with tree size and maintenance. Also assess the site’s nutrient, sunlight and moisture characteristics. Now take some time to study up on the many oak species that thrive in Alabama and match your needs to their qualities. An abundance of oak tree information, including specific species traits, is available in books and publications both online and in print. (See a sample list of several free resources in the sidebar). Finally, start looking everywhere for and at oaks — in neighbors’ yards, along streets, in public parks and gardens and in the wild. Seeing them at work will help you pick the perfect mighty oak, even if it’s a mighty small one.

SEPTEMBER TIPS • Harvest fall vegetables and herbs. • Plant spring-blooming bulbs. • Plant trees and shrubs, but water them thoroughly if weather is dry.

• Sow seed for leafy greens, onions and fall peas and beans.

• Plant fall and winter vegetables, root crops and flowers.

• Prune summer-flowering shrubs. • Clean debris from garden beds and landscaped areas.

• Check out fall garden sales for deals on plants, supplies and equipment.

Free Oak Resources • Auburn University’s Donald E. Davis Arboretum ( houses a nationally accredited oak collection featuring 39 of Alabama’s 40 native oaks; open 365 days a year from dawn till dusk; admission is free. • Field Guide of Native Oak Species of Eastern North America ( technology/pdfs/fieldguide.pdf) is a U.S. Forest Service publication filled with detailed information and illustrations representing 50 eastern U.S. oak species. • 100 Forest Trees of Alabama ( Forest_Trees_Alabama.pdf) is an Alabama Forestry Commission and the Alabama Department of Education publication that includes an extensive list of Alabama trees including at least 20 oaks. • A Key to Common Trees of Alabama ( ) is a brief guide for identifying 66 Alabama trees by their leaf structure and characteristics.

Alabama Living

SEPTEMBER 2019  25

Not all fried chicken and sweet tea

Book looks at how Alabama’s food traditions shape our culture By Jennifer Kornegay


labama is known for its geographic variety and biodiversity, and these differing landscapes and the life they hold (along with other factors) have created a vast cultural diversity too. In the new book The Story of Alabama in Fourteen Foods, author Emily Blejwas uses 14 foods, dishes and beverages as a lens to examine what this mixture means and why it’s important. The book explores and celebrates the assortment of places and personalities that prove with their distinct food traditions and foodways that our state is not one single flavor but a delicious multi-layered stew. We are not all fried chicken and sweet tea. In fact, Blejwas admits that Alabama’s full identity can’t truly be encompassed in the 14 foods (including the two above) that she highlights. But she had to start somewhere, so we asked her to share why she wrote the book, how she decided on her list of dishes and to elaborate on how serving up stories centered on food is such a palatable and powerful way to tell much broader tales. When did you first get interested in exploring food culture? It really goes back to me getting my master’s in rural sociology at Auburn in 2005 and 2006. I did my thesis on the Black Belt region. It got me thinking about how to boost economic development in those areas. I was looking at heritage and cultural tourism and was focused on civil rights at first and thought about a book. When I began talking to the people at The University of Alabama Press (the book’s publisher), it was clear that so much had been done on that topic, and they mentioned food. So, I started thinking about food as a way to stimulate economic growth. The idea for this book grew out of those discussions. I really wanted to use food as a gateway to explore other parts of our history and our state’s story. Roasting and eating corn at the Poarch Creek Thanksgiving Pow Wow. PHOTOS BY EMILY BLEJWAS


Why use food to explore Alabama’s history? Food is so relatable, no matter where you are from. As Southerners, we put a lot of emphasis on food, but you don’t have to be Southern to understand huge role of food in our daily lives. It is so ingrained in our personal cultures, in our own family traditions. I haven’t met anyone yet who doesn’t have some real connection to food above and beyond eating it to live. And it evolves alongside our history. Food is also unifier; we’ve gathered around food throughout history. We gather around food still today. How hard was it to choose only 14 foods? I knew in the beginning I wasn’t interested in restaurant food, but I started with a long list. I probably had almost 50 items to begin with, and it was difficult to narrow it down. I do have some regrets. I wish I had included Golden Flake chips so I could have talked about football. I wish I had included oysters. But I narrowed it down by choosing foods with the strongest Alabama connection and story. I felt like catfish had a stronger tie to Mississippi. I felt like the connection to peaches was stronger in Georgia, even though both of those foods are important here. I also tried to spread things out around the state. I didn’t want any one region to dominate the book. I also really wanted the foods to showcase Alabama’s diversity. We are such a broad state. Many people who don’t really know Alabama think mostly of cotton, the Civil War and civil rights, but there’s so much more here too, so many distinct regions and heritages: the Gulf coast, the Wiregrass, the Black Belt, northwest and northeast Alabama. Emma Rylander Lane is credited with making the first Lane Cake in 1898 in Clayton, Alabama. The four-layer white cake was made with flour, baking powder, butter, sugar, egg whites and vanilla, and spread with a heated mixture of egg yolks, butter, sugar, raisins, whiskey and vanilla. Over the years, the recipe underwent various modifications, and in 2016 it was named the official state cake of Alabama. PHOTO BY MEREDITH BELL FOLTYNOWICZ


