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What we do for you, every day.

Member FDIC | | 256-386-5000

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Make An



Memorable Beauty in MAhOGANY WALNUT CHERRY OAK KNOTTY ALDER CUSTOM-CRAFTED IRON Featured Door: Biltmore Collection Carriage House Door in Malaga Cherry by Mai Door

The Keeton Residence, Turtle Point

300 East Tennessee Street, Florence, AL 35630


767-2568 • Follow us: September/October 2011 | 3

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In cooling and heating companies, THERE IS A DIFFERENCE! We’ve been in business for 56 years because we take care of our customers. We would like you to experience the C&H difference! WE BELIEVE: • Personal service starts when a live person answers the phone • Courtesy and respect are expected, not a privilege • There is no substitute for taking care of our customers • If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is; you get what you pay for • Honest and fair pricing is the best way to grow a company • Doing what’s right - even if it costs us money • If we wouldn’t invest the money — why should you? • Our people should know you by name, and vice versa

Mitch Parrish, Owner

Alvin Lynch, Owner AL Certification #06222 AL Certification #50045

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{ contents }

ON THE COVERS: This is our Most Beautiful Issue, and because the Shoals area is filled with so many interesting and beautiful people, it was too hard to choose one cover shot. This time, there are four! Your issue may feature Casey Jeffreys, Alyson Ray, Brandi Lewis or Connor and Ben Fisher. Enjoy!

Portrait of Andrea and Jamie McFarlane by Abraham Rowe

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{ contents } Features 16 Designing the Perfect Life in Tuscumbia 24 The Shoals Equine Dynasty 40 The Most Beautiful People in the Shoals Everything Else 10 Contributors 12 Calendar 84 Shopping 90 Food for Thought 96 Bless Their Hearts 94 Twenty Questions 98 Parting Shot

September/October 2011 Volume 4: Issue 5 ••• C. Allen Tomlinson Editor-In-Chief David Sims Managing Editor/Design Director Contributing Writers Sarah Gaede, Connie Thwaite Contributing Photographers Armosa Studios, Lauren Burrows, Captured Studios, Amanda Chapman, Goode Dethero, Patrick Hood, Danny Mitchell, Robert Rausch, Abraham Rowe Business Manager Frances Adams Marketing Coordinator/Advertising Sales Lyndsie McClure Administrative/Editorial Assistant Claire Stewart Student Intern Ashley Neill Printing and Distribution The Ovid Bell Press ••• No’Ala is published six times annually by ATSA PO Box 2530, Florence, AL 35630 Phone: 256-766-4222 | Fax: 256-766-4106 Toll-free: 800-779-4222 Web: Standard postage paid at Florence, AL. A one-year subscription is $19.95 for delivery in the United States. Signed articles reflect only the views of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the editors. Advertisers are solely responsible for the content of their advertisements. © 2008-2011 ATSA, All rights reserved. Send all correspondence to Allen Tomlinson, Editor, at the postal address above, or by e-mail to Letters may be edited for space and style. To advertise, contact us at: 256-766-4222, or The editor will provide writer’s guidelines upon request. Prospective authors should not submit unsolicited manuscripts; please query the editor first.

No’Ala is printed with vegetable-based inks on 100% recycled paper.

Join us on Facebook: No’Ala Mag

Portrait of Alvin Briggs by Patrick Hood

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{ editor’s letter }



All things beautiful As a magazine designer, you can’t possibly imagine what a treat it is do create this issue of No’Ala. It’s a little like Christmas—I get 32 surprises under my tree! That’s how many portraits we commissioned this year from eight exceptional local photographers who stunned us all once again with their skill and unique points of view. This year we asked a number of last year’s “beautiful people” to nominate up to 25 people they thought had that unique combination of physical and internal beauty. Like last year, some husbands, wives and siblings were nominated separately, so it was fun to group some of these people into one portrait. Our 40 beautiful people are as varied as the Shoals. Students, small business owners, musicians, fashion designers, chefs, doctors, coaches, and even one professional athlete make up the “Most Beautiful People in the Shoals,” starting on page 40. And speaking of beautiful people: one of this year’s subjects, Mary Young (page 80) came to us with the idea of doing a story about the rich history of championship horses we have in the Shoals. Mary and her husband Donny own a world champion reining horse. Connie Thwaite, in her first feature for No’Ala, gives us a fascinating overview of our equine accomplishments. Read more starting on page 24.

Lyndsie McClure

It’s just natural to move from beautiful people, to beautiful horses, to beautiful things, right? Well, there are beautiful things being designed every day in the Tuscumbia offices of industrial designer Carter McGuyer and his wife Brandi. Their firm designs products for some of the top retailers in the world, including Williams Sonoma and Crate & Barrel. They’re even working on their own line of products! Check out Allen Tomlinson’s profile of this designing duo on page 16. Frances Adams

You might have read Sarah Gaede’s humorous take on fried corn in our July/August issue. Well, in this issue, Sarah’s now-regular column talks about her vision of the perfect tomato sandwich. It’s not often that you find someone who can both cook and write beautifully, so we consider ourselves very lucky to have Sarah’s unique take on all things yummy. Read her first “Food for Thought” on page 90. You may have noticed over the years that No’Ala loves animals, and specifically dogs. Allen Tomlinson rounds out this issue writing about our area’s need for a dog park where our best friends can roam off leash. Stay tuned and find out how you can help us make this a reality! Claire Stewart

Finally, I admit I have been remiss in not introducing you to our staff. Since this is the Beautiful People issue, it’s time: Lyndsie McClure, Frances Adams (both UNA Fall 2010 graduates), and Claire Stewart (who graduates in May 2012) are the beautiful and efficient staff members who keep this magazine rolling. Just like you, our reader. Thanks to you all!

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{ contributors }

Armosa Studios Wes and Tera Wages

Lauren Burrows

Captured Studios Stacy Fulton & Shana Alexander

Amanda Chapman

Patrick Hood

Robert Rausch

Abraham Rowe

Connie Thwaite

Though traveling the globe shooting weddings and commercial work, Tera and Wes Wages base their business, Armosa Studios, in the Shoals area. Armosa has been featured in top wedding magazines and blogs and strives for an “unordinary” style. See more of their work at

Goode Dethero has owned and operated a photography studio in the Shoals since 2006. She strives to create an expressive work of art without the distraction of props, staged poses or thematic backgrounds. Goode uses a variety of lenses and lighting to create the unique moods and atmosphere that give her work distinction.

Lauren Burrows graduated in 2000 with a photographic technology degree, and has freelanced since 2002. She specializes in lifestyle portraits and has a photojournalism approach to weddings and events. Lauren has a passion for life, and with that passion she works hard to capture every moment of who people are. Originally from Daytona Beach, she and her family (husband and two sons) moved to the Shoals in 2008. To see more of her work, visit her website at

Born and raised in Florence, Patrick Hood now lives in Sheffield with his wife Sandra, two sons Ethan and Ben, and dog Heidi. His first paying gig came when he was eighteen, and Patrick has been taking photos professionally for thirty-one years. His photos have been published extensively in newspapers, magazines, trade journals, books, ads, albums, catalogs, and brochures. Lately, Patrick is finding that he really enjoys meeting and photographing interesting, successful people. See his work at

Captured Studios (Shana Alexander and Stacy Fulton) offers a unique combination of two local photographers who specialize in creating artistic expressions through their images. If the eyes are the windows to the soul, they want to show you the character and heart of each person they photograph. Photography is not their job, it is their passion.

Robert Rausch is a Clio award winner and founder of GAS Design Center. Though most of the work his studio does is design, his photography can be seen in The New York Times, Travel & Leisure, Garden and Gun, Southern Living, Ladies Home Journal, and Veranda, just to name a few.

Amanda Chapman is a visual artist. At a young age she began drawing portraits of people; today she extends that creativity through the lens of her camera. Her work has been published in local and national magazines and has caught the eye of photography judges, artists in the music industry and even brides-to-be. A wife and mother of two, Amanda strives to be unique and create images that are thought provoking and inspiring. Her work can be viewed at

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Goode Dethero

Abraham Rowe has been a freelance photographer since 2005, specializing in portraits, weddings, commercial, and fine art photography. He lives on an acre of land one mile from downtown Florence, Alabama with his two sons, Jack and Malachi. Connie Thwaite is a freelance writer with a focus on marketing and public relations. She is Vice President / Programs for the volunteers of the Kennedy-Douglass Center for the Arts, and Publicity Chair for aMuse, an organization that supports arts education and promotes art in the Shoals.

Providing Insurance and Financial Services

Myron Gardner, LUTCF 1819 Darby Drive, Florence, AL 35630 Bus 256-764-2234;Cell 256-335-6080 Email

Phil Wiginton 419 Cox Boulevard, Sheffield, AL, 35660 Bus 256-383-4521; Cell 256-762-5859 Email September/October 2011 | 11

Calendar of events September

September 1–2 You Can’t Take It With You Ritz Theatre, 111 W. 3rd St., Sheffield; 7:35pm; $13 adults, $7 students at the door. 256-383-0533 or To celebrate Center Stage’s 30th Anniversary, the community theater arm of the Tennessee Valley Art Association reprises its first production. September 1–27 Paintings and Drawings by Todd Reed Kennedy-Douglass Center for the Arts, 217 E. Tuscaloosa Street, Florence. Mon–Fri. 9:00am–4:00pm. No admission. 256-760-6379. September 1 and every Thursday in September Upscale Farmer’s Market Spring Park, Tuscumbia, 4:00pm–7:00pm; no admission; Fresh fruits and vegetables, homemade breads, jellies, soaps and Shoals Culinary Center-made products will be available for purchase. Live music and cooking demonstrations add to the evening! September 2 First Friday Court Street, downtown Florence, 5:00–8:00pm; Free. This monthly event is a gathering of artists of all types: musicians, painters, sculptors, photographers, hand-crafted jewelers and more. September 3 Lexington Founders Day Downtown Lexington; time TBA; no admission; Celebrate the founding of the town of Lexington with live music, arts and crafts and a car and truck show. First Saturday, Rogersville Downtown Rogersville; time TBA; no admission. September 5 Coon Dog Cemetery Labor Day Celebration Coon Dog Cemetery, seven miles west of Tuscumbia off Highway 72; go to Cherokee and follow the signs. 1:00pm–4:00pm; no admission. 256-383-0783; Celebrate Labor Day at the Coon Dog Cemetery with bluegrass music, buck dancing and a liars contest. 89th Shoals Area Labor Council, Labor Day Festivities Spring Park, Tuscumbia; Parade at 10:00am, activities in the park 10:00am–5:00pm; Free; 256-383-2758. September 9–10 OKA KAPASSA–Return to Cold Water Spring Park, Tuscumbia; Fri. 9:00am–2:00pm, Sat. 10:00am–7:30pm; no admission. 256-757-4438;; Approximately twelve Native American tribes return to their ancestral land in Southeast America at Tuscumbia; Events include hoop dancing, storytelling, drum, stone carving, flute12 | No’Ala

