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Lifestyle UNION

‘The Color Purple,’ 27 years later. Cupcakes – small size, big trend. Melt-in-your-mouth strawberries! Sci-fi author tops lists at Amazon. May 2012 t

16th Annual Hospice of Union County Golf Tournament Presenting Sponsor - Griffin Motor Company

May 21, 2012 For more information on the

11 a.m. Providence Country Club

tournament or to register, call (704) 292-2130.

Each player receives 18 holes of golf, golf cart rental, range balls, lunch, beverages, prizes and dinner at awards reception.

Hospice of Union County

Sponsorships Available Previous golf tournaments have raised more than $15 million.

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Little cakes are a big hit for snacks, and weddings.

Contents Union Lifestyle t May 2012




Uber-couponer saves thousands of dollars.

Master Gardeners

Nancy E. Stephen



Contributing Writers

Bibi creates beautiful tastes in Monroe.

Restoring an historic house not a money pit.



Nothing says spring like strawberries from the patch.

Local sci-fi author hits Amazon ratings repeatedly.



Local man will never forget “slapping� Oprah.

A mother looks back at life with her daughter.



126-year-old beauty takes starring role.

15 entertaining and fun things to do.

May 2012 Vol. 1, No. 4

give tips for a green thumb.


Deb Coates Bledsoe Luanne Williams

Photographers Deb Coates Bledsoe Nancy E. Stephen

Union Lifestyle A publication of Cameo Communications, LLC PO Box 1064 Monroe, NC 28111-1064 (704) 753-9288 UnionLifestyle

16 June

Union Lifestyle l May 2012 3

Editor’s Letter dream job as a child?

I like to think that I’m reasonably intelligent and somewhat organized.

Really? My dream job changed with the seasons – ballerina, caterer, music therapist, rock band groupie, Tom Selleck’s wife – and the list goes on. No idea what the answer was; I couldn’t even guess.

Friends laugh at me when I reveal my computerized list of paper products for the kitchen. They think the list is ridiculous and I’m obsessive; I think I’m practical. How else would I remember the multiple packages of horn of plentythemed products as a result of the big Thanksgiving party that didn’t happen? Or the nine varieties of spring napkins and plates just waiting for a ladies’ lawn party? I can’t help myself; I like lists so that I don’t have to remember semi-useless, non-time critical things (such as the 55 counties of West Virginia in alphabetical order that I learned in the fifth grade and that still take up space on my mental hard drive.) Who needs to know about Thanksgiving products in May? My list-making predilection is handy for computer information. Back in the day when Al Gore created the Internet (!), sites required a login name and password. That was easy; I used the same one for everything – Nancy and Stephen. Not so creative, but I could remember them. But then hacking became a business and that combination only worked for some sites. Others wanted numbers, too. That was relatively easy; I just added a “1” behind the password. Until that no longer worked. Soon we needed more than one number and the login needed eight characters. Since Nancy1 is not eight characters, I added more numbers – at the beginning, end and in the middle, whatever each site requested. At this point, it was more than a little complicated, and my collection of favorite sites had developed 4 Union Lifestyle l May 2012

Because time was critical, I steeled myself and picked up the phone, hoping for a quick resolution. Not likely. significantly. I had no idea which login and password went with which site. So I started my computerized list of sites, logins and passwords. It’s now an alphabetized spreadsheet with more than 150 listings, updated regularly.

After 90 minutes trying to reach a real person – hit 1 for billing, 2 for the director of underwater basket weaving, 3 through 9 for other obscure departments – I started smacking the 0 button repeatedly, shouting a few words that Mother would not approve.

The variety is quite amazing; the number of twists I put on my name is a tribute to my creativity and slap to my intelligence. What was I drinking the day I thought the German spelling of my last name was a good idea?

“Our next available customer service representative will be with you in (pregnant pause) approximately 17 minutes.” Seriously?

And yes, while the list is on my computer system, allegedly hidden under a name that hackers would never suspect and I often forget, it’s also on paper, hidden in a place that seems to move around on its own.

Eventually, a very nice customer service person answered the phone and could see those secret answers. I listed all four schools, none of which was right. But I was on the right track, she said.

It now appears that another list should be created – of “secret questions” designed to let me access a site when I’m away from my desk and forget the password. A recent debacle with a site and the questions I answered more than 15 years ago made me question my sanity. I didn’t know the answers.

Was there another name I might have called one school? Oh yeah, I knew the answer; it was a cheesy nickname.

First question: What school did you attend? Are we talking high school, college or grad school? With the three strikes and you’re out mechanism embedded on the site, I was out after three attempts. I only went to four schools; what was the answer? Second question: What was your

Back then, I evidently was so panicked that someone might learn my password and abscond with all my vital information that I chose a very obscure answer, “knowing” that I’d never forget it. And, of course, I did. Apparently, I need to choose only those questions with a non-subjective answer, such as my mother’s maiden name or my hometown. Or make another list.

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Union Lifestyle l May 2012 5

Yvette Stevenson of Gimme A Cupcake in Monroe makes more than 35 varieties of cupcakes each week.

Little cakes are a giant hit By Nancy E. Stephen


hey’re not just little cakes. And they’re certainly not just for children’s birthday parties. Cupcakes have shot up in perceived sophistication since the original Hostess cupcake burst onto the snack food scene in 1919. (The signature seven squiggles of white icing and vanilla-crème filling were added in 1950, pushing the treat into the best selling snack cake in history.) Oh no, cupcakes these days range from sophisticated wedding cakes to themed cake parties for children and adults alike. And the flavors soared past chocolate and vanilla years ago. Icing – now that’s yet another story of complicated flavors and design. What started the current cupcake phenomenon is not certain. Some date the craze to a 2000 “Sex and the City” episode in 6 Union Lifestyle l May 2012

which Sarah Jessica Parker bit into a pink-frosted cupcake outside Magnolia Bakery in New York City. Whatever the impetus, cupcakes have sweetened the dessert menus in many restaurants and created a niche industry of their own. Union County has a bakery dedicated to the miniature confection. Yvette Stevenson, owner of Gimme A Cupcake in Monroe, bakes thousands of cupcakes each week with a menu that changes daily and boasts such unusual flavors as Maplen-Bacon, a breakfast cupcake with maple syrup baked into a yellow cake with maple butter cream and turkey bacon sprinkled on top. Not your traditional cupcake! “The great thing about cupcakes is that there’s such a variety,” she says enthusiastically. “People like the fact that they don’t have to eat a whole cake, so it’s portion control. It’s fun, it’s crazy; everyone loves it. “ Nancy Boru of Dolce Paradiso Bakery in Indian Trail agrees. “I think cupcakes are popular because they’re individual. People can have a variety of cupcakes and not feel guilty. And they don’t have to share,” she said, laughing. “I think it has to do with not sharing.

Dolce Paradiso Bakery 4409 Old Monroe Rd. Indian Trail (704) 557-0438

“You can get a variety of cupcakes and have a variety of tastes instead of a big cake that’s the same,” she added. Although a full bakery, Dolce typically has at least seven varieties of cupcakes in the case.

Mon. - Fri. 8 a.m. – 7 p.m.

The bakery’s most popular cake is red velvet with cream cheese icing – “people love red velvet” – but Nancy stirs up other varieties, such as spice cupcakes with maple frosting or Coca Cola cupcakes.

“We can do much more with cupcakes, with individualized details. They’ve become a very popular item for wedding receptions, even sophisticated ones,” she said.