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What was your favorite discovery as you worked on the book? I went turkey hunting a few times for the book. I was so struck by all of the hunters’ vast knowledge of nature; they knew so much about everything outside and are real naturalists and conservationists. I don’t think I would have known that if had not gone hunting with them, so the experience helped me discover the strong connection between hunting and conservation. Were there any major surprises that you uncovered during your research? There were lots of little surprises along the way, but one that stands out is in Alabama’s Native American history. I interviewed some of the Poarch Creek cultural educators and learned that for a long time, many people didn’t think there were any Native Americans left in the state, so it was a real struggle for those who were left to learn their own culture and their food culture. That connection had been broken. They relearned much of it from Creeks who’d been relocated to Oklahoma. What is your personal favorite out of the dishes and foods in your book? I would have to say, out of the 14, boiled peanuts. I interviewed a farmer in Macon County for that chapter. He gave me some that had come straight from the kettle and been soaking with jalapeños. I have a really nice memory of stopping for a Coke and eating them on the way home. And he is also a great example of how open everyone I talked to was; they were all so willing and even eager to share their time and lives with me so easily. A talk about food and food traditions can get pretty personal pretty quickly, and everyone I reached out to and met with was so happy to go there with me. For more information, visit Alabama Living


28  SEPTEMBER 2019

September | Around Alabama begins at 9 a.m. Variety of contests, including buck dancing, quilt, coloring, photography and best fried pie. Merchants will have sidewalk sales, specials and door prizes There will be activities celebrating the Bicentennial, including educational programs. Free. 256-356-4473 ext. 3.


Varieties of craft beer and other German fare will be available at Auburn’s Oktoberfest on September 21.


Cullman, 23rd Annual Sweet Tater Festival, Smith Lake Park. 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday. Live entertainment, food vendors, arts and crafts and sweet potatoes. For more information, visit the Sweet Tater Festival page on Facebook.


Montgomery, Greek Labor Day Barbecue, 9 a.m. until sold out. Sliced pork, chicken or roasted lamb plates, $12-$14. Camp stew and Greek pastries also available. Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church, 1721 Mt. Meigs Road. 334-263-1366


Jasper,Coca-Cola Foothills Festival, Courthouse Square and downtown. Music acts, including Blues Traveler, Whiskey Myers, Drivin’ N Cryin’, Brent Cobb and the North Mississippi Allstars headline this event, which also highlights the area’s craft breweries and local restaurants. Free.


Montgomery, Montgomery Art Guild’s 53rd annual exhibition. Reception 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at RSA Regions Bank, 201 Monroe St., second floor lobby. Exhibit open to the public during business hours through Sept. 26. Up to $3,000 in cash prizes will be awarded in seven categories.


Fayette, Art Festival, 9 a.m.3 p.m. at Guthrie Smith Park. Celebrate Alabama’s Bicentennial at this outdoor juried arts and crafts show with cash prizes, free art lessons and activities for children up to sixth grade and live entertainment throughout the day. Free.


Cullman, Third Annual Bernard Blues & BBQ, St. Bernard Abbey and Prep School, 1600 St. Bernard Dr. SE. Arts and crafts, including pottery, wreaths, door hangers, flowers, clothing, birdhouses, food and more, along with live music. 9 a.m.-5 p.m.


Montgomery, Ballet and the Beasts, presented by the Montgomery Ballet at the Montgomery Zoo. Enjoy the Montgomery Ballet in a free performance under the stars. Blankets, lawn chairs and coolers are welcome. There will also be a live animal presentation during intermission. Gates open at 6 p.m. and the performance begins at dusk. Free. For more information, visit the Ballet and the Beasts Facebook event page. 2301 Coliseum Parkway.


Huntsville, Annual NEACA Fall Craft Show, Von Braun Center South

Hall. 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday-Saturday and 12 to 5 p.m. Sunday. More than 100 crafters featuring jewelry, pottery, home and outdoor décor, dolls, clothing, children’s items and food. Free, but the Von Braun Center does charge for parking. Proceeds benefit the Huntsville Senior Center, CASA, Boy Scout Troop 400, St. Paul’s Pantry, Manna House, Downtown Rescue Mission and World of Work.


Fort Payne, Boom Days Heritage Celebration. Arts and crafts, quilt display, wine and beer tasting, two dozen musical acts on six stages, children’s activities and historical artifacts and clothing at the Depot Museum.


Auburn, Auburn Oktoberfest’s 10-year anniversary. More than 75 breweries will showcase more than 150 beers, plus a selection of German wines. There will also be food trucks with local eats and German fare, plus live entertainment and contests, including keg racing, stein hoisting, Mr. and Mrs. Oktoberfest and wiener dog racing. 4-8 p.m., Ag Heritage Park.


Red Bay, Founders Fest 2019, Bay Tree Park. Live music

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

Photo courtesy of Auburn Oktoberfest.

Eva, Eva Frontier Days, Various events each day celebrating Alabama’s 200th birthday. For a schedule of daily events and activities, visit


Enterprise, “Superstar — The Songs and Stories of the Carpenters.” A celebration of the wellknown songs with stories about the brother-sister duo. Join Helen Welch as she shares their classic music. or call 334-406-2797.


Monroeville, “Truman Talks Nelle Harper Lee,” a play that focuses on the fictional surprise 50th birthday celebration for Harper Lee. Her lifelong friend, Truman Capote, portrayed by actor Joel Vig, has come from New York to speak in her honor. Play will be in the courtroom of the old courthouse museum. 251575-7433 for tickets and information.


Birmingham, Fiesta, Alabama’s largest celebration of Hispanic culture and heritage, will take place at Linn Park from 12-8 p.m. Tickets $10. Ages 12 and under free with ticketed adult. Hispanic art, music, food, dance and children’s activities. To purchase tickets, visit


Winfield, Winfield’s Mule Day. Horse parade, live entertainment, car shows, homemade baked goods, arts and crafts, antique tractors and a carnival for children. Visit Winfield’s Mule Day page on Facebook.


Grant, 14th Annual Mile Plus Yard Sale. Begins at 6:30 a.m. on Main Street. General household items, clothing, furniture, unique handmade items and food. Event held rain or shine. Visit the Grant’s Mile Plus Yard Sale page on Facebook for more information.

