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… And the Festive Houses on the IPC Tour Make the Season Even Merrier

Photos by Alisha Crossley Photography

There’s No Place Like HOME


By Donna Cornelius


so does one of Birmingham’s most anticipated seasonal events. It may be hard to believe that Independent Presbyterian Church’s Holiday House Tour, set for Dec. 14 and 15, is in its 70th year. But it’s even harder to imagine the Magic City’s festive season without it. For many, seeing the beautifully decorated houses that are featured on the tour year after year makes December especially merry and bright.

See IPC TOUR, page 26

Mollie, Susan and John Vawters’ friendly Labrador retriever, is the perfect greeter for holiday guests. In the living room and throughout the house, designer Leah Hazzard works her holiday magic with garlands, trees and festive touches. See story, page 24.


Holiday Gift Giving!

2 • Thursday, November 28, 2019


Murphy’s Law

T ‘GRASSROOTS EFFORT’ Vestavia Hills Seeks Children’s Policy Council’s New TraffickingFree Zone Designation PAGE 8

IN PERENNIAL SERVICE Vestavia Hills War Hero and Educator Regrets None of his Almost 100 Years on Earth PAGE 10

CHRISTMAS CHARM Classic to Cutting-Edge Houses Open to the Public During Samford Legacy League’s Christmas Home Tour PAGE 22

FRANK’S TABLE Honeybee Wing Statue on Rotary Trail Honors Frank Stitt PAGE 29






The Holiday Cards Issue

With everything that’s happening “Over the Mountain,” it can be difficult to keep up. That’s why we have launched the OTMJ newsletter. Published every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday - we’ll give you a quick recap of the latest news, sports and social events as well as a heads up on upcoming events so you won’t miss any of the interesting and fun happenings in the Greater Birmingham metro area. To sign up for our newsletter, visit Follow us on Facebook and Instagram, @overthemountainjournal, for daily updates on what’s going on around town, too.

Dec. 12th!


J O U R N A L November 28, 2019 Publisher & Editor: Maury Wald Copy Editor: Virginia Martin Features Writer: Donna Cornelius Staff Writers: Ingrid Schnader, Emily Williams Photographer: Jordan Wald Editorial Assistant: Stacie Galbraith Sports: Rubin E. Grant Contributors: Susan Murphy, June Mathews, Emil Wald, Marvin Gentry, Lee Walls, Bryan Bunch, Sam Prickett Advertising Sales: Julie Trammell Edwards, Tommy Wald, Gail Kidd Vol. 29, No. 8

Over The Mountain Journal is a suburban bi-weekly newspaper delivered to Mountain Brook, Homewood, Vestavia Hills, Hoover and North Shelby County areas. Subscriptions for The Journal are available for $24 yearly. Mail to: Over the Mountain Journal, P.O. Box 660502, Vestavia Hills, AL 35216. Phone: (205) 823-9646. E-mail the editorial department at E-mail our advertising department at Find us on the Web at Copyright 2019 Over The Mountain Journal, Inc. All rights reserved. The Journal is not responsible for return of photos, copy and other unsolicited materials submitted. To have materials returned, please specify when submitting and provide a stamped, self-addressed envelope. All materials submitted are subject to editorial review and may be edited or declined without notification.

Hostess With the Mostest

is the season. Every year, when you’d be pulling in kudos with both the “-ber” months roll around, hands. the entertaining sap rises and Setting a menu is tricky, however. you get this overwhelming urge to Out of your 12 invitees, one will be invite people to your home for food keto, two gluten-averse and one so and frolic. vegan that she refuses to eat nutmeats. It’s extremely contagious, I susSince plating a dinner for that crowd pect, because all of the TV food netwould mean many, many plates, you work hosts are trotting out their glitmight do better with do-it-yourself finger food. tery best. Personally, I would love to There are basically four types of wheedle my way onto the Barefoot finger-edibles:  Contessa’s guest list. She’s always 1.  Things on a stick – Small stick, making some wonderful dish that I Sue Murphy long stick, pretzel stick – there are would have bailed on at Step 2 (somemany variations. You could do a skewthing unreasonable like “separate five your-own buffet with meatballs and eggs”), and when her close-knit little group of guests arrive, they are When it comes to food, cheese cubes and artichoke hearts and cute little tomatoes. Add a couinvariably cultured and calm. I the more is always the ple bowls of sauces and you’re all know I’d have to ramp up (dial set. back?) my game to fit in, but for a merrier. 2.  Things on a cracker – Well, chocolate bread pudding, I’d be willing to try.  right away you’ve lost the paleo I like Giada’s menus, too, but when she sets everypeople and anyone who is on their high horse pretendthing out on her beautifully decorated table (complete ing to watch their carbs over the holidays, although you with take-home favors), there never seems to be enough could reclaim some of them with spreadable squares of food. Perhaps Giada doesn’t want her friends to look turkey jerky and rice cakes, but I wouldn’t count on piggish on television so she sends them home with a those being popular, so set them alongside stackable doggie bag on the sly, but to me, the first rule of entermeat and cheese slices (not touching) and, again, cute taining is that you should always have food left over at little tomatoes. 3.  Things you dip – Dip is a party staple but diffithe end of the night. No one should be standing there cult to individualize. I suppose you could put out sour dividing the number of chicken skewers by the guests cream (regular, low fat and dairy-free) and bits of spinin attendance before filling their plate. When it comes ach and onions and bacon and let everyone concoct to food, the more is always the merrier. their own little vat of deliciousness. A bonus there is Those of us without cookbook credits will be pourthat you wouldn’t have to worry about people double ing through purloined recipes looking for just the right dipping. combination to wow our non-televised crowd. You can 4.  Dessert – This is for the honest, celebratory go stand-up or sit-down food, traditional or trendy. As a crowd of people who realize that life is short and chocchild growing up in Texas, I remember bean dip being olate is good for what ails you. all the rage. During my Midwest high school years, OK, let’s review: stand up, make your own, lots of avocados were considered exotic. My young married little cherry tomatoes. Oh, and a big vat of sriracha. crowds were wowed by “magic quiche.” Today, you could serve anything as long as it had sriracha on it and You’ll be the hostess with the mostest.

Over the Mountain Views

Former Alabama and Auburn football players share their favorite Iron Bowl memories on page 38.

What’s your favorite Iron Bowl memory? “2014, the only one that I’ve been to. Alabama was behind but took control in the fourth quarter. Roll Tide!” Amanda Tapley McGriff Hoover “2013 ‘Kick Six,’ everyone rushed the field it was great and I still have the cell phone video to prove it.” Jacob Hunker Homewood “The 2010 game, when Auburn made a second-half comeback and won.” Katy Stanford, with Copeland and Harper Vestavia Hills “Storming the field after the ‘Kick Six.’ War Eagle!” Taylor Burton, Scott Abernathy and Chase Burton Hoover






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NOV 28 - DEC 12 Thurs., Nov. 28

Happy Thanksgiving!

Photo courtesy Red Mountain Garden Club

Sam Lapidus Montclair Run

From left, Greenery Sale chair Carol Ann Phillips, Pratt Brown, Mary Evans and co-chair Sue Watkins.

Red Mountain Garden Club to Host Greenery Sale on Dec. 4

CHRISTMAS CONCERT Dec. 8 at 4 pm HOLIDAY HOUSE TOUR Dec. 14 10 am - 4 pm AND Dec. 15 1- 5 pm NATIVITY SERVICE Dec. 24 at 12 pm SERVICE OF NINE LESSONS AND CAROLS Dec. 24 at 4 and 6 pm ALL WELCOME INDEPENDENT PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH 3100 Highland Avenue S., Birmingham, AL 35205

For the past 37 years, the Red Mountain Garden Club’s annual greenery sale has been a holiday tradition, featuring a variety of wreaths, garlands and more for holiday decorating. This year’s sale will take place Dec. 4 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens, and chairwoman Carol Ann Phillips could not be more excited. “This is my favorite event of the year,” Phillips said. “It’s a great way to kick off the holiday season. We’re a smaller garden club and we aren’t able to get together too often, so we all look forward to coming together to work on this sale.” Phillips noted that there also is a gift section, which club members like to stock with unusual items you may not find elsewhere. “This year we have more centerpieces than ever before,” she said. “We also have a bunch of amaryllis flowers, teacher’s gifts, mailbox and lamppost arrangements, boxwoods and a ton of other great stuff.” For buyers who want to create their own holiday arrangements, fresh handcut greenery will be in abundance. Some of the greenery is sourced from sourced from members’ own yards. It takes months of planning to prepare for the sale, Phillips said, with help from Pratt Brown of Pratt Brown Landscapes Inc. and McCorquodale Transfer. The funds raised by the sale will support the club in its efforts to maintain the Red Mountain Garden Club Memorial Garden at the Birmingham Museum of Art, which members have maintained since 1955. For more information about pricing and options, visit — Emily Williams

What: Celebrate the life of Sam Lapidus, who died of Ewing’s sarcoma at the age of 14. Proceeds benefit the Alabama Center for Childhood Cancer and Blood Disorders at Children’s of Alabama and the LJCC Fitness Program. When: Registration, 7 a.m.; 10k/5k 8:30 a.m.; fun run, 10 a.m. Where: LJCC Website:

Nov. 28-Jan. 5 Ice Skating at the Park

What: Take a spin on the ice and coast down the new 100’ ice slide as Railroad Park continues its seasonal ice skating rink for the holidays. When: Check the website for times Where: Railroad Park Website: “Railroad Park” Facebook page

Nov. 29-30, Dec. 5, 6, 13, 19 and 20 It’s a Wonderful Laugh! A PFI Holiday Show

What: Join Positively Funny Improv in celebrating the holidays with this fully-improvised comedy show. When: 7:30 p.m. Where: Birmingham Improv Theatre Website: bhamimprovtheatre. com.

Sun., Dec. 1 The Rainbow Fish

What: Mermaid Theatre of Nova Scotia presents “the sparkling story that became an international publishing phenomenon,” based on the book by Marcus Pfister. Reception before the show at 3 p.m. When: 4-6 p.m. Where: Jemison Concert Hall Website: alysstephens. org

Guaranteed Results

1811 29th Ave. South I Downtown Homewood, AL 35209 I 205.874.1044 I


Thursday, November 28, 2019 • 5


Dec. 1-22

pieces including glass, ceramic, wood, metal, fabric and more. When: 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Where: The House at Aldridge Gardens Website:

Holiday Art Show

What: The Mountain Brook Art Association is hosting its Holiday Art Show benefiting local artists and this year’s charity, Studio by the Tracks. The popular evening reception will be Dec. 3. When: Mon.-Thurs., 11 a.m.-6 p.m.; Fri. and Sat., 11 a.m.-8 p.m.; Sun., noon-6 p.m. Where: The Summit Website:

Photo courtesy Red Mountain Theatre

Homewood Lighting of the Star and Christmas Parade

Tues., Dec. 3 Hoover Christmas Tree Lighting

What: A Hoover City School choir performs and a student lights the Christmas tree during the ceremony, and Santa makes a grand entrance on a fire truck. Park at the Hoover Library and shuttle to the event site. When: 5 p.m. Where: Hoover City Hall Website:

“It’s A Wonderful Place”

What: Pepper Place hosts its Holiday Open House featuring extended hours, special events and more. When: 5-8 p.m. Where: Pepper Place Website:

Holiday Hangout

What: Parents, enjoy a date night or some holiday shopping/wrapping while Leadership Mountain Brook students entertain your kids. Kids ages 5-10 will enjoy holiday crafts, dinner and a movie. When: 5:308 p.m. Where: Children’s Story


What: Celebrate the holidays with a spectacular display of all your favorite music of the season as RMTC Conservatory students perform alongside Birmingham’s best local artists. When: Wed.-Sat., 7:30 p.m.; Sat.-Sun., 2 p.m.; Sun., Dec. 22, 7:30 p.m. Where: RMTC Cabaret Theatre Website:

Telling Room, Emmet O’Neal Library Website:

Dec. 3, 7 and 8 Holiday in the Hills

What: The Vestavia Hills Chamber of Commerce and the City of Vestavia Hills hosts a series of events to celebrate the holiday season. The series kicks off with the Tree Lighting Festival Dec. 3, Breakfast with Santa

on Dec. 7 and the Christmas Parade and Celebration Dec. 8. When and Where: Check the website for details Website:

Thurs., Dec. 5 Gifts of Art Holiday Market

What: Aldridge Gardens presents a day of holiday shopping featuring hand-selected Alabama artists offering one-of-a-kind, original art

Tween to Trend Accessories In Snoozy's Kids

What: The official start of the Homewood Christmas Parade is the Lighting of the Homewood Star. Enjoy floats, the Homewood High School Band, the arrival of Santa Claus and the lighting of the Christmas Tree at City Hall. When: 6:30 p.m. Where: Check the website for the parade route Website:

Dec. 5 and 6 Holiday Memories

What: Hoover Library Theatre presents a play adapted from two of Truman Capote’s most famous stories, “The Thanksgivig Visitor” and “A Christmas Memory.’’ When: 7:30 p.m. Where: Hoover Library Theatre Website:

Dec. 5-8 and 12-15 Inspecting Carol

What: Homewood Theatre presents a hilarious, madcap comedy about a behind-the-scenes look when all goes wrong in a slapdash production of “A Christmas Carol.” When: Thurs.-Sat., 7:30 p.m.; Sun., 2:30 p.m. Where: Homewood Theatre Website:

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ABOUT TOWN Fri., Dec. 6 Celebrate Christmas with Samford Arts

What: Celebrate the season’s magic, music and most important gift of all: the mystery of the Christ child born in a manger. This second annual event features the ensembles of Samford’s School of the Arts. Tickets are free of charge but are required to attend. When: 7:30-9 p.m. Where: Wright Center Website:

Photo courtesy Three On A String

6 • Thursday, November 28, 2019

Jingle All the Way

What: Enjoy songs and stories of the season with storyteller Dolores Hydock and the music of Bobby Horton. A light hors d’oeuvres buffet will be served. When: 6:30 p.m. Where: Homewood Public Library Website:

Symphonic Holiday Celebration

What: The ASO performs holiday classics you know and love. Be inspired by the visions of sugar plums and bountiful sleigh rides as the music of the season fills the hall. When: 7 p.m. Where: Performing Arts Center at Thompson High School Website:

Dec. 6 and 7


What: The local band Three On A String, founded in Homewood in 1971, will host its third annual holiday show “Dashing Through The Show.” Back by popular demand will be a performance by comical magician Glenn Strange. The award-winning band is known for their blend of music and humor, and have opened for the likes of Jeff Foxworthy, Red Skelton, Hank Williams Jr. and presidents Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush. The band will also perform with the Alabama Symphony Orchestra on Dec. 21 at the Alys Stephens Center. When: 7:30 p.m. Where: Lyric Theatre Website:

Check the website for dates and times Where: The Alabama Theatre Website:

2 and 4 p.m. Where: Riverchase Galleria Website:

Sat., Dec 7

Prentiss Douthit Author Event

Holiday Greenery Sale

What: Aldridge Gardens offers fresh greenery and botanical materials for decorating your mantles, mailboxes and entryways. Get greenery for wreaths, garlands and other holiday decorations. When: Dec. 6, noon4:30 p.m.; Dec. 7, 9 a.m.-noon Where: The patio at Roots Website:

Dec. 6-22

Noojin & White Race to the Courthouse

What: The 32nd annual 5k and fun run, followed by a post-race bash and awards at Good People Brewing Co., benefits the Birmingham YMCA. When: 9 a.m. Where: Railroad Park Website: “YMCA of Greater Birmingham-Downtown” Facebook page

Sun., Dec 8

Alabama Theatre Holiday Film Series What: The holiday series kicks off with “White Christmas.” Each holiday screening begins with music performed on the Mighty Wurlitzer organ. Proceeds from “Polar Express” benefit Kid One Transport. When:

Merry & Bright!

What: Hear holiday favorites form the Alabama Symphony Youth Orchestra while you shop. Performances are free and open to the public. When:

What: Local author, artist and photographer Prentiss Douthit will be at Emmet O’Neal Library to meet readers and share his new book “An All New Light.” When: 2-3:30 p.m. Where: Community Meeting Room, Emmett O’Neal Library Website:

Holiday Parade in Mountain Brook Village

What: Santa Claus is coming to town. Watch the parade, attend a popup story time from Emmet O’Neal Library under the Bromberg’s tree and get a picture made afterwards with Santa. When: 3-4 p.m. Where: Mountain Brook Village Website:




December 14th & 15th Sat. 9am-4pm & Sun. 11am-4pm

7575 Parkway Drive, Leeds, AL 35094 205.702.7055


Thursday, November 28, 2019 • 7


Photo courtesy Alabama Ballet


What: Alabama Ballet presents this holiday masterpiece as one of only eight companies in the world licensed by The Balanchine Trust to perform it. When: Check the website for times. Where: Wright Fine Arts Center, Samford University Website:

Dec. 9-13 American Village Colonial Christmas Lunch and Tour

What: Enjoy lunch in the East Room of the White House with hostess Abigail Adams and tour the American Village and enjoy vignettes with talented costumed historical interpreters.When: 10:30 a.m.-1 p.m. or noon-2:30 p.m. Where: American Village, Montevallo Website:

Dec. 11-13 Briarwoood Presbyterian Church’s Walk Through Nativity What: A free walk will be held through the church’s live nativity featuring 14 live scenes with

narrated drama and live animals. At the conclusion of the walk, coffee, hot chocolate and cookies will be served. When: Anytime between 6:45 p.m. and 8:45 p.m. Where: Briarwood Presbyterian Church Website:

Dec. 12-29 It’s a Wonderful Life Live

What: Be a part of the studio audience as the theatre takes you back in time to the 1946 radio broadcast of this beloved story, with original music and live Foley sound effects that bring the entire town of Bedford Falls to life. When: Check the website for times Where: Terrific New Theatre Website:

Just $1.95 gives a meal

and more! Established in 1871, Oak Hill is Birmingham’s Pioneer cemetery. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, it is a Birmingham landmark and treasure. Nestled on 21.5 acres overlooking downtown Birmingham, Oak Hill is a place of beauty, serenity, and history. Generations of Birmingham families have made Oak Hill the final resting place for their loved ones. Love lives in this place.