Gimme A Cupcake also caters to special diets. Wednesday through Saturday, the bakery offers 90calorie cupcakes. She also bakes gluten free and diabetic cakes by request.

Sat. 8:30 a.m. – 7 p.m.

Gimme A Cupcake 1736-E Dickerson Blvd., Monroe (704) 635-8737

Yvette says a baker can do a lot with cupcakes, “they’re anything but boring. With cupcakes, the sky’s the limit. You can make different flavors, different designs.” She makes 35 flavors each week, with at least seven flavors each day.

Tues. - Thurs. 10:30 a.m. - 6 p.m. Friday 10:30 a.m. - 6:30 p.m.

Sarah French of Blu Heaven Cakes, a custom bakery in Monroe, bakes cupcakes for many weddings and believes that up to 40 percent of local weddings feature the miniature cakes.

Blu Heaven Cakes Cakes by special order (704) 242-0753

Saturday 9 a.m. - 1 p.m.

Because she specializes in cupcakes, Yvette makes thousands of the trendy treats every week. But every week is different. “One week, we may do more than 1,500 cupcakes, another week we may do 800.” And that’s not counting the wedding cakes and cupcakes and special event cupcakes, typically for the weekend.

Waterpark Opens Friday, May 25th!

Fitness and fun for the whole family! Call for joining fee specials!

2325 Hanover Dr. in Monroe

Across from Lowe’s, just off U.S. 74.

704-282-4680 Union Lifestyle l May 2012 7

Uber-c Shopping hours are broken up as she heads out to a different store every day — Harris Teeter, BiLo, Kmart, Food Lion, etc. — to make the most of special deals at each. She lives within two miles of the supermarkets and Target, so the frequent trips are cost-effective.

By Luanne Williams


“One lady at Walmart says she likes coming to work on the days she knows I'm coming just to see how much I can save” A mother of three, Diane got serious about using coupons when her husband, a sergeant in the U.S. Army National Guard, was deployed overseas, and she needed to reduce her grocery budget. “I just started doing YouTube searches on how to coupon and clipping coupons out of the Sunday paper,” she said. “My mom used to do it, so I knew that you could save a lot doing it.”

“A lot of stores have daily deals that they don't advertise,” she explained. One secret is matching those daily deals to a coupon, which works especially well if the coupon is doubled. For example, Harris Teeter recently put French's mustard on sale for 59 cents, which made it free when the store doubled her 30-cent coupon. During the store’s Super Double Coupon week, manufacturer's coupons up to $1.98 face value are doubled.

hoppers in the checkout line behind Diane Wright may wince when they see her whip out her coupons. But more than once, the Monroe woman has seen a pained expression turn to awe when the person realizes how much she's saved.

Last year, Diane saved approximately $2,400 costs using coupons.

“By the end of the seven-day (Super Double) run, I had 21 gallon cartons of milk, 42 smart balance tubs of butter, 21 toothpastes, 21 pounds of bacon, 21 bags of potato chips, 21 carpet fresh and 21 body lotions – all for around $30,” Diane said.

“I've spent $177 at Bi-Lo and paid less than $20 at the sub-total,” Diane said, giving one example of her couponing prowess. She even has store employees who cheer her on.

Diane now spends about an hour each Sunday clipping and sorting coupons and seven to 10 hours a week shopping. “But hey, what girl doesn't like to shop?” she says.

Because she never knows what a store will discount, she keeps her coupon binder in the car except when she's loading it, filing coupons in product categories to save time and effort.

8 Union Lifestyle l May 2012

couponer $ave$ thou$and$ “Organizing is what makes most people not even try, but this is the most important thing to couponing successfully,� Diane advised. “It takes longer to get started. Then, as each week passes, you will see you are getting faster because you are organized the right way.� Diane said it took about a year to get proficient at couponing. Now her system works so well that she and a friend, Amanda Vaughn, started a business to share their knowledge. The goal of The $avings Champs is to teach others how to shop “wiser, smarter and save money in the process, by cutting their weekly grocery bill in half by means of coupons.�

Five quick coupon tips


Get organized. The best coupon in the world won't benefit you if it's lying in a heap on your kitchen counter. Find a system that works for you - a binder or file organized by product category or expiration date.

2 3

Forget brand loyalty. Your concern is the bottom line, not being a loyal customer to a certain manufacturer.

Match your coupons to an item already on sale as much as possible. Don't overlook unadvertised daily deals as well as opportunities to double or triple your coupons.

4 5

Buy in bulk if you have storage space. Better yet, share with others when you get an especially sweet deal. Familiarize yourself with the store's coupon policies to avoid surprises at the checkout.

They've held classes at South Piedmont Community College, Monroe Aquatics and Fitness Center and other area locations as well as private parties. They also work with Girl Scouts to help them earn Savvy Shopper badges.

An equal opportunity college

In addition to classes, they offer inhome coupon parties and in-store field trips, plus discount classes for those receiving government assistance. Most questions revolve around coupon policies, which shoppers need to know. “Sometimes you get a cashier who doesn't know about the policy and you have to explain and ask to speak with someone familiar with it,� she said, adding that successful coupon users must be willing to assert themselves.

New students...

Apply and Test


Monday, May 21, - Thursday, May 24, 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday, June 12-13 and June 26-27, 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.

She said the key is to “smile and stay polite.� For information on couponing classes, go to

Luanne Williams is a former newspaper editor and a freelance writer.

Register at either campus... L.L. Polk Campus, 680 U.S. 74 West, Polkton Old Charlotte Highway Campus, 4209 Old Charlotte Hwy., Monroe

tXXXTQDDFEV Union Lifestyle l May 2012 9

Bibi creates ‘a beautiful taste’ in


ometimes good food has to be sought out; it’s not on the main highway through town and your initial impression of the location might be slightly disconcerting. But get over that, folks! Bibi, a beautiful taste, is located in front of the Monroe Police Department, but the location makes absolutely no difference. Think of it this way – you couldn’t be safer! Realistically, diners – whether they’re eating indoors or outdoors on the stone patio – are just aware of the delicious food. We think this is one of the best times of the year to enjoy Bibi because of the outdoor seating. Chef-owner Jahson Oshita has created an eclectic menu that satisfies those seeking more than steaks and grilled chicken, but is mainstream enough for a crowd of adventurous eaters, meat and potato eaters, vegetarians and picky children to enjoy. We’ve enjoyed everything from lunch salads to hot sandwiches to “stuff in bowls” – their term, not ours. And all has been very tasty. A recent lunch of blackened fish on 10 Union Lifestyle l May 2012

open-faced ciabatta was delicious. Served with a Cajun tartar sauce, the fish was cooked perfectly and the seasoning had enough kick to enjoy but not be heavy-handed. Although we ate only a small portion of the bread, it was scrumptious, too. Our diet almost bit the dust! The sandwich is served with a side of your choice for $7.95. We chose beans and rice, knowing that the portion would be more than we needed, having had the “stuff in bowls” portion previously. Another diner chose the Blackened fish sandwich seasonal fruit, which was fresh and juicy. That portion could have been larger, though. The warm, roasted root vegetable salad is another of our favorites. It’s a wonderful blending of rutabaga, turnips, sweet potatoes, carrots and parsnips with sautéed cabbage and lightly topped with spiced walnuts and goat cheese.