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| Consumer Wise |

Insulating for comfort and energy savings

Loose-fill insulation is a good approach for insulating your attic floor. COURTESY DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY

By Pat Keegan and Brad Thiessen


We’re dreading winter. It feels like every year, no matter what we do, our home still feels cold and our heating bills go through the roof. We think our home may need more insulation. Any advice before winter hits?


There’s a good chance you are right about the problem. Most older homes, and many newer ones, are not properly insulated, and adding insulation can be a good investment year-round since it can help keep out the summer heat as well. There are many types of insulation, but I’ll focus on the three most common types in residential buildings: batt, loose-fill and rigid. Batt insulation can be made with several kinds of fibers including fiberglass and wool. It’s cut to fit between the framing in your ceilings, walls or floors. Loose-fill insulation is made with small pellets or particles. It can be added by hand or blown in by machine into attic floors or exterior wall cavities. Rigid insulation comes in light sheets and is installed against a solid surface like an exterior wall or foundation. All insulation is measured by its R-value. A higher R-value is more effective. The amount of R-value you need depends on your climate and where the insulation is being added in your home. If your heating costs are too high, there’s a good chance the attic is part of the problem. Finished attics are usually under-insulated and correcting the problem can be a challenge. If your attic is unfinished, solutions will be simpler and more cost-effective. You can inspect your unfinished attic, but be cautious. Loose-fill insulation in older homes may have harmful asbestos that you absolutely do not want to disturb. It’s probably Patrick Keegan writes on consumer and cooperative affairs for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, the Arlington, Va.-based service arm of the nation’s 900-plus consumer-owned, not-for-profit electric cooperatives. Write to for more information.

best to just poke your head in enough to look around, since it’s easy to damage wiring or ducts, or step through the ceiling. The attic will likely have loose-fill insulation or batts on the floor. Look carefully to see if the insulation is spread evenly with no gaps or voids. To determine whether there is enough insulation, you can start by researching the recommended amount for your climate. The Department of Energy publishes that information, which you can find at energy. gov/energysaver/weatherize/insulation. After measuring the depth of the insulation, you can calculate the R-value. Different types of insulation have different R-values per inch. If your attic insulation is far short of the recommended levels, you will likely see major energy savings by having a professional add enough to reach that level. The next place to check is the walls. Many homes built before 1980 have little or no wall insulation, and even newer homes may lack proper insulation. You might be able to see if the walls are insulated by carefully removing an outlet cover. The most common technique for adding insulation to walls is to have it blown in through holes drilled from inside or outside the home. These holes can be easily patched. An alternative, if the house is being re-sided, is to add rigid insulation to the exterior, underneath the new siding. Finally, if your floor gets cold in winter, and you have a crawl space, you can install batt insulation between the floor joists. If your home is built on a concrete slab, rigid foam can be installed around the perimeter. Insulation works great if you choose the right approach and the work is done carefully. Contact the energy experts at your electric co-op for more information about insulation solutions. This column was co-written by Pat Keegan and Brad Thiessen of Collaborative Efficiency. For more information on home insulation, please visit: energytips.

Batt insulation is commonly used between floor joists, wall studs or on attic floors.



Alabama Living

SEPTEMBER 2019  31

| Worth the drive |

Keeping it ‘local’ Waverly eatery serves up clean food, Southern style Story by Allison Law, photos by Brooke Echols

The structure that houses the Waverly Local, a former Ford dealership, has been attractively repurposed. At left, the double stack hamburger is dressed with an herb mayo and Wickles Pickles.


riving into Waverly, Ala. – population 185, give or take – is a throwback to a slower, simpler time, with its tiny post office and historic homes along the main thoroughfare that’s still a twolane street (thankfully, U.S. 280 was routed around the town). Careful, or you’ll drive right by The Waverly Local, the Southern-cuisine eatery opened by executive chef Christian Watson and Andy Anderson, a partner in the Wickles Pickles company. Watson and Anderson revived an old commercial space that was originally the home of one of the first Ford dealerships in Alabama. Over the years, the space housed two restaurants -- Peyton’s Place and then the Yellowhammer Cafe. When that restaurant closed, it sat vacant for five years, but Anderson, who lives across the street, kept his eye on the building. When the timing was right, the childhood friends decided to open their own restaurant. It needed a good cleaning and some repairs, but they took care not to compromise the building’s historic integrity. The result is an atmosphere that is understated, but clean and comfortable. The booths and banquettes are custom-made, and the copper tables, bar and host stand are hand-


Take a video visit inside The Waverly at!

The daily Gulf offering changes frequently based on availability. This barrelfish is served with asparagus, potatoes and caramelized mushrooms.

made by a local metalworks artisan. The floors were cleaned a bit and sealed, but the imperfections that add character remain. “We really just wanted to accentuate what was already here, not mask it and cover it up, but kind of revitalize it,” Watson says.


It was the rich history of the building that inspired Watson to start reading old cookbooks, some dating to the late 19th century. These cookbooks featured foods that were clean and real, and recipes that were simple and Southern -- which is exactly what Watson and Anderson wanted their restaurant to be. “You’ll never see microgreens or co-

conut foam here,” Watson says. The menu is small, by design. Watson wants the focus to be on the execution of the cooking. “This isn’t a fine dining restaurant, but we serve fine dining food. Our service is fine dining style without the pretentiousness. We’re Waverly; there’s no pretentiousness here,” Watson laughs. Before going to culinary school, Watson lived and worked on a farm for three years, an experience that gave him a deep appreciation for small farming operations and fresh, healthy food. He uses as much locally sourced food as possible, preferring to use local farmers and purveyors to keep money in the community while still using quality ingredients. The eggs, dairy products and the majority of the vegetables are local, and they only serve domestic Gulf seafood (with the exception of a smoked salmon BLT at Sunday brunch, which is wild Alaskan). “The food we put on the plate is what we’d feed our family,” Watson says. “It’s clean. No antibiotics, no growth hormones, organic as much as we possibly can.” The menu is seasonal and updated frequently, to reflect the availability of the local and regional products. A mainstay is the best-selling ribeye, served with horseradish