Give your Christmas donation now at:

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To inquire about available spaces, including our new columbarium to be completed in 2021, call 205-251-6532 or email

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8 • Thursday, November 28, 2019

‘Grassroots Effort’

Vestavia Hills Seeks Children’s Policy Council’s New TraffickingFree Zone Designation By Emily Williams

“Most people don’t understand what human trafficking is,” Giddens said. “They’ve seen it sometimes every day in their life, but they just don’t know what to look for.” It’s personal for Giddens, a former Mountain Brook resident and graduate of The Altamont School.  In 2015, he was drugged and kidnapped while at a local bar in downtown Birmingham.  “That was how I learned about human trafficking,” he said. “I got pulled up behind a U-Haul. Inside, people had their mouths duct-taped, hands behind their backs.”  For whatever reason, his captor decided to keep him. It wasn’t until after Giddens was taken to a residence and assaulted that he realized he still had his cell phone and called for help.  The captor’s identity was compromised, so he drove Giddens back to Birmingham and released him. “I didn’t even know for three years after it happened what I had almost experienced was human trafficking,” he said.

More Common Than You Know

Giddens, in some macabre way, was one of the lucky ones. Human trafficking is the second-largest illegal industry behind drug trafficking, according to CPC Human Trafficking Advocate Barbara

Front, from left, Lauren Spaulding and Brandi Yaghmai. Middle, CPC board chair Catherine Alexander-Wright, Abby Grace Worrell, Barbara Fowler and Chinara Dosse. Back, CPC Executive Director Jan Bell, Julia Meyers and Community Engagement Coordinator Jordan Giddens.

Fowler. “The reason why it is second to drugs right now is because drugs can be sold once,” said Fowler. “A human being can be sold over, and over, and over again.” The two major forms of trafficking are sex trafficking and labor trafficking, both forcing victims to work against their will.  CPC’s awareness efforts will initially focus on the sex trade, in which a national average age of entry is 15 and one in six victims is under the age of 12, even younger for boys. 

In August, the VHPD, working with the FBI, made 49 arrests associated with sex trafficking in the cities of Homewood, Vestavia and Pelham. Seventeen of those were made in Vestavia. Once a victim enters that new world, it is hard to escape. Traffickers typically move their victims on what’s called a circuit, traveling among a handful of cities, never staying in one location for too long. “The more they move them, the more confused their victims are,” Giddens said. “Oftentimes the victims don’t even know what city they’re in or what day it is.”  Interstate 65 and I-20 are portions of a prime circuit between Atlanta, Nashville and Birmingham. The section of highway from Birmingham to Atlanta is identified as the most trafficked section of highway in the nation, according to CPC data. 

What Is Being Done

The classification has been achieved by less than 10 cities in Florida and one in Nevada. Vestavia Hills could be the first city in Alabama to receive the designation. The program is implemented by the city government, first responders, businesses, schools, organizations, churches and the media, using technology to reach buyers and victims on a massive scale.

“It’s similar to when we started the Freedom from Addiction Coalition,” Vestavia Hills Mayor Ashley Curry said. “Initially, there was some reluctance by the other cities to divulge numbers, but I think they realize that, unless you tell what your problem is, you’re acting like it doesn’t exist.” The Vestavia Hills Police Department has had the human trafficking issue high on its radar and has conducted reverse-sting operations in town. “In July of this year, Operation Independence Day was a three-day operation here in Vestavia,” said Police Chief Dan Rary. “Usually when we run our operations, they go anywhere from four to eight hours. In less than three hours, we had to shut it down because we were full. … We had too many customers.”  In August, the VHPD, working with the FBI, made 49 arrests associated with sex trafficking in the cities of Homewood, Vestavia and Pelham. Seventeen of those were made in Vestavia.

What People Can Do

“The number one way to decrease this issue is to decrease the demand,” Giddens said. “Supply will always be there if the demand is there.” The initial goal of the new TraffickingFree Zone program is to have each municipality in Jefferson County signed on by 2021, just in time for the World Games.  “It’s major events where suddenly you have an increased demand,” Giddens said. “If you get hundreds and thousands of people coming into the city, these suppliers want to take advantage of the increased demand.”  According to a January 2019 article published by ESPN, there is a clear link between major sporting events and increases in demand for human trafficking. A nationwide sweep held over the course of several weeks leading up to the 2017 Super Bowl resulted in approximately 750 human trafficking-related arrests, 100 taking place in the host city of Houston.  “We’re not sticking our head in the sand and saying, ‘Oh, well that doesn’t happen in Vestavia,’” Curry said. “Yes, it does. And we’re going to do something about it.”  At the time of publication, the Vestavia Hills City Council planned to sign this proclamation at its Nov. 25 meeting.

Since Aniah Blanchard’s Oct. 23 disappearance in Auburn, the Over the Mountain community has made efforts to come together in hopes she will make a safe return home. Baby blue ribbons tied into bows, to mark Blanchard’s favorite color, can be seen throughout Homewood and surrounding communities on light posts, mailboxes and clothing. Trinity United Methodist Church, where Blanchard worshiped before moving to Auburn for college, holds a weekly prayer gathering on Wednesday nights, inviting the community to come together and pray for Blanchard’s safety. “Our prayers tonight are specifically for her family as we continue to pray for Aniah to be returned,” the Rev. Brian Erickson said at the Nov. 13 meeting. “But as we pray by name for every member of her family, I encourage you to particularly be thinking about them as they continue to wait for her to come home.” The meeting was brief but included a call to worship, a reading from the New Testament and time for silent prayer. Erickson then led the group in a prayer. “We don’t have words for our fear, our anxiety, our heartbreak,” he said. “We don’t know what to say to each other. We don’t know what to say to Aniah’s precious family. Sometimes, Lord, we confess we don’t even know what to say to you.” One community member who attended the Nov. 13 meeting said her son went to high school with Blanchard. “There were a lot of people who were really mean to my son,” she said. “But she was always really sweet. … We’re not going to give up hope.” At the end of the meeting, Erickson asked the community not to let Blanchard slip off their minds as the search for her goes on. “As a sending forth charge to all of us, I would say that as developments in Aniah’s case and the search for her slow down, it’s even more important that we keep talking about her,” Erickson said. “It’s even more important that we keep posting her picture, that we keep her in our prayers and that we remind her family that she is not forgotten.” Erickson said Trinity will continue to meet on Wednesday nights at 6 p.m. until Blanchard comes home.

Journal photo by Ingrid Schnader

Closer Than You Think

OTM Residents Praying for Aniah Blanchard By Ingrid Schnader

Journal photo by Emily Williams

The human trafficking industry is ever-present in the life of anyone living close to an interstate, and Vestavia Hills is ready to do something about it. In an executive work session Nov. 18, the Vestavia Hills City Council met with representatives of the Children’s Policy Council of Jefferson County to see what can be done to classify the city as a TraffickingFree Zone.  According to Jordan Giddens, community engagement coordinator for the CPC’s Child Trafficking Solutions Project, every aspect of obtaining the status of TraffickingFree Zone is designed to spread awareness through the community. Giddens is fresh off of five years spent lobbying the Alabama Legislature across both parties.  “We can enact as many changes as we want on the state level, but if it’s not a grassroots effort, it’s not going to be uniform,” Giddens said.   The new program has been created with help from the U.S. Institute Against Human Trafficking, based in Tampa, Florida.  It begins with a proclamation declaring the city a trafficking-free zone. The city then must work with CPC to coordinate human trafficking training for all city staff, as well as implementing a policy that clearly prohibits the purchase of sex during work.  “If we say the city of Vestavia Hills takes this very seriously and becomes a trafficking-free zone, that sends out a message to the entire community that we are going to be a trafficking-free zone as well,” Giddens said. “Although we can’t mandate that every business become a traffickingfree zone, we can walk in with that proclamation and say, ‘Your city is taking this seriously and, for liability’s sake, you should take this seriously too.’” 


Trinity United Methodist Church, where Blanchard worshiped before moving to Auburn for college, holds a weekly prayer gathering on Wednesday nights, inviting the community to come together and pray for Blanchard’s safety.


Thursday, November 28, 2019 • 9


Journal photo by Emily Williams

business survives multiple generations, and Bromberg’s has been in operation and has remained family owned for 184 years. “It’s almost impossible to keep a family business together for even three generations,” said Welch. Current President Ricky Bromberg is the sixth generation to lead Bromberg & Co. The luxury gift and jewelry business is 35 years older than the city of Birmingham, founded in Mobile in

1836 by Frederick G. Bromberg. “We’re actually a year older than Tiffany’s, because they were founded in 1837,” Yoder said. The business survived the Civil War and in 1900 was relocated to Birmingham, which was becoming a “boom town.”  It wasn’t until 1959 that the leadership of Bromberg’s decided to expand and open a location in Mountain Brook Village. At the time, the city still required

that city founder and village developer Robert Jemison Jr. be given the power to approve what types of businesses entered Mountain Brook Village. “He did not like the plans for the building,” Yoder said. “He built an English-style, Tudor paradise and here comes this mid-century modern building.” But Jemison already had given his approval for a new jewelry store and had no authority over the building plans.

Mountain Brook Mayor Stewart Welch cuts the ribbon to mark Bromberg’s jewelry store’s 60 years in Mountain Brook Village along with Bromberg’s President Ricky Bromberg, to the left, as members of the Bromberg family, employees and city officials look on.

Bromberg’s Celebrates the 60th Anniversary of Mountain Brook Village Store

By Emily Williams The metal and glass, mid-century modern facade of luxury gift and jewelry store Bromberg’s is an iconic fixture in the landscape of Mountain Brook Village. On Nov. 20, the Mountain Brook Chamber of Commerce hosted a ribbon-cutting at the store to celebrate

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the building’s 60th anniversary. “The Mountain Brook store was our first branch store,” said marketing manager Anne Yoder. “We were downtown in three different locations – including the one that our corporate office is currently in (123 20th St. N.) – before they decided to branch.” Mayor Stewart Welch said it is a huge achievement when any small

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He spent 30 years working for FEMA, refusing to quit until he hit 90 years old. He said he enjoyed serving his country in that capacity. During the Gulf War, he even tried to get on Operation Desert Storm.

Journal photo by Ingrid Schanader

Photo courtesy Carl Cooper


estavia Hills resident and retired U.S. Marine Corps Col. Carl Cooper has so many medals on his uniform that he said he can’t remember what they all mean. In his 38-year career in the military, he served active duty during World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War. He said the medal at the top of his uniform is the Legion of Merit, and his nephew reminded him that he also has medals for Pacific engagement and strength in combat, and a presidential citation for heroism along with other metals. Born in March 1920, Cooper grew up with his five sisters and four brothers on a farm in Clanton. He moved to the Birmingham area to play football at Samford University – then called Howard College – and there met his wife, James Anna. “My major was in biology, but then World War II came along, and that ended football,” he said. “So, I swore into the Marine Corps on April 1, 1942. I wasn’t drafted; I just enlisted.” He said he wanted to enlist because everyone else was enlisting or getting drafted to serve in the war. The war was just getting started. “And I just owed that to my country for every little part I could do,” he said. He went to training in California to get ready to go to war in the Pacific. First he went to Guadalcanal, and while he was there, his wife gave birth to their first son, in January 1945. “He was a year old when I got to see him for the first time,” Cooper said. “You just hope you can live through it and get back to see him. And I did, I made it.” He left Guadalcanal for Okinawa on April 1, 1945. Okinawa was the site of the greatest casualties in the Pacific during World War II. When they landed, some of the amphibious, tractor-like vehicles hit underwater bombs. Cooper said he was close enough to shore to swim there, and most of his troops made it. “On the northern part of the island, we were securing it, and I was the only outfit that went up to secure the remaining holdout,” he said. “So, we got in some of the caves and we eliminated a few Japanese along the line.” On the Fourth of July, Cooper left Okinawa aboard a ship headed for Guam. “At Guam, we were getting ready to invade Japan. And of course, the big bomb was dropped, and that changed everybody’s plans,” he said.  After his tour of duty, he returned home to his wife and met his 1-year-old son. He and his wife later had a daughter, and Cooper said he was able to be present for her birth. Cooper spent some time as a teacher and

In his 38-year career in the military, retired U.S. Marine Corps Col. Carl Cooper, above, served active duty during World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War. Above right, a photo of Cooper taken in 1970. In March, Cooper will celebrate his 100th birthday.

In Perennial

SERVICE Vestavia Hills War Hero and Educator Regrets None of his Almost 100 Years on Earth

coach in Marion before serving in the Korean War. When he returned from that war, he became Mountain Brook Junior High School’s first principal. “Mountain Brook called me in, and I was the first principal they hired when they created the new school system,” he said. “I enjoyed it. I’ll tell you what, you have a good faculty and it makes the job a whole lot easier.” Cooper’s fellow staff members told him he was pretty strict in his role. “And I was strict on the discipline,” he said. “But still, we had a good school. And still today, sometimes I’ll run across one of them, and they’ll make some comment about, ‘You were hard on us. You were strict.’” He served as principal there for eight years until he was called to serve in the Vietnam War. On April 1, 1980 – the same day of the year

on which he had been sworn into the Marine Corps 38 years before – Cooper retired at 60 years old. “You feel lonesome,” he said about retiring. “You miss it. But I knew it was going to come. This happens to us all.”

Continuing Service

Even though Cooper was finished serving his country in the Marine Corps, he found a new way to serve by working with the Federal Emergency Management Agency. He traveled all over the country in his new role. “I enjoyed it,” he said. “It wasn’t a military operation, so to speak, but it employed all of the principles of setting up an operation like you were getting ready to attack the enemy. And we were getting ready to attack the enemy – by helping out to restore what the hurricanes and

the weather had done to our country.” He made an impression in South Carolina after Hurricane Hugo hit in 1989. They needed Cooper to help find a place to set up 300 offices as close to the disaster as possible. Within three or four days, Cooper had converted every room at a former Holiday Inn and outfitted it as an office, right down to the paperclips. “Well, when they give you a credit card and say there’s no limit, you go for it,” Cooper said, laughing. He spent 30 years working for FEMA, refusing to quit until he hit 90 years old. He said he enjoyed serving his country in that capacity. During the Gulf War, he even tried to get on Operation Desert Storm. “I called and said, ‘I’d like to come back on active duty if it’s possible,’” he remembered. “They started laughing. They said, ‘Colonel, you’ve had your fun. Let some of these other younger folks have theirs.’ “I was in my mid-‘70s or ‘80s. Of course I didn’t think they would do it, but I said, ‘I’m going to give it a chance,’” he said.

A Long and Healthy Life

In March, Cooper will celebrate his 100th birthday. When asked if he would change anything from the last 100 years, he said no. “I made it through the first time, so no,” he said. He said the secret to a long, healthy life is to live good and clean. “I’ve tried to eat the right foods,” he said. “I still use a lot of vegetables, peaches, plums, grapes. I like good green stuff. I just keep a good balanced diet. I don’t drink and I don’t smoke, so that doesn’t hurt.” Nine out of every 10 people he served with in the military smoked cigarettes, he said. But not him. “And a lot of people did a lot of drinking,” he said. “I’m not going to say I didn’t take a drink, but I didn’t drink and wouldn’t be classified as a drinker. I think that’s what has kept my system going.” Cooper has outlived his wife and two children. He has four grandchildren, 16 great-grandchildren and one great-great-grandchild. He lives alone now in the house he and his wife bought in Vestavia in 1976, but he stays busy gardening, going to church and eating tomatoes by the handful.


