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Cullman County

Take a county line paddle trip in a Mulberry state of mind Magnolias: essence of the South or ‘Beauty and the Beast’? Summer 2014 Complimentary

The Dodge House on the lake is a beautiful contradiction in terms


does It Like Bill

Always Committed To Serving Cullman Better 1940 Second Avenue NW Cullman AL 35055




‘Don’t give up’ applies to fishing (and life), but maybe not to eating privet


hile canoeing with me for an article, Clint Creel of Good Hope noted all the privet overtaking some of the banks along the Mulberry Fork. Didn’t used to be there, he said. Since then, I’ve noticed the shrub everywhere. With apologies to Chickfil-A, maybe our new state slogan should be “Eat more privet.” But, instead of more on privet, I’ll share a story about not giving up that I heard while talking to kids for an article Lee, Mason with big catch on high school bass fishing teams. In the final minutes of a tournament on Wheeler Lake, Cullman High senior Mason Jones already had a 6-pounder in the boat. As they left a creek heading for the weigh-in – already out of a nagging slump but still just shy of satisfied – teammate Lee Mattox spotted a tempting tree in the water. “There was something tugging on my heart from above, and I knew I was supposed to hit that spot,” Lee says. “You know how those things are.” They did a 180, he flipped his bait to the edge of the tree, and, instantly, something – something big – hit it. As he fought it, a four-foot gar surfaced in the immediate area. Lee’s heart sank. Not a gar! Then a big, beautiful bass jumped at the end of his line. Just as quickly, his heart soared. With Mason’s help, Lee got the 6.21-pounder in the boat. It won the big fish award for the tournament, besting Mason’s catch by an ounce, just because he listened to his heart and did not give up.

David Moore Publisher/editor 4


Besides writing part- time for Good Life Magazine, Steve Maze of New Canaan collects antiques and memorabilia. He now has another part-time job: teaching creative writing for Arab City Schools. Together they probably add up to a time-and-a-half job.

You’re not supposed to say a woman looks older than she is, but... Deb Laslie looks quite a few years older than 10. Or maybe that sign in front of Deb’s Bookstore says the business is celebrating being 10 years old. In that case, congrats. As for her age, she’s doing just fine.

Tony Glover has won the Daytona 500 three times as a NASCAR crew chief... opps. Wrong Tony Glover. The Tony Glover is coordinator of the Cullman County Extension Office. In his piece for this issue of Good Life Magazine he writes about magnolia trees.

Good Life’s advertising and art director, Sheila McAnear, seems nice but has a selfish side to her. She has three boys but likes cutting grass so much she won’t let them do yard work. Within minutes of finishing this issue of the magazine, she had cranked up her mower.

A few months ago, at his wife’s urging, publisher and editor David Moore grew something of a goatee. At his wife’s urging, he has now shaved it off. It probably says something about his ability to grow a beard... and maybe something about his ability to follow instructions.


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Good Fun

Rock the South, StrawberryFest, more

14 Good People

Lamberts aid soldiers’ families nationwide

18 Good Reads

One on the future, one on the wild West

20 Good ’n’ Green

The South’s ‘Beauty and the Beast’

22 Good Cooking

T.J. Hagan and Rob Werner on grilling

25 Good Eats

Rumors is adding a new twist to its name

28 A contradiction in terms

The Smith Lake home of Melissa and Kevin Dodge is quietly grand, rustically modern and DIY well-done

36 Fishing for your school On the cover, Clint Creel paddles his canoe into the Blue Hole area of the Mulberry Fork. Pictured here is the

steel fireplace in the lake home of Melissa and

Kevin Dodge. Photos are by David Moore.

Vinemont, Holly Pond, Fairview and Cullman are part of the growth in high school bass fishing teams

44 The Corn Thief

Jay Hugh Maze decided to get to the bottom of his disappearing corn, so he set a trap... for real

46 A Mulberry state of mind

That’s what you get on a beautiful day when you set out with a bunch of friends to paddle the county line

54 Out ’n’ About

Did you see the Easter Bunny?