Restaurant Review but they order it every time they visit. We can’t stop eating the seared tuna, whether it’s a “happitizer” with pickled ginger and preserved lemon wasabi that is the hottest we’ve ever happily cried through ($8.75) or an eight-ounce tuna steak with cranberry-apple chutney, served with steamed rice and seasonal vegetables ($17.50). We recommend the house-made hot tea that combines ginger, cinnamon and cayenne. The red pepper is a nice touch. The menu plays with unusual pairings, such as bacon and collard dip ($5.75), crispy corn cakes with Serrano chilies and roasted red pepper crema ($4.50) and fried tofu with sweet chili dipping sauce ($4.25). These appetizers are a great way to sample some new tastes. Oshita, who describes himself as half Japanese and half Alabaman, is happy to put his own twist on traditional foods but is thrilled to plate some very unusual dishes for adventuresome eaters to try, such as ochazuke, which is

Even Dr. Oz would approve of this salad! For $8.50, you have more than your day’s servings of vegetables. Other diners enjoyed the fish taco, served with tasty jalapeno coleslaw and corn tortillas for $7.95 and the Bibi spinach salad for $8.50. Friends rave over Mamma’s Cornbread Salad, which we haven’t tried,

Fish taco with jalapeno slaw

Downtown Monroe Ambiance - If you sit on the patio, you’ll experience good food in a great setting. Inside, it’s relaxed and casual, and there’s a side room for special functions. (4.25)

steamed rice with kimchi, umebushi, oshinko and bonita flakes and served with green tea (poured over top) – a dish not on many Southern menus. The menu features daily specials, recently including tomato orange coriander soup, a shrimp and stuffed strawberry appetizer, plus peppered strawberries with vanilla ice cream.

Menu - It’s not the largest menu, but we’re thrilled to see multiple side dishes of healthy choices. The daily creative specials should be tried. (4.25)

Bibi has a small beer and wine menu. 2324 E. Franklin St., Monroe (704) 288-1766 Mon-Sat 10:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.

Bibi spinach salad

How we award stars AMBIANCE - Based not only on the décor, but the quality of restrooms, noise buffers, etc.

MENUS - Rated for depth of items, as well as variety and ability to meet the needs of all diners.

QUALITY - Based on taste, portion size, creativity, flexibility to meet individual dietary preferences.

SERVICE - Rates the wait staff on attentiveness and the kitchen on speed and cooperation, etc.

VALUE - Balances the quality of food with the cost. OVERALL - Average rating by diners in all categories; five stars is the top.

Quality - Fresh ingredients, delicious preparations. Presentation is pleasing as well. (4.25) Service - This is the one area the restaurant should improve. We question the wait staff’s attire; maybe that shouldn’t matter, but it does. Our mothers (or grandmothers) would call it inappropriate; actually, so would we. A restaurant this good should not be hampered by this visual distraction. (3) Value- Prices are reasonable and a good value especially considering the generous servings. (4.25) Overall – 4 stars


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Union Lifestyle l May 2012 11

Yum, yum!

You can’t beat lo By Nancy E. Stephen


times, plus individual farm requirements regarding containers, etc.

Creekside Farms 3424 Lanes Creek Rd., Marshville. (704) 6245476 or (704) 624-2631.

The Hunter Farm

othing says spring in the South like biting into a large, juicy strawberry that’s just been plucked – still warm – from a sun-warmed field. It’s instant gratification.

13624 Providence Rd, Weddington. (704) 8467975 or (704) 846-3277. Also has berries at a roadside stand at Hemby and Providence roads.

Watch a toddler pop a whole strawberry into his mouth and wait for the inevitable beginning of juice dribbling out, down his chin and onto his formerly clean shirt.

7118 Alexander Farm Rd., Monroe. (704) 5749200. Pre-picked berries also available.

Did we say toddler? Heck, watch anyone eat a fresh-from-the-earth strawberry and wait for the strawberry stained lips to curl in a smile of satisfaction. It’s the strawberry miracle; you can’t help smiling. This year, strawberry plants burst into bloom and fruit early, courtesy of a warmer than normal winter. And although growers suffered a bit of angst in mid-April as a frost threatened to damage area fields, most were well prepared to protect their many acres of yum.

M&M Farms

Piedmont Produce 9601 Morgan Mill Rd., Monroe. (704) 753-2300 or (704) 753-4614. Also has picked berries at Piedmont Produce General Store located at the Highway 218/Morgan Mill Road intersection. And if you don’t want to pick strawberries yourself, visit these sites and other roadside stands.

Cook Farms 3020 Plyler Mill Rd., Monroe. (704) 634-3936 or (704) 634 - 3937.

Several county farms have you-pick-it programs for strawberries, which can save you a couple of dollars per bucket, but the real benefit is in the fresher-than-fresh taste.

Union County Farmers’ Market

We recommend calling before you go to ensure that strawberries are available and picking

Corner of Price and Church streets in downtown Waxhaw. Saturdays, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

802 Skyway Drive, Monroe. (704) 283-3625

Waxhaw Farmer’s Market

ocal strawberries Alicia’s Favorite Summer Side Salad This is one of our favorite strawberry recipes. It’s not a typical pie or dessert (and we enjoy them too), but it’s a good change of pace. The tang of feta cheese contrasts nicely with fresh strawberries, and sliced almonds add a delightful crunch. And the salad takes just minutes to make. If you’re in a hurry, bottled poppy seed dressings are available in stores. Our apologies to Alicia for not giving her full credit, but this recipe has been passed for years through several families and no one knows who Alicia is.


Salad Preparation

5 cups washed baby field greens

Combine greens, strawberries, feta cheese, almonds and about 1/4 cup dressing in a medium bowl, refrigerating extra dressing. Toss together lightly. Divide into individual salad bowls or serve from a contrasting bowl; we used a wooden bread bowl. (We serve the dressing separate to allow individual portioning.)

1 cup sliced fresh strawberries 1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese 1/4 cup sliced (not slivered) almonds

Poppy Seed Dressing 1/3 cup honey 1/4 cup white vinegar 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/2 teaspoon dry ground mustard 1 teaspoon onion powder 2/3 cup vegetable oil 1 teaspoon poppy seeds

Dressing Preparation In a blender or food processor, combine honey, vinegar, salt, dry mustard and onion powder. With the motor running, drizzle in the oil. Add the poppy seeds and pulse to mix gently. Refrigerate up to three weeks. Shake or stir briskly before serving.

Per serving 160 calories, 14g carbohydrate, 4g protein, 11g fat (59% of calories), 8mg cholesterol, 3g fiber, 179mg sodium.

Former highway patrolman ‘slaps’ Oprah Winfrey – and lives to tell about it A surreptitiously shot photograph by Marshville Photographer Bruce Curlee shows Phil Strong just seconds after he “slapped” Oprah Winfrey.