making, flint knapping, basket making, and pottery. Authentic Native American food. September 17–18 17th Annual Trail of Tears Commemoration & Motorcycle Ride Check website for schedule: will ride from Chattanooga, TN to Waterloo, AL.; Largest Motorcycle Ride in the South to commemorate the tragic history of the Indian Removal to the west; Free. September 18 On Stage Presents Music Legend Leon Russell Norton Auditorium on the campus of UNA; 2:00pm. Admission charged;; Music legend Leon Russell, who recorded in Muscle Shoals and worked with Muscle Shoals Sound and The Swampers during his career, comes to Norton Auditorium for the On Stage season opener. September 18–November 4 Steve Armstrong’s Automata Tennessee Valley Museum of Art, 511 North Water Street, Tuscumbia; Hours: Sunday, 1:00pm–3:00pm; Monday–Friday, 9:00am–5:00pm; Admission: $5.00 for adults, $3.00 for students, Sundays free; Contact: Keith McMurtrey, 256-383-0533 September 20–25 77th Annual North Alabama State Fair Fairgrounds, Muscle Shoals; Tuesday–Friday: 5:00pm to midnight, Saturday–Sunday: Noon-Midnight; Admission charged. 256-3833247 or September 22 WICP presents Carl Hurley, America’s Funniest Professor Shoals Theatre, Florence; 2:00pm and 7:00pm; admission $20. Purchase tickets online at or at the Kennedy-Douglass Center for the Arts, Tennessee Valley Center for the Arts, LifeWise, or WICP office. Proceeds benefit WICP, the area’s non-profit adult daycare program. Fourth Thursday in Tuscumbia Downtown Tuscumbia; 6:00pm-10:00pm; no admission; Artists, craftsmen and musicians line the streets of downtown Tuscumbia for this monthly street festival. September 29–October 17 St. Francis Art Exhibit Trinity Episcopal Church, Florence; Opening Reception September 29, 6:00pm–9:00pm; admission $25. Art displayed and on sale until October 17, 2011. 10:00am–2:00pm, Monday–Friday or by appointment; Proceeds go toward the St. Francis Project’s goal of raising and giving away a million dollars to local charitable causes. September 29–October 2, October 6–7 The Foreigner Ritz Theatre, 111 W. 3rd St., Sheffield; 7:35pm; $13 adults, $7 students at the door. 256-383-0533 or

October October 1 Oktoberfest St. Florian Park, 101 St. Florian Road, Florence; 11:00am–5:00pm; no admission; Each year the town of St. Florian celebrates its rich German heritage with an Oktoberfest celebration.

Look your youngest on the outside. First Saturday, Rogersville Downtown Rogersville; time TBA; no admission. October 3–November 11 Posters from World War I and II Tennessee Valley Museum of Art, 511 North Water Street, Tuscumbia, Alabama; Exhibition Hours: Sunday, 1:00pm–3:00 pm; Monday–Friday, 9:00am–5:00 pm. Admission: $5.00 for adults, 256-383-0533

Feel your youngest on the inside.

October 4–31 Art Expressions: Shoals Artists Guild Exhibition Kennedy-Douglass Center for the Arts, 217 E. Tuscaloosa Street, Florence. Mon–Fri. 9:00am–4:00pm. No admission. 256-760-6379. Members work in a variety of styles and media including watercolor, acrylic, oil, pastel, pencil, and mixed media. October 7 First Friday Court Street, downtown Florence, 5:00pm–8:00pm; no admission. October 8 Light the Night Walk Wilson Park, Florence; 5:30pm; 256-489.6620 or A fundraiser for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. October 15 Alabama Renaissance Feast Florence/Lauderdale Coliseum, 7:00pm; Admission charged. Wenches and Queens alike will enjoy this authentic Renaissance Feast prepared by a world-renowned chef and served accompanied by Renaissance entertainment. October 20 On Stage presents Ricky Skaggs and Kentucky Thunder Shoals Theatre, Florence, 7:30pm; admission charged. Fourteen-time Grammy winner Ricky Skaggs brings his passionate mix of distinctly American music. (At press time this concert was nearly sold out, so check availability before coming to the box office.) October 23 Shoals Symphony at UNA presents Fall Magic Florence Freshman Center Auditorium, 2:00pm; admission charged. The Shoals Symphony performs Mozart, von Weber, Bizet, and Mussorgsky’s “Night On Bald Mountain.” October 22–23 Alabama Renaissance Faire Wilson Park, Florence, 10:00am–6:00pm; no admission charged. 256-740-4141. Voted one of the top 20 events in the southeast.

FIND OUT HOW: Look for The Aging Myth, a New York Times #1 Bestseller by Dr. Joe Chang, PHD. Learn about the science behind slowing the aging process. Book available at Books-A-Million. Product available at:

October 27 Fourth Thursday in Tuscumbia Downtown Tuscumbia; 6:00pm–10:00pm; no admission. October 28 Howl-oween with No’Ala Buffler House, St. Florian; admission (donations) charged. See the No’Ala Facebook page or for details; A costume party to raise money for the construction of the “Bark Park,” a dog park for the canines of the Shoals area—and their owners.


110 East Mobile Street, Florence Alabama

256-764-5997 September/October 2011 | 13








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Leon Russell Norton Auditorium Sunday, September 18, 2011, 2pm

Tickets on sale now at

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{ everybody’s business }


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{ everybody’s business }

The Artifacts line is in development and combines classic design elements with modern, easy to care-for materials


REALLY COOK, NOT JUST HEAT THINGS IN THE MICROWAVE OR ORDER FROM A DRIVE THROUGHGO TO YOUR KITCHEN AND OPEN THAT GADGET DRAWER . SEE THE NEAT THINGS THERE, CREATED TO MAKE YOUR JOB EASIER? CHANCES ARE THEY WERE DESIGNED IN TUSCUMBIA , ALABAMA . Chances are also pretty good that you have seen Carter and Brandi McGuyer around the Shoals, at Handy events or children’s dance recitals or PTA meetings, and you think they are a nice young couple, but you have no idea that they are responsible for the design of much of the things in that kitchen drawer. In the housewares world, the name McGuyer is huge. “Williams Sonoma, Microplane, Epicurean, Chef Planet, Nordic Ware, Target, Crate and Barrel…” Carter and Brandi begin to list the companies they work with. In their studio in downtown Tuscumbia, samples of some of their better selling designs line the walls. Some of the products are colorful; all are beautiful; some are unusual, but when their purposes are explained, they make perfect sense. (An aluminum piece that looks like a musical instrument is actually a wine glass holder, and once you know that you’ll want one.) Mostly, these products are familiar—unless you consider the kitchen a no-man’s land, some of the products you’ll see here are probably also living in a drawer at home. From Tuscumbia, of all places. But why not? Carter grew up in Tuscumbia and graduated from Deshler. Brandi was the child of a high school coach and lived in a lot of places, but went to Muscle Shoals High School and then to UNA to play volleyball. Carter graduated from the Industrial Design program at Auburn University, one of the best

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“OUR PRODUCTS ARE SOLD ALL AROUND THE WORLD, AND WE WANTED TO BE LOCATED IN A PLACE THAT WOULD ALLOW US TO OCCASIONALLY SLOW DOWN LONG ENOUGH TO BE CREATIVE. THIS IS THAT PLACE.” design programs in the country, and went to work for manufacturing companies, designing housewares; he and Brandi met when they worked together at one of those, where Carter was the head designer and Brandi was the sales manager. It’s that combination of talents that makes Carter McGuyer Design Group (CMDG) work. Founded in 2006 at the Keystone Office Center in Florence, the couple wanted to find a studio they could call their own where Carter could oversee the design process and Brandi could handle the sales, marketing and public relations. “We always wanted to come to Tuscumbia,” said Carter, “because we love this downtown, and we like a small town location. Our products are sold all around the world, and we wanted to be located in a place that would allow us to occasionally slow down long enough to be creative. This is that place.” The products that come from this small design studio are impressive. Not only are they beautiful, many times in bright

colors and manufactured from metal, plastics and sometimes recycled materials, they are incredibly functional. The pizza cutter with the built-in handle that is comfortable to use also comes apart for easy cleaning. The Epicurean Gourmet ladle combines durable plastic and a recycled handle in a way that’s easy to use and pleasant to look at. The Pampered Chef scoop clip combines a measuring scoop with a clip that keeps the bag of coffee tightly closed and the beans fresh. They are clever, they are functional, and they look good on the counter even when they are not being used. CMDG works with its clients in a variety of ways. For some, the designers work with manufacturers and retailers to design efficient and beautiful products that meet a particular need. For others, Carter and Brandi can also produce the products for resale. “I think one of the things that makes us unique is the fact that we come from manufacturing backgrounds,” said Carter. “That helps, because we know how to specify materi-

als, and we know how to work with manufacturers to get the product made. It’s one thing to design a good product, but if your design can’t be manufactured it’s no good.” A lot of larger design firms create beautiful things that can’t be made, and this unique ability means that the McGuyers are in demand because they can hand over files and molds so that production can begin right away. It also means they travel a lot, meeting with clients in their offices or meeting with manufacturers abroad, but that’s part of the fun. And they win awards. The 2003 Gourmet Gold Award, the 2004 Good Design Award, the 2009 Housewares Design Award for “Best of the Best” and “Best in Show,” and Esquire’s “Top 25 Best Dressed Real Men” award for Carter. What? That last one wasn’t for product design, but instead for the fact that the McGuyer signature is for Carter and Brandi to dress beautifully when making presentations or visiting trade shows. “It’s become our thing,” says Brandi with a

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{ everybody’s business } smile. “People tell us they look for us because they want to see how we’re dressed.” How appropriate that two product designers are also known for their fashion style, since they happen to be headquartered in one of the rising fashion capitols of the South! Is everything they design for the kitchen? Far from it. Which brings us to the Carter Cooperative and the beach tote. “We were headed to the beach for a short getaway, and we had a lot of stuff to take with us,” said Brandi. “Carter had this idea for a canvas tote, so he sat down, before we left, and sewed together a beach tote using wooden handles and Velcro to pull it all together. When we got to the beach, we couldn’t walk fifty yards without someone asking us where we had gotten the tote, because it was so cool and so easy to use. We knew then that we had a product idea that could really work.” The beauty of this carry-all is its simplicity. It’s a long piece of fabric with wooden handles at both ends. You lay it flat and pile all of your things on it, including beach chairs and towels; then you fold the canvas together so the handles meet, the Velcro keeps it all together, and you’re able to leverage a lot of beach gear without having to make multiple trips.

The beauty of this carry-all is its simplicity.

One day, late last spring, Brandi got a notice that there was a company that wanted to feature cool beach products for a Memorial Day presentation, so she wrote a description of the beach tote and emailed photos. “I had no idea that the company that was looking for these ideas was Good Morning America,” she says, laughing. Their beach tote was chosen to be featured on a special segment about the best products for Memorial Day—and orders went sky high. The beach tote, which was a great product, was suddenly one of the hottest products of the summer. The rush that ensued kept the McGuyers very, very busy, hiring sewers, ordering handles and fabric and overseeing production of their American made product. The attention also led to features in Alabama magazine and various beach blogs, and made their Captain and Skipper beach totes must-haves for beachgoers all over the country. (The products can be seen and purchased at, or at Tuscumbia’s Fourth Thursday events.)