David F. Moore Publisher/editor 256-293-0888 Sheila T. McAnear Advertising/art Director 256-640-3973

Vol. 1, No. 4 Copyright 2014 Published quarterly

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Get your passport for tasting and shopping in downtown How would you like an evening’s passport to downtown Cullman to sample craft beverages for a penny each? Hear live music? Maybe win a free dinner? How would you like to tell your husband (or wife) to “take a walk” while you get the opportunity to pick up good after-hours deals at more than 30 great shops in downtown? Called Hops & Shops, the monthly event sponsored by the Cullman Area Chamber of Commerce Retail Committee will be held the second Thursday of each month starting May 8. Stop by the chamber office around 5, pay a $10 cover fee and receive a wrist band, souvenir mug, a pouch of pennies – one for each beverage sample

– a passport and a walking map to 12 convenient restaurants in the central business district. Visit stores as you walk. Satisfy your taste buds with two samples at each stop, get your passport stamped and end the evening at the designated final restaurant for live music starting at 8 p.m. Collect a stamp from each of your sampling stops, and you could win a $50 gift certificate from that month’s destination restaurant. Whether you participate in the tour or not, you can shop the retail shops that will be open late. They’ll be designated by flyers in the windows and will offer specials, fun games and drawings for gift certificates. It’s a great opportunity for

Good Fun

those who work during normal business hours. For more information, call the chamber: 256-734-0454. – David Moore

Take in a drive-in, dive-in, fireworks and more How about watching some outdoor movies this summer? Or watching some pool movies? Cullman Park and Recreation continues it summer tradition with a couple free “drive-in” movies starting after dark at Nesmith Park, located about 200 yards behind the Jet Pep on U.S. 278. Showing will be: • June 13 – “Despicable Me 2” • July 18 – “The Nut Job” Dive-in movies will again be held at the Cullman Wellness and Aquatic Center. Bring a bathing suit! The cost is free for members and $5 for nonmembers. Showing will be: • June 26 – “Frozen” • July 25 – “The Lego Movie”

In the planning

stages of Good Life Magazine, the

first mock cover

featured a photo from last year’s


The event is rolling around again on

May 9-10 and, as

always, is expected to draw a huge

crowd to Festhalle.

Those are but a few of the activities – including the immense Rock the South music festival and an appearance by Jessta James – that you can enjoy this summer in Cullman County. Read on and see... MAY | JUNE | JULY


On May 18, Cullman First United Methodist Church, founded in 1881, will celebrate 90 years of worship in its current

sanctuary. The exception to that span is the year the sanctuary was closed following the tornado of 2011, which destroyed the roof, blew out the stained glass windows and caused other major damage. Heritage Sunday will be celebrated at the separate traditional and contemporary services at 8:45 a.m. and the traditional service at 11. The public is invited

to participate, and booklets on the history of the church will be provided, and the Heritage Room will be open.

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• May 1- Aug. 28 – Festhalle lunches Every Tuesday and Thursday, different food trucks will park at Festhalle Farmers Market downtown and sell lunches. Most of the vendors are local, including Johnny’s Bar-B-Q, Papa Duke, Dewey’s Cajun Shack and Devil Dogs. It’s an effort by Cullman Parks and Recreation to draw people to the farmers market, which is open 8 a.m.-2 p.m. Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays through October.

• May 9-10 – StrawberryFest Held at the Cullman Festhalle, the festival dates back to 1939. Events include, for starts, lots of fresh strawberries and other produce and farm products from Cullman County on sale all day both days. There will be live music, free museum and walking tours, classic cars, a fun area for kids and tons of arts and crafts vendors across the street in the park. For more information, call: Cullman County Museum: 256-7391258.