By Nancy E Stephen


o ot everyone can slap Oprah Winfrey and get away with it, but Phil Strong of Monroe did just that – in the 1985 movie “The Color Purple.” “It was through (producer Steven) Spielberg’s magic,” he quickly explains. “Purple,” which was filmed primarily in Marshville and neighboring Anson County, was the screen version of Alice Walker’s 1982 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel about the 35-year liberation of Celie Johnson, a black woman oppressed by her father and husband in rural Georgia. Phil, then 52 and recently retired from the Highway Patrol, played a small Southern town mayor who is offended when Oprah’s character says “Hell, no” to his screen wife when she asks Oprah, “Would you like to work for me, be my maid?” Phil “with his chest all pushed out, walks up to Sofia,” according to the script. “Girl, what you say to Miss Millie?” “Hell, no.” 14 Union Lifestyle l May 2012

The momentous scene that follows is detailed in the script by a brief notation: “The mayor slaps Sofia.” The scene took many hours to film before they got it exactly right and from every imaginable angle. Phil screen-slapped Oprah by slapping in front of her face as she jerked her head in response. The sound effects were inserted later. Oprah’s character retaliated and threw a wicked right at the mayor’s chin, but that, too, is cinematic magic. An old truck drove in front of the characters just as Oprah drew back her fist. When the truck had passed, Phil was on the ground in the dirt. “They wanted to have a stuntman stand in for me, but I did my own stunt,” he said. “I guess I spent an hour and a half on the ground.” He pocketed about $361 per day on the set, with extra for doing his own fall. He still earns residuals when the movie is shown – “just a small amount. I don’t get the big money,” he said chuckling. The slapping scene “occurred” in winter, with Epson salts scattered on the ground for snow. In fact, it was a typical August day in Union County – 90 degrees with humidity. And Phil was wearing a wool suit with a heavy wool overcoat and perspiring heavily. Director Spielberg was in shorts. Phil keeps a scrapbook with press clippings, napkins, daily production call sheets, all memories of his experience. An

autograph by Oprah reads: “Phil – My mayor friend – nice punchin’ with you.” Spielberg wrote: “To Phil, The best mayor in Hartwell County!” “It was amazing, I just had a ball,” he recalled recently as he flipped through his scrapbook. Memories include riding to Wadesboro with Whoopi Goldberg for his second day’s shoot; no elaborate limousine for her. “I enjoyed just being a part of it, being with them. I had a ball with these people,” he recalled, calling them all by a single name – Oprah, Fishburne, Quincy, Spielberg. “They were a fun group to be with. “I had a good time, there’s no doubt about that.” Phil gave Spielberg a baseball cap with the Highway Patrol insignia because the director wore a cap every day. Although Spielberg didn’t wear it then, years later Phil found pictures on the Internet of Spielberg wearing the cap.

Phil Strong treasures a scrapbook with memorabilia from his two days on the set of “The Color Purple.”

“After my scenes were over, I rode to Wadesboro one day to see what was going on and the deputies let me on the site,” he recalled. Quincy Jones was sitting down the street, away from the

A younger Phil was surprised to see his name on a dressing trailer (left side) “just like the real actors.” The extra wore a threepiece wool suit with a wool overcoat for the “slapping” scene, despite the day’s 90-degree temperatures.

actual filming. “I greeted him, congratulating him on a recent tribute in a national magazine.” He recalls adding, “I just wanted to congratulate you on your honor and to tell you to enjoy your honor. ’Cause when this movie comes out, the cream is going to rise to the top,” he remembers saying, spreading his arms expansively to indicate exactly who was the cream, laughing all the while. Quincy started laughing so loud that Spielberg had to stop filming, “and I thought I should get out of there.” When the movie came out, Phil and his wife went to a premiere in Charlotte, where “I was really surprised when they put my name in the credits.” Calling his experience unforgettable, he adds, “How many first-time actors are lucky enough to be in a movie that was nominated for 11 Academy Awards?” Union Lifestyle l May 2012 15

Marshville streets transformed for 1985 film By Nancy E Stephen

running around small towns and back roads with the kind of speed that the film’s reported $7 million budget demands,” according to the “Chicago Tribune” at the time. “The lack of publicity coming out of this part of the Carolina Piedmont is, however, pure Spielberg: a combination of paranoia and the desire for total control over all aspects of the production.”


n April 1984, the town of Marshville came alive with fright when a freight train carrying chemicals derailed in the center of town. Just one year later, the town came alive again, this time with delight, as movie producer Steven Spielberg brought nowpowerhouse celebrity Oprah Winfrey, then a local talk show host in Chicago, as well as Whoopi Goldberg, Danny Glover, Rae Dawn Chong and Laurence Fishburne for the filming of “The Color Purple,” Spielberg’s first serious drama. Prior to “The Color Purple,” he was best known for “E.T.: The ExtraTerrestrial.” Spielberg and company wanted absolutely no local publicity about the filming; in fact, press was banned from the sets. Even the Los Angeles Times was not successful in interviewing Spielberg. But several local reporters and photographers surreptitiously gathered information and a few images. “Spielberg and his Moon Song Productions have been . . .

For several months, main streets of Marshville were transformed into an early 1900s look, with tons of red clay and straw dumped on the town’s White Street and water, power and telephone lines moved underground at movie company expense. Current-day buildings were turned into turn-of-the-century stores and a café. Spielberg’s company spent an estimated $4 million in the area during seven weeks of filming, which went to area restaurants, service stations and dry cleaners as well as building owners, security guards, cooks serving as personal chefs, truck drivers and technicians. The Color Purple was a box office success, according to Wikipedia, staying in U.S. theaters for 21 weeks and grossing more than $142 million worldwide. In terms of box office income, it ranked as the #1 rated PG-13 movie in 1985. Although nominated for 11 Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Actress for Whoopi and Best Supporting Actress for Oprah, it won none. Spielberg was not nominated for his direction.

Barbara Dunn not only was in a scene with Whoopi Goldberg, “I got to know Whoopi well.” The Dunns owned the facility where Whoopi took her clothes to be cleaned. “She came in a couple times a week; she had a little Volkswagen convertible and wore high top tennis shoes.”

Holloway’s Music Center Accessories Acoustic Guitars Amplifiers Basses Drums Electric Guitars Installations

1912 - 2012 Still giving sound advice. Monday-Friday l 9:30 - 6 Saturday l 9:30 - 3 1608 Skyway Drive in Monroe (704) 283-2814

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What impressed Barbara about her one day on the set were the “details for every little thing. I’d never seen how they make a movie before; I really enjoyed the experience.” Although extras were instructed not to talk to anyone on the set or to take photographs, “you couldn’t help looking at everyone all the time – they were right beside you.” When the movie came out, “it was really something to see me there; a lot of people had been cut. I was just a blip, though.”

Local ‘ham’ has minor ‘screaming part’ Marion Holloway, owner of Holloway’s Music Center in Monroe, recalls his one day on the set of “The Color Purple” with affection and amusement. “They came into Rotary and said if you wanted to be an extra to let them know. And I have enough ham in me; I decided yes.” He was among the dozens of area residents who were extras in the film. “I didn’t have a speaking part – I had a screaming part,” he recalls, laughing. “A shouting part.

“Spielberg had encouraged us to use the vernacular of the day, and I had already decided that I was not going to compromise myself by using profanity.” Although “standing right beside Spielberg and watching him do his directing was quite a feat,” Marion’s most memorable recollection is with music director Quincy Jones. “Before the film crew came, the advance crew came into our store downtown and asked if we could set up Quincy Jones’ equipment in the condo he was renting (in Monroe.) Meeting and working with Quincy Jones was a highlight to me.”

“I was reading a newspaper when Phil and Oprah got into their match, then I ran Jones shipped his own up and got right in her face equipment from California, and about her hitting the mayor. Marion Holloway had a “shouting part” in the movie. Marion put it together in a “How could you do this to spare bedroom. Marion also furnished drums for a scene, but our mayor,” he recalls shouting. “ I can’t believe you would just a brief glimpse is shown. do that.

The details. The experience. A blip on the screen.