Thursday, November 28, 2019 • 11


Photo courtesy Troop 28

Trammell is a junior at Mountain Brook High School and is a member of Mountain Brook Baptist Church, where he is involved in Big Time and Young Life. Elliott is the son of Carl and Samantha Elliott. In his scouting career, he earned 25 merit badges and camped 32 nights. He served in several leadership positions in Troop 28, attended the Northwest Trek in Washington state and Victoria, Canada, and participated

in Seabase high adventure camp in the Abaco Islands, Bahamas. Elliott’s Eagle Scout project was at the Children’s Fresh Air Farm, where he created a permanent, level, outdoor activity space next to an existing pavilion in the woods. The flat outdoor area improves opportunities for picnics and activities for Sunday school classes, children’s youth groups and disadvantaged children of Birmingham. Elliott led 13 Scouts, friends and relatives to build the outdoor space

using large 12-foot and 8-foot foot beams, concrete and 20 tons of gravel donated by Vulcan Materials. He raised more than $3,100 for the project, which took more than 200 volunteer hours to complete. Elliott is a junior at Mountain Brook High School, where he is a member of the Spartan football team. He is a member of Saint Francis Xavier Catholic Church, is involved in Big Time Ministries and volunteers as a Mountain Brook Athletics rec basketball

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Troop 28’s Trammell and Elliott Earn Eagle Rank Rushton Worth Trammell and Carl A. “Drew” Elliott IV, members of Boy Scout Troop 28 at Independent Presbyterian Church, recently earned their ranks of Eagle Scout from the Vulcan District Eagle Board. Both were celebrated in a Court of Honor Ceremony on Nov. 17. Trammell, the son of Buddy and Katherine Trammell, was pinned with his great-grandfather’s Eagle Medal from 1929 during the ceremony. In his scouting career, Trammell earned 21 merit badges and was inducted into the Order of the Arrow. He served in several leadership positions in his troop and attended the Northwest Trek in Washington and

Canada in 2016. Trammell’s Eagle Scout project benefitted Children’s Fresh Air Farm, a ministry of Independent Presbyterian Church. CFAF recently added a sixth grade class to the summer camp for underprivileged children. Worth led 13 volunteers to build custom window seat bookshelves for the classroom to maximize the space. He also held a book drive and collected sixth grade reading material. He collected more than 250 books and raised $1,740 for his project, which took more than 110 volunteer hours to complete.


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A Shave Show of Support

Mountain Brook Fire Department’s Annual Shave-A-Firefighter Benefits Smile-A-Mile By Emily Williams No Shave November is a tradition for the men of the Mountain Brook Fire Department. It’s a month that celebrates an awareness campaign that asks people to forego a grooming routine and let their hair grow wild in honor of cancer patients. Since 2007, members of Mountain Brook Firefighters Local 1295 have ended the month with a fundraiser, Shave-a-Firefighter, auctioning off their facial hair and scalps. Winning bidders get the opportunity to shave their pick, and all of the money is donated to a worthy cause.  “Being firemen, we are not allowed to have beards because of the face pieces we wear with our SCBA equipment,” said Mountain Brook Battalion Chief Roger Whitehead. But several of the men working on their mustaches have had much success, he said. Others have been struggling a bit.   The men will be auctioning off their facial hair to the highest bidder, who will then shave it off at the 2019 Shave-A-Fighfighter. Co-hosted by Homewood Firefighters Local 1288, the event will take place Dec. 6 at Tonya Jones SalonSpa.  Whitehead remembers the inaugural shaving event well. It was in 2007 and was organized by a group of his fellow firefighters as a way to show support for his son, Logan, who was battling pediatric cancer. Within the first 24 hours of being diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia, Whitehead’s son was taken from their home in Gulf Shores to Children’s of Alabama by ambulance.  “He started chemo within the first 24 hours of reaching Children’s,” Whitehead said. As the treatments continued to kill the cancerous cells – sacrificing many of the good cells, too – Logan eventually began to lose his hair in about November.  Thirty-four local firemen from Mountain Brook and a few neighboring departments participated in the first Shave-a-Firefighter. “I also had my head shaved with the guys so the father could be just like his son,” Whitehead said. “My wife told me that being bald is not a good look for me. She informed me that this go-around, she would donate money if I would not shave my head.”  Funds raised at the first event helped pay for the out-of-pocket expenses that arose during the Whiteheads’ cancer journey.  “Logan’s first stay in the hospital was 84 days,” Whitehead said. “We left for about 30 hours and then returned for another 83-day stay,” he said. “It was during these times that they helped carry my family.”  Firemen fixed supper for the family and delivered it to the hospital, goodie baskets were made and shifts were covered so that Whitehead could be with his family. “I truly learned the

Journal photo by Jordan Wald

12 • Thursday, November 28, 2019

Mountain Brook firefighter Heath Watkins and Lieutenant John Entrekin are participating in this year’s Shave-a-Firefighter event, which will take place Dec. 6 at Tonya Jones SalonSpa in English Village.

meaning of being a brotherhood during these times when we were not sure how long my son would live.”

Good From Bad

There was one moment in particular that sticks in Whitehead’s mind, several weeks into his son’s treatment, when Logan was placed in the ICU. He was sure nothing good would come from the pediatric cancer experience. Little did he know, his son would one day become well enough to start attending a summer camp for pediatric patients, then called Camp SmileA-Mile. There Logan met and became friends with another cancer survivor named Hannah.  Logan and Hannah Whitehead were married in January 2018 near Camp Smile-A-Mile in a ceremony at Church in the Pines in Alexander City.  “It was at this time that God brought back to me what I had told him beside Logan’s bedside many years before,” Whitehead said. “If Logan and Hannah both had not had cancer, their paths more than likely would have never crossed.” The couple was told they probably wouldn’t be able to have children, due to their treatments. Yet, their first daughter will turn one Dec. 3, and Whitehead will be welcoming his second grandchild in 2020.  Logan, now 24, is a firefighter with Homewood Fire Department and continues to maintain a connection with Smile-A-Mile as a volunteer. When he wanted to find a way to raise money for SAM, the Mountain Brook and Homewood fire departments made the organization the beneficiary of this year’s Shave-aFirefighters.  Whitehead sees SAM’s camp pro-

gram as an integral part of his son’s childhood, giving his son a camp experience that was safe as well as supportive. “It is a place where they are all the same and all the kids that are there have or have had cancer,” he said. “They can talk and share with each other about how they feel and about what they are going through.” SAM has since grown exponentially, providing year-round programming for patients and their families at Smile-A-Mile Place in Birmingham. The SAM staff feel fortunate to have Logan and Hannah remain actively involved members of the SAM family.  SAM Chief Operating Officer Kellie Reece, who has known the couple for nearly their entire lives, became ordained in order to marry the couple.  “It is encouraging for parents new to the childhood cancer journey to see young adults, like Logan and Hannah, who have overcome a cancer diagnosis as children and are thriving with families and careers of their own,” Reece said. “They also serve as incredible role models for current participants and can relate to them and their situation like no one else.”  The many lows that occurred throughout the Whitehead family’s cancer journey are outshined by the victories small and large since. “Most of the time, children look up to their parents and want to be just like them,” Whitehead said. “The kids look to inspiration from the parents. I want you to know that Logan is the one who inspires me. He has gone through so much in his life and yet has the most love in his heart. He is a fine young man that we are so proud of.”


Thursday, November 28, 2019 • 13


Journal photo by Ingrid Schnader

said. “Her immune system is so far down. … Even going to Target during the flu season – she can’t do that. Even the smallest common cold could put her in heart failure.” So Cornutt quit her job in real estate. Working from home selling cinnamon rolls has been the perfect fit for them. “This business makes it work,” she said. “It makes people come to me, or I deliver to them and she rides in her car seat, watches the iPad and hangs out.” One benefit of working in the Homewood community is being able

to tell Lyla’s story, she said. “There’s this whole community of people who don’t talk about it. It’s just one of those things that’s not widely talked about. So that’s been neat, to be able to open conversation about that kind of thing over cinnamon rolls. It links us together.”

Future Plans

Cornutt said she hopes to someday sell her cinnamon rolls online and ship them to customers, but online sales are not currently allowed under the Cottage Food Law.

“So I’m in the beginning stages of looking for a little kitchen I could rent,” she said. “I really feel like there’s a huge market for online sales to ship them out.” But no matter what happens in the future, Cornutt said it’s important to her to keep her operation in Homewood. “I appreciate all of the support from the community,” she said. “And I have a ton of repeat customers.” For more information and to place future orders, follow @rolls. homewood on Instagram.

Katie Cornutt learned to bake cinnamon rolls from her grandmother.

Home Made

Homewood Mom Started Cinnamon Roll Business from Scratch By Ingrid Schnader This holiday season, Homewood resident Katie Cornutt is going to be busy making cinnamon rolls. She isn’t making them for herself, though. She’s making them for her new business, called Rolls, which she started this past March. The recipe is from her grandmother, who used to live in Fairfield Glade, Tennessee. Cornutt would drive up there, especially during the holiday season, and bake with her grandmother. Together, they baked not only cinnamon rolls, but everything. Cornutt baked with her mom, too. “She’s the one who instilled in me (that), all of the artificial junk, if you can avoid it, avoid it,” she said. “We always had some sort of dessert, pastry or some sweet growing up.” Her mother has since passed away, but Cornutt carried on that legacy when she had her first son, Lennon, who’s 10 years old now. He loves all of his mom’s cooking, but he always asks specifically for her to make cinnamon rolls. “And I would share them with our neighbors because it (the recipe) would make so many,” she said. “One day, one of my neighbors said, ‘You should sell these.’” That was in February. Within a month, Cornutt had an Instagram page for her business and a license to cook from her home under the Cottage Food Law. It took off. “It’s all homemade,” she said. “There’s no preservatives. So that’s how I market it – it’s just an oldtimey recipe.” Cornutt laughed and said the recipe was so easy that “a monkey could do it.” But it takes time – three hours per batch. To order, you can check her availability calendar on Instagram and fill out a form with your order. But if you wanted Cornutt’s rolls in time for the holiday season, you’re too late. She’s

sold out through December. Once customers have secured a time slot, they can pick up a frozen pan from Cornutt’s outdoor freezer, a baked pan from inside her home or on her doorstep, or Cornutt will deliver them herself. “And a lot of people give them as gifts, so I’ll deliver them to your friend’s house for their birthday as a surprise, or if someone just had surgery,” she said. “I love that part of it. I feel like it just brings out the good in people. It’s a real inexpensive price point for a happy, and it can go a long way, even though it’s food.”

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Telling Lyla’s Story

Before Cornutt was a professional cinnamon roll baker, she was a real estate agent with two kids. There’s Lennon and then there’s Caroline, who’s 7. When she got pregnant with Lyla, who’s now 2, everything changed. “I found out at 22 weeks pregnant, the second anatomy scan they found it,” she said. “My doctor came in and was crying.” Her doctor, who Cornutt has known for many years, told her that she thought Lyla had hypoplastic left heart syndrome. She explained that one of her ventricles was not formed. Cornutt was moved to a high-risk part of the hospital and started taking medicine to keep Lyla’s airways open. Lyla had heart surgery at 6 days, then she had another heart surgery at two months. Eventually she’ll need a heart transplant. “These kids didn’t make it 15 years ago,” Cornutt said. “These surgeries didn’t exist.” Developmentally, Lyla is right on schedule. Cornutt said she went to the cardiologist a couple of weeks ago, and he told her that Lyla is one of the best patients he has ever seen. But Cornutt still had to make many changes in her life once she had a special needs child. “She could catch anything,” she

Birmingham Museum of Art

Bring the whole family out for a day inspired by the BMA's current exhibition, Black Out: Silhouettes Then and Now. Take home your own custom silhouette created by local artist Brandi Still. Check out our special storytelling session that incorporates silhouette illustrations.

On view through January 12 · 2020

Silhouettes by Brandi Still

This exhibition has been organized by the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery, Washington, D.C., and generously sponsored by the Thoma Foundation. The local presentation of the exhibition is made possible by the Jack Warner Foundation. Additional support provided by the Alabama State Council on the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts, the Barbara Shelton Education Fund, the City of Birmingham, and Friends of Black Out.


14 • Thursday, November 28, 2019



Journal photos by Jordan Wald

Reed Foundation Raises Funds to Fight GI Cancer at Annual Iron Bowl Kickoff

Crawford Bumgarner, Kelli Kelly, Lisa Flake, Meg Sullivan and Laura Clark.

Courtney Passarella, Rachelle Mouron and Whitney Simon.

G Katherine and Forrest DeBuys with Nancy and David Faulkner.

Brad Mitchell with Big Al.

David and Kim Hobbs.

uests mixed and mingled with sports fan favorites as the Robert E. Reed Gastrointestinal Oncology Research Foundation hosted the annual Finish the Fight gala on Nov. 21 at The Club. Honored at the event were the 2019 Faces of GI Cancer, including Dr. William Baxley, Philip Little, Nicole Robinson and Minnette Wiggins. Celebrating 17 years of fundraising, the annual Iron Bowl kickoff party was presented by Edwards Chevrolet, with Jenny and Lee Edwards serving as honorary chairs. Musical entertainment provided by Tommy Ward filled the room; guests tried their luck at the casino tables; and guests participated in a Denny Chimes Wine Pull and a Toomer’s Corner Liquor Toss. In addition, the Reed Foundation’s Women’s Committee organized an online silent auction. Funds raised at the event will supSee FINISH, page 15

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16 • Thursday, November 28, 2019



Ballet Benefit

Annual Poinsettia Ball to Feature 20 Presentees The Ballet Women’s Committee and Poinsettia Men’s Club are preparing to present 20 young women at the 52nd annual Poinsettia Ball, to be held at Vestavia Country Club in December. In keeping with tradition, each debutante will be presented by her father in a winter setting of greenery and red poinsettias.

The Ballet Women’s Committee is an invitational group that raises funds for the Alabama Ballet. The Poinsettia Men’s Club helps the Ballet Women’s Committee reach its goals through donations and activities. A Poinsettia Men’s Club Benefactor’s Dinner will be held at Vestavia Country Club before the ball.

Ballet Women’s Committee officers helping coordinate this year’s event include Poinsettia Ball President Liz Phillips Guest, as well as Sharon Maddox, president; Melissa McMurray, vice president; Stacey Gregory, secretary; Tricia Burris, treasurer; Melanie Beasley, assistant treasurer; and Jayna Southerland, adviser. ❖

Caroline Grace Bagwell, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Terry Joe Bagwell.

Marley McKay Barnett, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Kevin Robert McCain and Mr. and Mrs. Corey Foshee Barnett.

Caroline Peyton Billingsley, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Carey Michael Billingsley.

Olivia Bartlett Brown, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Wesley Allen Brown.

Kendall Noelle Calamusa, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Rocco Calamusa Jr.

Kathryn Elizabeth Genetti, daughter of Ms. Lisa Pate Genetti and Mr. Thomas Keith Genetti.

Hannah Claire Hamric, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. David Eugene Hamric Jr.

Ashton Chatham Henderson, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. James Paul Henderson.

Jordan Lee Henderson, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Jason Fox Henderson.

Kate Emily Jessup, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Francis Milton Jessup III.

Jocelyn Nicole Jones, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. David Claude Jones Jr.

Madeline Claire Lorino, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Christopher Jacob Lorino.

Sophia Irene Losole, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. James Losole.

Abbey Grace Moss, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. John Glenn Moss Jr.

Barrett Carlisle Murphy, daughter of Dr. Kerri and Mr. Patrick Turner Murphy Jr.

Caroline Grace Parker, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Craig Andrew Parker.

Caroline Brown Raine, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Donald Andrew Raine.

Jonkvrouw Audrey Isabelle Edwards Röell, daughter of Jonkeer and Mrs. Ludolf Hendrik Röell.

Jessica Michelle Stevens, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Jack Edward Stevens III.

Dylan Margaret Copeland Surber, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. David Lloyd Surber.



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Thursday, November 28, 2019 • 17

Journal photos by Jordan Wald


Above left, Kyle Wade, Mandy Nicholson, Mary Ann Wade and Cathy Strong. Above right, Augusta Cash, Lynne Cooper, Elizabeth Smith and Mindy Estep. Below right, Pat Dudley, Debbie Anderson, Jill Crawford, Jill Stephen and Donna Reinaker.

Dressed to Impress

Assistance League Hosts 10th Little Black Dress Luncheon The Assistance League of Birmingham hosted the 10th annual Little Black Dress luncheon Nov. 6 at Vestavia Country Club, featuring a fashion show of league members sporting clothing from Town and Country. Festivities were organized by a committee chaired by Melinda Thornbury. A holiday shopping area offered several popular jewelry, clothing and

home accessory vendors. The event helps spread awareness about the mission of the Assistance League, which is to Improve the lives of children and seniors in the Birmingham area. Its three projects are PrimeTime Treasures, in which

senior citizens sell handmade items; Operation Literacy, a reading initiative for school children; and Operation School Bell, which provides more than 2,000 school children with new clothes, jackets and undergarments. ❖




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Sneak Peek

JLB Hosts Preview for Annual Holiday Market A very merry sneak peek at this year’s Market Noel holiday gift sale was given to guests at the Junior League of Birmingham’s Preview Noel. The event was held Nov. 20 at the Finley Center and showcased more than 100 national and regional vendors offering everything from home decor to gourmet food. The first 250 attendees received a special swag bag, but all in attendance were treated to hors d’oeuvres from Happy Catering, live music on a main stage and more. For those who wanted to play a game of chance, a Cigar Drop was available as well as a Diamonds Direct Diamond Drop. An online silent auction was available for guests, as well as those who couldn’t make it to the event, offering an evening with the Alabama Ballet, a dinner by Chef John Hall, live painting by The Grace Gallery and more. The annual shopping event raises funds to support the Junior League’s many community projects, including Backpack Buddies, Mobile Food Pantry, JLB Second Serving and Meals on Wheels, all of which provide food to children, families, homeless teens and elders. ❖

Journal photos by Jordan Wald

18 • Thursday, November 28, 2019

Rachel Cash and Grace Hatcher.

Julia Meyers, Haley Scallions, Becky Holt and Sally McKay.

Karen Grahn and Claire Flowers. Roshanbra Williams, Kendra McDole, Becky Holt, Tresha Moore and Samil Baker. Shannon Harris.