• May-November – Trade Days Arts and Crafts Trade Days will be held the first Saturday and Sunday of each month at Sportsman Lake Park off U.S. 31 N in Cullman. Cullman County Parks and Recreation is modeling this off the highly popular event Tannehill Ironworks Historic State Park hosts every month in the summer. The event is free to attend. Booth space for food and arts and craft vendors is $25. For more information, call: 256-734-3052.

• May 24 – Memorial Day Smith Lake Park will kick off the summer with this annual event from 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Admission is free. There will be about 50 food and arts and crafts vendors, swimming and putt-putt golf. Kaloc, Heaton Brothers, Southern Boys Band and The Jonathan East Band will play country music and some classic rock. For more information: 256-7392916. • May 31 – Happy birthday Heritage Park will celebrate its 20th

anniversary from 11 a.m. to dark, when the fireworks start. The free event includes opening ceremonies at 11:30 a.m., food and craft vendors and demonstrations of some of the activities Cullman Park and Recreation offers, including gymnastics, golf, archery, aerobics, tennis and disc golf. For more information, call: 256734-9157. • June 5 – Summer Sampler This Thursday is a chance to sample the good eats prepared at Cullman restaurants. It’s also a good chance to meet and mingle with members of the Cullman Chamber of Commerce. Summer Sampler is the chamber’s quarterly after-hours get-together. It will be 5:30-7 p.m. in the breezeway beside the chamber. Cost is $15 for members and $20 for non-members. You can register two way: call the chamber, 256-734-0454; or visit • June 7 – Music and cars The Daystar House Music Fest

urning Dreams Into Reality Parts & Services Open Saturday Until 1:00


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and Car Show runs 3-9 p.m. at Sportsman Lake Park, and it’s free. Four music groups and two solo acts from Cullman and neighboring counties will perform. Proceeds from concessions and silent auction will benefit the Daystar House, a shelter for homeless women and homeless women with children. For more information, call: 256-734-3369. • June 14 – Dodge City Day The third annual celebration kicks off Saturday at 8 a.m. and goes to 7 p.m. with lots of events up and down Ala. 69 through town. Jack’s will host an all-day car show and a drawing for a $500 Craftsman tool kit. Some 40 vendors will be selling arts and crafts and food up and down the strip. The Trammel Family will be singing gospel at 10 a.m. at Dodge City Browser. Catch a band at 10 a.m. at Lakeside Pharmacy and another there at 2 p.m. At noon, seniors across the county are invited to a free hot dog and watermelon lunch with the senior group that meets in the basement of town hall. Also at town hall you can meet the members of the Cullman County Sheriff’s Office SWAT and dive teams during the day, and the mayor and council will have inflatables there for the kids. • June 20-21 – Rock the South The biggest event in Cullman County will this year feature Lynyrd Skynyrd, Little Big Town, Billy Currington, Charlie Daniels, Colt Ford, Shelbie Z. and many others on stage at Heritage Park. More than 25 food and beverage vendors will

also be there. Started in 2012 to mark the first-year anniversary of the 2011 tornado that devastated much of Cullman and the county, the first music festival drew 15,000 people. Last year, attendance at the twoday event skyrocketed to more than 35,000 and raised $50,000 for local charities. One- and two-day tickets are $39 and $49. Special reserved seats are $99 and $199. Tickets are available at the Cullman Civic Center, Cabin Fever Beverages and online at: • June 21 – Paddle board races For the second year, Smith Lake Paddle Boards will hold the Paddle at the Rock races at Silver Rock Cove. Races will be one, three and six miles in distance. Paddle at the Rock has joined the Southern Stroke Paddle Series and will be the only one of 12 paddle board races held in Alabama. The others are in Tennessee, Georgia and North Carolina, with points awarded from each race toward naming a regional champion. Affiliation with the Southern Stroke series is expected to be a boon to the races at Smith Lake. Viewing the race is free. Proceeds from entrance fees help support The Bell Center in Birmingham, which assists young children at risk for developmental delay. For more information on the races, call: Tommy or Susan Cost, 256-736-3002. • July 1-Sept. 30 – Burrow Regional Sculptors Exhibition Details were incomplete at press