cream; coming in a close second is the daily Gulf offering (barrelfish, on one recent day), served over caramelized mushrooms, peas, potatoes and asparagus with an orange rum vinaigrette. But the menu is not all upscale entrees. The tasty burger is a double stack, served with all the trimmings and an herb mayo (and of course, Wickles Pickles). The bar menu is seasonal as well – Watson and manager Spencer Bradley collaborate on the specialty cocktails and wine lists. The restaurant was at first dinner service only, but Sunday brunch was added earlier this year; in late July, they added Saturday lunch. “We’ve done things at our own pace and our own comfort level, so we do it right and we don’t compromise our integrity,” Watson says.

The Waverly Local

1465 Patrick St. Waverly, AL 36879 334-539-6077 Waverly Hours: 4 to 10 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday; 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday; 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Sunday for brunch Search for The Waverly Local on Facebook for specials and live music lineups


Taking a look at the cancer trilogy: Prevalence, cause and prevention


ne of the most dreaded words you can hear at a vet’s office is “cancer.” Images flash in our mind about incurability, expense, the misery of chemo and radiation and ultimately the dreadful feeling of loss. For decades, there has been discussion on whether there is a rise in cancer among dogs and cats. Many pet owners think so. I remember asking one of my professors around the mid ’90s if that was the case. Her answer was, “No, we just got better at detecting it.” So, what is the truth? Is cancer on the rise or we just getting better at detection? Unfortunately, there is no easy answer. Cancer is not a reportable disease and there is no consistent effort to keep track Goutam Mukherjee (Dr. G), DVM, MS, PhD., has been a veterinarian for more than 30 years. He owns High Falls Holistic Veterinary Clinic in Crossville. Email questions of general interest to

Alabama Living

of cancer cases in the veterinary field. There have been a few isolated endeavors, like in Alameda County, Calif., from 1963-1966, and the Animal Tumor Registry in Genoa, Italy from 1985-1994. From these, and a few other studies, it is not clear if the cancer rate is rising. Even though it is not clear if cancer is on the rise, we know few things about cancer in pets with a good degree of certainty. Some breeds are more prone to cancer than others; like boxers with skin cancers, golden retrievers with hemangiosarcoma and lymphoma, rottweilers with osteosarcoma, German shepherds with hemangiosarcoma, etc. So, there is a strong genetic link to cancer in pets. But genetics are not the only determining factor. For example, it has been shown that exposure to chemicals applied to lawns is associated with an increased risk of bladder cancer in Scottish terriers. However, in our little corner of the world, knowing that cancer happens is

Editor’s note: First of three parts not enough! We are not here to learn statistics about cancer in pets. All we want to know if there is something that we can do to prevent this. The science behind cancer prevention is borrowed mostly from laboratory animals and human studies. Some cancers such as breast cancer, ovarian cancer or testicular cancer can be largely prevented by spaying or neutering your pet. In addition, maybe we can reduce our affinity for cancer-prone pure breeds and consider choosing mixed breed dogs. So many are eagerly waiting to be adopted at the shelters! In the meantime, you can encourage your veterinarian to report their cancer cases at veterinary cancer registry ( Also, another important resource if your pet has cancer, is to check if (s)he qualifies for a new drug trial at clinical-trials. In the next article, we will delve a little deeper into possible ways to reduce cancer in our pets. SEPTEMBER 2019 33

| Alabama Recipes |




Ovation Onions

While they are sometimes overlooked, when it comes to the workhorse role they play in many recipes, onions deserve a standing ovation. BY JENNIFER KORNEGAY STYLING/PHOTOS BY BROOKE ECHOLS


n Alabama, we celebrate favorite foods like strawberries, peaches and shrimp with entire festivals. We post photos of perfectly ripe tomatoes on social media, and those photos get more “likes” than pictures of our kids. We attach astronomical value to a bushel of shelled lady peas. But what about the humble onion? While it’s an integral part of numerous Southern classics, it rarely receives the praise that it deserves. Onions aren’t pretty like a handful of plump indigo blueberries or a brilliant red wedge of watermelon. They’re not sweet like corn or subtle like pale yellow squash. They’re plain, a little haggard-looking; they taste strong and sharp and sometimes, harsh. Some folks don’t like them at all, and even among those who do, they play only bit roles in wishful wintertime dreams of summer’s harvest. When cooking, we usually relegate them to support roles; they’re only one element in a menagerie of background flavors used to embellish something else. These multiple layers of disdain leave the onion overlooked and often left off the lists of important or beloved Southern flavors. Yet, like the song lyric, “You don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone,” points out, remove the onion from your kitchen, and you begin to better appreciate it. Imagine a squash casserole without onion. Bland. Almost any soup or stew sans that diced and sautéed onion: definitely missing something. Some of the greatest gravy you’ve ever had was likely built on the onion’s firm foundation. There’s a good chance a little grated onion is the secret to your favorite pimento cheese. And while they are essential in these roles, onions can stand on their own, too. Try out some of this issue’s reader-submitted recipes that unlock the onion’s depth and complexity and put them center stage.

Alabama Living

Cook of the Month

Louis Rowles, Baldwin EMC Louis Rowles enjoys entertaining dinner guests, and his menus for entertaining evenings often include his Tiny Onion Pies. The former French teacher spent some time in France and discovered the treat there. He brought the recipe home, fiddled with it a bit to make it his own and adapted it for U.S. measurements. The petite onion pastries maintain their high spot on his cooking roster thanks to a power combo of ease and deliciousness. “They are simple to make, and people always seem to love them,” he said. “I often serve them as a hot appetizer, especially in the winter.”