This mini-cake mold was designed for Williams Sonoma and won awards.

Meanwhile, back at the studio, design work goes on. “We love housewares, but we want to move out of the kitchen,” says Carter, who is working with an outdoor furniture manufacturer to produce a line of products made entirely from recycled milk cartons. His dream would be to design an iconic chair, like the Wassily or the Herman Miller Aeron, but he loves good product design, whether that’s automotive, home products, architecture or clothing. The company is researching ideas for their own product line, and is prototyping a line of serving utensils that look like high-end ceramic pieces, classically styled, but made of dishwasherfriendly plastics. All from Tuscumbia, of all places. “This is home,” Carter says. “We love the pace, the people, the fact that we have family here, and the fact that we live so close to the lake.” It’s a great place to raise an eight-year old daughter, attend PTA meetings and dance recitals, and a great place to be creative. Think of that the next time you’re puttering around in your kitchen and open that gadget drawer. Your favorite tool might have gotten its start in Tuscumbia, at Carter McGuyer Design Group. N

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This is not a musical instrument, but a drying rack for wine glasses — It solves the problem of where to put your long stemmed glasses while they drip-dry.

Did she? Only Dr. Jennings knows. Fresh, natural beauty. She looks rested and refreshed. So...was it a vacation? Or did she visit Dr. Jennings at Shoals Plastic Surgery? At Shoals Plastic Surgery / Face & Body, Dr. Russell Jennings offers a variety of procedures designed to help you achieve the look of your dreams. Best of all, the procedures are all performed here in the Shoals — there is no need to drive to Huntsville, Birmingham or Nashville. Here is a partial list of the available procedures: Face Botox Treatments Injectible Fillers Ear Surgery Eyelid Surgery Facelift Nose Surgery Cancer Removal Breast Breast Augmentation Breast Lift Breast Reduction Breast Reconstruction Body Body Lift Liposuction Tummy Tuck Arm/Thigh Lift

Shoals Plastic Surgery / Face & Body 203 West Avalon Avenue Suite 300 Muscle Shoals, AL 35661 Phone: (256) 386-1450

Dr. Russell Jennings, Board Certified Plastic Surgery September/October 2011 | 21

The professionals who have come together to create the Shoals Perfect Wedding have gone above and beyond the call to make sure that this will be perfect in every way. Here are the Shoals Perfect Wedding Partners, and their contributions:

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Andy’s The Professionals: Andy, Jenette and Melba are styling hair and giving manicures to the bride and her bridesmaids. Armosa Studios is providing all engagement and wedding photography and videography. They are the group that created the original idea for the Shoals Perfect Wedding. Bishops Barbecue is catering the rehearsal dinner. Armosa Studios

Later this month, Erin Speed and Alex Wittscheck will tie the knot as winners of the first Shoals Perfect Wedding. Our goal was to give them the wedding of their dreams, at the lowest possible price, and, thanks to the Partners on these two pages, that will happen. In exchange, the couple has chronicled their experience on the Shoals Perfect Wedding blog ( in hopes that their experience will provide inspiration and ideas for you. Visit the website and see what they have to say, and join us in thanking these Partners for making a couple’s wedding dreams come true!

Bluewater Creek Polo Club is providing the beautiful location for the ceremony and reception. The Center for Skincare and Wellness is treating the bride and bridesmaids to a Galvanic Spa Brunch.

Cherry Tree Lane provided the wedding dress at a substantial discount. Coker Family Dentistry gave take-home teeth whitening kits for the bride and groom. Dish Café, Table 18, Sweet Basil Café and The Sweet Magnolia Café are working together to cater the reception. Each restaurant is featuring a selection of items they are best known for, and working together to give wedding guests a reception they will long remember. First Southern Bank is paying for postage for wedding invitations and save the date cards and helping with floral expenses. Grogan Jewelers is providing a vintage Rolls Royce for the couple for the day. Halsey House Interiors is helping the couple start their life together with a duvet cover and shams for their bed. Jamie Hood Jewelers is furnishing pocket watches for the groomsman's gifts.

Jordyn Dean is the designer of the Shoals Perfect Wedding, and her coordination and planning makes the entire day possible. Lola’s Gifts and Flowers is providing the flowers, linens, centerpieces, tarnished silver and decor for the wedding and reception. Magpie Designs (Maggie Crisler) has designed the save the date cards and invitations, as well as other signs, menus and graphic items used the day of the wedding. Mefford’s Jewelers furnished Alex's wedding band. Natalie Faggioni is doing the bride and bridesmaids’ makeup. Overflo Productions (Tim Spidel) is providing sound and lighting for the ceremony and reception. Party Pros is providing tents, tables, lighting, linens, and just about everything else needed to make sure the wedding and reception flows smoothly.

PSI is printing the save-the-date cards and wedding invitations. Side Lines is providing the bride and her bridesmaids with custom hand-made jewelry. Sugar On Top is providing the wedding cake. The French Basket is helping the couple set up housekeeping by giving them a complete place setting. The Wine Seller is providing champagne and sparkling grape juice for the guests. Thread is providing the fabric for the flower girls’ dresses and the ring bear’s bow tie. No’Ala Magazine is telling the world about this event and the wonderful partners who have made it possible. Look for complete details of the wedding in the January/February 2012, issue of No’Ala Magazine!

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The year is 1836. A somewhat portly gentleman in traditional riding attire sits proudly in the saddle atop a splendid black stallion. The horse is Glencoe, perhaps the most celebrated thoroughbred in racing history. His rider is James Jackson, one of Florence’s founding fathers. Jackson built the Forks of Cypress ante-bellum mansion where he established a breeding farm of truly exceptional horses and became known as the Father of American Horse Racing.

Never heard the story of Glencoe and the lasting impact he had—and still has—on the American horse industry? Based on the quizzical expressions that greeted me when I started talking about our local champion horses, you are not alone. We’re famous for a lot of things in the Shoals—the river, music, arts, history—but who knew that one of the founders of Florence was the most successful importer of British horses in the 19th century and that the Shoals was the epicenter of the horse industry until after the Civil War?

Obviously, it is a story that needs to be told.

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Forks of Cypress

THE BEST AND FASTEST James Jackson earned accolades for importing more thoroughbreds than anyone in the country and for his uncanny ability to select the best and the fastest. His greatest purchase was the legendary Glencoe in 1836. Born in England and brought to America by Jackson, Glencoe was considered a great “filly-getter,” earning the title of leading sire in America eight times. At a stud fee of $100 per mating, Glencoe sired 481 foals from 1837 to 1854. His descendants have won the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness, the Triple Crown and many other important races. Curtis Flowers, researcher of horse racing in northern Alabama, said of Glencoe, “He’s one of the foundation sires for today’s thoroughbreds. “ Among the other horses Jackson imported were Gallopade, a broodmare, and Leviathan, who was the leading American sire five times. Gallopade had quite a busy breeding career, producing Fandango and Cotillion by Leviathan before breeding exclusively with Glencoe each year until her death. Many of their progeny were in great demand, both on the race track and in the breeding barn. Particularly noteworthy was Glencoe’s daughter Peytona. Bred at the Forks, Peytona won the 1843 Peyton Stakes, earning $62,000, the largest horse racing prize to that date. She also triumphed in the “Great Race between the North and South,” after walking 1,200 miles from Alabama to Long Island, New York. According to Florence banker Van Morgan, trading was halted on Wall Street that day, allowing stock traders to attend the race. A Currier and Ives print entitled “Peytona and Fashion” depicted the race. The print can be seen today in Florence’s Pope’s Tavern. Also of special note was Reel, daughter of Glencoe and Galopade. Considered one of the greatest broodmares in history, Reel produced ten of the era’s fastest racehorses. A thoroughbred racehorse herself, Reel won the prestigious Jockey Club Purse in 1841.

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The most famous—and fastest—of Glencoe’s progeny was the quarter horse Peter McCue, born in 1895. Unusually large at 16 hands and 1430 pounds, Peter McCue’s size did not prevent him from running the fastest quarter mile in history. As a sire, he had great influence on the development of today’s quarter horse and is a member of the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame. According to author James Hervey in his book Racing in America, Glencoe was “a truly epochal animal such as appears only at rare intervals and with whom only a scattering few others of all time deserve to be ranked.” A plaque placed within view of the Forks of Cypress by the Alabama Tourism Department and Florence/Lauderdale Tourism states in part: “His successful progeny insured such prevalence of the line that by mid-20th century virtually no thoroughbred in the world could be found who did not descend from Glencoe of the Forks of Cypress.” Glencoe, Gallopede, Leviathan, Peter McCue and a number of their offspring are memorialized in portraits that hang today in the New York Jockey Club. When Glencoe died in 1857 on a Kentucky farm, his death was reported throughout America and Europe. Jackson’s Broader Impact on Alabama History In addition to his success in horse breeding and racing, Jackson had a lasting impact on northern Alabama. Born in Ireland in 1782, he immigrated to America and lived to the age of 58. Locally, he is renowned as the builder of the Forks of Cypress mansion. Supported by 24 brick columns covered with a mixture of mud, molasses, straw and horse hair, the Forks was the center of life on a plantation consisting of more than 3,000 acres five miles outside of downtown Florence. Along with General John Coffee and Judge John McKinley, Jackson created the Cypress Land Company, which purchased the land on which Florence was founded. He also served in both houses of the Alabama Legislature. Along with his plantation, breeding farm and race course, he had successful businesses in Nashville and New Orleans. He was married to Sally Moore (in some accounts she is called Sarah), with whom he raised 11 children at the Forks. On June 6, 1966, the Forks of Cypress was struck by lightning, igniting the timbers and burning the mansion to the ground. From a long line of cars parked along Jackson Road, many Florence citizens watched the great fire. All that remains today are the brick columns, forming a mysterious spectacle stretching to the sky. In 1997, the site was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

D ONNY YOUNG: REINING HORSE TRAINER AND RIDER Watching Donny Young riding his champion quarter horse Gunalena Chex is riveting. Horse and rider seem united in a choreographed dance they have practiced a thousand times. With Young lightly touching the reins, Gunny, as he is affectionately called, dips his head, bends his torso and spins in a tight circular pattern. At one point, Donny drops the reins entirely. “Show off!” a visitor shouts out. Young responds with a grin. Called quarter horses because they are the fastest breed in the quarter mile, quarter horses make excellent “reining” and “cutting” horses. Young originally thought he would train Gunny as a cutter. This disDonny Young cipline suits quarter horses because their bone structure and overall conformation, with appropriate training, make them skilled at herding cattle and performing other ranch duties. We’ve all seen western movies where the rider and horse “cut off ” cows that have wandered away and return them to the herd. Those are cutting horses. As a rule, Young begins training his quarter horses when they are 3 years old. There are other owner/trainers who, in order to take advantage of earlier opportunities to show their quarter horses, begin when the horses are 2 years old. Young believes that practice leads to broken bones because a twoyear old’s skeletal structure is not yet fully formed. And as he says, “I’m not in it for the money. I’m in it for the fun.” A Fateful Decision In Gunny’s case, the horse underwent a difficult operation to repair a hernia at the age of 3, then spent two years recovering, so his training was delayed until he was 5. At that time, Young says, “Something about the horse changed my mind.” He decided not to train him as a cutter, as he had originally planned, but instead as a reining horse. According to Young, “Reining is the epitome of horsemanship.” In reining, the horse is guided with as little pressure from the rider as possible. The discipline includes sliding to a stop, circling, spinning and rolling back. As it turned out, Young’s decision was fateful. In 2009 at the age of 8, Gunny, a horse that had never been shown, became the first reining horse from Alabama to become a world champion.