2) MARC JACOBS GLOWSTICK: The fan following of this stick would make Elvis Presley jealous. The perfect mix of silver and gold, lending a dewy glow wherever it’s placed. Ideal spots are inside corners of eyes, over each eyebrow, and along the tops of cheekbones for more youthful glow. SEPHORA - $42 3) BRAZILLIAN BLOWOUT SMOOTHING SERUM: This easy to use hair cream eliminates frizz and creates smooth, glassy locks that seem to magically form right before your eyes. A must-have for all hair types in dry winter weather. SALON SUMMIT - $38/ 8oz.

Casey Wright and Dennis Hinton.

Laura James and Lauren Kallus.

I encourage you to try one or more of these for added shine in your seasonal beauty routine. We here at SALON SUMMIT wish you and your family a blessed and beautiful Holiday season! XOXO Until next time….. -Love, Terri



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The Holiday Cards Issue Dec. 12th!


Thursday, November 28, 2019 • 19


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Clipped Wings held its annual fall luncheon Oct. 24 at Grille 29, hosted by Leslie Appleton, Suzanne Hoye, Karen Nelson and Mary Ellen Parker. Members socialized and welcomed guests and former flight attendants Diane Hart and Regan Hunt. Dining tables were decorated with gilded pumpkins and colorful flower arrangements by Karen Nelson.  Following a delicious lunch, four

women had their names drawn for gift baskets made by Mary Ellen Parker. Place favors were bags of leaf-shaped cookies baked by Leslie Appleton. Also enjoying the party were Donna Rankin, Diane Stover, Jane Franey, Betty Ratliff, Carol Godsey, Jhan Hodges, Luna Hullett, Vivian Haley, Doris Davis, Barbara Huffman and Karen Lloyd.

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Journal photos by Jordan Wald


Glenda Reinhardt, Sandy Thurmond, Betsy French, Katherine Estes Billmeier and Elizabeth Dunn.

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Tum Tum Foundation Celebrates 30th Wine Auction

Ridout’s Valley Chapel

HOMEWOOD MAYOR SCOTT MCBRAYER MANAGING DIRECTOR 1800 Oxmoor Road Homewood, Al 35209•205-879-3401

Thirty years ago, a group of 75 attended a wine auction at Pardis and Frank Stitt’s Bottega Restaurant, raising $25,000 for Magic Moments. Both the event and the hosts have grown over the years, resulting in the Tum Tum Tree Foundation and nearly $2 million in donations to Alabama children’s charities. This year’s annual Birmingham Wine Auction, presented by Medical Properties Trust, was hosted by the foundation’s board over three days, Nov. 7-9. Foundation board members include Jack Bryant, Peter Curtin, Susan Mary Kathryn Bryant, Jenny Burton and Ashley Blomeyer. Curtin, Doug Eckert, Sidney Fry, Dennis Goldasich, Jamie LeDoux, Kelly Logan, Susan Lowder, Ryan Lutz, Jake McKenzie, Danny McKinney, Andrew Pearce, Libby Sibley, Brandon Smith and Pardis Stitt. Honorary chair for the event was Eric Jensen, owner of Booker Vineyard and Winery. Ashley and Ken Polk. Ernie, Vivian, Hannah and Katherine Cory. Festivities began that Thursday with vintner dinners, hosted by select restaurants and in private homes in Birmingham. A gala auction that Friday included a wine-tasting and seated dinner prepared by chef Rob McDaniel of SpringHouse. The evening’s design Robert and Julie Kim with Laura Jasper and Fred Goldman. Deepti and Girish Dhall. was created by Branden Lower of Braden Lower Design, with florals The auction weekend concluded that DON’T MISS designed by Sybil Sylvester of Saturday in Tuscaloosa, as the Alabama Wildflower Designs. Crimson Tide prepared to take on the Both live and silent auctions offered LSU Tigers. A tailgate was hosted, a variety of wines, as well as wine and offering a selection of wines, beer and Dec. 12th! food experiences around the world. food. ❖

The Holiday Cards Issue


Thursday, November 28, 2019 • 21

Photo courtesy Fandangos


Hallie Rawls, Lyn Bradford, Anne Cobb, Brenda Ross, Jane Elmore and Mary Broome.

Dancing Machine

Fandangos Plan Festivities for the 2019-20 Year A new club year began Oct. 24 as members of the Fandango Dance Club gathered at the home of Lyn and James Bradford. The club’s plans for the year include a Christmas Girls’ Night Out, an evening at the Virginia Samford Theatre to see “Cabaret” and a Kentucky Derby Party. Calling the meeting to order by ringing a bell, President Hallie Rawls introduced Jane Elmore and Mary Broome as members elected in May. Mary Jean Archer, Celeste “Lessie” Burnam, Susan Davis and Patty Hall were unanimously elected as the newest members of Fandango. At the conclusion of the business portion of the meeting, members returned to talking with each other while enjoying appetizers and libations.   In attendance were Dalton Blankenship, Nancy Booth, Susan Boyd, Lyn Bradford, Mary Broome, Cynthia Broughton, Courtney Brown, Laura Bryan, Margaret

Stringfellow, Ann Beck Thomas, Elise Warren, Mary Ellen West, Ellen Williams, Yorke Williams and Laurie Yearout. ❖


Caley, Sarah Chisolm, Anne Cobb, Betsy Cooper, Paula Cox, Jane Elmore, Antoinette Flowers, Anne Hicks, Sandra Holley, Linda Holman, Becky Keys, Barrett MacKay, Ruth Mears, Carolyn Nowicki, Jowane Patton, Charlotte Powell, Babs Quinn, Hallie Rawls, Fran Robertson, Brenda Ross, Sister Rutland, Bethy Short, Lochrane Coleman Smith, Dotty Still, Shirley Anne

March 20-28, 2020

We explore Galway, Sligo, the breathtaking Cliffs of Moher, Dublin, the ancient tombs, and more.We travel with Friends of the Barones and are led by Deborah and Robert Barone. Tour Cost $3100 includes airfare, 4 * central city hotels w/breakfasts, guiding, and some dinners. Registration must by 10 Dec. Contact Judy Borisky at 205-977-6298 for more details.

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22 • Thursday, November 28, 2019

The Denniston Home

A quick Thursday morning stop en route to a tennis match turned into a move for Christine and Mike Denniston, who had been looking for a new house for some time. “I immediately knew this was it,” shared Christine Denniston about their Pine Ridge Trail home. Though built in 1985, the two-story white brick residence has a classic feel. The front door is topped with a circular German glass transom window, a nostalgic detail repeated above numerous doors and windows.

Photo courtesy Samford University


The home of Meredith and Jeffrey Lees, was the first one built on Vestavia Drive in 1926.

Christmas Charm Classic to Cutting-Edge Houses Open to the Public During Samford Legacy League’s Christmas Home Tour

Photo by Edward Badham

he “something old, something new” rhyme usually is reserved for weddings, but that line also describes the array of homes on Samford Legacy League’s Christmas Home Tour this year. The Dec. 12 event includes a range of architectural eras and styles, from classic to cutting-edge. In addition to five homes, the tour, which is presented by ARC Realty, includes a spread of seasonal fare at the Samford President’s Home and a curated slate of vendors at the gift market at First Church of the Nazarene. “Guests will no doubt enjoy the beautifully appointed homes, delectable goodies, holiday shopping and festive atmosphere during the muchanticipated Christmas Home Tour,” said Lisbeth Cease, co-chair of the event. “But there’s more to this event than a treat for the senses. It truly does change lives.” Proceeds provide scholarship funds for students who have faced tremendous obstacles, including the death, disability or incarceration of a parent; foster care; inner-city violence; parental job loss; homelessness; abandonment; and the sacrifices of full-time ministry in a remote place. “It is the mission behind the event and the joy of being involved that draw over 250 people serving in a variety of capacities to our volunteer work force,” added Terre Currey, who also is co-chair. “Whether greeting guests, publicizing the event, preparing food or serving in some other way, our wonderful volunteers make the Legacy League’s annual Christmas Home Tour possible.” To date the Legacy League, a volunteer organization with nearly 800 members, has awarded more than $800,000 in scholarships to help nearly 180 students attend Samford University. The 2019 Christmas Home Tour includes the Mountain Brook homes of Christine and Mike Denniston, 505 Pine Ridge Trail, and Angel and Jared Lewis, 11 Richmar Drive, as well as the Vestavia Hills homes of Meredith and Jeffrey Lees, 2113 Vestavia Drive; Rushton and Derek Waltchack, 2445 Chestnut Road; and Jeanna and Andy Westmoreland, Samford President’s Home, 1994 Shades Crest Road.


The Richmar Drive residence of Angel and Jared Lewis is just what you might expect from the founder of Audio Video Excellence (AVX) in Homewood.

Picture frame wainscoting throughout the house provides an elegant backdrop for the family’s art, much of which was painted by southeastern artists. “We’ve collected pieces as we’ve traveled, and I remember where we were when we purchased each one,” reminisced Denniston. “Others came from Mike’s parents, and we’ve had fun pulling in pieces they treasured and some which had been stashed away.” While many of the Dennistons’ furnishings were inherited from relatives, they purchased the piano when their boys were young. Both sons started lessons at 4, continuing for many years. “At Christmastime, that piano has filled our home with worship music, particularly from (Nine) Lessons and Carols,” Denniston said. “That’s what Christmas really is to me.”

Visitors to the Denniston home this Christmas will find a gingerbread house on display in the kitchen, reminiscent of an annual tradition for Denniston and her kids. The Denniston boys, now in college, still look forward to decorating gingerbread houses each year. “They don’t look like Martha Stewart’s,” Denniston laughed, “but we always have fun.” The Dennistons also will continue their tradition of decorating their 10-foot tall tree with a combination of ornaments, some passed down from their families and others made by the boys at school. The ornaments, like their art, bring back cherished memories.

The Lees Home

Known as the Goddard-Small House in honor of its first two owners, the home of Meredith and Jeffrey

Lees was the first one built on Vestavia Drive. A historic marker out front dates the brick residence to 1926, making it one of the oldest homes on Shades Mountain. Built in a time of elegance, the house is filled with decorative accents – plaster ceiling medallions, curved doors and detailed trim work. A selection of 1930s-era photographs of front and back views of the house hang in the foyer of the Lees house, and fresh greenery and festive holiday touches have been made for the season. In the seven years they’ve owned the house, the Lees family has made it their own, updating the kitchen and adding a mudroom, deck and garage while maintaining the historic feel. “We completely renovated the house from top to bottom,” Meredith Lees explained. “We tried keeping as many original details as possible – the trim, the arches, the (stained) glass.” Reverence for the past and appreciation for more modern things is evident in the Lees’ Christmas decorations, as well. “I like to mix a little more fancy decorations with family heirlooms,” Lees said. “I use some of my grandparents’ decorations, ornaments made by our son, Goodloe, and decorations that were made by my grandparents.” To visit the Lees home, guests should park at Vestavia Baptist Church using the Vestavia Drive entrance and take the shuttle to the house. Street parking is available at the other four residences.

The Lewis Home

The Richmar Drive residence of Angel and Jared Lewis is just what

you might expect from the founder of Audio Video Excellence (AVX) in Homewood. Nine TVs, the largest being 98 inches, are among a plethora of custom electronics with which the house is outfitted. The heat and air conditioning, lighting, shades, stereo, TVs, garage and security cameras are all controlled digitally. Contemporary doesn’t end with the gadgets; it carries on to fixtures and finishes. With clean lines, a neutral palate and an open style, the home’s décor has a Scandinavian influence. It features a hidden powder room door, a double-wide fireplace and several custom-built pieces of furniture, including a steel table, lamps and a cabinet that houses a retractable TV. This modern residence was once a ranch owned by Jared Lewis’ grandfather. Three Lewis generations have lived in the house, which has been through two major renovations. David Sherrod of BRBC Construction brought the Lewises’ vision to reality in the most recent transformation. “Our goal was to come alongside Jared and Angel to fulfill their goals for their home,” Sherrod said. “Jared has an incredible eye for details, and ingenuity was required to execute his vision.” The finished product “has unbelievable curb appeal, allure and a subtle ‘wow factor.’”

The Waltchack Home

When Rushton and Derek Waltchack first moved into their Chestnut Road home in Vestavia Hills, they had one child. Eleven years and four kids later, they knew that two bedrooms and one bath weren’t adequate. So, in February 2017, they moved out. The renovation turned into a rebuild, and another child joined the family through adoption. Last December, the family of eight – with children ages 14,12, 9, 8, 6 and 6 – finally moved back home. The Waltchacks aspired for their new home to be “happy and livable,” described Rushton. “Our big family means we have a lot of chaos. We wanted our home to be fun and calming. We prayed it would be a place where people could come and be refreshed,” she said.  To accomplish that goal, they built a house with lots of natural light, decorated with fun rugs and whimsical art, and bought washable furniture. Their modern farmhouse has many special features: a ladder to a loft for the two boys, a hobbit door between the girls’ rooms and a nook under the stairs for their bunnies.  The spacious kitchen includes a mammoth island and a 72-inch round table to accommodate all the members of the family.  The adjoining family room has a sloped ceiling of reclaimed wood, a comfortable L-shaped sofa and a large See LEGACY LEAGUE, page 27



Thursday, November 28, 2019 • 23

E L EVAT E YOU R E X P E R I E N C E Idyllic Setting Of fering Breathtaking V iews

Highly regarded as one of Alabama’s top five private clubs by Golf Digest, Old Overton Club offers world-class golfing in the heart of the Liberty Park Community. The 18-hole championship golf course is sculpted from rocky terrain for sweeping views and championship play. Discover what Old Overton and Liberty Park have to offer. PH 205.972.9000


24 • Thursday, November 28, 2019



Rooms With a View Susan and John Vawter Will Open Their Redmont Park House for the IPC Tour

By Donna Cornelius

Photos by Alisha Crossley Photography


stately Redmont Park house will be one of the high points of the Independent Presbyterian Church’s Holiday House Tour, and that’s not just because the red brick house is a beautiful blend of the old and the new. The house’s perch gives homeowners Susan and John Vawter a sweeping perspective of downtown Birmingham. Rooms at the back of the house overlook a swimming pool, a sloping backyard and their historic neighborhood. “We wanted a house with a view,” Susan said. “This has one of the city, so even better.” The Vawters first saw the house in 2015 but weren’t able to call it home until the fall of 2017. They had to wait about a year for the previous owner to be ready to sell it, and renovations took about 18 months. “When we moved in, the house was still a work in progress, so we had to stay in the guest house for a while,” Susan said. She and John were determined to preserve as much of the house’s original character as possible. Dr. Thomas Martin built the red brick house in 1927. Architects on the job from Miller, Martin & Lewis also designed Avondale School, the Birmingham Public Library, many Birmingham-Southern College buildings and the University of Alabama’s iconic Denny Chimes. The house’s English architecture with some Italian Renaissance touches gives it a classic exterior that has stood the test of time. To make the changes they wanted, the Vawters turned to Nequette Architecture & Design of Birmingham. “We had to scratch our heads and say, how can we make the house work for us?” John said. Because they have a large family – six grown children plus grandchildren – the couple needed ample accommodations for family gatherings. “One thing many older houses are missing is a comfortable den,” John said. “There was an outdoor terrace that we enclosed to add a family room. That was Louis Nequette’s idea.” The family room, which sits atop a carport, is spacious and filled with light thanks to its many windows. It’s one of the house’s most-used spaces. “I threw a baby shower with 66 guests, and we had enough room to open the presents here,” Susan said. “We congregate in this room for Christmas. There’s plenty of seating on the couches, chairs and windowsills.” Another change involved replacing one of the house’s most dramatic

A flocked Christmas tree, above, glows against the dark walls in Susan Vawter’s library. The floating staircase, right, added by the Vawters to replicate one that was in the house originally, is dressed up for Christmas with a magnolia garland. Family members love to gather at the kitchen table, below, and in the family room, facing page, – a favorite place for sharing Christmas cheer.

original elements: a graceful, floating staircase that rises from the foyer to the house’s top floor. “The original staircase had been torn out, and this one mimics the one that was there originally,” Susan said. Under the stairs, an alcove is the perfect spot for a grand piano. “My brother is a concert pianist, and we like having the piano in case he visits and can play for us,” Susan said. Other renovations enhanced the house without sacrificing its decadesold charm. “We enlarged the master bedroom closets, put a window between French doors in the living room to open up the view, and added a copper awning over the front elevation to break up the façade,” John said. Susan is an avid cook, so one of her favorite rooms is the kitchen. It’s

bright and cheerful with white marble countertops and subway tile. There’s an expansive Wolf range and a colorful display of cookbooks, which Susan said she uses more for inspiration than instruction. “This kitchen is a lot of fun to cook in,” she said. Few additions were needed in the

‘My brother is a concert pianist, and we like having the piano in case he visits and can play for us.’ SUSAN VAWTER

room except for large cabinets that serve as a pantry and floating shelves to give the space a neo-modern flavor. Although there’s an elegant dining

room nearby, Susan said their kitchen table is where they most like to eat. Also on the main level are Susan’s library, with charcoal walls punctuat-


ed with a fluffy white throw and pillows on the sofa plus white chairs near the fireplace; the living room, which is airy and has those spectacular city views; and John’s study, decorated with a pair of antique Scottish hunting horns and artwork featuring wild turkeys. Throughout the house, designer Liz Hand Woods captured the Vawters’ desire for a lovely yet userfriendly interior. Light and dark colors, a mix of contemporary pieces and antiques, and personal touches

Thursday, November 28, 2019 • 25


such as books and family photos combine to make the house a true home. “We wanted our house to be cozy, inviting and livable,” Susan said. “Liz is so talented and captured exactly what we wanted. She created a soft, calming effect that begins when you walk into the house.” Outside, Falkner Gardens designed a parterre garden. Otherwise, the grounds have remained largely unchanged over the years.