time, but the works of more than 20 of Alabama’s most respected sculptors will be on exhibit for three months at the Evelyn Burrow Museum at Wallace State Community College. The museum is open 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Tuesday-Friday and 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturdays, and admission is free. More information will posted soon at: or • July 4 – Jessta James, fireworks at Smith Lake The annual event begins at 8 a.m. and ends after the 25-minute fireworks show that starts at 9 p.m. Jessta James will headline the musical fireworks with his big band and mix of country, rock and hip-hop. There will be a decorated golf cart and bike parade with prizes, an ice cream eating contest, swimming, putt putt golf for $3 and some 75 vendors with crafts and food. For more information, call: 256-7343369. • July 5 – Dirt Therapy Sometimes a little dirt can clean your mind. At least that’s part of the theory behind the second-year Dirt Therapy event at Stony Lonesome OHV Park. The event runs 8:30 a.m.11 p.m. Off-highway-vehicles are encouraged for the mud, but some people just dive in wearing shorts. The gate fee is $5 for ages 13 and up. It cost $10 to ride the extensive trails ($5 for ages 6-12) up until 6 p.m.; $25 to ride from 6 to 11 p.m.; or $30 from 8:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. For more information, call: 256-287-1133.

What’s happening in Cullman today? Find out on Cullman’s most comprehensive events calendar at 12


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Snapshot: Robin and Vince Lambert

• Early years: Robin grew up in Cullman, Vince in Lawrenceville, Ill. • Education: Robin – BA from BirminghamSouthern, masters in pastoral leadership from Chaminade University, Hawaii; Vince – BS in physics/math from Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, Ind.; masters in foundations of education from Troy University • Careers: Robin – Elementary school teacher, educational software consultant, minister; Vince – U.S. Navy submarine commander (retired after 28 years of service); Boy Scouts of America, program director six years for camping and High Adventure • Marriage: Met at Vanderbilt University where Vince was an instructor for the Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps and Robin was a student; married some 20 years later, which they say is a different story altogether •Back to Cullman County: After Vince retired from the Navy, they moved to Vinemont in 2005 to be close to Robin’s parents

The Lamberts

Prayer Shawls 4 Fallen Soldiers helping grieving families nationwide Since, 2001, nearly 5,300 U.S. military personnel have died in service to their country in Iraq and Afghanistan. That has left tens of thousands of loved ones grieving here at home. Robin and Vince Lambert of Vinemont believe it’s crucially important that these families understand that Americans recognize that sacrifice and, at the same time, offer tangible condolences and a bit of comfort. That’s why they have taken over the Prayer Shawls 4 Fallen Soldiers and its website. The national ministry has a grassroots network of people who knit or crochet prayer shawls that are delivered to the grieving families in remembrance of their loved one. During the making of the shawl the knitter or crocheter says prayers for, and asks blessings upon the recipients, thus, Robin says, passing on love from which it’s hoped the recipients gain strength, find peace of mind and have their souls fed. Robin answers five questions for Good Life Magazine about the ministry and its importance. For information on participating, you can visit:

1. What is the mission of

Prayer Shawls 4 Fallen Soldiers, and why is it important? We are dedicated to serving military members and their families by providing handmade shawls for comfort and healing. We believe it is important for families that have suffered a death of a

loved one in the military to know that their sacrifice is acknowledged and appreciated. The shawl is a tangible reminder that other people – complete strangers in the vast majority of cases – care about them and want to provide support and comfort.