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Young had enlisted Rob Huddleston of Pontotoc, Mississippi, to train Gunny. Then a brief two months later, he asked Huddleston to show the horse at the 2009 Dixie Nationals in New Iberia, Louisiana. Young had planned on riding Gunny himself, but he sustained a back injury. With Huddleston in the saddle, Gunny won his class (Novice Horse, Open Level 1 Division).

Riding a World Champion Ridden by Huddleston, Gunny went on to win every competition in which he was shown, with the sole exception of day one at a competition in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. That day, he “kicked out” on Huddleston; but, on day two, he was back in form. He stepped up to the Intermediate Open Division and, to the great surprise of Young, Huddle-

Donny Young on Gunalena Chex

ston and the entire reining horse community, continued to collect winnings. With championship rankings based on earnings, Gunny’s total of $14,763 made him the National Racing Horse Association Intermediate Open World Champion. An amazing achievement? Yes. But perhaps less so considering Gunny’s pedigree: His sire was the celebrated Nu Chex To Cash, World Champion and American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA) High Point Reining and Working Cow Horse. Moreover, Young asserts, Gunny’s ancestry, like that of every other quarter horse today, can be traced to Peter McCue, and from Peter McCue to Glencoe.

ED ROBBINS: BLUEWATER CREEK POLO CLUB What do you do if you’re Ed Robbins and you’ve been bitten by the polo bug, but there’s nowhere to play in the Shoals? Buy a piece of property on Bluewater Creek, create both a Polo field and a race track, build stables, and construct a two-story pavilion for parties and events. And what do you do if you want to interview Robbins? You match your schedule to his, meet him at Bluewater Creek, and sit on the second floor of the pavilion where ceilings fans create a pleasant breeze on a hot July afternoon. Along with Robbins, there is a small entourage: Teena, his daughter and fellow polo enthusiast; Sheila, his personal assistant; and two of Bluewater Creek’s grooms and trainers. WATCHING DONNY YOUNG RIDING HIS CHAMPION QUARTER HORSE GUNALENA CHEX IS RIVETING. HORSE AND RIDER SEEM UNITED IN A CHOREOGRAPHED DANCE THEY HAVE PRACTICED A THOUSAND TIMES.

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“I bought the land here in 1980,” Robbins recalls. “It had been used to raise corn, and I thought it was flat. But it had

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Ed Robbins (far right) playing polo at his Bluewater Creek Polo Club

also been used for hog pens, and there were cars buried in the ground. The cars were dug up, but horses would trip in the holes and break their legs.” The ground needed more than a facelift; it needed a complete revamping.

Florida, he first experienced the lure of polo. Now, he has been playing for more than 30 years, and the team is an official member of the Southeast Circuit of the United States Polo Association.

A Vision Realized But Robbins is a visionary— both in work and in play. Today, his vision has been realized. The grounds of Bluewater Creek Polo Club are a lovely expanse of manicured grass. Large fields are enclosed by white fencing where horses graze lazily when they are not being trained, ridden, or at play on the polo field.

Just watching a polo match is thrilling, even for someone who knows little about the game. Two teams of four horses, their hoofs pounding, race up and down the field. The players, wearing red and white and wielding mallets, grip the horses with their thighs as they lean sideways to shoot the ball down the field into each other’s goal. The sights and sounds are like a shot of adrenalin in the spectator’s heart.

It is clear that Robbins loves horses, has loved them all his life. As a child, he says, “I had a walking horse with a natural gait.” When he was old enough, he progressed to competitive horse jumping and fox hunting while raising and training champion hunting dogs. Then, in 1979, on a visit to Palm Beach,

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It’s easy to understand when Teena contributes to the conversation: “Polo gets in your blood. All you want to do is play.” And now, she says, “There are three generations of us,” referring to Robbins’ grandson, Judson Carlson, who has joined the team.

Bringing Horse Racing Home Now Robbins wants to bring horse racing back to northern Alabama. “We raced horses here in the 90s,” he said. But there are obstacles. For one thing, the club track needs to be refurbished, no small undertaking given the special mix of soil and other ingredients that a race track must have. For another thing, he is looking to buy new horses. At the time of the interview, he was considering a 2year old in Kentucky and a 4-year old in Florida. He also is considering expanding the search to Argentina, and Teena is urging him to make the trip. Robbins agrees with Donny Young’s judgment about the age at which a horse’s training should begin. “Two years is too young,” Robbins says. “Today, they go to extremes, and it hurts the horse. In Argentina, racing two-year olds is not even permitted.” Does Robbins agree with Young’s assertion that the bloodlines of all

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American champion horses can be traced back to Glencoe. “Let me put it this way,” Robbins says, carefully measuring his words. “Glencoe was influential and had a great impact on breeding. But all horses?” He shakes his head ruefully. Robbins concludes the interview with an open invitation to the Polo Club. “Anyone is welcome to come watch,” he says, “Unless we’re having a special event.” He wants to spread the news that polo in the Shoals is alive, fun and exciting.

JAMES GRAHAM AND DAVID ADAMO: QUEST FOR OLYMPIC GOLD As an award-winning equestrian, trainer, coach and “eventing” judge, Jim Graham is unquestionably an expert when it comes to appraising the potential of horses. The first time Graham saw Prince Noah, he immediately knew he was looking at a champion thoroughbred. An imposing stallion, 17.2 hands high, with a glossy coat the color of cappuccino, a black mane and tail, and a growing collection of ribbons and awards, Prince Noah is indeed a majestic horse. Top: David Adamo with his trio of championship horses; Above: Jim Graham with Prince Noah

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As Graham tells it, Prince Noah is also a survivor. When the flooding from Hurricane Katrina began in Biloxi, Mississippi, Prince Noah’s former owners opened the stable doors and let all the horses run free. It was, they thought, the horses’ only chance of survival. As it turned out, they were right, although Prince Noah and the other horses were carried away by the flood waters and trapped in a circle of trees for a week before the were rescued. The owners, faced with property devastation in the wake of Katrina, put the horses up for sale.

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Along with Graham, seven prospective buyers from Arkansas, Mississippi and Alabama saw Prince Noah and recognized his potential. Graham immediately contacted fellow equestrian and friend David Adamo, a California native with impressive credentials of his own. Graham recalls saying, “If you think I know anything about horses, you’ll come.” Trusting Graham’s instincts, Adamo hopped on the first flight he could get. What he saw in Prince Noah, he says, was “raw talent, athleticism and intelligence.” Although Noah had never been trained, Adamo says, “He did everything I asked the first the time I rode him.” The horse so impressed Adamo that he promptly traveled back to California to seek financial sponsors. In 2008, he returned to Alabama and purchased Prince Noah. Since then, he has resided and trained at Meadow Run Farm, Graham’s horse farm located in the bucolic countryside just north of Florence. Olympic Journey With Graham as his dedicated coach, Adamo now concentrates most of his time and energy training Prince Noah and two other up and coming champion horses, River King and Marveles. His ultimate goal, one shared by Graham, is a place on the 2012 Olympic Team in England—a dream that is coming nearer to realization with every event in which he competes. In 2010, Adamo was invited to join an elite group of eastern equestrians at the 2010 World Cup Qualifying competition held in Montana. Out of a field of 500 horses, with 30 to 40 in his class, Adamo and Prince Noah finished third behind multi-Olympic medalist Karen O’Connor. As a result, Adamo was long- listed for the U.S. Equestrian Team—a significant step in the Olympic journey. Adamo and Prince Noah delivered another spectacular performance at the 2010 Fairhill International Olympic

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Qualifier Event in Maryland. With U.S. Olympic Team scouts watching, Adamo placed in the top 10. This performance earned Adamo a nomination to the Olympic Developing Rider’s list—and Adamo took another leap toward the Olympics. Dressage, Cross Country and Show Jumping If you ever have an opportunity to watch Adamo eventing, be prepared for a breathtaking experience. Eventing is a series of three challenging tests of horse and rider aptitude—Dressage, Cross Country and Show Jumping. The rules of eventing are defined by the United States Eventing Association (USEA), the national organization governing the sport. In Dressage, the horse and rider progress through a series of challenging movements that the horse must perform with grace and precision. The objective is to prove the horse’s skill, balance, rhythm and obedience while demonstrating harmony between the horse and rider. Adamo and Prince Noah consistently execute the Dressage phase faultlessly. From the spectator’s perspective, the Cross Country phase appears harrowing. It is a timed event on a long circuit with many obstacles. Proceeding at an optimal speed, the horse and rider encounter fences (between 12 and 40, depending on the level of competition), stone walls, water features, ditches, and steeply graded drops and banks. To complete the circuit successfully, the horse and rider must be in prime physical condition and have absolute trust in each other—attributes that are clearly evident in Adamo and Prince Noah. The third phase, Show Jumping, is also timed, with a penalty for every second over the required time. The event tests the horse and rider’s jumping skills as they vault over a series of between 12 and 20 fences set up in a circular pattern. Typically, the fences are

brightly colored with parts that can be kicked or knocked down by the horse. Show Jumping particularly tests the horse’s athleticism and stamina as it follows the physically demanding Cross Country phase. In a recent event, Adamo and Prince Noah performed with only a single fault—a kicked fence rail. Financing the Quest The cost of maintaining, training and competing with Olympic-level horses is enormous. Travel expenses alone are immense; and with upcoming trips to England and Australia for World Cup and Olympic qualifying events, expenses are multiplying rapidly. Who pays for all this? Unlike other countries, the U.S. provides no financial assistance to Olympic candidates. Neither Graham nor Adamo is wealthy, so fundraising is a constant struggle. They seek sponsorships, serve as certified trainers at clinics across the country, and run a time-intensive training program at Meadow Run Farm. “Everything we do is to raise money so we can keep competing,” says Graham. “We don’t do it for money. The journey is fun. It’s a way of life.” Both Graham and Adamo love to coach beginners, taking them from “green” riders with no experience and molding them into championship level competitors. With their impressive credentials, they are in high demand as instructors. Graham was a member of the 1994 World Equestrian Games, narrowly missing gold when his horse, Rosie, was withdrawn from the competition due to a pulled muscle. He represented the U.S. in numerous international competitions and, until he was compelled to resign because of his association with Adamo, was a U.S. Equestrian Team Selector. As a Level 4 instructor certified by the USEA, he instructs riders through the Advanced level. Adamo has been riding since he was 6 and eventing since he was 16. He is a for-