Tour guests will see festive decorations by Leah Hazzard, who decorates the house for the holidays and creates floral arrangements for special occasions. “We love pretty ornaments, and we like white lights,” Susan said. “We like to keep the decorations as part of the rooms – pretty and casual.” She said she and John are happy to be part of this year’s Holiday House Tour, which is set for Dec. 14 and 15.

Thirteen Distinctive New Homes in Vestavia Hills On the crest of Shades Mountain overlooking Oxmoor Valley, Walnut Hill epitomizes a Wedgworth community: beautiful homes, great views, and energysmart construction. Minutes from I-65 and downtown Birmingham, these thirteen home sites surround a central park. With lots starting at $200,000, Walnut Hill provides a unique opportunity for you to create a custom home in one of Birmingham’s most desirable areas.

Mike Wedgworth (205) 365-4344

26 • Thursday, November 28, 2019




The Caroline and Stephen Gidiere home.

The Doug Sutton and Andrew Nix home.

From page one

In the past, tourgoers have been isdrive when you realize able to themselves to each house. This year,the theyperfect are asked to you’ve found park atand Independent Presbyterian house your kids love Church at 3100 Highland Ave. in the neighborhood! was designed to take full advantage of the Birmingham and catch a shuttle to the views from this premier lot. Main level feahouses. But don’t jump immediately nd your family to find understand tures Great Room withWe cathedral ceilings,just how important it is to you and your family to find on that shuttle. Step inside the church, we have the market wood beams, stone fireplace and wall of With decades of experience, we have the market the perfect house. first. n a tight seller’s market. windows overlooking knowledge the lake and Double Mountain. Master to helpOak you make itLarge happen — Suite even in a tight seller’s market. Architect William Warren of with separate Study and fireplace. Formal Dining Room with coffered ceiling, Trust the over the mountain experts. Warren, Knight & Davis designed the he difference. cathedral ceilings in Kitchen. Lower level features Family Room, additional 5 The right real estate agents can make all the difference. bedrooms each with private bath. All property owners at Lake Wehapa are impressive structure, which was built shareholders in Lake Wehapa Inc which owns common property of approxiin 1915. IPC members decorate the com mately 900 acres including acre Lake and stocked ponds. Owners Start 200 your search now5 at sanctuary and parlor for the tour, and and guests can enjoy skiing, boating, fishing, and hiking trails. Full time lake tea is served in the Great Hall. manager maintains common areas. atie LaRussa In addition to the church, three Mike Wald Hayden Wald Katie LaRussa houses will be open this year. 5.447.5154 For more information contact

is ONE when realize FINEST OF you BIRMINGHAM’S ESTATESthe HITS THE MARKET FOR you’ve found perfect THE FIRST TIME AT EXCLUSIVE LAKE house and yourLess kids love WEHAPA. than 20 miles from downtown, this timeless Country French home the neighborhood!

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ed in 2009 by Birmingham-based architect James Carter, whose own home was featured on the 2017 IPC tour. The architecture and interior design are informed by the Regency period in England, spanning from late Georgian period to the early 1800s. The house has mouldings and casings from the late Georgian period as well as historically accurate blockprinted wallpaper from the late Regency period and antiques in the style of William Kent, who is known as the grandfather of Georgian architecture. Throughout the house are personal treasures acquired from Stephen Gidiere’s grandmother. A game table was one of his favorite toys in his grandmother’s home. She gave it to him, instructing him not to read the note in the drawer until she passed away. He has honored the request by leaving the note unopened in the drawer.

Doug Sutton and Andrew Nix,

2426 Henrietta Road, Birmingham

Journalist Robert Graves Hiden and his wife, Anne Earle, built their home, Hiden House, in 1923. He had moved to Birmingham from Virginia to be the Birmingham News’ associate editor. The Georgian-style house, designed by Hugh Martin, is in historic Redmont Park. It sits atop the mountain overlooking a valley and Mountain Brook’s English Village. The house has had several notable residents since the Hidens’ time there. Jennie Robertson kept goats in the side yard, taught dance in the attic

Photos courtesy IPC

205.541.0940 205.919.5585 205.447.5154 Jared D Walton: 205-586-7721 Caroline and Stephen Gidiere, Kim Rohloff Stacy Mitchell 932 Fairway Drive, Mountain Brook 205.396.8446 205.994.5903 The Gidieres’ house was complet-

IPC Holiday House Tour committee members are, front, from left, Catherine Pringle and Anne Cowin. Middle, Honora Gathings and Cyndy Cantley. Back, Rusty Boyd and Denise Moore.

and welcomed traveling artists from Europe, helping to bring an international art scene to Birmingham. Alabama Gov. Albert Brewer lived in the house at one time, giving it the nickname The Governor’s Mansion. The house has undergone several renovations during its almost-100year existence. Today, it’s home to Doug Sutton and Andrew Nix, who bought the house in 2018. They’ve tried to take the house back to its original character by stripping away work done in the 1970s, 1980s, 1990s and early 2000s and highlighting its original aesthetic. They left in place some modern elements that they felt complemented the house. Read more about the Redmont Park home of Mr. and Mrs. John Vawter on page 24. Programs Benefit From the Tour

The IPC tour has a purpose in keeping with the spirit of the season. It benefits several ministries for Birmingham women and children. One of these is the Children’s Fresh Air Farm. Operated by IPC since 1923, it promotes hope and opportunity through partnerships with children, families and the community by offering programs rooted in

Christianity. Nearly 100 years after it started, the Fresh Air Farm continues to minister to Birmingham children through the Christian-focused Summer Learning Program and Lift Off to Learning, a science, technology, engineering, arts and math program. The tour also supports Stair – Start the Adventure in Reading. Stair works with Birmingham City Schools to identify second graders who are reading below grade level. Volunteer tutors work with these students oneon-one to improve reading skills and self-esteem. Another ministry helped by tour proceeds is the First Light Women’s Shelter. The downtown shelter works with homeless women and their children to help them find hope, seek opportunity and grow spiritually. IPC volunteers serve dinners and spend the night at the shelter. This year’s tour is from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Dec. 14 and from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Dec. 15. Tickets are $30 and available through the church’s website, After Dec. 1, tourgoers also can buy tickets at the church office during regular business hours and at each house during the tour.


Thursday, November 28, 2019 • 27



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Photos courtesy Samford University

stone fireplace. With construction complete, the Waltchacks look forward to bringing back their Christmas light show, a tradition that started as a joke. “Wouldn’t it be fun to put up inflatables and have a tacky yard?” Rushton had laughed one year. With Derek’s motto of “Go big or go home,” the idea grew, and now the Waltchacks have a man come from Louisiana each year to program their light show.  “It’s a crazy tradition that requires a special computer, but it makes us laugh,” giggled Rushton. “We’re both kids at heart.”

Holiday Open House

The Holiday Gift Market

Tickets to the Christmas Home Tour also include admission to the Legacy League’s Holiday Gift Market, which features nearly two dozen merchants. Items at the market include art, jewelry, books by local authors, food and home décor. A complete listing of vendors may be found by going to, then clicking on “Attend an Event,” then the Christmas Home Tour “Learn More” link. The market has expanded and

Attic Antiques Lots of Christmas Tues.-Sat. 10-4:30 5620 Cahaba Valley Road


Fri., Dec. 6 and Sat., Dec. 7

The Denniston home built in 1985 has a classic feel. Below, the Waltchacks spacious kitchen includes a mammoth island and a 72-inch round table to accommodate all the members of the family.

To: From:

The Samford President’s Home

With themed trees scattered throughout the Samford President’s Home and more than 120 feet of garland gracing the bannisters, every room has festive touches. More than 10,000 visitors tour the house each year, with no time fuller than the first two weeks of December. The house, set atop Shades Mountain in Vestavia Hills, is home to the Westmorelands, Samford’s first family, and has anchored the Legacy League tour since its inception. Guests take an around-the-world tour as they view unique crèches and other treasures from numerous international locations. Jeanna Westmoreland’s extensive nutcracker collection is always a favorite of visitors’ during the holiday season. Along with viewing elegant furnishings and holiday décor, guests to the Samford President’s Home can partake of seasonal treats served in a large heated tent as Christmas music is played throughout the day. The tent is being provided by premium sponsor PRE Event Resources. 

LocaLLy owned and operated


Call us “Hanna Claus”

Jim OverHANNA The Mountain Journal, PHONE: 205-823-9646 ANTIQUES FAX:M 205-824-1246 ALL May 2015 This is your PrOOFfull fromof thesurprises. OvEr THE Our MOuNTAiN Santa hasAD a sleigh one- JOurNAl fo Nov. 4 2010 issue. Please fax approval or changes to 824-1246.

of -a kind collection of rugs, silver, jewelry, Please make sure all information furniture, glassware, and more qualify us asisancorrect, address and number! official including Santa’s Helper. Rooms andphone rooms of antiques, curiosities and Please initial andfun. fax back within 24 hours. if we have not heard from you by 5 pm of the Friday before the press date, Be Unique, your ad will run as is. We print the paper Monday. Give an Antique. Thank you for your prompt attention. 2424 7th Ave. So.

Major credit cards accepted moved to the First Church of the Nazarene, which is across the parking lot from the Samford President’s Home. The market will be open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Tour Information

Houses will be open for touring from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Advance tickets are available for $30 through Dec. 10 by going to, then clicking on “Attend an Event.” Tickets may be purchased at the door of homes during tour hours for $35; limited quantities are available. For the fourth year, ARC Realty is the presenting sponsor for the Christmas Home Tour.

“ARC is a relationship company,” said Beau Bevis, ARC Realty CEO and qualifying broker. “We value our relationship with Samford and the Legacy League and the work they do in our community. We are always grateful to be part of this wonderful event, knowing that it helps young people who could otherwise not afford a university education.” Premium sponsors are AllSouth Appliance Group, BRBC Construction, First US Bank, LongLewis Ford and PRE Event Resources: A Tailgate Guys Company. Article submitted by Sharon Smith, director of development, Samford University Legacy League

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28 • Thursday, November 28, 2019

A Shared Dream



After five years of owning Johnny Brusco’s New York Style Pizza in Vestavia Hills, twin brothers Josh and Will Bruner have seen it all. They’ve had two weddings in their restaurant. They’ve had people going through a divorce who talked it out over a pizza. They’ve seen families come together and fall apart. “We have seen life happen, and it’s fascinating, it really is,” Josh said. The restaurant, on Rocky Ridge Road, was a Movie Gallery when Josh and Will were growing up in the area. They lived down the street, less than a mile away. “This used to be our Friday night,” Will said. “Come to the Movie Gallery, rent a movie. There was a Little Caesar’s down where Alfa (Insurance) is, so we would get pizza and a movie and go home. So we grew up loving pizza.” In high school, they participated in theater productions. So the summer after high school graduation, the pair decided to chase their dreams and move to Los Angeles. But instead, they fell into the pizza business. “We went out there wanting to be actors, wanting to be directors, wanting to be famous people,” Will said. “We went out there to chase the dream. But instead of learning to chase the dream, we learned that the dream came from within, and we had to find a purpose.” They had some auditions that turned into successes. Josh had a small role in Tim Burton’s “Alice in Wonderland.” But they both worked at restaurants to pay the bills. Will worked at a restaurant called Al Gelato, which specialized in desserts but also had Chicago-style pizza pies. Josh worked at another small restaurant, Tony Maroni’s, delivering pizza. “We just kind of fell into it,” Will said. “Now, looking back, I know that’s where I truly fell in love with not just pizza, but having the community coming to a place where they felt like they were at home.” After their 5½-year stint in Los Angeles, they returned home to Vestavia and started working together at Johnny Brusco’s in summer 2013. They became owners of the Rocky Ridge location two summers later.

Owning the “Cheers” of Vestavia

“We consider ourselves, and this is reiterated by our customers, that this is the ‘Cheers’ of Vestavia,” Will said. “They can come and take off their mask and really be themselves, and they don’t have to be a version of themselves that they think is expected of them in their everyday lives.” From the first time a customer walks in, Will said, they become a part of the family. “We’re also a place like your second home,” Josh said. “We want you to feel like you can literally lay back, relax, fall asleep. This is your home.” As men of faith, they both agree that the restaurant has been a blessing for them to have and gives them a way to make intentional connections with the community. “We’re men of faith, and we are proud,” Will said. “We boldly speak that not just into our business but our team, our everyday life. … We

Journal photo by Ingrid Schnader

By Ingrid Schnader

can agree, Will said they have seasons where it can get tiring and frustrating. “As with any family, sometimes you’ve seen them for more than you’d like to for a certain period of time,” he said. “We’ve found a healthy balance of how to work day in and day out with each other. We’ve had rough seasons, but we’ve learned, and we’ve grown closer to each other because of that. Our relationship has never been better.” Moving to Los Angeles together during the Great Recession in ’08 also gave the brothers a sense of humility. “To be able to get through it relatively unscathed, it gives me a greater sense of appreciation for life in general,” Will said. “And, again, being men of faith, doing what God’s calling me to do and not to take anyBrothers William and Josh Bruner both agree that the restaurant has thing for granted.” been a blessing for them to have and gives them a way to make Even though the move intentional connections with the community. to Los Angeles didn’t go exactly as planned, Will use this as a foundation to be able to not just said he wouldn’t change it for the world because make a living but also reach the community and of where he is today. The stress of Los Angeles beyond that community. We boldly speak who prepared the brothers for the stress of a busy we are and where we come from and what we Friday night at Johnny Brusco’s. believe, but we don’t push.” “Josh and I have learned to love it,” Will “We have been able to not only implement said. “The pressure and the stress was a little our faith, but also encourage and really lay the overbearing out in Los Angeles at times, espefoundation of the atmosphere we want and cially for auditions. … You have to learn how to believe the community not only needs but calls deal with rejection. At first it made us a bit for,” Josh added. standoffish and callous, even though we’re perLaughing, Will said they’re not just restaurasonable, but now we’re at the point where we’ve teurs, they are babysitters, therapists and taxi embraced that stress and come to understand drivers. that a lot of stress is self-inflicted.” “Parents call all the time, ‘Have you seen my Celebrating 10 Years kid?’” Will said. “‘Yeah, he just ran through In December, the Rocky Ridge location will here. I think he might be in the game room.’ … be celebrating its 10th year as a Johnny As I’ve said to many people, we terrorized the Brusco’s, and the twins say they aren’t going neighborhood growing up, so now it’s our turn anywhere. to give back. It’s our honor to serve.” “As I say to a lot of customers, I’ll probably Working Together die here,” Will said, laughing. As restaurant owners, the Bruner twins hardThe restaurant has an official Liverpool socly ever get a day off. They wear all of the hats: cer supporters group, and the brothers have hostthey’re in the kitchen taking pizza pies out of ed and intend to continue hosting game events. the oven, at the register ringing up customers or They had a full house for the kickoff party this in the bathroom scrubbing toilets. Josh and Will summer. say that working with a twin brother in a setting “There’s something to be said about celebratlike this is a humbling experience. ing and being together when you’re doing some“To be able to work day in and day out with thing you love,” Will said. family, we have gotten to the point in our lives Both agree that they are thankful to learn where we realize family is where it’s at,” Josh every day and grow as business owners. said. “And that also helps keep us accountable “To be able to get to do what we love to do, and allows us to grow, not only as men of busiday in and day out, that’s something that we pray ness, but as family members. And that enhances for and would wish for everyone,” Will said. the atmosphere and enhances the effect it has on “We don’t see this as a job, we see this as a the community.” calling,” Josh said. “And we serve people As anyone who works with a family member because we love to serve.”

Journal photo by Jordan Wald

After Chasing Tinsel in LA, Twin Brothers Find Their Passion Making Pizzas in Vestavia Hills

Automatic Seafood & Oysters owners Suzanne and Adam Evans.


Automatic Seafood & Oysters, which opened in Birmingham April 2019, was named among the best new restaurants in the country by two national publications this month. In a Nov. 13 article in Esquire, Automatic was recognized as No. 8 out of 22 Best New Restaurants in America. This story will run in print in Esquire’s Winter issue, on newsstands Dec. 3. “The oysters were fresh, the A.S.O. cocktail was cold, and dishes like a crispy fish collar with Calabrian chili butter and flaky fish ribs with Alabama white sauce floored me with their direct-hit deliciousness,” wrote the reporter, Jeff Gordinier. “Chef Adam Evans, a product of Muscle Shoals, is paying homage to a specifically southern tradition of seafood cookery, and he’s doing it in a spacious, wide-windowed room that feels like a boat club where nobody’s a snob,” he said. A week later, Nov. 19, Thrillist announced that Automatic was included in its 2019 list for the Best New Restaurants in America. This list of 12 restaurants was curated by a group of six experts who chose establishments that represent American culture and that push food forward creatively. Erin Murray reviewed Automatic. “Chef Adam Evans is all about local fish, especially the spiny ones, so order the simply roasted Kitty Mitchell grouper and crispy whole yellowtail snapper,” Murray wrote. “Twirl around in lunch counter-style chairs at the bar, holding your mint-garnished highball up against the IG-ready tropical print wallpaper.” Visit to learn more about this up-and-coming restaurant.