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Union Lifestyle l May 2012 17

126-year-old beauty stars in many mo Union County is home to a movie star featured in at least 10 movies. It’s the 1886 Historic Courthouse in Downtown Monroe. The building can be seen in many movies, including the recent “Blood Done Sign My Name” in 2010 with Ricky Schroeder and Nate Parker. The courtroom with balcony hosted a pivotal court scene, below.

An upcoming movie, “Banshee” will be filmed around the Historic Courthouse later this year for a new Cinemax series. Other movies filmed in Union County and their locations include:

t “Homeland” (2011) showed Downtown Monroe. t “Of Whom Am I Afraid” (2008) in Monroe along Franklin Street.

t “April Fool’s Day” (2007) outside the Historic Courthouse.

t “Negros With Guns” (Robert Williams documentary) (2006) showed Monroe.

t “Shake, Rattle and Roll” (2003) in Waxhaw. t “The Secret” (1997) in Monroe and surrounding area.

t “The Protected Wife” (1996) t “The Trial” (2010)

showed Monroe.

used Main Street in

t “No Recourse” (1996) showed

Downtown Monroe


(above) and the

t “Life Estates” (1996) in Monroe

Historic Courthouse.

and Waxhaw.

t “And Then She Was Gone” (1996) on Main Street in Monroe. 18 Union Lifestyle l May 2012


First-known movie filmed in 1941 in Monroe Although “The Color Purple” may have been the first national movie filmed in Union County, it wasn’t the first movie. In 1941, a film producer named Melton Barker was hired to film a two-reel comedy similar to the “Our Gang” comedies, but in Monroe with local talent. Wheeler Smith, owner and operator of the Center Theatre on Main Street, sponsored the production, which was called “The Kidnappers Foil.” Barker continued making local movies from the 1930s to the early 1970s, according to, with his company Melton Barker Juvenile Productions. The film was made across the country – from Texas and New Mexico to North Carolina and Indiana. According to a story in the July 21, 1941 “Monroe Enquirer,” the intent was “to give local children an opportunity to see and hear themselves on the screen and compare themselves with Shirley Temple, Freddy Bartholomew, Spanky McFarland and other celebrities of the screen.” Children, or their parents, registered for auditions, which included singing and dancing talent. But “all types” were needed to fill out the cast, including “tall and short youngsters” as well as “fatties and leans.” Approximately 56 local children were in the film. The quick-turn production was filmed and viewed within one month, quite different from today’s filming process. No known copy of the film exists.

t “Blessed Assurance” (1995) in Monroe’s Winchester neighborhood.

t “Bandit Goes Country,” “Bandit’s Silver Angel,” Beauty and the Bandit” and the creatively-named “Bandit Bandit” short-lived TV series (1994) showed Monroe.

t “Set For Life” (1994) filmed in Weddington, Waxhaw and then Union Regional Medical Center.

t “Death in Small Doses” (1993) showed the Historic Courthouse.

t “Scattered Dreams” (1993) filmed in Marshville and the Historic Courthouse. t “Death In Small Doses” (1993) showed the Historic Courthouse.

t A BBC documentary (1991) on the trial of Byran De La

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Beckwith, who was charged with the assassination of civil rights leader Medgar Evars, used the Historic Courthouse.

t “The U.S. vs. Dr. Jeffrey MacDonald” (1989) used the Historic Courthouse.

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Union Lifestyle l May 2012 19

Want a GREEN thumb? 10 tips for Union County gardeners By Luanne Williams


mild winter and an early spring have even the most amateur of gardeners wielding the spade this year. And soil (or should we say clay and rocks for many of us here in the Carolina slate belt) is already being turned all over Union County. If you haven't gotten into the act or perhaps feel you may have fumbled a bit getting out of the gate this year, never fear. There's still plenty you can do to get growing and lots of resources to help. We talked with a number of Master Gardeners with the Union County Cooperative Extension to compile this list of 10 tips as a good place to start.

Everything you need for your lawn and gardens. Flowering plants Vegetable plants Hanging baskets Soils and mulches Grass seed Fertilizer Shrubs and trees Gardening accessories

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20 Union Lifestyle l May 2012


Take a test. A pop quiz, already? Don't worry. It's not you that needs testing, it's your soil.

The N.C. Department of Agriculture will test it free of charge. Just pick up a kit from Cooperative Extension and follow the instructions. The test will tell you the acidity of the soil (pH) as well as levels of several nutrients necessary for plant growth and recommendations on lime and fertilizer. Knowing what you're working with can help you avoid a number of pitfalls. For details, call (704) 283-3801.


Start small. It's already May and though you would surely love to win Lawn of the Month for June, experienced gardeners say it's best not to start too big of a project that may leave you overwhelmed long before harvest or that visit from the neighborhood prize committee. They recommend focusing on a manageable size bed and choosing a few of your favorite plants, whether ornamentals or veggies, to get started. Then build on that success.


Choose wisely. One of the Master Gardener mantras is very simple — “right plant, right place.” No matter how lovely that pink flowering dogwood looked at the nursery, it's probably not going to flourish in the middle of your sunsoaked front lawn. A little effort on the front-end — finding out what a specific plant needs in the way of soil, sun, shade or moisture — can save a lot of hard work and heartache.


Get in synch. Most seasoned gardeners add “right time” to the “right plant, right place” recommendation. Just because a particular plant is in the seed catalog or covers a quarter acre at the home improvement store this weekend doesn't mean it's necessarily the best time to put it in the ground. In fact, many fruit trees and perennials fare better with a fall start. And local experts say if you are looking for that lush green lawn and have a cool season grass, late summer to early fall is the time to plant. Not now in the throes of spring.

Warm season grasses can be planted by sprigs or plugs, but they'll need consistent watering this summer.


Go native. Although you may not be native to the Tar Heel state, lots of plants are (more than 5,700 species, in fact). Using native plants as often as possible is not only beneficial to the local wildlife (bees, birds, you name it), but because they are more suited to the environment, the plants tend to thrive better and are all-around less needy.


Think outside the bag, bale or bottle. Mulching not only looks nice but it helps retain soil moisture and temperature while discouraging pesky weeds. But mulching doesn’t have to involve a bale of pine straw or a bag of pine bark. Grass clippings, leaves and shredded yard waste can all play a role. And before you grab chemical pesticide, consider more natural alternatives like attracting beneficial insects to do the job for you. Pest control starts with strong, healthy plants and can include non-toxic, homemade remedies as well.


Consider composting. You don't have to have a complicated contraption to get healthy compost. A simple wire pen is a good start. Recycling yard waste can save you money by becoming a soil nutrient additive. Capturing rain water from your roof is another good garden recycling tip.


Keep it contained. Even the smallest of lawns or a tiny patio can become a successful vegetable or flower garden

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with the help of a few containers as long as they drain adequately. Choose varieties that are suited for small spaces and make sure you give climbing vines somewhere to go. Raised beds are another good option.


Plant something for your plate. Even if ornamentals are your thing, consider introducing something edible. Perhaps a pot of Swiss chard on the patio, a cherry tomato in a hanging basket or a patch of attractive herbs that can punch up your garden and your gumbo.


Don't go it alone. Whether you're just starting out and don't have a clue what to cultivate or have gardened for decades but find yourself baffled by a blight or bug, help is available. The Master Gardeners operate a Grow-Line number, (704) 283-3822, and e-mail address,, for you to call or write with your questions in addition to a host of other resources. You can also catch up with them on Facebook or on the group's website at Most importantly, when it comes to gardening, enjoy yourself. If you like what you're creating, you are more likely to spend time there, and therefore more likely to spot a small problem early and solve it before it becomes a big disaster.