Tiny Onion Pies Crust: 1 stick butter, softened 4 ounces cream cheese, softened 1¼ cups all-purpose flour Mix together to form a soft dough. Roll into walnut size balls and place into mini muffin tins. Press to form small shells. Makes around 24. Filling: 3 large sweet onions, peeled and very thinly sliced or shaved 2 tablespoons butter 1 teaspoon plain flour 1 teaspoon salt ¼ teaspoon pepper 2 eggs, beaten 1 cup heavy cream Place thinly sliced onions into a large skillet with the 2 tablespoons of butter. Fry onions over medium heat until very browned and greatly reduced and caramelized. Stir in the flour, salt and pepper. Remove from heat. Combine the beaten eggs and cream until smooth. Combine onions and cream mixture. Spoon enough filling into each shell to fill to just within the top. Bake in preheated 400-degree oven for 15-20 minutes until browned and puffed. Serve hot as an hors-d’oeuvre or appetizer.


Onions n’ More Meat Loaf 2 medium yellow onions, peeled and thinly sliced in separate rings 1½ pounds lean ground beef 1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes with onion and peppers 1 large egg, beaten 1 cup dry oats ½ cup ketchup 1 tablespoon A-1 sauce Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In large bowl mix beef, tomatoes, egg and oats; set aside. Spread a solid layer of onion rings in bottom of an 11x14-inch baking dish. Pour in beef mixture and spread evenly, leaving ¼-inch border all around. Place remaining onion rings on top. Don’t overlap. Mix ketchup and A-1 sauce. Drizzle over top. Bake at 325 degrees for 40 minutes or until brown. Barbara Frasier Sand Mountain EC

Onion Rings Onions Milk Flour 1 egg, beaten Cracker crumbs 1½ teaspoon Dijon mustard ½ teaspoon dried thyme ¼ teaspoon salt ¼ teaspoon black pepper ¼ teaspoon dried oregano 1⁄8 teaspoon garlic powder 1⁄8 teaspoon cayenne pepper Beat egg and whisk in Dijon mustard, thyme, salt and pepper, oregano, garlic powder and cayenne pepper. Slice onion and separate into rings. Dip rings into each of the following in this order: milk, flour, egg mixture and then

cracker crumbs. Place on baking sheets to dry. Let dry overnight. Preheat vegetable oil in a deep fryer. Cook rings in small amounts until golden brown. Karyl Stockinger Pea River EC

Grilled Blooming Onion Sauce: ¼ cup mayonnaise ¼ cup sour cream 1 tablespoon ketchup 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce ½ teaspoon paprika 1⁄8 teaspoon cayenne pepper Onion: ½ cup Parmesan cheese 1 tablespoon paprika 1⁄8 teaspoon cayenne pepper ½ teaspoon Italian seasoning 4 sweet Vidalia onions, peeled with root end intact Fresh chopped parsley Preheat grill over medium-high. Make sauce: In a small bowl combine: mayonnaise, sour cream, ketchup, Worcestershire, paprika and cayenne. Season with salt. Make seasoning. In a small bowl, combine Parmesan, paprika, cayenne, and Italian seasoning. Season with salt. Cut stem off onion and place flat side down. Cut ½" from the root down, into 12 to 16 sections, making sure not to cut through root. Flip over and pull sections of onion out gently to separate petals. Sprinkle all over with cheese-spice mixture. Drizzle onions with oil and grill covered until tender and lightly charred, about 15 minutes. Garnish with parsley and serve with dipping sauce.

Holiday Creamed Onions ¾ cup water 2 cups pearl onions ¼ cup butter 1½ cups whole milk, cold ¼ cup Wondra flour (other flour may cause lumps) 2 teaspoons dried sage 1 teaspoon salt Bring ¾ cup salted water to a boil. Add onions and cook 5-10 minutes until tender. Drain onions reserving ½ cup water in the saucepan. After draining, return the onions to the pan and add butter, milk, sage, salt and flour to the reserved boiling water. Cook on medium 10 -15 minutes. Glenda Weigel Baldwin EMC

Baked Vidalia Onions Vidalia onions, 1 per person to be served ½ cup brown sugar (or adjust to the number of onions) 1 stick butter Aluminum foil for wrapping Take outer peel off onions. Carve a hole in the top of each (about ¾ inch deep and about that wide.) Put a teaspoon of brown sugar in the divots and place a pat of real butter on top of that. Wrap in foil. Bake them in a 450-degree oven about 30 minutes or until fork tender or place them on the grill as you cook your steak or other meat. Barbara Eubanks Marshall-Dekalb EC

Misty Allbright Roberson Cullman EC

Themes and Deadlines:

3 ways to submit:

Dec.: Nontraditional Holiday Food | Sept 13 Jan: Soups and Stews | Oct. 11 Feb.: Pork | Nov. 8

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

Please send us your original recipes (developed or adapted by you or family members.) Cook of the Month winners will receive $50, and may win “Cook of the Month” only once per calendar year.




prize and title of of

Cook the Month

To be eligible, submissions must include a name, phone number, mailing address and co-op name. Alabama Living reserves the right to reprint recipes in our other publications.

the best of Cookbook Mail order form and payment to: Best of Alabama Living Cookbook P.O. Box 244014 Montgomery, AL 36124-4014 COOKBOOKS @ $19.95 EACH:




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Kidz Outdoors

gives children memorable experiences By John N. Felsher


bout 10 years ago, Rick and Carol Clark so the group can meet the needs of every adventures. Besides hunting, children also of Hueytown participated in a turkey child who wants to participate in a dream experience skeet shooting, fishing and othhunt to raise money for a hospital. hunt or another activity. er activities. A man in Texas even bought Rick, an avid turkey hunter, called birds for “We’ve driven several hours to meet a property, stocked it with many exotic ana young man with cancer. But the Clarks child before taking that child hunting,” imals and fenced it off for the children to wanted to do more to help individual chilCarol says. “We want to make sure that enjoy. dren suffering from critical illnesses and every child, regardless of the disability, has “Each year, we take 12 to 14 children physically debilitating conditions. the ability to shoot a gun. We don’t want a to do a pheasant shoot at Soggy Bottom “We were so touched by that event that child to have an unsuccessful hunt because Lodge in Linden,” Carol says. “Every Nowe started working with that group, but he or she is just not physically capable of vember, we also hold a big youth deer our calling was to deal hands-on with childoing it. We gear to children, but we don’t hunt at the lodge. This fall, we’ll be taking dren,” recalls Carol, who now serves as the put an age limit on anyone.” a young man from Alaska to hunt deer on executive director of Kidz Outdoors. “After Many children who participate in dream the lodge property. We’ve had people come a lot of prayer and thought, we started our hunts and other activities are terminal. For from as far away as California and Utah to own organization. We have a passion born some, a Kidz Outdoors adventure could be hunt with us. When we get together with all through first-hand experience, captivated their only such experience in lives cut short these children, it’s like a family reunion. It’s in the smell of the outdoors and molded by disease. amazing to see all these kids coming here into our youth through mentorship. Our The Clarks cannot do it alone. Many volto Alabama from somewhere else. They mission is to form bonds by linking family unteers enthusiastically take children on stay in touch with each other.” and friends to pass on our pasDuring the November 2018 sion for the outdoors to a new Carol Clark, co-founder of Kidz Outdoors, and a young man share a tender youth hunt at Soggy Bottom moment during a Kids Outdoors event. Photo courtesy of Kidz Outdoors. generation.” Lodge, 104 children participatThe Clarks began taking ed. They killed 58 deer in one children on outdoors advenday. tures in 2012, but officially “We have a really good refounded the Kidz Outdoors orlationship with Soggy Bottom ganization in 2013. Since then, Lodge,” Carol says. “When I they’ve worked with more than first met J.R. Rivas, the owner, 4,000 children, taking hunhe said that if we needed anydreds of them on adult-menthing, just ask. I started thinktored dream hunts for deer, ing about it. About a month wild boar, turkey, exotic game later, I asked him to help us put and other adventures. on a skeet shoot to raise money for the children. He went so far How they help out of his way to make it a sucFor children with severe cess. He and his people at the physical disabilities, Kidz Outlodge did so much work to put doors obtains any special medion this event and make it such cal apparatus that a child might a success for the children that I need. For instance, one apparahad tears in my eyes.” (See story tus allows a child either without on the lodge on Page 40.) arms and legs, or one unable For autistic children, Kidz to use them, to pull a trigger Outdoors participates in a proon a gun by sucking through gram called Island Dolphin a straw. The organization buys Care. In this five-day class, the some special devices by raising children interact with dolphins money, but gets others donated and swim with them. 38 SEPTEMBER 2019

“The first girl we took to Island Dolphin Care was non-verbal and throwing fits,” Carol remembers. “By the third day, she was a totally different child. The next time, we brought her back with another child. For both of them, it was like night and day from the time we brought them until we left.”

Raising funds

Medical devices and adventures cost money. Periodically, Kidz Outdoors holds auctions and other fundraising events. Each May, the group brings many children to Soggy Bottom Lodge for a day of fun activities during a major fundraiser. Despite horrible weather during the 2019 event, Kidz Outdoors raised more than $100,000 in one day. “Soggy Bottom Lodge enabled us to increase the number of children we could take hunting by getting behind the effort and allowing us to hold fundraisers on the property,” Carol says. Although the 501(c)(3) charity receives help and donations from many people, the Clarks can always use more volunteers and donations. They particularly need landowners to allow access to property where Kidz Outdoors can take children hunting. The Clarks don’t want to turn away any children in need because they don’t have a place where those children can take their dream hunts. “We always need money and volunteers to help,” Carol says. “Each one of the chapters works hard for the money we collect. We can’t do this without help from others through monetary, land, guide services, hunts, sponsorships and inkind donations. We appreciate Soggy Bottom Lodge and all the other people and organizations that help us throughout the year so we can allow these children to participate in a hunt. It’s been amazing to watch the organization grow in the past few years.” People can also get involved with five other state and regional Kidz Outdoors chapters beside the one in Hueytown near Birmingham. To contact the Clarks, call 205-4103779 or visit

Alabama Living


| Outdoors |

Lodge offers something for every type of sportsman


hether looking to bag a big buck, lip a lunker or try some wing shooting, Soggy Bottom Lodge offers something for every sportsman and more. Located in Linden, the property covers about 1,234 acres of Marengo County in the rich Black Belt Region. J.R. Rivas and his wife Brittany bought the land in 2013. Two years later, they opened the lodge as a commercial operation. “Soggy Bottom Lodge has it all,” says Brandon Smith, the lodge manager. “We have big bucks, mallards, largemouth bass, quail and pheasants. Every aspect of Soggy Bottom Lodge is designed to stand out because we want people to have the time of their lives and make memories that will last a lifetime.” Although the area already produces giant bucks, lodge managers wanted to improve upon nature. First, they took most of the native whitetail deer off the property. Then, they replaced them with deer carrying better genetics to grow larger bodies and racks. “We have a breeding facility with pens,” Smith says. “Every year, we release some bigger bucks with better genetics to supplement the herd on the property. We have an enclosure around the entire property so we can manage it for the animals. We don’t shoot the younger deer.” Sportsmen who want to hunt the property usually spend at least one night at one of two lodges. After breakfast, hunters go to the field with their guides. The guides call the shots. “Most of the time, the guide has to tell the hunter NOT to shoot because the hunter wants to shoot the first big buck that comes into range,” Smith says. “A 140-inch buck might come out that could be the biggest deer that person ever saw, especially one who usually hunts public land. That hunter wants to shoot it, but the guide recommends they hold out for a bigger buck.” Indeed, the property does produce some giant bucks. During the 2018-19 season, hunters on Soggy Bottom Lodge John N. Felsher lives in Semmes, Ala. Contact him through Facebook.