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A CONVERSATION WITH RICHARD CHAMBERLAIN Richard Chamberlain is a senior writer for the American Quarter Horse Journal. A brief conversation yields a few enlightening facts to someone who is a novice in the world of horses. Thoroughbred and quarter horses come from the same bloodlines. Quarter horses were developed in the 1600s using thoroughbreds mated with mares belonging to Native American Chickasaws. Quarter horses have the fastest time in the quarter mile. They are tough, hardy and agile. Thoroughbreds are distance runners, akin to humans who run in marathons. The difference between cutting horses and reining horses is the training and handling. To complete its tasks on the ranch, a cutting horse need no guidance. It knows what it needs to do; the rider has to simply let the horse run. Reining horses need guidance to perform; however, the less guidance, the better the horse. Chamberlain is particularly informative regarding polo horses: Polo horses are called ponies although they are full size. They are carefully selected for quick bursts of speed, agility and maneuverability. Temperament is critical; the pony must remain responsive under pressure and not become excited or difficult to control. Polo ponies are trained to be handled with one hand on the reins and to be responsive to the rider’s leg and weight cues for moving forward, turning and stopping. Polo ponies are very athletic and have great stamina to perform well throughout the 7-minute chucker. (A Polo match chucker is the equivalent of a quarter in a football game.) Chamberlain’s take on the controversy over whether the lineage of all quarter horses today can be traced back to Glencoe: “Doubtful.”

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mer U.S. Eventing Association Chairman for Area VI (California) and a U.S. Pony Club traveling instructor. He has trained with an impressive list of former U.S. Equestrian Team members—all leading up to his determination to participate on the international level and, ultimately, compete in the 2012 Olympics. He is a Level 3 instructor certified by the USEA, permitting him to train Novice through Intermediate riders. Olympic Gold In Sight For Graham and Adamo, the past four years of training and competing have been challenging, exhausting at times, yet richly gratifying. And the true reward for their persistence and hard work—Adamo’s competing for Olympic Gold—is nearly in sight, not far beyond the rolling hills of Meadow Run Farm. N

In addition to the awards noted in this article, we identified the following championship level horses and their owners from the Shoals. As this list illustrates, there are many unsung champion horses in the Shoals! If you know of anyone we missed, we would be glad to hear from you. Easter Parade, Jim Graham United States Equestrian Team–World Equestrian Game Representative–Multiple Jumping & Cross Country Championships Mighty Mite, Debi Crowley Radnor International Hunt–CCI Championship Negras Bar Girl, Lazy M Barrel Horses United Barrel Horse Association–Youth–4-D Championship Skip A True Nick, Lazy M Barrel Horses United Barrel Horse Association–Open–4-D Championship For The Love Of The Game, Jennifer Jubb American Quarter Horse Youth Association–Halter–World Championship Ready For The Weekend, Jennifer Jubb American Quarter Horse Youth Association–Halter–World Championship Heza Stemwinder, Laura Young Moseley American Quarter Horse Association–Halter–World Championship DS Roman Kid Clue, David Stone American Quarter Horse Association–Halter–Open World Championship Star Ardical, Jimmy & Sharon Black American Quarter Horse Association–Halter Palomino–World Championship Gunalena Chex, Donny & Mary Young National Reining Horse Association–Intermediate Open–World Championship Instance, Randy & Nicole Aldridge National Cutting Horse Association–Multiple Cutting Horse Championships Smart Lil Badger, Randy & Nicole Aldridge National Cutting Horse Association–Multiple Cutting Horse Championships Justanotherwhiteboy, Randy & Nicole Aldridge National Cutting Horse Association–Futurity Finalist–Multiple Cutting Horse Championships Fire Marshall Bill, Todd & Beth Weatherford Arabian English Pleasure–2 Time Reserve–National U.S. Championship & Junior English National Championship Rohavamericanelegance, Todd & Beth Weatherford Arabian–Reserve Halter–National Championship Magnoms Fire At Will, Todd & Beth Weatherford Arabian Hunter–Sidesaddle–Multiple Regional Championships Watch It Now, Jack Littrell Walking Horse–World Grand Championship Call Me Ted, Jack Littrell Walking Horse–World Championship

Dwight Cox & Associates Welcomes Mary Jane Starke A native of the Shoals, Mary Jane Starke is an internationally recognized makeup artist and photographer with a successful career spanning over three decades. Mary Mary Jane Jane’s work has graced the pages of Newsweek, Elle, Cosmopolitan, Vogue, People, Glamour, and Harper’s Bazaar. Numerous celebrities and political figures include Bill Clinton, Matt Lauer, Ted Turner, Jimmy Carter, Elton John, Iman, Lynard Skynard, KISS, Kenny Rogers, Rascal Flatts, and many more. She will be working exclusively by appointment alongside Dwight Cox. Call for scheduled dates.


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{ guess who I saw } Georgia Oakley and Mark McCullough

Mary Jo and Nick Pieroni, with Edsel Holden III

George and Carol McAdams

Edsel Holden performs Laura Irvine and Betty Jean Mitchell Inez Holden, Lorene Haddock, and Liz Irvine

Dennis and Shelia Upchurch

Martha Cooper and Edsel Holden

Above: Swingtime in the Shoals

Below: Rhythm and Rhinestones



Elizabeth and Matthew Gruber

Becky Mauldin, Jimmy and Dale Glennon, and Jackie Ziegler Edwina Clayton Bonnie Atkinson and Elvis Sarah Ware

Chris and Jill Bobo

Alaina Young

Scott Townsend, Frances Smith, Mildred Smith, and Floyd Odenwelder

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If you want to look your best,

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Oral and Facial Surgery of the Shoals, LLC Medical School and have completed a General Surgery Internship and Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery Residency at Vanderbilt University Hospital. Ask your Dentist or Physician to refer you to a Board Certified Surgeon at Oral and Facial Surgery of the Shoals. We’d love to help you look and feel your best!

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ANDREA & JAMIE MC FARLANE Photographed by Abraham Rowe

What are your favorite words to live by? In life, shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you will still come down with a handful of stars. —Andrea What is beauty to you? I find so much beauty in kindness and purity. It can be everything from nature, to a baby, or just a very kind person, and I can find beauty in it. —Jamie

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BRANDI LEWIS Photographed by Goode Dethero

What are you most passionate about? I am very passionate about helping kids, especially those who have been diagnosed with chronic illnesses. I love talking to, encouraging and motivating them. This is important to me because I was diagnosed with a chronic illness in 2008, which I was determined to beat. I have been in remission since 2010. I didn’t allow it to define my life, it only made me work harder to reach the goals I’ve set. Each child I’ve met since 2008 has caused me to strive harder so that I can be all I can be for them. Being a great role model and support for them is my ultimate goal in life. I am working to create a foundation that will solely support them.

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ALYSON RAY Photographed by Robert Rausch

What are you most passionate about? Family, friends, equality, and fabric—I see endless possibilities in them all! Photo Assistant: Marisa Keris Clothing: Thread

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UREKA MALONE Photographed by Amanda Chapman

My biggest motivator in life would have to be my children. They are beautiful, talented, challenging while encouraging at the same time (all ďŹ ve of them). They are wonderfully gifted in so many ways. I always want to be in a position to help nurture those gifts and help them be all that they can be. Their drive, passion, energy and their dependency motivates me to no end!

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ROBIN & THIAGO CURY Photographed by Armosa Studios

What are you most passionate about? Compassion. Thiago shows incredible compassion towards his patients when they are in the scariest moments of their lives. Robin’s heart thrives off of loving the unloved. I’ve always said my dream job would be just “playing in the dirt with orphans.” We both desire to have a large family by having children of our own, and through adoption and foster care. Clothing: Billy Reid and Marigail Mathis Hair: Aleesha Crowe Makeup: Natalie Faggioni

September/October 2011 | 45

{ guess who I saw }

Ellen Brusick, Marian Baker, and Susan Gillespie Sandy Dickinson and Mary Settle Cooney

Olivia and Jerry Wages

Martha Carpenter, Helen Savage, and Arneda Heath

Maria Barnes and Dee Barnes

Monica Barnes, Shanna Johnson, and Mandy Murner

Judge and Mrs. Hal Hughston, and Ben Caldwel

Jerry and Lori Wolfolk copy

Above: Helen Keller Festival

Below: Hoedown for Horses

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Meredith and John McClanahan

Donna Gray, Jake Jacobs and Kevin Gray Maggie Hogan & Derrick Gargis

Tambra & Rodney Howard Tina Neill

Billy & Melanie Stokes and Mike Tucker 46 | No’Ala

Jackie Jones and Michelle Rivard

Laura & Greg Adderholt, Tina and Jeff Johnson, Tina Neill

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JOSHUA & MEGAN HAMLIN Photographed by Captured Studios

What are your favorite words to live by? In my line of work this sticks with me: always “stay strong and courageous, do not be afraid for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9) —Josh What is ‘beauty’ to you? True beauty comes from within. Your true self comes from who you are when no one is looking. In those moments, one’s true beauty can be seen. —Megan

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ALEX GODWIN Photographed by Patrick Hood

What is one unique fact about yourself? I am just about to complete my ďŹ rst book. I don't consider myself to be a writer, but it is something that I've wanted to do for a long time. It is about running and exercise, but it also draws a parallel with one's walk through life with God. I can also juggle.

September/October 2011 | 49


PATTY KLOS Photographed by Lauren Burrows

What are your favorite words to live by? Be mindful of your thoughts; they become your words, your actions and ultimately, your life.

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ADAM GOODMAN Photographed by Abraham Rowe

What are your favorite words to live by? I really like the simplicity of this quote from Lanterns on the Levee (a book I read for Dr. Larry Nelson’s History of the South course): “I guess a man’s job is to make the world a better place to live in, so far as he is able—always remembering the results will be [infinite]—and to attend to his own soul.” Photo Assistant: Susan King

September/October 2011 | 51


LYNN COLEMAN Photographed by Goode Dethero

What is “beauty” to you? There is beauty in simplicity.

52 | No’Ala


ZACH & NATALIE CHANIN Photographed by Robert Rausch

What are you most passionate about? The beauty of everyday, friends and family, the perfect tomato sandwich. 窶年atalie Clothing: Alabama Chanin

September/October 2011 | 53


GINGER & JOSH WILLINGHAM Photographed by Amanda Chapman

Is there any cause or nonprofit that is important to you? Our foundation— The Josh Willingham Foundation. It was formed to help children of North Alabama but we made a special fund just for the tornado victims. We hope to make a difference in many lives with the opportunities we have with this foundation.