A new restaurant serving Louisiana cuisine is coming soon to Hoover. Walk-On’s Bistreaux & Bar was established in Louisiana by a pair of walk-on players on the Louisiana State University basketball team, Brandon Landry and Jack Warner. They opened their first restaurant in 2003 and have since expanded across the Southeast. Menu items include tacos, salads, burgers, po boys and specialties such as VooDoo Shrimp & Grits, Cajundillas, Bayou Pasta and Mardi Gras Mahi. This will be Walk-On’s third Alabama location. Other Alabama Walk-On’s are in Mobile and

See FOOD NEWS, page 29


Thursday, November 28, 2019 • 29


Honeybee Wing Statue on Rotary Trail Honors Frank Stitt

By Ingrid Schnader

FOOD NEWS From page 28 Montgomery. The upcoming restaurant will be located at 6401 Tattersall Park Drive in Hoover. For more information, visit


Local entrepreneur Ed Finch is bringing a new wine concept to the Birmingham area with his new store, Finch Fine Wines, which celebrated a grand opening Nov. 19 at 2737 U.S. 280 South, Suite 144. Finch will take advantage of the online market and allow people to order wine at the click of a button and pick it up at the store, typically the next business day. The employees will load customers’ orders directly into their cars. Finch said thousands of wines from all over the world will be available through the online ordering system. The store has many wines on site and can order far more wines online to fill customer’s needs. “From North America to Europe, or South America to Australia, if it is worthy of your palate, we will offer it,” he said in a release. The store is not just about ordering online, though. It’s a place customers can go to learn about the wines they are considering buying and aims to fill the void left by the closing of Western Supermarkets stores. Wendy Watts, who worked at Western in the wine shop, will be managing Finch’s new store. Todd Russel, who also worked with Watts at Western, is the store’s

Journal photo by Ingrid Schnader

“There is little that separates the culinary arts from the fine arts. One provides a feast for the stomach; the other a feast for the eyes,” Graham Boettcher, the R. Hugh Daniel director at the Birmingham Museum of Art, said in welcoming the crowd at the unveiling of a new sculpture on the Birmingham Rotary Trail. The sculpture, called Frank’s Table, honors local chef and James Beard award winner Frank Stitt and the contributions he has made to Birmingham’s culinary scene. Each year since 1997, the Alabama-Mississippi chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society chooses a leader in Birmingham to honor, and Stitt was this year’s choice. The MS Society then commissions a piece of artwork to commemorate the honoree while raising money for MS research and support.  “Leadership includes developing others, mentoring others and providing them with the tools they need to succeed,” said Jay Grinney, the 2018 campaign chairman for the sculpture. “We think about all the other fine

‘Pardis is the biggest part of my life and our restaurants. I think that the energy and the magic that is created is because of our love for what we are doing and our desire to want to share with you. So let’s open this table up — we want you all to sit down on it.’ – Frank Stitt

“So that was the metaphor for the whole work,” he continued, “two things coming together to be one thing. And you can see that metaphor way down the line in Frank and Pardis (Stitt’s wife) and everything that they do.” Stitt said Fitzpatrick’s work went beyond anything he could have hoped for. “The last couple of sunsets, we’ve been at the table with a little wine, some olives and focaccia,” Stitt said. “It’s truly a magical place here in Birmingham. Part of downtown, part of this community. “Pardis is the biggest part of my

life and our restaurants. I think that the energy and the magic that is created is because of our love for what we are doing and our desire to want to share with you. So let’s open this table up — we want you all to sit down on it.” To get to the sculpture, enter the Rotary Trail from the 24th Street entrance. Other sculptures from this campaign can be found throughout Birmingham, including at Regions Harbert Plaza, the Alabama Power Building, the McWane Center, the Daniel Building, the Financial Center, the Birmingham Museum of Art and the Birmingham Zoo.

R&R CRestline chefs and restaurants here in Birmingham that have made this such a fabulous destination for so many people, and without Frank, that would not be the case.” The sculpture is a table that serves as a base for a stainless-steel bee wing. It is surrounded by chairs so that the community can sit at Frank’s

Table. “I learned that the honeybee, in order to fly, its big wing and small wing have to act together,” artist Greg Fitzpatrick said. “So, the connectedness and togetherness that Frank wanted to express was perfectly expressed in the action of a honeybee.”

assistant manager. “At the end of the night, it’s about just enjoying a glass of wine,” Watts said in a statement. The store is open Mondays through Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Order ahead online at

seating from 16 seats to 40 and added a “Little Hero” area for kids’ dining and entertainment. “With the new dining room, we’ve also expanded our menu,” Paul Yeck from Pihakis Restaurant Group said. “We have more breakfast and lunch options that include more sandwiches and salads.” The Homewood storefront opened on Halloween 2017 at 3027 Central Ave. Visit for more information.


Renovations at Hero Doughnuts in Homewood have expanded the indoor

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30 • Thursday, November 28, 2019

Mountain Brook Village Ready for the Holidays Bromberg’s Christmas Tree, Open House, Christmas Parade


hroughout the holiday season, the Mountain Brook Chamber of Commerce and local merchants have been hosting open house events that provide festive community activities and encourage gift-givers to shop local. This year the Bromberg’s Christmas tree is scheduled to arrive on November 27th and will be lit on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, November 30th. It takes up to three days to add the combination of approximately 30,000 white and colored lights to the tree, which stay lit through New Year’s Eve. Next up on Dec. 5, Mountain Brook Village will host its Holiday Open House event from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. The city’s celebrations will culminate with the annual Christmas Parade on Dec. 8 beginning at 3 p.m.  The parade will begin at Office Park and travel through Mountain Brook Village, with floats decked out in holiday regalia and performances by Mountain Brook City Schools cheerleaders, dance teams and bands. Festivities continue with pictures with Santa and a pop-up story time under the Bromberg’s tree, hosted by Emmet O’Neal Library. For more information, visit —Emily Williams



ExVoto Vintage Jewelry Elizabeth Adams, above, created ExVoto Vintage Jewelry in 2009 after losing her youngest daughter to a brain tumor. ExVoto is vintage jewelry elements given a new story, and a portion of sales go to pediatric brain cancer research. Hand engraving or machine engraving is available for many items, making ExVoto a great source for personal gifts. Their Birmingham showroom is located in Mountain Brook Village and also carries apparel and shoes. You can order online with in-store pick up and free gift wrap! This season, ExVoto is offering $40 off the new Teri Necklace and Bracelet combination created from vintage chain and baroque pearl. ExVoto Vintage Jewelry is located at 2402 Canterbury Rd., 205-538-7301.

B. Prince Bezshan Dolatabadi, above, was the buyer for Betsy Prince for 34 years, and has owned the new B. Prince for four years. “Moving to Lane Park has been wonderful and we love being a part of the Mountain Brook shopping experience,” Bezshan said. B. Prince is a relationship built boutique catering to people with unique taste. “Our customer doesn’t want to look like everyone else, so we take an individual approach to fashion, targeting each person’s lifestyle and taste. We shop all over the world for our clothes,” Bezshan said. “We go to market in Paris twice a year.” B. Prince is an upscale boutique carrying apparel, shoes and accessories. “We like to say Be Beautiful - B. Prince,” he said.

Fall Sale

Journal file photo by Jordan Wald

Custom engraving available for personalized gifts. Complimentary shipping and giftwrap.

This year the Bromberg’s Christmas tree is scheduled to arrive on November 27th and will be lit on the Saturday after Thanksgiving.


starting Monday, November 25th

271 Rele Street

Lane Parke • 871-1965

“We plan to have the store stocked with everything LUSH this season! Great items for gifts as well as your personal style. We’ll be open Sundays in December from 1-5 p.m. for extra shopping hours. “Come join us for some great special events. On Friday, Nov. 29, come in early for shopping and enjoy ‘Breakfast with The Prince.’ We’ll have drawings for discounts from 10-50 percent every hour from 9 a.m. - 12 p.m., and you can shop and enjoy savory treats. “Thursday, Dec. 5 is the Mountain Brook Village Open House, 5-8 p.m. We’ll have catered refreshments and wine - come see us!” B. Prince is located at 271 Rele St., Lane Park, 205-871-1965.

Please join us Friday, November 29th for 'Breakfast Meaningful and Memorable with the Prince' Gifts Made in Alabama Opening at 9:00 Custom engrave the Christy Slide Pendant with for early shopping a personal message. $249 plus engraving fee. and savory treats! (Deadline to order for Christmas delivery is December 18).



“Continuing a longtime tradition, we are looking forward to the arrival and lighting of our Village Christmas Tree. This year the tree is scheduled to arrive on Nov. 27 and will be lit on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, Nov. 30,” said Ricky Bromberg, whose family owns Bromberg’s in Mountain Brook Village and at The Summit. “Our 30-foot tree is brought down from North Carolina each year the day before Thanksgiving.  You may see the crane that it requires to stand the tree up on the lawn in front of our Mountain Brook store as you drive through the Village. It takes up to three days just to add the beautiful combination of approximately 30,000 white and colored lights to the tree, which stay lit through New Year’s Eve.  “Over the years we have enjoyed seeing people stop to enjoy the Bromberg’s Village Christmas Tree,” said Bromberg. “We have also enjoyed seeing the many photos posted on social media in front of the tree. Stopping for photos in front of the tree seems to have become a holiday tradition for many families, couples and friends. “Because of this, we try to add to the fun with a photo contest on social media. We are

Thursday, November 28, 2019 • 31


encouraging anyone who posts a picture with our beautiful tree to Instagram, Facebook or Twitter to use the hashtag #brombergstree (made public) in their post.” All posts of pictures with the tree and that hashtag will be entered into a drawing to win a $500 Bromberg’s gift certificate. people without a social media presence would like to enter the contest they can email a photo in front of the tree to with the words “Bromberg’s Tree” in the subject line. The prize will be awarded on Christmas Eve.” Bromberg’s Mountain Brook is located at 2800 Cahaba Rd., 205-871-3276. The Summit location is at 131 Summit Blvd., 205-969-1776.

Beverly Ruff Antiques & The Village Poodle Beverly Ruff Antiques and The Village Poodle are unique shops in the heart of Mountain Brook Village on Canterbury Road. Chandeliers, gifts, loungewear, jewelry, and baby gifts are just a few of the items you will find in Beverly Ruff Antiques. Across the street is The Village Poodle, appropriately named for Beverly Ruff, above, and store manager Hillary Kent’s standard poodles. A visit to “The Poodle” promises not only stylish women’s clothing, jewelry, and gifts, but also a chance to be greeted by Prissy or Lulu…the Poodles.

“We are looking forward to our open house on Thursday, December 5 from 1-8:00 p.m.,” said Beverly. “Jewelry designer Olga King of Memphis, Tennessee will be at The Village Poodle with her exceptional jewelry line. Count on a fun shopping experience as well as your gifts being beautifully wrapped at these stores!” Beverly Ruff is located at 2417 Canterbury Rd., 205-871-7872. The Village Poodle is located at 2410 Canterbury Rd., 205-4235443.


Trunk Show The Village Poodle

December 5th 1 - 8pm

Meet Russian native jewelry designer Olga King of Memphis

2417 Canterbury Rd Mountain Brook Village 871-7872

2410 Canterbury Road Mountain Brook Village 423-5443

32 • Thursday, November 28, 2019



The Happy Olive

Stepping into the Happy Olive might just take you away - with the aroma of the same oils and vinegars that captivate owners Vickie and Richard Bailey, right, on their travels across Europe. With family on their very own Italian olive orchard in Northern Italy, an appreciation of freshly-harvested artisan oils and the healthy Mediterranean diet came naturally. Sharing that culinary passion is the goal of the store the Baileys

Christine’s on Canterbury

Christine’s on Canterbury, nestled just behind Gilchrist on Canterbury Road, is filled with new gift selections, as well as some of the familiar items always in stock. A large selection of paper products is available. “Our new addition of napkins and guest towels from Italy has been in great demand,” said store owner, Jean Clayton, pictured above. To the touch it feels like fabric but is paper. Always popular are the fragrances, but Clayton said that additions have been made with all-natural and eco-friendly lines. Beeswax candles are both natural and festive, and frames are increasingly popular, Jean said. Christine’s carries one of the largest selections of frames in the Birmingham area with prices ranging from moderate to expensive. “We have a broad selection of popcorn flavors

available for the perfect stocking stuffer,” Jean said. “MacKenzie-Child’s continues to expand with new introductions. Bed, bath and table linens from Yves Delorme and Le Jacquard Francais have been a staple for over 40 years.” Christine’s offers a small, European-style shopping experience. Color is abundant with options for all price ranges and free specialty gift wrapping. “We have always felt that the wrap is as important as the gift. Caspari designs are carefully selected for each season,” Jean said. “As many of our customers say, ‘It isn’t Christmas without a gift from Christine’s.’” Christine’s on Canterbury is located at 2404 Canterbury Rd., 205-871-8297.


opened in 2012 featuring handselected oils, infused vinaigrettes, spices, small-batch gourmet mustards, a variety of local products and more. “It’s really a social, sensory shopping experience,” said Vickie. For the past seven years, The Happy Olive has served artisan oils, blended balsamic vinegars, spices and more, at their original location in Fairhope, adding locations in Mobile and Orange Beach along the way. In October, the Baileys opened their fourth storefront, in Mountain Brook Village’s Lane Parke. “Explore our collection of gifts your foodie will love and check our calendar of private tast-

ings and cooking demonstrations. “We’re not just about oils and vinegars, but all kinds of foodie gifts as well. Our smallbatch gourmet mustard is crafted by hand we’re one of a handful of mustard sommeliers in the country. Come see us for olive bruschetta; Happy Olive veggies, sauces and jams; Etta B Pottery and Ronaldo Jewelry, too. Our holiday baskets make the perfect gift!” Happy Olive is located at 261 Rele St. - Lane Parke, Mountain Brook, 205-703-9003.




gift baskets oil & vin combos teas & seasonings handcrafted gourmet mustard ronaldo jewelry - etta b finds for every foodie!

Start a tradition or add to your collection. Hand made and painted for over 100 years, cherubic musician angels to hang on the tree or collect for a complete orchestra. Available at

2405 Canterbury Road • 205-871-8297

261 Rele Street - Lane Parke - Mountain Brook (205) 703-9003 holiday hours: Mon - Sat 10:30am to 6pm/ Sun 12 - 4pm shop our webstore -

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Thursday, November 28, 2019 • 33


The Cook Store

Whether it is a diamond engagement ring, anniversary earrings or a special piece for your day, JB & Co can help you collect your heirloom.

JB & Co

JB & Co is a jewelry boutique owned and operated by Personal Jeweler John Bromberg. His boutique honors a return to an old-world artisan approach to fine jewelry. In an industry that is increasingly focused on mass production, JB & Co chooses instead to focus on the unique with specialties that include bridal, custom and estate jewelry. John Bromberg personally works with his clients to select or create just the right piece for the occasion, always adhering to your style and budget. Whether it is a diamond engagement ring, anniversary earrings or a special piece for your day, JB & Co can help you collect your heirloom. His selection of jewelry comes from destinations far and wide, from the finest houses such as Bulgari, Cartier, Hermes and Tiffany, as well as designers Elizabeth Locke, Raymond Yard, Lalaounis, Judith Ripka, Mikimoto, David Yurman, John Hardy, Rolex and more.   John Bromberg, a sixth-generation jeweler, with decades of extensive experience and longstanding relationships, offers the unique opportunity for his clients to purchase fine jewelry at an exceptional value. “Collect with us,” John Bromberg said. JB & Co. is located at 1 Office Park Circle, Ste. 201, 205-478-0455.

The Cook Store is a kitchen specialty shop featuring functional pottery, pots, pans and gadgets for cooking and entertaining, and recently won an Alabama Retailer of the Year award. “The Cook Store has been a fixture in Mountain Brook since 1975,” said owner Wesley Lassen, right, with shop dog Lucy. The Cook Store exclusively carries pottery skilMarguerite’s Conceits lets and sauce Marguerite’s Conceits is a specialty boupans from tique featuring fine linens, pajamas, robes and The Pottery Works that are stovetop safe on both gas or electric lounge wear, bath and body products, candles, diffusers and aromatherapy products. cooktops. The store also offers kitchen linens, “We also carry Cinda b luggage and bakeware, cookware and more. PurseN travel accessories for gals on-the-go,” “You can choose from All Clad stainless steel said owner Marguerite Ray, pictured above. cookware, Doughmakers bakeware, Wusthof “Our Holiday Open House is Dec. 5 from knives and pottery from local potters like Tena 5-8 p.m. Come enjoy a festive refreshment, and Payne of Earthborn Studios and Gidge Black enter for a drawing for a super soft and snugPottery,” she said. gly Pine Cone Hill bath robe! “We are looking forward to a crazy holiday “For the holidays, we have a new collection season of selling, selling, selling and wrapping, of outerwear apparel, scarves, gloves, ponchos wrapping and more wrapping. We have lots of and wraps, which are perfect for our mild wingreat gift ideas for the person who has everything ters and also for gift giving. Our customer serand the person who doesn’t have enough. Come check out our pottery, great gadgets, wood, holiday vice can’t be beat and, of course, we offer beautiful complimentary gift wrapping. Many towels, melamine serving pieces and dishes and small gift items are pre-wrapped and ready to lots more gift items. Our Holiday Open House is Dec. 5, 5-7 p.m. We will be open for the parade on go - perfect for teachers, friend or hostess gifts.” Dec. 8.” Marguerite’s Conceits is located at 2406 The Cook Store is located at 2841 Cahaba Rd. Canterbury in Mountain Brook Village, 205-879-5277. t h e c o o tkhRd., set 205-879-2730. oc roeo’ k s store’s




AND TWO SPECIAL GUESTS CarolynWilliams, Williams, RD Artist Carolyn PhD, RD PhD, RD Artist GidgeArtist BlackGidge CarolynPhD, Williams, GidgeBlack Black James Beard Winner & Author Gidge Black Pottery James Beard Winner & Author Pottery James Beard Winner & Author Gidge Black Gidge Black Pottery 2841 Cahaba Road | Mtn Brook Village | 205-879-5277 | 2841 Cahaba Road | Mtn Brook | 205-879-5277 | 2841 Cahaba Road | Village Mtn Brook Village | 205-879-5277 |

Cute and comfy pjs for all the gals on your list!