40  SEPTEMBER 2019

Soggy Bottom Lodge, located in Linden in Marengo County, sits on more than 1,000 acres and offers multiple hunting and fishing opportunities. Two lodges on the property can accommodate overnight guests as well as weddings, reunions and corporate events. PHOTOS BY JOHN FELSHER

shot about a dozen or more deer with racks scoring more than 200 inches on the Boone and Crockett Club measuring system. “The largest B&C deer ever harvested on the property was a non-typical that measured 383 inches,” Smith says. “The biggest typical rack that I’ve seen was a solid 12-point with a couple of kickers coming off it. It measured 192 inches.” Guests can also hunt pen-raised quail, pheasants and ducks for a much longer season than the usual seasons for wild birds. After extensive habitat work on the property, staff and guests began to see more coveys of wild quail in recent years. Many hunters book a combination hunt or pick the “cast and blast” option to add some fishing to the adventure. “We have three lakes on the property and we’ve been catching some really big bass in recent years,” Smith says. “One lake is only two years old and we’ve already caught some eight-pounders out of it. The biggest bass I’ve seen caught on the property weighed about 11 pounds. We also have tons of bream in the lakes. When we have children’s events, kids catch big bream all day long and lots of bass.” Two lodges exist on the spread. The original Soggy Bottom Lodge offers guests luxurious accommodations in three separate bedrooms with a total of nine beds. In

2017, Rivas built another lodge, the misnamed Shack 33. Hardly a shack, it offers first-class accommodations for 39 people in seven separate rooms, each with an individual bathroom. In the evening, guests can swap stories on the huge porch. Don’t forget to visit the Man Cave! “Over and over, we hear people say that they’ve stayed in many lodges all over the world and ours is one of the nicest they’ve ever visited,” Smith says. “We do a lot of corporate events and retreats where people can meet, shoot skeet, fish, hunt and do other things. We also host a lot of weddings, family reunions and other events, especially when it’s not hunting season. For weddings, we can do the rehearsal dinner, ceremony and reception all in the same place. People who stay at the lodges don’t need to travel back and forth.” Each May, Kidz Outdoors ( holds a major fundraiser at Soggy Bottom Lodge (see story, Page 38). Money raised helps Kidz Outdoors take children with disabilities on dream hunts. During the fundraiser, children enjoy fishing, pony rides, all-terrain vehicle rides, bouncy houses, retriever demonstrations and many other events. For more information on Soggy Bottom Lodge, call 334-654-4750 or 334-295-5430. Or visit


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


42  SEPTEMBER 2019

Make A Plan Make a plan today. Your family may not be together when and if something happens, so it is important to know which types of disasters could affect the area. Know how you will contact one another in this situation Establish a meeting place that is easy to find and familiar to your family. In this section you will find steps to put together an emergency plan.

Download the FEMA App

Step 1

Put together a plan and discuss these 4 questions with your family, friends, or household to start your emergency plan. 1. How will I receive emergency alerts and warnings? 2. What is my shelter plan? 3. What is my evacuation route? 4. What is my family/household communication plan?

Step 2

As you prepare your plan, tailor your plans and supplies to your specific daily living needs and responsibilities. Discuss your needs and responsibilities and how people in the network can assist each other with communication, care of children, business, pets, or specific needs like operation of durable medical equipment. Create your own personal network for specific areas where you need assistance. Keep in mind some of these factors when developing your plan: • Different ages of members within your household • Responsibilities for assisting others • Frequent locations • Dietary needs • Medical needs including prescriptions and equipment. • Languages spoken • Cultural and religious considerations • Pets or service animals • Households with school-aged children

App Features: • • •

Step 3 Fill out an emergency plan template. To locate one, visit our website at www. under the safety tab.

Step 4

Practice your plan with your family/household.

Alabama Living

Receive real-time alerts from the National Weather Service for up to five locations nationwide. Share real-time notifications with loved ones via text, email and social media Learn emergency safety tips for over 20 types of disasters, including fires, flooding, hurricanes, snowstorms, tornadoes, volcanoes and more. Prepare for disasters with a customizable emergency kit checklist, emergency family plan, and reminders. Upload and share disaster photos through Disaster Reporter.

Available in the App Store and Google Play


| Our Sources Say |

What if it doesn’t work? I

watched the second round of the Democratic Presidential Debates this week. Among other issues, all 20-something Democratic presidential candidates endorse plans to reduce carbon emissions by 2025 or proposals to ban all carbon emissions by 2050 as a major plank in their platforms. And, it doesn’t stop with presidential candidates. It is everywhere and all the time. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has effectively prohibited the expansion of natural gas usage in the New York City area by blocking permits for new natural gas pipelines into growing areas. The city of Berkeley, California, will not allow any new natural gas connections after January 1, 2020 and has plans to become a zero-carbon emitting community by eliminating all fossil fuels, including private transportation. The state of California has instituted a carbon-free emissions program by 2045. More than a hundred cities across the country are touting a carbon-free footprint or plans to be carbon-free in the not-sodistant future. I recently talked to a lady roughly my age who passionately said, “We have to do something to keep my grandchildren from stewing in their own juices.” To say hydrocarbons and carbon emissions are out of favor among the political class and across portions of the country is a dramatic understatement. Proponents of a carbon-free world tout that wind and solar combined with batteries will add more than two-and-a-half times more energy to the world over the next decade than U.S. shale oil production has over the past 15 years. Those are very optimistic, if not unrealistic, goals. To accomplish zero-carbon emissions, two-thirds of today’s electric generation sources will have to be displaced, new ways to heat homes and businesses currently heated with gas or oil will have to be identified, the country’s entire transportation fleet will have to be replaced over the next 25 years with carbon-free alternatives, and growth will have to be served by carbon-free services. And, it all has to be done in a way that is efficient and affordable. Despite politicians racing headlong into joining the Paris Climate Change Agreement, only seven small countries have come close to meeting their carbon reduction pledges. The International Energy Agency states 2018 world energy demand grew by the fastest pace this decade with fossil fuels providing 70% of the energy growth for the second straight year. If the U.S. economy must be converted to carbon-free energy