54 | No’Ala


HELEN NICHOLS Photographed by Armosa Studios

What is ‘beauty’ to you? Beauty is what I can see in others— a kind word, a warm smile, a helping hand, a cheer of laughter, a support of hope. Makeup: Natalie Faggioni Jewelry: Mollie Glover

September/October 2011 | 55

{ guess who I saw }

Bob Hill and Andy Cagle Jaimie Dean Robert Smith and Michael Hasty Chad Cohenour

Jason Bigbie, Ken Shepski, and Blake Garrett

Mary Elizabeth Marr, Stephanie Harvillle, Faye Williams, and April Koonce

Ashley Prinzi

Lisa Wallace

Above: Dining With Friends Dessert Reception

Below: Makadoo’s Grand Opening


JULY 22, 2011  FLORENCE

Debbie Hicks, Lauren Hicks, and Breylee Linder

Katlyn Barnes, Nancy Vance and Taylor Vance Lincoln Defoor Michelle, Makadyn, and David Winkle

Jimmy Glennon and Steve Holt

Ashley and Gunnor Winkle


56 | No’Ala


ANU YAHAMPATH FIELDS Photographed by Captured Studios

Is there any cause or nonprofit that is important to you? I have an animal rescue called Halfway Home for Animals. It is 501c3 non profit organization that is formed to help animals in need.

September/October 2011 | 57


ALVIN BRIGGS Photographed by Patrick Hood

What is ‘beauty’ to you? There is a beauty and elegance about a person who will give of themselves to help others and love unconditionally, without being at the front of the parade line blowing their own horn.

58 | No’Ala


SUNITHA MADASU Photographed by Lauren Burrows

What are you most passionate about? My career as a dentist. I strive every day to provide care to people who are anxious or scared. I want people to know that I do care and will always try my best to make it easier for them. Makeup: Frances Adams

September/October 2011 | 59


RALPH RICHEY Photographed by Abraham Rowe

What is beauty to you? I think beauty is from the heart, and doesn’t look down on someone because they are not as blessed as you.

60 | No’Ala

September/October 2011 | 61


BETH LANE Photographed by Goode Dethero

What are your favorite words to live by? At the end of the day: Have I helped anyone today? If not, has someone helped me instead?

62 | No’Ala


BEN & CONNOR FISHER Photographed by Robert Rausch

What are you most passionate about? A few years ago, when I played soccer in college I would have said soccer. Now, it’s kids—with soccer a very close second. I always felt a rush when scoring a goal or preventing one from being scored. However, once you have experienced the look on the face of a child after helping them learn a skill, or once you’ve had them shake your hand and say thank you, well, there isn’t another feeling that compares. (Then again I’ve never scored a goal in a World Cup.) —Ben What is your favorite thing about the Shoals? I like the outdoor locations where I can hike and camp. I love the lake and I am usually on it everyday. I also love all the great local food. —Connor

Photo Assistants: Lillyanna, Robert and Adam Rausch

September/October 2011 | 63


MELISSA MORGAN BULLINGTON Photographed by Armosa Studios

Is there any cause or nonprofit that is important to you? Each year my winter recital proceeds benefit St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. I’ve always had a heart for children and think that childhood should be remembered as something magical. I love that the funds raised for St. Jude not only support the kids who are in need at the moment but also support research to further prevention and treatment of childhood illnesses. Our contributions may not be a lot, but every little bit counts. Makeup: Natalie Faggioni

64 | No’Ala


P.J. & BOBBY WINSTON Photographed by Amanda Chapman

What is ‘beauty’ to you? Beauty is inside and out. It represents how you carry yourself, how you treat people and what your life represents. —P.J. What are your favorite words to live by? Never quit… I can do all things through Christ who strengthens us… I am unique. —Bobby

September/October 2011 | 65

{ guess who I saw } Anita Correll, Sharlene Holden

Deborah Parker, Brandy Burrough

Rita Rich

Anita Correll, Dr. Lee Morris, and Sarlene Holden

Katelyn Callahan, Faith Burrough Patricia Bailey, Pam Grissom, Stacey Evans, and Sue Loosier Angie Bange Amanda Murphy Britney Burleson Dee Barnes

Victoria Burnside

Above: Obagi-C Promotional Event

Below: Unraveled Grand Opening


JULY 15, 2011  FLORENCE

66 | No’Ala

Peace of Mind Another reason families choose ElderCare Services ElderCare Services provides in-home care that enables you to relax, knowing your family member is being cared for in the comfort and familiarity of their own home. Since 1996, we have been a trusted resource for those who need a little care...or a lot. Call Jean Gay Mussleman or Dee Mussleman for details.

210 E. College Street, Florence AL 35630 256-740-8249

3801 Florence Boulevard Florence, AL 35634-2898

(256) 272-0122 September/October 2011 | 67


CHARLIE LAUDERDALE Photographed by Captured Studios

What are your favorite words to live by? When we first got our record deal, my sister told me to “always remember who you are” and that has stuck with me all these years.

68 | No’Ala


MISSY HIBBETT Photographed by Patrick Hood

What are you most passionate about? Making a difference. At the end of each day I hope I have made a difference in someone’s life, whether it be for my husband and children, family or friends or a citizen who has come to the Clerk’s office needing help with anything from a domestic violence issue to needing to file something. There is always someone we can help or encourage to try and make their day a little bit better. The saying that I keep in my wallet is “The best exercise for the heart is to reach down and help someone up.”

September/October 2011 | 69


BARRETT & KATHERINE STONE Photographed by Lauren Burrows

Is there any cause or nonprofit that is important to you? There are a couple of organizations that are important to us both. One of those is Baptist Medical Dental International. We are traveling to Honduras for a week to provide medical and dental care, but most importantly to share the gospel with the people of Honduras. Another organization that has become important to us is the United Cerebral Palsy Center. We began supporting this organization about a year ago in memory of our sweet friends Roddy and Rebekah Methvin’s son, Mills, who passed away, in support of their amazing testimony.

70 | No’Ala


LYNN MELSON Photographed by Abraham Rowe

Is there any cause or nonprofit that is important to you? The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation—I have two children with Type 1 diabetes. Organ donation— My husband had a successful liver transplant. “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” (Phil. 4:13)

September/October 2011 | 71


JORDAN GASKEY Photographed by Goode Dethero

What are you most passionate about? Being a lifelong learner.

72 | No’Ala

Mitchell-Hollingsworth Nursing & rehabilitation Center LLC

Summit Rehab at Mitchell-Hollingsworth specializes in: • Orthopedic Care (Fracture, Joint Replacement) • Stroke • Amputations • Cardiac Disease • Comprehensive recovery from surgery or illness

• Free wireless internet available for residents and family members. • 222 bed skilled nursing facility • 24-hour skilled nursing services

Caring for those who cared for us 805 Flagg Circle, Florence Phone 256-740-5400 • Fax 256-740-5495 September/October 2011 | 73

{ guess who I saw }

Sheila & Buddy Johnsey Ashley, Hudson, and Will Beadle

Ashley & Brad Haddock

John & Babs Campbell

Carter and Brandi McGuyer, Kaitlyn Berry and Zoie McGuyer

Cody Graham and Lyndsie McClure

Jeff Gordon & Andy Cagle Acker & Judy Rogers

Below: First Southern Bank’s Handy Music Festival 30th Anniversary Celebration JULY 22, 2011  DOWNTOWN FLORENCE

Jeff and Michelle Eubanks

BJ and William Cale

Jennifer and Robert Rausch with Alyson and J.T. Ray Tierra Williams, Tobias Jones, and Ginny Thompson

Liza & Henri Hill

Frances, Gary, and Mary Mac Adams 74 | No’Ala

Heather Hammond, Linda Wiginton, Julia Beth Holden, Christi Williams, and Linda Allen

Sam and Quint Langstaff

From large catered simply watching the big game at home with a few friends...Sweet Basil offers Appetizers, Dips, Sandwich Trays, Amazing Desserts, and much, much more! Get ready for Football but leave the cooking to us. It’s what we do best!

1627 Darby Drive, English Village, Florence, Alabama


Alabama Public Radio Your source for NPR news, classics and jazz 88.7 FM Muscle Shoals • 100.7 FM Huntsville

I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand. We are hands-on museum where children can experience the joy of learning through exploration and play. • Regular Saturday Programs • Fine Arts After-school Programs • “Let’s Pretend” – Program for 3-5 Year Olds (Monday Mornings) • “Play Day” – Program for Toddlers and Pre-Ks (Friday Mornings) • Birthday Parties • Field Trips Memberships – including Association of Children’s Museums Reciprocal Membership

Regular Hours: Thursday-Saturday, 10:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. Open 7 Days for Birthday Parties and Field Trips.

2810 Darby Drive, Florence 256-765-0500. • September/October 2011 | 75


JUDITH RAUSCH Photographed by Robert Rausch

What is ‘beauty’ to you? The Light. Living things, artistic creations by humans, anything that reflects that spark of light and life. I see it twinkling in crinkly old eyes, in my Ginger lily blossoms, in the face of a Mom in the grocery store with a gaggle of children in tow. Make-up: Natalie Faggioni Flowers: Duggars Florist, Tuscumbia

76 | No’Ala


DANIELLE SNODDY Photographed by Amanda Chapman

What is ‘beauty’ to you? True beauty comes by living from your heart and having unconditional love for yourself and others.

September/October 2011 | 77


CASEY JEFFREYS Photographed by Armosa Studios

What is your favorite thing about the Shoals? The quaintness and beauty. After college, Brian and I lived all across the country from California to Naples, Florida. We moved back four years ago when we decided it was time to have a family after living away for almost 13 years. You gain a better love and appreciation for where you grow up after you have the opportunity to experience the “big” cities. As we get older, we find that is wonderful to return to the “big” cities to visit, but it is even greater to rest your roots in a quaint small town. Makeup: Natalie Faggioni

78 | No’Ala


SAVANNAH SMITH Photographed by Captured Studios

What is ‘beauty’ to you? To me, beauty is humble in spirit— and yet bellows laughter with ease.

September/October 2011 | 79


MARY YOUNG Photographed by Patrick Hood

What are your favorite words to live by? “Enjoy this day!” Marigail Mathis taught me that.

80 | No’Ala


MARY BEER Photographed by Lauren Burrows

September/October 2011 | 81

Chef Jeff Eubanks invites you to join him at the Shoals Area’s newest restaurant, Table 18. Conveniently located at Cypress Lakes Country Club in Muscle Shoals. Delicious food in a relaxed atmosphere. 1311 E. Sixth St, Muscle Shoals, AL 35661 11am-2pm Tuesdays through Fridays Join us on Sunday for our lunch buffet from 11am-pm2

(256) 389-0466

call for entries


Renaissance Awards Now accepting nominations for Shoals area individuals who have made remarkable contributions in the following areas: Arts & Culture Business & Leadership Education Service & Spirituality Science Submit your nominees (with details) by email: Award winners will be featured in the March/April, 2012, issue of No’Ala.

82 | No’Ala


I CAN HELP YOU SAVE MORE ON YOUR CAR INSURANCE. Drivers who switched to Allstate saved an average of $336 a year. Call me first to see how much you can save.