2. How did the ministry get


Cozette Haggerty began this during her daughter’s second tour in Iraq in 2006. It was a way for her to use her knitting and crocheting skills and serve other military families. Initially, she sent the shawls she made to Walter Reed Army Medical Center, where the most seriously wounded soldiers were treated. The chaplains at Walter Reed gave the shawls to all family members who wanted one. Cozette realized that the families of service personnel killed in action might also benefit from prayer shawls, so she sent an e-mail to all shawl ministry groups listed on, suggesting that some of the shawls they make be provided to families of fallen soldiers. Many of the groups responded enthusiastically, and Prayer Shawls for Fallen Soldiers was created. We have knitters, crocheters and weavers. Most are affiliated with a church group, and some contribute individually.


How and why has Prayer Shawls 4 Fallen Soldiers evolved and grown?

Good People

5questions By the middle of 2013, Prayer Shawls for Fallen Soldiers had grown to a confederation of more than 250 individuals or groups in 40 states and had provided more than 6,000 shawls. However, Cozette, the founder, was ready to focus on her grandchildren and announced in a newsletter that she would no longer maintain the website or any other administrative function for Prayer Shawls for Fallen Soldiers after the end of 2013. I felt that this ministry needed to continue and asked Vince if we could take on this responsibility. The timing was optimal because Vince was planning to retire from the Boy Scouts at the end of 2013. He did some research on website development and maintenance, e-mail communications and newsletters, and, after a telephone call with Cozette and much prayer and reflection, we agreed to continue Prayer Shawls for Fallen Soldiers, beginning January 2014.


So, what part do you and Vince have in the ministry? We’re the facilitators. We submitted the paperwork necessary to receive casualty lists twice each month. When a new casualty list is received, we send a letter to the next-of-kin listed for each fallen soldier, briefly explaining Prayer Shawls for Fallen Soldiers and how they can request a shawl. When a shawl request is received, we send an e-mail to several of our associated individuals or groups located close MAY | JUNE | JULY


to the requester, informing them of the need and asking if they can meet it. When an individual or group responds that they can supply the requested shawls, then we provide them with the name and mailing address. In addition, we maintain a website ( with information about Prayer Shawls for Fallen Soldiers, shawl patterns, contact information and a way for family members to request a shawl online. In order to share information about the program and the numerous kind words of thanks we receive with all of the associated groups and individuals, Vince and I also publish a newsletter periodically.


How and why did you get involved, and what impact will the involvement of volunteer shawl knitters have on families of the fallen?


I have been making prayer shawls since 2005. I have knitted in 24 countries on four continents, and in all modes of public transportation – cars, buses, trains, planes and at least seven cruise ships. I learned about Cozette’s work with Prayer Shawls for Fallen Soldiers when I attended a Shawl Ministry Conference in Nashville in 2008. Since then, I have provided many shawls to families of fallen soldiers. Because Vince is a retired military officer and I am a military spouse and a minister, we have strong commitments to military families. Combining that concern for military families with my passion for knitting prayer shawls was a natural progression. When we learned that the program was coming to an end, we both believed it was too important to stop.

Prayer Shawls for Fallen Soldiers meets needs and provides blessings in multiple ways. Whenever we send out a shawl request, we almost always get a reply within 48 hours from an individual or group that wants to provide the shawl or shawls. They invariably thank us for giving them the opportunity, because they are able to use their knitting and crocheting skills to send an expression of care and concern to a family member grieving the loss of their loved service person. The shawl provider includes a brief card or note with the shawl, and the recipients nearly always reply with their expressions of gratitude. In several instances the provider and recipient maintain contact. For the families receiving the shawl, they know that their grief is recognized, that people do care about them and want to provide support and comfort.