Luanne Williams is a former newspaper editor and a freelance writer.

7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday - Friday 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays 2317 E. Lawyers Rd. Monroe, NC 28110 (704) 283-5696

Anyone can grow food for their table, add beauty to lawn Not everyone can have a lush lawn and a prolific vegetable garden, but anyone can grow something for the table and add some beauty to their landscape with a little bit of forethought.

Old-fashioned plants making a comeback in area gardens

That's the theory of Roger Littell, who says even seasoned gardeners like himself sometimes spend too much money on plants that look great at the nursery, but may not be suited to conditions in the backyard.

With some seven acres of flowering shrubs, Beda TrenningHelms can look out any window of her Olive Branch home and see beauty blooming.

“The big thing is to be realistic. Don't expect a plant that needs six to eight hours of full sun a day to grow in a place where it only gets one to two,” said the president of the Union County Master Gardeners.

A 15-year veteran of the Union County Master Gardener program, she likes a lot of mixture in her flower beds and loves seeing some old-fashioned plants making a comeback.

And if it's a cool season grass like Fescue that you've planted in your lawn, don't be surprised when it goes dormant in the heat of summer, he added.

“When I put in plants, I don’t like to put them just in one little spot, but in different locations around the house, a lot of mixtures of color. Then when one plant starts to decline, other blooms are coming on so you never have a dead garden spot,” she said, admitting that “it takes a lot of trial and error.”

“Typically the grass that people plant where they have limited sun is a cool season grass which does best in spring and fall,” he said. “In the summer, it's going to look awful. I don't care how much you water it, it's going to go dormant.”

Among her favorite plants are day lilies and poppies, irises, bachelor’s button and forsythia. She’s glad to see bridal wreath spirea gaining in popularity after having “fallen on hard times” and is also seeing the snowball bush variety of the hydrangea family coming back into vogue. “Some of these very old-fashioned plants are now making inroads and returning,” said Beda, who has long enjoyed flowering quince, which is also getting attention these days. When new gardeners ask her for advice, she suggests they first take a look at friends’ or neighbors’ gardens to discover what grows well in their area and determine what they like. Then find out when is the best time to plant the particular flowers they are interested in planting. “I would say start with a small area, go with your favorite color and stick to native plants,” she said, adding that planting something with white blooms makes the colors stand out even more. She suggests mulching with last fall’s leaves and taking care not to plant so much or such highmaintenance plants that you find yourself “holding the hose” all summer. “Remember summer does come, and watering is a challenge.” 22 Union Lifestyle l May 2012

He said homeowners often mow the grass too closely and seed at the wrong time. Fall is the time to plant cool season grasses, not late spring when the weather is already heating up. An alternative for a full sun lawn would be a summer grass, Littell said, but cautioned that it would need to be sodded or plugged. Rather than worrying over the grass this spring and summer, he suggests homeowners put their efforts into getting their soil tested so they know exactly how much lime or fertilizer they need and don't waste money buying what they don't. Then, in September or October, they can plant a cool season grass and expect a better outcome. Meanwhile, Littell would rather see gardeners planting something they can enjoy in their salad or skillet. And he said they don't have to have a lot of land to do so. “I have a huge pot of Swiss chard that I planted in the fall which came back in the spring. I've got arugula, spinach and none of it is in the ground,” he said. Also in Littell's 25 to 30 containers are a variety of culinary herbs in addition to ornamentals that he uses to add beauty to the landscape of his western Union County home.

Success is when the right insects eat your plants Know your ground before you start putting plants in soil Master Gardener Sonia McElveen grew up in South Carolina and started driving a tractor as soon as she got big enough to press the pedal. “For as long as I can remember, I've been doing something in the garden or in the field,” said the Radiator Specialty chemist. This year, much of her toiling has been at the Teaching Garden at Union County Ag Center, where she enjoys the camaraderie and learning something new every time she goes. “Being a Master Gardener doesn't mean you know it all. It means you are willing to learn new ways of doing things. That's the fun part of the experience.” Sonia said since many Union County residents are transplants, it’s important to realize the way they gardened previously won't work here. “The soil is different and the types of plants that do well here can be a lot different from the ones they might be used to," she said.

At least that's the thought of Annie Howell who turns the soil in her lawn, already a certified wildlife habitat, between Wesley Chapel and Mineral Springs. An avid Master Gardener with a bent toward butterflies, Annie was thrilled when Viceroy caterpillars chewed the leaves off a pussy willow the year she planted it. Now she's busy creating a monarch way station so the fancy fliers have a place to rest and raise a brood between Canada and Mexico. “Monarchs need milkweed, and it's disappearing,” she said, explaining that it's just one of several plants that she's putting in to benefit the bugs. Annie spends most of her time, as much as eight hours some days, transforming the lawn that began with the typical 20 or so builder-supplied shrubs into a bloom-filled butterfly haven. “I started five years ago and it is still a work in progress. I don’t think you can ever say that a gardener is done.”

Swing by Monroe Country Club for the


While she laughed that her chemistry background makes her an unwitting target for questions about insecticides, she said gardening is a science. “You're evaluating, picking out variables, what could go right, what could go wrong. You have to be able to determine diseases, environmental reasons; it's always problem solving." For her own lawn, she's planning to go native as much as possible to create a welcoming habitat for bees and other wildlife and would eliminate every sprig of grass, given a choice.

How do you know when you're a successful gardener? When your plants are getting eaten by the right insects!

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Restoring an historic home By Deb Coates Bledsoe


here were those who told Don Hinkle he might want to rethink buying the 139-year-old historic property known as the John Herron Williams home on Old Monroe-Marshville Road.

house, he saw nothing that swayed him from the purchase. “I didn’t see anything with the house that wasn’t just paint or a new roof. It just needed tender loving care. It had obviously been neglected, but when I crawled under the house, I couldn’t see any structural damage.” The most pressing piece of business, however, was moving a hive of bees that engulfed the entire side of the home. “The bees had built honeycombs that went up to the second story window,” he said.

“I think people have trouble seeing behind the vines,” Don said. “You have to look past that and you have to look past a little sweat equity.” Don and his wife, Laura, felt that the purchase of the home, which according to the deed was built in 1873 although the historic plaque reads 1880, was making an investment into preserving history. “We were looking for a piece of property to buy and we love historic homes,” Don said. “We were also looking for property with land where the kids could play and we could grow a garden.” Standing on the front porch of the Williams home, looking out over the land, made the decision easy. “It’s so rich in history,” he said. “It’s still a very rural community, mostly agriculture. The Williams family still farms the land. I think it’s neat; it’s still a connection with the family.” Don said it’s not difficult to go back in time and imagine what the home’s front yard looked like 100 years ago. “After a long day in the field, they would come out on the porch. That was their entertainment. They would sit on the porch and visit with one another.” So the Hinkles followed their hearts and purchased the home and 30 acres in 1997 for around $88,000. He remembers the purchasing process wasn’t easy. “They gave the house zero value,” Don said. “It was overgrown. It was historic. It needed paint and a roof. They didn’t think anyone could live in it. It was a challenge purchasing the place, as there are no comps for the house, nothing to compare it to.” But none of this alarmed Don. When he walked through the 24 Union Lifestyle l May 2012