within two-and-a-half decades, why is energy growth still coming from fossil fuels? Despite what anyone may want, the answer is that renewable energy even with government subsidies remains too expensive. Will the public and growing or shrinking economies tolerate energy starvation in a digital world if the zero-carbon emission plans don’t work or are too expensive for ordinary people to afford? We in the Southeast have a particularly difficult challenge. There is little or no wind generation potential and the abundance and movement of clouds makes solar more of a reliability challenge than in the West, which has fewer clouds. People generally say we will just move all that wind and solar in the West to the South and the East where the people live. However, that task would be one of the greatest and most expensive engineering feats in history. The cost of electricity -- and therefore the cost of everything -- will dramatically increase in cost in a carbon-free world. That means air conditioning, heating, eating, driving, computing, manufacturing and everything else will be much more expensive. Solar generation will also change our countryside and the natural beauty of the country to a sea of solar panels. There are currently 59 nuclear power plants with 97 operating nuclear units in the country, which provide about 20% of the electricity and 10% of the energy consumed in the U.S. PowerSouth is investing in Vogtle Units 3 and 4, the only nuclear units currently under construction in the U.S. The two new nuclear units provide a very, very small fraction of the country’s electricity, but replacing the electricity they generate would require approximately 64,000 acres (100 square miles or an area 10 miles by 10 miles square) of solar panels and a massive battery system. The coal and natural gas electric generation fleet dwarfs the nuclear fleet. How much land will be needed to replace that generation and how much land will be left for something other than solar panels? I didn’t hear that from the presidential candidates this week. Zero-carbon emission energy programs are not the foundation of a bright economic future for our country. What if plans to transform our use of energy don’t work or are prohibitively expensive for ordinary people? Maybe climate change is not the existential threat that the promises and plans of zero-carbon emission advocates are. I hope you have a good month.

Gary Smith is President and CEO of PowerSouth Energy Cooperative.


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| Hardy Jackson's Alabama |

Lafayette’s 1825 visit:

Illustration by Dennis Auth

Time for another bicentennial party?


retty soon our Alabama Bicentennial wing-ding will have run its course and, apart from an approaching football season, Alabamians won’t have much to celebrate. You would think. And you would be wrong. In just a few years we can celebrate the bicentennial of the visit of the Marquis de Lafayette. Yessir. In 1825, the aging hero of the American Revolution made a tour of the nation he helped free from British rule. Included in the grand procession was Alabama. Yessir, yessir. Though we had been a state less than a decade, the Marquis came a-visiting. Why? Alabama was on the way to New Orleans, which is where he really wanted to go, him being French and all. Ignoring the fact that “on the way” was the only reason to come here, the state rolled out the red carpet, as best it could. Alabama was mostly raw frontier, and its citizens were, for the most part, raw as the land. Harvey H. (Hardy) Jackson is Professor Emeritus of History at Jacksonville State University and a columnist for Alabama Living. He can be reached at

46  SEPTEMBER 2019

Accompanied by a retinue that included his dog Quiz, Lafayette entered Alabama near Columbus, Georgia, and was greeted by a sign that read: This road isn’t passable Not even Jackassable So, if you travel Better bring your own gravel It proved a fair warning. The road was rough and the group was happy when they got to Montgomery, where they boarded a steamboat for the rest of the trip. At towns along the river route there was some disagreement as to how Lafayette should be entertained. The men, especially the politicians, wanted speeches and formal dinners, the women wanted a ball, while the common folk just wanted to “get a peep at the great Frenchman.” The Marquis, who was 68 at the time, apparently just wanted to get to New Orleans. But he endured, and when he left the state, everyone declared that Alabama had done herself proud. So, it should come as no surprise that 100 years later, in 1925, a celebration was held at one of the sites that Lafayette had visited. Claiborne. In April, more than 10,000 people from all over southwest Alabama descended on the once-thriving town.

More than 200 school children put on a pageant that included “Indians with feathers and paint,” along with tributes to “Christianity, Community, Music, Art, Drama, Child Welfare, Forest Resources and the Red Cross.” The United Daughters of the Confederacy played a prominent role as did the American Legion and the Boy Scouts. In addition to the usual politicians, a “French embassy official” showed up to remind everyone just who they were celebrating. To guarantee that a large crowd would attend, “a massive meal consisting of 5,000 pounds of barbecue and brunswick stew” enticed those who were not interested in pageants. As an extra added attraction, Miss Charles Finklea preformed “a solo dance as the ‘Golden Butterfly,’” which may have been the highlight of the afternoon . . . until the barbecue was served. That done, the cream of local society headed inland to Perdue Hill for a ball at the Masonic Lodge where Lafayette was entertained back in 1825. Only then, the Lodge was in Claiborne. Only then, there was a Claiborne. That event was one of the last to be held in what would soon be one of the Alabama towns that used to be. Perhaps that was fitting.