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Good Reads

Take a thrill ride of a read into a not-too-distant future

Women can take stagecoach trip into typical male genre

here’s a lot of talk about singularity in the news, on technical websites and, of course, in science fiction (the best way to discover what our future holds). While it sounds like a dating website, singularity describes the moment a civilization changes so much that its rules and technologies are incomprehensible to previous generations The lives of our – the subject of Mark grandchildren and Alpert’s “Extinction.” It’s fascinating. A great-grandchildren will great thrill ride with well be as unrecognizable developed characters and a future that is upon us. to us as our use of China has information technology developed the most in all its forms would sophisticated form of artificial intelligence in be incomprehensible to existence. It’s grown someone from the dawn very powerful, even developing a sense of of the twentieth century its own being. And it no longer needs us to continue its growth and development. In fact, humans slow down the process. Along with the great story, I learned about current experiments with mind-controlled prosthetics... truly amazing things happening in our research labs that are of great benefit to our wounded warriors. For a great read and a glimpse of our not-too-distant future, read “Extinction.” – Deb Laslie

ne of the joys of owning a used bookstore is the accessibility of great books that are not on the current best seller list. And I just love a good western... oops. My teenage crushes on Butch Cassidy and Jeremiah Johnson may be showing. Ladies, please don’t shy away For all of that, what she from the western did here was useful. It genre. The men have was essential, and she was been keeping these wonderful stories essential. Had she been a secret. There’s that back in Virginia? much more to a great western novel than shoot-outs at high noon on main street. In “Cherokee Trail,” Louis L’Amour writes of an incredibly strong willed widow who assumes control of a stagecoach outpost. Amidst everything the high desert can throw at her, she gains the respect (OK, with the help of the whip) of outlaws, Indians and the nearest townspeople. Through it all, however, she’s a woman, and her dreams – written on small slips of paper and tied to passing tumbleweeds – free her mind for the hard work facing her yet again tomorrow. What a great story. What wonderful characters. What a great read. – Deb Laslie





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Good ’n’ Green

Southern magnolias ‘Beauty and the Beast’ N

Story by Tony Glover

othing says you’re in the South like a majestic southern magnolia. Even the scientific name tells us of its grandeur. Known by its Latin name as Magnolia grandiflora, when you see a full grown specimen it is indeed grand. It is a tree that looks its best when displayed on a large estate and this causes, at least in part, our love/ hate relationship with the magnolia. It drops heavy leaves in the spring and summer for one thing. But the main problem is that we try to grow magnolias where they never should have been planted, then we prune them to unnatural shapes. Recently, I had to deal with a heartbreaking situation related to a southern magnolia. An elderly couple had planted one in remembrance of a child who died some 50 years ago. The tree was beautiful, but it was taking up the entire front yard and blocking the view of their home. The question they had for me was how heavily could they prune the tree without causing serious damage. I had to give them the sad news that it is not advisable to prune magnolias heavily, and to do so would not only ruin the natural form of the tree but would likely cause internal decay, eventually making the tree unsafe.

Standard sized southern

magnolias are evergreen trees with limbs that reach the ground. One 20


The blooms on the

southern magnolia are

not only beautiful, but

they smell divine. Some

people would say they capture the essence

of the South.

Photos by David Moore of the more frustrating things I see people do is limb these trees up so they can see under them. Even worse there are those who then try to grow grass and mow under them. Of course they become frustrated by the poor grass growth and the large surface roots that they run over with the riding mower. We horticulturists always talk about planting the right plant in the right place to avoid problems, and

no plant illustrates the importance of this maxim more than the southern magnolia. It should be grown as a specimen tree in large landscapes and preferably planted in soils not prone to excessive drying. They are an excellent background plant for smaller, less coarse textured leaves, such as conifers, but make sure you allow space for the tree to grow to its ultimate size. Do not plant near field lines, walkways or

driveways because the roots tend to cause damage. Also know that standard southern magnolia seedlings may take 10 years or longer to produce those grand flowers that everyone loves. The good news for homeowners with less than plantation-sized estates is the many smaller cultivars that have become available. These more dwarf forms offer many of the beautiful aspects of the magnolia – and fewer of the beastly ones.


here are several good choices, but you still need to do your research on ultimate size because the dwarf forms vary from as little as 20 feet tall (Teddy Bear) to as large as 50 feet tall by 40 feet wide (Claudia Wannamaker). The University of Georgia has a good description of the most popular cultivars on the market. Visit: www.; search for “growing southern magnolias.”