To: Wesley From: Over The Mountain Journal, 205-823-9646 ph., 205-824-1246, fax Date: Nov. This is your AD PROOF from the OVER THE MOUNTAIN JOURNAL for the Nov. 28, 2019 issue. JEWELRY BOUTIQUE

Please make sure all information is correct, including address and phone number! 2406 Canterbury road | Mountain brook Village | 879.2730

If we have not heard from you by 5 pm of the Friday before the press date, your ad will run as is. We print the paper Monday.

Thank you for your prompt attention.



Only 26 more shopping days til Christmas!

“The Magic of Old St. Nick: Good Friends, Good Earth” children’s book and felt red bird gift bag set, by Vietri, $50. Bromberg’s, Mountain Brook, 205-871-3276; The Summit, 205-969-1776.

18K Italian estate bracelet with single diamond link. AMW, Inc., 205-870-3588. Teri Bracelet & Necklace Combination, $309. ExVoto Vintage Jewelry, 205-538-7301.

Deck your halls with framed contemporary Blue Nudes, $195. Easel sold separately. Roman Brantley Art and Antiques, 205-460-1224.

Dubarry-Bracken sport jacket, in Heath tweed 100% wool with a suede collar, front zipper placket and brass buttons. Made in Ireland and perfect for the outdoor lady in your life, $599. Caliber, 205-917-5800.

A sleek and super chic way to instantly elevate any outfit. The Le Pouch handbag by Thacker NYC allows you to multiply your styling options. Carry it by the golden rings or wear as a shoulder bag/crossbody, $148, assorted colors available. Gus Mayer, 205-870-3300.

Johnny Was sleep set, $150. B. Prince, 205-871-1965.

Ronaldo bracelets, handcrafted in the U.S.A., starting at $48. Happy Olive, 205-703-9003.

Maggie Louise chocolate lipsticks always spark surprise and a smile. A mix of premium dark, milk and white chocolate, starting at $20. Christine’s on Canterbury, 205-871-6611.

“Leffy’s Christmas Gift” is a festive fable full of love and giving. Book, $13, and elf, $26, sold separately. Baker Lamps & Linens, 205-981-3330.

Revision Skincare: Revox 7 & DEJ Eye, $199, with black/metallic cosmetic bag. Total Skin & Beauty, 205-933-0987.

A gift membership in the Friends of Birmingham Botanical Gardens is a wonderful way to celebrate friends, family, neighbors and colleagues., 205-414-3950.

1” silver leather cuff bracelet with 3 freshwater pearls and pearl button closure, $160. Jordan Alexander Jewelry, 205-868-1391.  

Alabama gift box includes: Fairhope Favorites pistachios, peanut brittle, Merry’s cheddar cheese crisps, Royal Cup coffee, Peanut Depot peanuts, Peggy’s buttery cookies, Priester’s pecans, G Momma Cookies and zesty snack mix, $49, free shipping. Alabama Goods, 205-803-3900.

Your holiday table setting will be stunning with 8 sterling silver goblets, $995. Tricia’s Treasures, 205-871-9779.

For the Barbie collector on your list, Barbie ‘70s Cher Bob Mackie Collector Black Label, $95. Mary Charles Doll House, 205870-5544.

Unique Pendants made from Vintage Stick Pins, starting at $345. Levy’s Fine Jewelry, 205-252-3381.


Thursday, November 28, 2019 • 35

GIFT GUIDE The cook on your list will love serving favorite holiday recipes in red Vietri bakers, available in a large rectangle, $44; small rectangle, $34; and a small square, $34. Black Jack Gardens, 205-836-2933.

Avoid the frustration of tangled, wasteful, ordinary plastic wrap with ChicWrap Professional Plastic Wrap, the preferred choice of culinary professionals, chefs and food enthusiasts around the world, 250’ roll, $15. The Cook Store, 205-879-5277.

Rebecca Minkoff cream wallet, $58, and earrings, $10. Second Hand Rose, 205-979-7997.

For the Disney lover, Mary Frances and Disney collaborated to create these special handbags, $145-185. Marmi, 205-298-7633.

Women’s quilted vest in Dark Moss, $168, so warm and cozy. vineyard vines, 205-970-9758.

Jack Daniel’s Whiskey Praline Pecans combine the mellow and distinctive flavor of Jack Daniel’s Whiskey with nutritious pecans for an incredible taste, $13. The Dandé Lion, 205-879-0691.

32” strand of freshwater Keshi pearls, $635. Wallace-Burke Fine Jewelry, 205-874-1044.

Kendra Scott Jewelry, mention this gift idea and get 15% savings. John William Jeweller, 205-870-4367.

Crusty Cream Cheese Pound Cake, this classic, mouthwatering, moist on the inside but crusty on the outside pound cake is the people’s choice, $38.99, serves 12-24. Available in half, $19.50, serves 6-12. JaWanda’s Sweet Potato Pies, 205-874-9880.

Canvas and leather dopp kit for him, $29. Antiquities, 205-870-1030.

Glenwood’s Pecans for Autism Holiday Tower Favorites includes one pound of mammoth pecan halves, chocolate covered pecans, roasted and salted pecans and Southern pecan coffee, all packaged in holiday gift boxes, $80. Glenwood, 205-795-3353. Emerald Hare California Cabernet Sauvignon, 750 ml, $27, fresh, balanced and definitively “California.” Produced by young Southern winemakers who met in Boston and married in Napa. R&R Wine & Liquor Crestline, 205848-2080.

Share your Christmas spirit with a built in, outdoor, full size keg cooler, $1,699. Alabama Appliance, 205-777-5154.

Brio Collection walk-in closet with slanted shoe shelves, decorative drawers and polished nickel handles. Prices vary, call for free design and quote. Closets by Design, 205-777-4000.

Diamond station bracelets and necklaces, starting at $429. Available in yellow, rose and white gold. Shay’s Jewelers, 205-978-5880.

Soft Impressionistic Landscape painting by Jan Morgan, from $125$990. Sizes range from 12”X16” up to 48”X48”. Griffith Art Gallery, 205985-7969.

Not only for kids, the Disney wet brush quality soft detangler glides through tangles with ease, $18. Salon Summit, 205-518-0406.

Refillable butane lighters make a great gift, $45. Available in leather and metal. Illuminated A Candle Bar, 205-538-5366.

Turn the page for more GREAT HOLIDAY GIFT IDEAS!

36 • Thursday, November 28, 2019

Art Deco diamond and sapphire ring set in platinum. JB & Co., 205-478-0455.

Alabama Ornaments, made in Alabama, $14.99 each. george, inside Snoozy’s Kids, 205-871-2662.


Great with jeans and dresses, LFB Designs silk scarves by local designer Allison Manley. The Village Poodle, 205-423-5443.

Bring some cheer into your holiday home with these Christmas red birds, $13. Attic Antitques, 205-991-6887.

Fun and festive kitchen towels make great hostess gifts, $20. Marguerite’s Conceits, 205-879-2730.


Chirpy Top drip-free wine pourer creates smiles and helps avoid stains with a unique design that ‘chirps’ while you pour, $27.99. Wild Birds Unlimited, 205-823-6500.

The original lock necklace from Marla Aaron, found only at Etc…, starting at $130, with endless options to #lockiton. Etc…, 205-871-6747.

A set of Phillip Gavriel sterling silver blue topaz earrings, $210; necklace, $235; and bracelet, $400. Southeastern Jewelers, 205-980-9030.

ThermoWorks Thermometer for grilling, from $29.95-109.95. Alabama Gaslight and Grill, 205-870-4060.

The perfect gift for the perfect lady, a metallic tassel tote, $72, with Quay sunglasses, $55; a multi-plaid scarf, $32; and a navy zip-around wallet, $25. Ryan Reeve, 205-518-5010.

The ultra-soft Ugg blanket/throw, $98. Available in several colors. The Lingerie Shoppe, 205-871-8994.

Handmade in the Southeast, designer necklaces in 15” and 16”, $32.50. Clotheshorse, 205-823-9144.

They’ll be home for Christmas in this 2018 Mercedes Benz GLE 350. Cox & Co., 205-730-9222.

Santa will love his hot cocoa served in this small mug, $32. Earthborn Studios, 205-702-7055.

Wraps, $24.99, are one size fits most and can be worn in many ways. Flip Flops & What Nots, 205-967-7429.

Heirloom quality ornaments by Christopher Radko. Interiors by Kathy Harris, 205-970-4161.

©2019 Bulova. 97B189. BULOVA.COM





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Thursday, November 28, 2019 • 37


Shades Cahaba Teacher Plans Student Project to Paint Tunnel Mural By Ingrid Schnader Shades Cahaba Elementary School art teacher Lisa Holland is planning an art project for her students that people will be able to enjoy for years to come. She said she plans to hire an artist to draw a mural along the walls at the Shades Cahaba tunnel. Then she and her students will fill in the outline with paint during their class time. “I’ve been wanting to paint the tunnel for a while,” she said. “We’ve decorated the tunnel for Halloween. “This time last year, we ‘Harry Pottered’ the tunnel.” Then Homewood Councilor Jennifer Andress approached her with the idea to paint a Homewood skyline in the tunnel, featuring landmarks such as the Regions Bank building, the Vulcan statue, Samford

University, Brookwood Hospital, Dave’s Pizza and Homewood Toy and Hobby. Andress also was one of the leaders behind the pedestrian bridge project on Hollywood Boulevard. Holland is working with Andress and the rest of the council and said the project could be finished by next spring. The council approved an $843.66 budget Nov. 4 to help fund the project. Inside the tunnel, each side is a 738-square-foot gray wall. Leading down into the tunnel there also is a blank wall on which Holland plans to write the “Shades Cahaba Way,” which contains six life lessons for students at the school. Holland said that all of her students, grades K-5, will be able to help out with the project. “They’re excited to get started on it, and I am too,” she said.

Mountain Brook High School

The 2019 Mountain Brook High School homecoming court was presented during halftime on Oct. 25 as the Spartans took on the Hoover Bucs. Senior Lowery Thompson, above with her father Brent Thompson, was crowned Homecoming Queen. She was joined by attendees recognized at each grade level, including Julia Abele and Mallory Baxley, sophomores; Ebbie Stutts and Falcon Wiles, juniors; and Elizabeth Connor and Lourdes Rodriguez, seniors.

Hoover High School

As the Hoover High School Bucs paused for halftime in a homecoming game against Oak Mountain High School on Sept. 20, the school’s 2019 homecoming court was presented. Senior Olivia Heywood was crowned Hoover’s 2019 homecoming queen, with Caleb Higey serving as King, right. Heywood and Higey were joined by attendees recognized at each grade level: Ella Knighton, freshman; Emily Hofmann, sophomore; Claire Jun, junior; and Josephine Kim, senior.

Photo courtesy Vestavia Hills Board of Education

Mountain Brook Schools Board Recognizes Teachers of the Year

From left, Michael Sinnott, Kathy Knickrehm, Lori Reeves, Tiffany Marron, Jennifer Dawsey, Martha Martin and Kelly Bagby.

VHCS Honors 2020-‘21 Teachers of the Year

The Vestavia Hills Board of Education recently recognized several teachers and administrators as Teachers of the Year. Elementary Teacher of the Year is Lori Reeves of Vestavia Hills Elementary West, and secondary Teacher of the Year is Michael Sinnott of Vestavia Hills High School. Reeves has been on the faculty for the Vestavia Hills school system since 2016, teaching third grade at VHEW.

Sinnott teaches English at VHHS and serves as the sponsor for the school’s Mock Trial Team. Both Reeves and Sinnott will now be considered for Alabama Teacher of the Year. In addition, the board on Oct. 28 recognized Teachers of the Year for each school: Jennifer Dawsey, VH Elementary East; Tiffany Marron, VH Elementary Cahaba Heights; Martha Martin, VH Elementary Liberty Park; Kelly Bagby, VH Elementary Dolly Ridge; Kathy Knickrehm, Pizitz Middle School; and Chassi Waddell, LP Middle School.

At a board of education meeting on Nov. 18, the Mountain Brook City Schools board recognized a teacher from each school in the system as 2020-‘21 Teacher of the Year for the school. The school board will recognize one elementary teacher and one secondary teacher in the coming months who will serve as the district’s representatives in the statewide competition. Representing Brookwood Forest Elementary is Caroline Peek, who teaches second grade. She has been a member of the school’s faculty for more than 10 years, is a graduate of Auburn University and earned her master’s in elementary education at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Speech-language pathologist Sarah Jackson will represent Cherokee Bend Elementary. After earning two degrees at the University of Alabama, she began working with preschool and schoolage children at Glenwood Autism and Behavior Health Center. This is her seventh year at Cherokee Bend. Amanda Johnson will represent Crestline Elementary. Johnson is a fifth

Rehab Reality... By Judy Butler

Holiday Drama

Photo courtesy Hoover high School

Art teacher Lisa Holland has wanted to paint the Shades Cahaba tunnel that runs under U.S. Highway 31 “for a while.”

Journal photo by Lee Walls

Journal photo by Jordan Wald

Homecoming Celebrations

grade science teacher and focuses on STEM learning. She has been an educator for more than 20 years and is a graduate of the University of Montevallo. Mountain Brook Elementary’s representative will be kindergarten teacher Kelsey Frey. She is a graduate of the University of Montevallo and recently earned a master’s in library media from Jacksonville State. Mountain Brook Junior High’s teacher of the year is visual arts teacher Jimmy McGowan. He is the founder and director of Big Art Camp and serves as arts coordinator for Samford University’s Academy of the Arts. He is a graduate of UAB with a master’s in art education. Brock Rotter, 12th grade government and economics teacher, will represent Mountain Brook High School. He is a graduate of Auburn and has been teaching since 1998, except for a break between 2005 and 2009, and has served on the MBHS faculty since 2012.


The Holiday Cards Issue Dec. 12th!

Oh joy! It’s that time of year everyone looks forward to – NOT. The commercialization of the holidays can create stress to perform. Perhaps worse is the drama that family members create when they get together. Thanksgiving is supposed to be about being thankful for what we have, and Christmas or Hanukkah is the celebration of a rededication of life. But every year it seems like the meanings slip away a little more. There’s so much pressure from all around, it’s no wonder people drink or seek other means to escape. Having a glass of wine or a mixed drink at the end of a stressful day can be what some people use to relax. However, those who find that one drink leads to a second or third and so on should take stock of his or her life. Maybe it’s time to really be honest with one self before it’s too late. We accept the fact that no one plans on becoming an addict therefore there’s no shame in getting help just as one would do with another disease or health issue. If there are missing time slots in the memory of the night before or a bruise that can’t be explained … or the need to have that morning drink to ‘get going’ or to prevent trimmers it’s probably time to get help. Drama isn’t limited to the holidays; it can be a part of everyday life for some. Finding the right tools for handling it should be a priority. Call me today and give the greatest gift of the season to yourself or someone you love.

38 • Thursday, November 28, 2019



Memories are Made of This Former Players Reminisce on their Favorite Plays from the Iron Bowl

GREGG CARR Auburn linebacker, 1981–1984

“My favorite memory was in 1982 when we beat Alabama 23-22 in the “Bo Over the Top” game. That was my happiest moment as a player because Auburn hadn’t won against Alabama in a while. That day is special.” (Carr lives in Mountain Brook.)

caught the ball and went in for a 49-yard touchdown, but they said I stepped on the line before I caught the ball and I couldn’t come back in and catch the ball. That was a real big play. It happened in the third quarter and we were down 17-7. That would have made it 17-13. We did score a touchdown later in the game and that’s how it ended up, 17-13.” (Gossom lives in Ft. Walton, Florida, but frequently comes to Birmingham to visit his father.)

MIKE CLEMENTS Alabama defensive back, 1977-1980

“The 1968 game where (Tide linebacker) Mike Hall changed his No. 54 jersey to a tight end jersey number and caught a touchdown pass. That was a great feeling to win (24-16) in my sophomore year!” (Langston lives in Birmingham.)

“My favorite memory was watching our offense go down the field and score in the last three minutes to beat them in the 1979 game. We were undefeated and everything was on the line. Our offense had not had much success all day. It was the fourth quarter and do our die. They drove the length of the field and scored a touchdown and we won 25-18.” (Clements lives in Homewood.)