TERESA ROGERS (256) 389-8970




Savings based on national customer-reported data for new policies in 2010. Actual savings vary. Allstate Property and Casualty Insurance Company: Northbrook, IL. © 2011 Allstate Insurance Company.

Member since 1987

September/October 2011 | 83

{ shopping } Aveda Kinetics Skin Care Kit ($38) Andy’s the Professionals 256-767-2800

Feeling Good

Make up Lesson & Application ($65) Marriott Shoals Hotel and Spa 256-246-3600

Snap on Smile ($1800) Signature Smile 256-767-6453

Sheer Pleasures Soapworks in Oatmeal, Milk & Honey, Tea Tree & Neem, and Alabama Kudzu Blossom Osa’s Garden 256-764-7663

Facial Massage ($42) Me Spa 256-712-5524

Burt’s Bees— After Sun Soother ($8.97) Natural Sunscreen ($14.97) Deodorant ($7.99) Hand Sanitizer ($4.99) Lifeguard’s Choice ($2.99) Chad’s Payless Pharmacy 256-766-3298

84 | No’Ala

CO Q10— Wrinkle Defense Crème ($24.95) Wrinkle Defense Serum ($24.95) Hydrating Day Cream ($20.95) Valley Health Foods 256-764-5340

Spartina Lipstick Case ($16) Spartina Cosmetic Tote ($39) Spartina Wristlet ($34) David Christopher’s 256-764-7008

Biomega Moisture Conditioner ($17) Biomega Moisture Mist ($17) Aquage Thickening Spray ($17) Aquage Sea Salt Texturizing Spray ($17) Aquage Straightening Ultragel ($23) Dwight Cox & Associates 256-766-2512

Pure Bliss Yoga Pants ($50) Pure Bliss Yoga Tank ($15) Pure Bliss Scarf ($36) Shoals Yoga 256-702-3022

Galvanic Spa and Facial Gels AgeLoc Vitality (Prices Vary) Center for Skin Care & Wellness 256-764-4711

September/October 2011 | 85

{ shopping } Team Mugs ($19.99 each) Corsendonk Pale Ale ($18) The Wine Seller 256-766-1568

Folding Seat ($44) Alabama Outdoors 256-764-1809

Playing Hard

Tasty Creations Margaret F. Gamble 253 Plantation Springs Dr. Florence, AL 35630

UNA Tailgating Carrier ($31.95) Purple and Yellow Cooler ($29.95) Goodman’s 256-766-5760

My Father Cigars ($20.10 each) Truly Cigars 256-275-3601

BBQ Guru Smoker ($1000) The Grilling Room 256-766-7899

86 | No’Ala

Bowtie ($20) Tie($20) Coat’s Clothing Co. 256-760-0033

Ruffle top ($200) Jean McIntyre, Doncaster 256-394-3660 Dress ($44) Frolic 256-766-6150

Gold Peacoat ($83) Audie Mescal 256-314-6634

One Pound of BBQ Wings ($7.50) Barge Inn 256-768-1721 Collegiate Hat ($17) Collegiate Rain Jacket ($38) The Off Campus Bookstore 256-764-7507 Chili Cheese Dog ($3) Chicago Café 256-764-3640 Frozen Yogurt (Prices Vary) Frostbite Frozen Treats 256-275-3849 Philly Cheese Steak ($3.97) Montagu’s 256-275-3851

September/October 2011 | 87

{ guess who I saw }

Teryl and David Shields

Glenda Butler, Martha Taylor and Andrew Johnson

Tony Smith

Amy Rhuland and Jerri Bullard

Rob and Michelle Jones, with Katherine Anderson

Jennifer Highfield and Jenny Kennedy

Mason Ingram

Children’s Museum of the Shoals 10th Anniversary Celebration JULY 16, 2011  HOME OF SEAN AND A MY RHULAND

Sheila Martin and Pam Minetree

Bob Martin

Jennifer and Roger Presley

Caleb Banks, Margot Patterson, Blake Garrett, and Jason Allen

Julie and Jonathan Frederick

Jason and Paula Wilkes

88 | No’Ala

Ann Craig, Jacquie Osborne, and Katherine Rice

The best food in the Shoals, for about what it costs to eat at the chain restaurants. Best of all, you don’t have to dress up to enjoy a meal at The Sweet Magnolia Cafe. Come as you are — that’s sweet! • AMAZING Steaks • Salads • International Cuisine • Dinner Specials • Fantastic Wine & Beer Selections • Home Made Desserts • Catering • Entertainment • Private Parties • Event Planning 1154 N. Wood Avenue (Seven Points), Florence • 256-765-2234

Follow us:

September/October 2011 | 89

{ food for thought }


ack when I was a caterer in Savannah, GA, I quickly learned to make it as easy on myself as possible. I had all sorts of clever short cuts. For instance, after soaking my country ham in my downstairs bathtub for two days to de-salt it, and baking it in the oven overnight, I carried it back to Smith Bros. to be carved by Mark, the butcher, with whom I flirted shamelessly. I bribed him with heavy metal band t-shirts that my husband got from stage managing concerts (no great sacrifice on Henry’s part.) John at Russo’s Seafood, with whom I flirted even more shamelessly, hot-smoked fresh salmon for me if I asked him nicely and brought him cookies. (As I think about it, this may be when my Southern accent began to come upon me.) I took chicken drumettes to Ronnie at Mrs. Wilkes’ Boarding House to be fried. They also made my red rice for me, since I am not gifted in that department.

The Apotheosis of Tomato Sandwiches But I did make my own biscuits—sometimes 300 at a time. I peeled my own shrimp unless I needed more than 10 pounds. I made all my sauces, dips, and hors d’ouevres from scratch. I still shudder at the memory of the Bagel Bites incursion. The host, bless his heart, (not a native Savannahian, obviously) hauled them out of the freezer and instructed us to heat them up and pass them around. I think we served him one and consigned the rest in the bottom of the trash can. Why would you eat that chemical-laden mess when you could have watermelon rind pickle wrapped in bacon, sausage pinwheels, and spicy pecans? If I really liked a client, and they were willing to pay, I would offer tomato sandwiches. Only select clients were eligible for this special treat. You had to be Southern—they would have been wasted on Yankees, who did not know the joy of even a simple, eat-itover-the-sink tomato-on-white bread sandwich with mayonnaise. You had to live within 20 minutes of my house, so I could make them at the last minute. And it didn’t matter who you were, 100 sandwiches was my limit, which meant that no party with over 50 guests would be considered. The limit was two per person, although the male guests were wont to make illegal forays on the tray when I wasn’t looking. These sandwiches are time-consuming, and extremely detail-oriented, but you can spread the work out over two or three days. (Warning: If you are a “P” on the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, this is not the recipe for you.) I think they would be completely fabulous with martinis. Add some good cheese and crackers, nuts and olives. But don’t go overboard. These sandwiches are an event, and you don’t want to detract from their fabulosity. Besides, if you have lots of other offerings, you may repeat one of the greatest tragedies that ever befell me. You may forget to serve them!!! First, make a list of friends who will appreciate your efforts. Read the recipe carefully to make sure you have all the necessary equipment. Then order the bread—at least if you live in Florence, although I’m hoping it will be more easily avail-

90 | No’Ala



able with the arrival of Publix. Take your bread cutter with you to buy the tomatoes (not at the grocery store), preferably three or four days ahead of time so they will be perfectly ripe. If you grow your own, that’s even better. Fit each tomato into the cutter, making sure they are the same circumference. Cut the bread and make the mayonnaise the day before serving. Cook the bacon ahead of time the day of assembly—just don’t refrigerate it. You can cut and de-goosh the tomatoes three or four hours ahead; don’t refrigerate them either. Then an hour or two before, line everything up, get out your offset spatula, and start assembling. I promise your guests will swoon. You’d best plan on four or five per person, and monitor individual consumption carefully. N

Tomato Sandwich • 1 Recipe Spicy Mayonnaise • 1 Loaf Pepperidge Farm Very Thin White Bread • 1 Loaf Pepperidge Farm Very Thin Whole Wheat Bread • 6 Ripe Tomatoes • 6 Ounces Bacon Mayonnaise • 1 Small Onion • 1 Large Egg (preferably organic and/or farm raised) • 2 Large Egg Yolks • 1 Tablespoon White Wine Vinegar • 1 Tablespoon Fresh Lemon Juice • 1 Teaspoon Salt • 1 Teaspoon Cayenne Pepper • 1 Teaspoon Celery Seed • 1 Teaspoon Canola or Other Neutral Oil Chop onion fine in food processor. Add remaining ingredients except oil; process for 1 minute. With machine running, pour oil slowly through feed tube. Taste for seasoning. Refrigerate immediately. Best made 24 hours ahead. This makes more than enough for a double recipe. Eat within 4 or 5 days. Prep: Cut rounds from the bread, stack by color, and store in an airtight container. This may be done a day ahead. Cook bacon on a rimmed baking sheet at 375° until very crisp, 15-20 minutes, and drain well on paper towels. (Don’t you dare throw that precious grease away!) Crumble. Core and slice each tomato with a serrated knife into 5 slices. Push out gooshy insides with fingers and drain on a rack over a baking sheet. Assembly: Line a baking sheet or pan with wax paper. Spread white bread rounds on one side with mayonnaise. Place on wax paper. Place a tomato slice on each bread round. Creatively engineer tomatoes to fit if they hang over bread. Sprinkle with bacon. Spread whole wheat bread rounds with mayonnaise and place on tomatoes. (Do I have to tell you, mayonnaise-side down?) You can layer sandwiches no more than 3 deep, with wax paper between layers. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate until serving, no more than 2 hours if you can help it. Makes about 25, and doubles easily.

September/October 2011 | 91

Color gets attention. Get attention for your products or services with full-color printing from PSI, the area’s printing experts.

Printing • Office Supplies Furniture • Gifts 113 North Court Street, Florence AL 35630 256-764-8061


WEDDINGS · PHOTO RESTORATION · SENIOR PORTRAITS · COMMERCIAL ADVERTISING · EVENTS · SPORTS · INTERIORS · PRODUCT · STOCK 1712 Birmingham Street · Sheffield, Alabama 35660 256-386-0944 (office) · 256-627-3056 (cell) · Member, Professional Photographers of America

September/October 2011 | 93

{ 20 questions }

20 Questions for Billy Ray Warren,

Chairman of the Alabama Renaissance Faire

When we were planning the first Renaissance Faire in 1987… …we wanted to create an event that would relate to as many portions of schools’ curriculum as possible. A Renaissance Faire was the ideal choice since the historical period known as the Renaissance saw a rebirth of learning in art, music, philosophy, mathematics, architecture, science, literature, etc. In the last 25 years, the Faire has evolved into… …an annual event that still is operated by a group of volunteers—not a single paid employee—and still offers free admission to the thousands who attend on the fourth weekend in October. The Faire is held in Florence because… …Our local tradition says that Ferdinand Sannoner, the Italian surveyor who assisted John Coffee and Hunter Peel in the layout of our city, was permitted to name the town. He chose “Florence,” the same as his favorite city in Italy. And, since the historical Renaissance began in Florence, Italy, it’s a no-brainer (at least in our view) that the Faire should be here! My favorite part about the Faire each year is… …Watching Wilson Park on Friday and early Saturday as it’s transformed into a Renaissance-era village each fourth weekend in October. I think most people come to the Faire to… …be a part of the Faire. In the large, commercial Renaissance Faires, people attend mainly to be entertained. The incredible number of people who come in costume to the Faire in Wilson Park is a testament to their desire to be participants, not just onlookers. School age children benefit from the experience because… …ahead of the Faire dates there is a longstanding art contest (not a poster contest) for students in grades K-6 and a sonnet-writing contest for students in grades 7-12 (since the sonnet as a literary art form was originated by the Renaissance poet, Petrarch). Chess tournaments are held in schools, with a playoff at the Faire. Also at the Faire are all kinds of activities and games geared just for children and young people.