A building inspector said the house was in really good shape, and a termite inspection also had a positive outcome. “We were pleasantly surprised that the only thing we found were the bees,” Don said. The home had only one toilet and a sink located behind a curtain in one room. There was also a sink in the kitchen, but the home had only cold-running water. The challenge was to update the home without destroying to its heritage. “You see the way the home was intended to be. I didn’t want to change that. I wanted to hold the integrity of the house. You have to give up some things like updating the kitchen. We had to modernize it some, but we tried to put some vintage pieces like a claw foot tub in the bathroom to maintain some historical reverence.” To keep down cost, Don, an IT project manager, has done most of the work. “It keeps it affordable. It helps that I grew up on a farm. You learn to do a lot of things yourself.” The first priority was a new roof. “Once I got the roof done, I knew I could take my time because I wasn’t going to lose the structure due to water damage.”

not necessarily a money pit that much money. We’ve done most of the work ourselves, so I’m not paying contractor labor. It’s mostly materials. “Now the challenge is to keep up the ongoing maintenance of painting and refinishing the floors.” He plan to continue restoring the home. “It’s sort of a time capsule,” Don said. “This is a piece of Union County history. I just want to preserve it. It’s an antique, a piece of history and if you go changing it, you lose that story, you lose a piece of it. “It’s important, whether it’s my kids or just the people who come to visit, that they see the way it used to be. Someone intended the home to be like this and I don’t want to go change his dreams. I think how hard it was to build this home. There’s a lot of craftsmanship here. I don’t want to take away from that.”

Deb Coates Bledsoe, a former newspaper editor, is a freelance writer and photographer.

John Herron Williams was 22 years old when he moved his 20-year-old bride, Cora Alice (Bivens) Williams, to the small 1,200 square-foot home on Old MonroeMarshville Road. The year was 1878.

Don Hinkle purchased the John Herron Williams home 15 years ago and has spent approximately $10,000 restoring the house, saving money by doing all of the work himself.

The one-story home sat on 120 acres of land that had been his father’s. Two years later, John enlarged the home with the construction of a gabled ell that housed the kitchen and dining room. Fifteen years and 11 children later, John and Cora enlarged the house again, making it about 2,000 square feet. In 1895, a second level was added to the original portion of the home. The home rested on brick and fieldstone piers and featured a bungalow style porch, constructed in 1925, that ran across the front.

Don then sanded the floors down to the original wood and ripped up all the linoleum. He turned a room off the master bedroom into a spacious bathroom, with a hint of vintage décor, but the convenience of modern times.

Behind the home sat several outbuildings including a smokehouse, well house, carriage house, cotton house, wagon and buggy shelter and storage shed, plus two large barns used in the family’s farming business.

He’s placed new copper piping throughout the house and brought the electrical up to code. The house’s foundation sits on large quartz rocks, so Don added cement blocks at various locations under the house to “help stop the bounce as you walk on the floor.”

Six of their daughters were married in the house, each coming down the stairway and into the parlor where the ceremonies were performed.

In the 15 years since he purchased the home, Don estimates that he’s only spent around $10,000. “You think of what a money pit an old property can be, but we really haven’t spent

Williams died in 1936, and his widow continued to live in the home until her own death in 1956 at the age of 98. One child, Martha Cornelia “Connie” Williams, remained in the home until her death in the early 1990s. Information from the Union County Heritage Room.

Union Lifestyle l May 2012 25

Union County author hits Amazon’s top ten lists repeatedly By Nancy E. Stephen


ow do you know when you’ve

become a success?

Is it when Wikipedia has an entry about you? Or when your collection of science fiction novels is ranked 75th in all of Kindle sales and first in high tech science fiction? Or maybe it’s when publishers are pounding at your door, wanting to get in on this highly-successful writing career of yours that needed no publisher to get started? Or when foreign translation rights to your books are purchased? Movie deals are discussed? For 36-year-old Union County native Hugh Howey, all those occurrences are great, but that’s not why he writes. “It's something I've always wanted to do at least once, like climbing a mountain, just to say I did it. “I tried quite a few times over the years and always gave up. With the first Molly Fyde book (Molly Fyde and the Parsona Rescue), I finally had a story that I really needed to see through to the end. After that first one, I became hooked on the process.” In essence, he can’t stop himself from writing now. “I enjoy science fiction because it's an escape and it's the best genre for satirizing the human condition. You can tweak some facet of our environment and see what the results would be. 26 Union Lifestyle l May 2012

Hugh Howey and his dog, Bella Luna, spend time at the computer. “The ‘Wool’ series turns all of humanity into an observable microcosm and explores how we have to treat one another in order to survive with limited space and resources. It distills real issues that are normally so big that we can ignore them into problems we can begin to tackle and mull over.” Hugh began the successful “Wool” series in 2011, initially as a stand-alone short story. Now, the first five segments have been combined into the Omnibus edition and he’s already released the sixth segment, “First Shift – Legacy.” In all, he’s published 14 books since late 2009 and doesn’t appear to be slowing down. Sales reached into the hundreds of thousands in the first three months of the year, and they, too, don’t appear to be slowing. Neither do the reviews or national and international press. Sample reviews on Amazon read: “Probably destined to be a science fiction classic,” “Simply the best” and “Best book I’ve read in the last year.” Recently, there were 478 reviews on Amazon of the Omnibus edition with 439 giving the book five stars. “It’s bizarre to have that much feedback,” Hugh commented. Hugh didn’t envision himself as the prolific writer he’s

would pay me to drive their boats, I decided I'd found my calling.” Just temporarily. In an interview with “Wired,” Hugh explains his transition to writing. “Ever since I was 12, I dreamed of being an author. I just never had the fortitude to see any of my stories through to completion. I would start a book, get a few chapters in, and grow bored or get distracted by something else.” Later reviewing books for a website, he attended a book conference where an author was asked, “What’s the best advice for getting where you are now?” The answer was quick – quit dreaming about it and start doing it. “It was totally talking to me, dreaming but not actually writing,” Hugh said. “So I started writing. I had no thoughts that it would get published or that it would be worth reading.” Obviously, for thousands of readers, his books are very worth reading. All of Hugh’s books (titles listed below) are available at become when he was a child, more “that I would have a series of jobs while I explored the world rather than lock myself into a career.” He did that for a few years, captaining multi-million dollar yachts up and down the East Coast and in the Caribbean. “The captaining came from time spent on my own sailboat while I was in college and the time I spent cruising around the Bahamas. When I found out people

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Union Lifestyle l May 2012 27

Blessings of motherho

Scott and Luanne Williams, just a few days after bringing baby daughter Dayli home from China in 2003.