THOM GOSSOM Auburn receiver, 1972-1974

PATRICK NIX Auburn quarterback, 1992-1995

GRIFF LANGSTON Alabama receiver, 1968-1970

“The touchdown I had called back in 1974. It was a helluva play. Everybody always asks me about that play. It was a great game. I felt like it was the first time we could match talent with Alabama while I was there. Mike Washington, their cornerback, had a pick six against us the year before when he jumped an out route. We decided to go with an out and up. I

“My favorite memory was the 1995 game because it was my last one. The favorite play of my life was taking a knee on my last play ever against them.” Auburn won 31-27. (Nix lives in Pinson.)

BOBBY HUMPHREY Alabama running back, 1985-1988

“My favorite memory was the Van Tiffin kick in the 1985 game my

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freshman season. It was the most emotional roller coaster I’ve ever experienced. There were six lead changes in the fourth quarter.” Tiffin’s 52-yard field goal as time expired gave Alabama a 25-23 victory. (Humphrey lives in Hoover.)

NEIL CAUDLE Auburn quarterback, 2006-2010

“I’ll give you two. When I was playing, it’s when Philip Lutzenkirchen scored the winning touchdown in the 2010 game. The whole year was dramatic. We were behind a lot and it always came down to the end. To be able to come back and win that game (28-27) was incredible. As far as a fan – I’m a lifelong Auburn fan – was in the 2005 game when we sacked (Alabama quarterback) Brodie Croyle 11 times. I was at that game. That’s the most fun I’ve ever had at a game. I’ll never forget that.” Auburn won 28-18. (Caudle lives in Birmingham.)

STAN WHITE Auburn quarterback, 1989-1993

“I guess I’ve got a couple. Playingwise, my senior year (in 1993) I got hurt, but we went undefeated, beating the defending national champions. Three or four ranking systems gave us the national championship. The other was my freshman year (1989). I didn’t play that year, but that was the first year the game was down at Auburn. I’ve never been to a sporting event any louder than that day.” (Auburn defeated the previously undefeated and No. 2-ranked Crimson Tide 30-20.) “As a broadcaster it was the ‘Kick Six’ game in 2013 with all that happened.” (Auburn’s Chris Davis fielded an Alabama missed field goal in the end zone and returned it for a touchdown on the final play of the game, giving Auburn a 34-28 victory.) “That’s the greatest ending ever in any sport.” (White lives in Birmingham.)


The Holiday Cards Issue Dec. 12th!

Journal photo by Marvin Gentry

Editor’s Note: The Over The Mountain Journal asked several former Alabama and Auburn football players from the Birmingham metropolitan area what their favorite memory was from the Iron Bowl and why. Here are their responses:

In his final game as a Buc, Robby Ashford (16) finished with 298 yards on 17 completions in 41 attempts in Hoover’s 35-21 loss to Thompson last Friday.

‘Things Happen for a Reason’ Ashford Emotional as Hoover’s State Football Playoff Run Ends at Thompson

By Solomon Crenshaw Jr.

The last time Robby Ashford left Warriors Stadium in Alabaster, the Hoover quarterback felt the pain of a broken foot. The senior signal-caller had staked the Bucs to a lead against Thompson before the home team stormed back for 48-30 victory on Sept 6. The rematch in the Class 7A state semifinals last Friday would produce a greater pain, the anguish that came with falling short of the annual Hoover goal of playing for a state championship. For the second year in a row, the Bucs will be home for the state title game because Thompson knocked them off, this time with a 35-21 score. Thompson (11-1) will play CentralPhenix City (12-1) in the Class 7A championship game for the second consecutive season on Dec. 4 at 7 p.m. at Auburn’s Jordan-Hare Stadium. Ashford came out of the semifinal loss in the final minute and wept in the arms of head coach Josh Niblett. As the Hoover coach turned his attention to the closing seconds of the game, Ashford continued to cry, lamenting missed opportunities and the reality that he had played his final high school football contest. “This hurts a lot more than me breaking my foot,” Ashford said when he finally composed himself. “It’s the last high school game I’ll ever play at Hoover. I’m thankful for the four years I had here. I wouldn’t trade it for the world.” Ashford, an Ole Miss commit, said he’s not usually an emotional guy. “It just has to be a certain thing and this is one of them,” he said, “knowing I’ll never put on a Hoover football jersey again.” Friday’s outcome marked the fourth time in the past six meetings Thompson has gotten the best of Hoover. Before that, the Bucs were 21-0 against the Warriors. The Bucs reached the Class 6A or 7A championship game 16 times since 2000 and won the blue state championship trophy in 11 of those appearances. They had some chances to take control in the semifinal after the first half ended in a 14-14 tie. Hoover got two defensive stops early in the third quarter. First, they blocked a punt and got the ball at the Thompson 19. Later,

Kory Chapman picked off Warriors quarterback Sawyer Pate. Each time, Hoover came away with no points on their red-zone opportunities, throwing an interception and missing a field goal. “If we can come away with points there, we may have an opportunity to maybe grab the momentum,” Niblett said. “We let them grab it back.” The Warriors responded with an 80-yard scoring drive after the missed field goal, capped by Pate’s 7-yard touchdown pass to Michael Pettway to take a 21-14 lead. The Bucs mounted a scoring threat of their own, but Thompson’s Antonio Mitchell’s 89-yard pick six interception return pushed the Warriors’ lead to 28-14 with a minute and a half to go in the third quarter. Ashford, who finished with 298 yards on 17 completions in 41 attempts, hit R.J. Hamilton with a 20-yard touchdown pass to cut the deficit to 28-21. But Ashford also threw three interceptions, including the third one that set up Brandon Franklin’s 1-yard touchdown run for the Warriors for the final margin. Pate, meanwhile, completed 20 of 28 passes for 233 yards and three touchdowns with an interception. “Our defense played their tails off tonight to give us an opportunity,” Niblett said. “I thought we played well on special teams. But there were times we needed to make a few plays and we couldn’t make a play.” Niblett turned emotional as he talked about the players who played their final game for the Bucs. “I love these seniors,” he said. “This time last year they made a decision that they were going to get back, give themselves an opportunity. I just hurt for them. “The biggest thing is it’s going to hurt right now. It’s going to hurt bad because they felt like they were supposed to win.” Ashford said he hated to have done the work he and his mates did and not come out on top. “At the end of the day, things happen for a reason,” Ashford said. “I’ve just got to see what God’s got in store for me. I was blessed to play with these guys and plus have the coaching staff I was able to play under for four years.”

Smelser Brings Winning Mindset to Vestavia Hills Girls Basketball Program

CARR From page 40

she led Mountain Brook to a schoolrecord 59 victories and the Alabama High School Athletic Association Class 7A state championship. The performance earned Carr the 2019 Over The Mountain Journal Volleyball Player of the Year honor in a vote of Over the Mountain volleyball coaches. She also was the 2018 OTMJ Volleyball Player of the Year. “She had a tremendous senior year,” Nichols said. “She set a school record for kills and, of course, she was the MVP for the state tournament.” Carr described her brilliant season as a team thing. “I was just playing to see what I needed to do to help us win,” she said. “I was playing whatever role the team needed me to play. Not winning (a state title) the past two years, I was just trying to step up big time for the team. “I am honored to receive all the rewards, but it’s a good reflection on my team. It’s never one player who wins the game. If it wasn’t for my

Journal photo by Jordan Wald

By Rubin E. Grant

John David Smelser was a star baseball player at HillcrestTuscaloosa High School. He was the Alabama Sports Writers Association’s 2007 Alabama Mr. Baseball. He also played baseball in college at Jacksonville State, Shelton State Community College and the University of Alabama. So, how did he wind up coaching high school basketball? Well, his mother, Sherri Blount Smelser, had a lot to do with that. “Basketball was my first love,” said Smelser, who was also Hillcrest’s starting point guard while in high school. “My mother was an assistant coach at Alabama. She was there with (former Tide women’s head coach) Rick Moody when they went to the (1994) Final Four, so I’ve always been around basketball.” This month, Smelser embarked on his first season as Vestavia Hills’ head girls basketball coach. The Rebels played seven games in the first two weeks of the season, posting a 5-2 record. “I think we play nine games before Thanksgiving,” Smelser said, referring to two more games earlier this week against Central-Tuscaloosa and Phillips in the Mountain Brook Turkey Jam. Smelser was named the Rebels’ head coach in the spring, replacing Laura Casey, who resigned following last season. Smelser researched the team and the community before applying for the job. “When the job came open, I start-

Thursday, November 28, 2019 • 39



This month, John David Smelser, above at a recent practice, embarked on his first season as Vestavia Hills’ head girls basketball coach.

ed watching film of them,” he said. “I was able to see how good they could be. I was excited to come coach these girls.” The city also was instrumental in the decision for him and his wife, Claire, to move to Vestavia Hills. “The community was a big part of attracting me to Vestavia, how closeknit it is, even though it’s a big high school,” Smelser said. “There’s a lot of school spirit here. Everybody loves the Rebels.”

Winning Record

Smelser comes to Vestavia Hills from Tuscaloosa Academy, where he led its girls basketball program to consecutive state championships in the Alabama Independent School Association in 2018 and 2019. His 2019 championship team was named the national champion by the National Athletic Association of Private teammates, I wouldn’t be getting these awards. I owe it to my teammates. It just shows the hard work and passion of my teammates.”

More OTMJ Members

Carr is one of four Mountain Brook players on the 2019 All-OTMJ team. Twins Ann, a setter, and Liz, a libero, Vandevelde and Greer Golden, a middle blocker, also were voted to the team. Spain Park landed three players on the team – outside hitters Audrey Rothman and Paris Morris and libero Lexie Fowler. Hoover had two players voted to the team, outside hitter Rya McKinnon and middle blocker Gabrielle Essix. Vestavia Hills setter Ainsley Schultz, Homewood middle hitter Olivia Brown and Oak Mountain middle hitter Zoe Atkinson round out the team. Nichols was voted Coach of the Year after guiding the Spartans to their first title since they won three consecutive crowns from 2014-2016. Of course, having Carr around was a major plus for Nichols, who just completed her third season as the Spartans’ head coach. She enjoyed watching Carr develop into a dominant player the past three seasons.

Schools. Smelser pointed to his players as being mostly responsible for both titles. “Great players make great coaches,” he said. “At TA, I had some great players. When you have great players, you have to hold them to a standard. When they’re not working hard, you have to push them every day to hold to the standard.” Smelser has brought the same approach to the Rebels. He wants his players to think defense first and offense second. The Rebels held each of their first seven opponents to fewer than 50 points. “The girls are learning a new system, so it’s a learning curve for them,” Smelser said. “I’ve got a good group to work with. They work hard and have bought in to what we’re doing. They give effort and are trying to get better every day. “She was a good player two years ago (as a sophomore), but this year she had fewer unforced errors, she was seeing the court better and she was swinging smart,” Nichols said. “She really matured and was consistent throughout the season. She developed into an allaround, steady player.” Carr was a freshman on Mountain Brook’s 2016 championship team. She said her maturity came with experience. “I think with time I had playing I was able to learn and grow from my mistakes and see what weaknesses I had,” Carr said. “That made me try to get better, to see what worked best on the court and see how to help the other girls.” She finished her career with 1,845 kills, 1,399 digs and 165 blocks.


“I have an aggressive defensive system. One of the things these girls do is get after it. They like playing defense.” The Rebels have a young team with only two seniors, 6-foot post player Arden Plugge and guard Anna Wood. Despite the youthfulness, Smelser likes the makeup of his roster. “We’ve got about nine or 10 girls, and any of them could start,” he said. “We really don’t have a first five.” Plugge has committed to UAB to play softball. “Arden is really athletic,” Smelser said. “She can run and shoot the ball.” Juniors Alison Stubbs and Josie Edwards bring versatility. “Alison is our most versatile player,” Smelser said. “She does everything. I think she’s one of the best defenders in the state. She plays soccer, so she understands angles and positioning. “Josie started a lot of games last year and she’s going to play a lot of minutes. She’s like Stubbs; she can play every position. She’s relentless.” Twins Emma Smith and Ally Smith, both sophomore guards, will see plenty of playing time. Freshmen Anna Towry, a guard, and Suzy Woodruff, a forward, also will contribute, as will sophomore guard Carley Smith and junior forward Julie Dixon. Vestavia Hills finished with an 18-10 record last season but didn’t advance beyond the area tournament. The Rebels compete in Class 7A, Area 6 along with Mountain Brook, Spain Park and Hewitt-Trussville. Smelser believes the Rebels can challenge for the area title and a postseason berth. “My expectations are to win now,” he said. “This is not a rebuilding type thing. We want to get to the playoffs.”

The Lions and Spartans will meet again. Briarwood (12-1) will play host to Pleasant Grove (12-1) Friday at 7 p.m. in the Class 5A semifinals. The winner will advance to the Super 7 Championships next week at Jordan-Hare Stadium on the Auburn campus. “It’s crazy that it actually came to fruition,” Forester said of the rematch. “We’re excited to be playing against them again.” The Lions earned their shot at a rematch with a 7-3 victory against previously unbeaten Bibb County last Friday in the quarterfinals at Lions Pride Stadium. Freshman quarterback Christopher Vizzina threw a 65-yard touchdown pass to Blake McKenna midway through the first quarter and the Lions’ defense held the Choctaws (12-1) to a lone field early in the fourth quarter. “We knew Bibb County had a tough, physical football team and we knew they had a good defense, and it was going to be low scoring,” Forester said. “We knew we had to stop the run, wrap up and tackle and not give up any big plays.” Briarwood has reeled off 11 consecutive wins since the loss to Pleasant Grove to reach the semifinals in Forester’s first year as head coach, replacing the legendary Fred Yancey. “I think you’ve seen how gritty and resilient our boys are,” Forester said. “The players are coming out and playing tough, physical football and doing what they need to do to win. It hasn’t always been pretty, but they’ve done a pretty good job of doing just enough.”

can do both. Who knows, she might change her mind.” If Carr’s volleyball career is over, what she’s going to miss most is her teammates. “I miss volleyball a lot already,” she said. “I miss the girls. You go from seeing them two or so hours a day to not seeing them much at all. I love my teammates.”

Nichols will certainly miss Carr next season. “I am going to miss her leadership as a player,” Nichols said. “She wasn’t always talking a lot, but she was a good presence on the court. Her guidance came through the way she played. She loved volleyball and she loved to win and that spilled over on the other players.”

From page 40


An End and a Beginning

Carr remains unsure about playing volleyball in college. She is an excellent student, carrying a 4.47 GPA and scoring 34 on the ACT. Nichols believes Carr would be a good player at the next level. “I don’t understand why she’s not going to play in college,” Nichols said. “She’s planning on majoring in engineering and she’s not sure if she



Ashford Emotional as Hoover’s State Football Playoff Run Ends at Thompson. Page 38


Thursday, November 28, 2019 ❖ OVER THE MOUNTAIN JOURNAL


Smelser Brings Winning Mindset to Vestavia Hills Girls Basketball Program. Page 39

‘Gritty, Resilient’ Lions Reach Class 5A Football Semifinals By Rubin E. Grant

Journal photo by Marvin Gentry

Briarwood Christian football coach Matthew Forester had a few choice words for Pleasant Grove coach Darrell LeBeaux after the two teams played in September. But it was an exchange of pleasantries instead of vitriol after the Lions fell 26-14 to the Spartans in a Class 5A, Area 4 contest. “I told him I hoped we would play again in the playoffs,” Forester said, recalling the conversation. “I told him they had a great team and if we played again it would mean we have both had great seasons.”

See BRIARWOOD, page 39


Dominant Carr Earns Player of the Year Honor as She Leads Mountain Brook to State Volleyball Title By Rubin E. Grant


race Carr doesn’t play volleyball for personal glory. For her, it’s all about the team. “Whenever I step on the court, I play for the team,” Carr said. “I don’t want to let anybody down.” Mountain Brook’s senior outside hitter didn’t let her team down for a moment this season. She brought her ‘A’ game to the court game in and game out.

In fact, in her three years as the Spartans’ head coach, Vickie Nichols said, she rarely saw Carr have an off night. “Over the course of three years, there was only a handful of times she played just OK,” Nichols said. “She always came ready to play.” Carr didn’t just play this season. She was dominant. She set a school-record for kills in a single season with 713, while recording personal highs in digs (583), blocks (53) and aces (86) as See CARR, page 39


Grace Carr, Mountain Brook Rya McKinnon, Hoover Audrey Rothman, Spain Park Paris Morris, Spain Park


Gabrielle Essix, Hoover Greer Golden, Mountain Brook Olivia Brown, Homewood Zoe Atkinson, Oak Mountain


Ann Vandevelde, Mountain Brook Ainsley Schultz, Vestavia Hills

Journal photo by Jordan Wald

MEMBERS OF THE 2019 ALL-OVER THE MOUNTAIN VOLLEYBALL TEAM are, front row, from left: Coach Vickie Nichols, Mountain Brook; Ann Vandevelde, Liz Vandevelde and Grace Carr, Mountain Brook; Lexie Fowler and Paris Morris, Spain Park. Back: Zoe Atkinson, Oak Mountain; Greer Golden, Mountain Brook; Gabrielle Essix, Hoover; Audrey Rothman, Spain Park; Olivia Brown, Homewood. Not pictured: Rya McKinnon, Hoover; Ainsley Schultz, Vestavia.


Liz Vandevelde, Mountain Brook Lexie Fowler, Spain Park


Grace Carr, Mountain Brook


Vickie Nichols, Mountain Brook

Briarwood’s Luke Prewett looks for running room in the Lions 7-3 victory against previously unbeaten Bibb County last Friday in the quarterfinals at Lions Pride Stadium.



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