94 | No’Ala

This year we will be… …welcoming one and all to the celebration of the Faire’s 25th year! Entertainment, food, crafts of the period—will be available for everyone’s enjoyment. The food I look forward to all year is… …Well, to be totally honest, I’m always so busy both days of the Faire that I seldom eat anything at all. The popularity of the foods we offer—and the fact that most of our food vendors want to return year after year—says that there’s great food for every palate. The locals’ feelings towards the Faire are… …very proprietary. Our goal from the beginning has been to let the community know that the Faire belongs to everyone in both the local community and the entire state (since it is the official Alabama Renaissance Faire). I sincerely believe that people do have a sense of ownership regarding this fun-filled, educational event. One thing many people don’t know about the Faire is… …that, in 1988, the State Legislature and the Governor of Alabama declared the Faire to be the official Alabama Renaissance Faire. That designation means that the Faire is listed on the website of the Alabama Department of Archives and History, described in some detail in the new online Encyclopedia of Alabama, etc.—honors reserved for events that have official sanction from the State of Alabama. (By the way, Sen. Tammy Irons was successful in getting a Resolution passed in the recent state legislative session marking the Silver Anniversary of the Faire—25 years of a fine event.) The Renaissance feast held at the beginning of each Faire is… …a grand lead-up to the Faire. It’s always held in the Florence-Lauderdale Coliseum on the third Saturday of October (one week ahead of the Faire). Our chef is from Pennsylvania and is well-known for his authentic Medieval/Renaissance recipes. (He’s appeared on the Food Channel many times.) The Coliseum is transformed into a baronial hall; seating is limited to 200 people so everyone will have a good time. Entertainment reflective of the Renaissance period takes place throughout the evening, with diners asked to participate if they wish. At the end of the meal, a coin of the realm is hidden in one of the desserts.

The person whose dessert contains the coin becomes the reigning monarch for the next year. (The actual coronation takes place one week later on the second day of the Faire.) To many people, the medieval costumes are… …great attention-getters. (And, I might add, the costumes have become more and more elaborate over the years.) We conduct a free costume-making workshop on the second Saturday in October. People are invited to bring three yards of fabric, and they literally walk away with a basic tunic which they can embellish with jewelry, belts, scarves, etc. Because this workshop has been taking place almost since the first year of the Faire’s existence, we believe it has contributed to the huge percentage of people who come to the Faire in costume. For someone who has never attended the Faire… …be prepared for an experience unlike any you’ve seen. It’s a type of re-enactment since it attempts to re-create a Renaissance Trade Faire. During the Late Medieval and Renaissance periods, word would be circulated that a Trade Faire would be held at a certain time. Usually, it was held on the grounds of a grand manor house. Records indicate that people would come on foot, on horseback, by boat, etc. and the Faire would last for days as people traded for exotic things that were not normally available to them. So, we try to remain as true to the period as possible in the food, entertainment and crafts that we feature at the Faire. We chose Wilson Park for the event because… …it’s just the right size to create a compact Renaissance village. When the colorful tents appear, the Royal Pavilion is set in place, the two stages are erected, the wandering performers go into motion…there’s nothing quite like it. If our Faire were held at a larger venue, the intimacy of the village atmosphere would be lost. It’s really exciting – and very rewarding for us – to see the park almost totally overrun with people from the 10 a.m. opening on Saturday to the 6 p.m. closing on Sunday. A common misconception about the Faire is… …(I really don’t have an answer to this one. Over time, the Faire has established itself as a step back into the European world of 500 years ago, so people no longer expect to find a contemporary county or state fair atmosphere.)

You can always count on… …being treated well at the Faire. There’s no admission charge, so you can literally enjoy hours at the Faire without spending any money at all. Of course, food and crafts are available for purchase if you wish. (By the way, vendors are aware that family budgets are different, so they make sure that items for all types of budgets are available.) The regulars to the Faire each year are… …committed to helping the Faire flourish. It’s amazing the number of people who come early on Saturday, stay all day, and repeat it on Sunday. Many people visit our Information Booth asking how they can become involved in the workings of the Faire. We always tell them, “The process is simple; you just have to say, ‘I want to be a member of the Roundtable (the Faire’s planning group)’” As of today, we have 72 people listed as members of the Roundtable. The Renaissance Faire’s contribution to this area is… …above all, the contribution is educational. That’s been the driving force from the Faire’s beginning. When the historical Renaissance began, there were roughly 140,000 living in the environs of Florence, Italy. Think of that! In an area with a population nearly the same as the Shoals came all the great thinkers, mathematicians, artists, architects, poets, philosophers, etc. that we study in our world history courses. It’s proof that a Renaissance can begin in any place at any time. Beyond the educational contribution, there is pure fun. The Renaissance Feast and Faire allow everyone an opportunity to forget the pressures of the moment and simply have a good time. In the current troubled world, that’s a good thing! Each year, at the end of the Faire… …we’re exhausted, of course! But the Roundtable holds a final meeting of the planning year to evaluate the Feast and the Faire so we can rejoice in the successes and improve on the weaknesses of both. We “put it all to bed” for the months of November and December to prevent “burnout” since we’re all volunteers. Then we start again on the third Thursday in January to make plans for the next Feast and Faire. That has been the routine for 25 years!

For more information, visit

At the Faire, be prepared to see… …entertainers and crafts vendors from literally all over the country. We have vendors and entertainers from Texas, Michigan, Ohio, New Jersey, Virginia… you name it. And they return because they have come to love the Faire and the community. They like the laid-back atmosphere of the Faire because it is community-based, not commerciallybased. They appreciate the down-home hospitality of our area. The Faire is a great ambassador for Florence and the Shoals!

September/October 2011 | 95

{ bless their hearts }



Mr. Bean Needs a Place To Play Matthew is the eight-year old Min-Pin/Manchester mix who currently serves as the No’Ala mascot and office dog. He’s full of attitude, he’s the color of baked beans…and he needs a place to run and play.

Another reason he needs a place to run and play is that dogs who are under-exercised become aggressive. Matthew weighs twenty pounds, but sounds like he weighs a hundred. There’s a screen door on my office so he can hear and smell the people who walk in the front door here, but I have to remember to keep it locked or he will bang against it, fling it open, and rush the intruder. I’ve seen grown women scream and he-men cower at the sight of a growling baked bean rushing toward them; we need to let him run somewhere so he can get rid of those pentup aggressions. Most of all, we’re a little concerned about Matthew’s weight. He weighs twenty pounds, but he’s supposed to weigh more like fifteen. I’m completely sympathetic, of course, since we are both middle-aged and it’s a lot harder to drop the weight than it used to be, but when your main source of exercise is the leisurely walk around the neighborhood and then the exercise your jaws get as you wolf down your food, you’re going to pack on the pounds. (No comments, please, on the fact that MY main source of exercise is ALSO the leisurely walk with

96 | No’Ala

It appears that I am not the only person in town with a middle aged, plump dog that needs a place to run and play. An informal group has been formed to investigate the possibility of a dog park, widely used by other cities to address this problem. A dog park is a small fenced area where people can bring their dogs, take them off the leash, and let them run. They are simple to build, easy to maintain, and cost very little, but they are a major benefit to city dwellers. This group is talking to the city of Florence to see if there is land available to locate such a park, and the plan is for the money to be raised privately for construction of the park, if the city will give the land.

Photo by Mark Sims

Part of the reason is that he can’t be trusted off his leash. He’s a pretty obedient dog, but when he sees one of his favorite things—a squirrel, say, or a cat—he’ll take off like a rocket. We have visions of him running into the street without looking both ways, or running away in pursuit of his prey, only to lose his way and never get back home. He got loose once, several years ago, and no matter how fast we ran after him, no matter how loud we yelled “treat!,” we couldn’t lure him back. The dog catcher, called by a person in a neighboring office (whose name will go unmentioned but who, I’m sure, probably tortures things for fun), informed us that if she caught him we would have to pay three hundred dollars to get him back; she couldn’t get him either. Matthew came home when he was good and ready, shivering and forlornly begging for the forgiveness he knew he’d get.

Matthew and the jaw exercises at dinner.) Letting Matthew run without a leash would do all of us a lot of good.

Several locations have been mentioned— Deibert Park, McFarland Park, Wildwood Park and others—and costs are being gathered so we’ll know how much money we need to raise. With a little luck, and some hard work, Matthew and hundreds (or thousands?) of other lucky dogs in the area might soon have a place to run and play.

There are some responsibilities, of course. Owners who use the dog park will have to agree to pick up after their dog when their dog does what dogs do. The plan will be to have trash cans and pooper bags there at the park, to make that part easy…and, after all, poop scooping is part of the responsibility of being a dog owner anyway and it’s not like this is anything new. All of this is in the planning stages, but it’s coming. We’re telling you this so you can help us get ready. We may need to ask you for a small donation to help get the park built; we may ask some of you to help us landscape the outside of the park to help it blend with the surroundings. Talk it up with your fellow dog owners, and let your city councilman know that you support this idea. It’s such a simple thing, and so affordable; it will be a tremendous benefit to dog lovers throughout the area. Matthew, aka Mr. Bean, will thank you.

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September/October 2011 | 97


{ parting shot }

98 | No’Ala BY


First Southern Bank just added thousands of new branches. Introducing Mobile Banking from First Southern Bank. Now you can bank from the convenience of your phone! From a web-enabled mobile phone, conduct a variety of transactions, including money transfers, checking account balances and loan payments. If you don’t have a web-enabled phone, you can still get text updates and checking account balances from your mobile phone. Banking just gets easier and easier at First Southern, so you can bank when you want to, from the convenience of your phone. You might be holding your nearest branch in the palm of your hand!

Convenient branches located in Florence: 256-718-4200 Muscle Shoals: 256-718-4242 Killen: 256-718-4273 Ford City: 256-718-4255 St. Florian: 256-718-4282 and now in the palm of your hand! MEMBERFDIC

Mortgage Department: 256-718-4237 or 256-718-4241 Trust Department: 256-718-4238

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No'Ala September/October 2011  

The Beautiful People Issue

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