By Luanne Williams


t t was almost 20 years after “What to Expect When You're Expecting” was published, and virtually every post-teen woman I knew was either pregnant, a mother or grandmother. Armed with loads of advice and flanked by supportive parents and in-laws, I still had boatloads of unanswered questions. Yes, I had been a step-mom, but not to babies. Yes, I had baby-sat infants, but not my own. And yes, I knew that virtually every mother in history probably grappled with some of the same issues when that squirmy little life was 28 Union Lifestyle l May 2012

placed in her arms, and most of them survived. But a control freak and over-analyzer by nature, I truly wanted to know more about what to expect. And I wasn't even pregnant. Instead, my husband and I were awaiting a call to travel to China to bring home a year-old girl. The referral picture took our breath. She seemed to be speaking right to our hearts, “I'm waiting for you. Are you coming?” We felt as though we couldn't hop a plane quick enough. Fast-forward to today. She's 10 with waist-length hair, long manicured nails and dark, almond eyes that alternately melt my heart and infuriate me as they regularly roll back into her head with pre-teen disdain. One minute she's deep in a book and looks like a college co-ed home for spring break, and the next she's chasing a toad across the patio, shooting a slingshot or crying over an ailing fish. Nearly a decade after my question-filled crisis, I'm not sure

hood more bountiful than I could anticipate I'm any more prepared for the task of motherhood than I was on day one. But the blessings have been more bountiful than I could have ever anticipated, the life lessons more valuable than any chapter of my stash of parenting books. For example, she quickly taught me that “being” is usually more important than “doing.” Being available, being kind, being attentive, being real. After years of “doing” a fast-paced deadline-oriented job, this hasn't been easy for me. But I'm realizing that very often she could care less what her Dad or I are doing as long as we're with her and there's an opportunity for interaction. From the start, she also reminded me how much fun it is to learn something new or to relearn something long forgotten. Periodic table? Diagramming sentences? Latin vocabulary? Whatever it is, learning alongside her and seeing the light bulb come on when she “gets it” has been an absolute blast. She's also shown me that sometimes spontaneity can be better than the best laid lesson plans. For her, the slightest breeze is a call to kite flying; nearly every night is perfect for stargazing, and every piece of paper suitable for origami. No reason to wait for a more opportune time. Just do it.

there is no amount of preparation and no mountain of information that could ever have made me ready for what was to come beginning on that “Gotcha Day” in January 2003. And even now, there's no fail-proof plan laid out for the next decade or beyond. Just as the frustrations lay me out flat some days, the unexpected joys will no doubt continue to catch me off guard. Author Elizabeth Stone said making the decision to have a child is “to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.” I couldn't agree more. Sounds exactly like “what to expect when you're expecting,” whether there's a pregnancy involved or not. Happy Mother's Day 2012.

Luanne Williams is a former newspaper editor and a freelance writer.

Like every child who came before her and all who follow, she's challenged her mother's patience, (perhaps even sent me to the brink of sanity if I'm to be honest), broken her Daddy's heart more than once and made life infinitely more interesting than it was before she showed up. To imagine her living a life on the other side of the globe that would not have intersected with ours is absolutely unbearable. Even as I struggle on a daily basis to figure out what's best for her and to settle into a parenting pattern somewhere between hovering helicopter and super-lax laissez fair-ist, it occurs to me that

Scott, Luanne and Dayli Williams on a recent vacation. Union Lifestyle l May 2012 29


things to do in Union County

5 May

Beach, Blues & BBQ

11 a.m. – 7 p.m. Downtown Monroe Homemade Jamz Band, noon to 2 p.m.; Da Throwback Band, 2:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Coastline, 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Carnival rides, food, arts, craft vendors, "Touch-a-Truck" and Job Ready Partnership dessert competition. Info: Tonya Edwards, (704) 282-4695 or

Complimentary Portfolio Review Terry N Estes, CFP® Financial Advisor .

114 East Jefferson Street Monroe, NC 28112 704-283-1589

Member SIPC

30 Union Lifestyle l May 2012

6 May

Union Symphony Orchestra – “American Musings”

4 p.m. Batte Center at Wingate University $15-$25 Online tickets:

11-19 May



10:30 a.m. – 7 p.m. Firethorne Country Club Player packages include lunch, dinner, awards reception and raffle drawings following play.

The Fantasticks

Cruise In / Harley Davidson Addition

6 p.m. – 9 p.m. Downtown Monroe along Main Street is lined with classic cars for this monthly event. Downtown restaurants and merchants are open. Free.



Register online at

May 11, 12, 18, 19 7 p.m. each night. Parkwood High School Fantasticks is the longest running musical in history! (704) 764-2900 for information.



Union County Chamber of Commerce Golf Tournament

SpringFest in Waxhaw

May 12: 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. May 13: Noon – 6 p.m. Downtown Waxhaw This family fun event features more than 100 artists and crafters, kids zone, live entertainment and food. New this year for Mother's Day are a mother-daughter tea party, Mother's Day gift making and mommy makeovers. Rain or shine and free. Details:

19-20 Drumstrong May


May 19, beginning at 11 a.m. and ending May 20 at 5 p.m. Misty Meadows Farm, Weddington Drumstrong was created to be a vibrant part of BEATing cancer. This year they will drum for 30 nonstop hours! Individuals and teams raise funds through pledges per hour of drumming. Includes health expo, vendors, kid zone, yogathon, belly dancers, parades, camping, drum circle. $30 per person; $50 per family for the entire weekend. community/events/

21 May

16th Annual Hospice of Union County Golf Tournament

11 a.m. Providence Country Club Supports mission of providing compassionate, quality care to those with life-limiting illnesses, regardless of the ability to pay. Info: (704) 292-2130.

24 May

Music on Main

6:30 p.m. – 9:30 p.m. Main Street in Monroe Music by Billy Scott & The Georgia Prophets (beach variety) Bring your chairs. Free.

8 June


Cruise In


Main Street, Monroe 6 p.m. – 9 p.m. Downtown Monroe is lined with classic cars for this monthly event. Restaurants and merchants are open. Free.

2 June

Indian Trail Family Fun Day

11a.m. - 6 p.m. Crossing Paths Park, Indian Trail Come out for some good old family fun! Free games, rides, food and craft vendors, music and more. Info: (704) 821-5401

2 June

Gatsby Gala Benefits Museum of the Waxhaws

Henry Hall Wilson House 1301 Frankln St. in Monroe 7 p.m. - ? Casino games, food, music, dancing. $75 a person

9 June

Stallings Movie Night and Bike Safety Event

Fairhaven Park, 1025 Fair Oaks Drive At 5 p.m., kids can learn about safe bike riding practices. A family-friendly movie will begin at dusk. Don’t forget your blankets and lawn chairs! Free.


Music on Main

June 6:30 p.m. – 9:30 p.m. Main Street in Monroe Music by SummerDaze (variety) Bring your chairs. Free.


9 a.m. - 4 p.m. The JAARS Center in Waxhaw Event designed for families to learn more about worldwide Bible translation and JAARS support services.

Got an event the public would enjoy?

At most JAARS Days you can: Watch aviation demonstrations, learn how Bible translators work, chat with translators and other missionary speakers, attend missionary stories and other events for children. Free Info: (704) 843-7070

Submit your activity with all the details – who, what, when, where and why – to Union Lifestyle for inclusion in the magazine and/or online. Send your information to

Dixon knows health care insurance reform and can show how you can benefit.

Your partner for financial success! Business tax returns Personal tax returns Bookkeeping services

QuickBooks support Payroll services Financial statements

4630 W. Highway 74, Suite A v Monroe, NC 28110 (704) 289-6317 Phone v (704) 283-9438 Fax v

704.254.6437 Schedule a free, no pressure presentation for your organization.


Union Lifestyle l May 2012 31

Where everyone knows you by name. Bring in or mention Union Lifestyle and receive a 25,000 mile complementary maintenance on any New or Used Car Purchase.

4918 U.S. 74 W Indian Trail, NC 28079 (888) 243-0406

Union Lifestyle May 2012  

May 2012 edition of Union Lifestyle, the only magazine for Union County, NC.

Union Lifestyle May 2012  

May 2012 edition of Union Lifestyle, the only magazine for Union County, NC.