Botanists do not recommend cutting back the lower limbs on southern

magnolias. For one thing, exposed, rough roots compete for water and can prevent grass from growing – exposing the beastly side of a beautiful tree.



Good Cooking

Smokin’ good cookout recipes

(Even if you don’t smoke your meats)

Most serious outdoor cooks, the really serious ones,

insist that using smokers as opposed to a basic grill is the way to go. It’s hard to argue with success, and T.J. Hagan has the trophy to prove it. He and his cooking partner, Judd Branch won the People’s Choice Award at Cullman’s first Oktoberfest BBQ Challenge organized by Mike Howell in 2011. Their entry was a smoked, bone-in pork shoulder, and lucky you if you got a taste. Among several other cooking ideas here, T.J.’s gives their prize-winning recipe for a bone-in pork shoulder that will make you a winner with your family and friends this summer. T.J. uses a Kamado Joe. He and his dad, Joe, sell them


12-pound bone-in pork shoulder or Boston butt Rub 1 tbsp dark brown sugar 1 tbsp turbinado sugar 2-1/4 tsp garlic salt 2-1/4 tsp sea salt 1⁄2 tbsp paprika 1-1/2 tsp oregano 1/4 tsp cayenne 1/4 tsp cumin 1/4 tsp black pepper Injection mix 3/4 cup of Simply Apple Juice 1/2 cup water 1/2 cup turbinado sugar 1/4 cup sea salt 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce Wash mix 6 cups white vinegar 1/2 cup cayenne (ground) 3 lemons, cut Prepare wash and let sit for 24 hours. Prepare rub and apply to meat then allow to sit about 2-3 hours while meat comes to room temperature. One hour 22


downtown at South Park Grill Sales. Rob Werner, another Cullman grill guy, uses a Green Egg. He sells them at Werner’s Trading Co. Grilling aficionados can debate the pros and cons of the Egg and the Joe, but both are smokin’ good. Both also represent a sizable investment. Rob, however, uses his Egg more for basic grilling than slow smoking. “I don’t have time for smoking,” he says. “I am not an award-winner, I am just a normal cook.” Below, Rob offers several recipes that can also be cooked on gas grills. One is for turkey, which is nontraditional summer fare, but that’s OK, Rob says. “Turkey sandwiches in the summer are wonderful,” he says. “And turkey is also cheaper in the summer.” Gentlemen – and ladies, too – fire up your grills...

before cooking, use meat injector to squirt apple mixture into tops and sides of meat in a 1/2-inch grid pattern until mix runs from previous holes. Place meat on grill and cover for 1820 hours at 225 degrees using hickory chips. Brush wash onto meat every hour for the final six hours of cooking. Internal meat temperature at finish should be 195 degrees.


Bone-in pork chops, cut 1/2-1 inch thick 3 yellow onions, sliced 1⁄2 cup red wine Salt and pepper Use enough chops to fill the bottom of an iron skillet or Le Creuset cookware. (Both will need lids.) Trim fat off edges of pork chops. Cut fat into 1/2inch pieces and place in bottom of cookware. Sauté onions until clear, add wine and simmer. Sprinkle salt and pepper on both sides of chops. Using fruitwood chips, grill on smoker at 450 degrees for 1 minute on each side to scar in grill marks. Place chops on top of fat pieces in cookware. Pour onions and wine on top. Place covered cookware on the grill and

cook about 10 minutes until centers are white (165 degrees).


1-inch bone-in rib-eyes (T.J. uses Cullman-raised beef from Brickyard Meats On Cullman County 471 off Logan Avenue SW) Dizzy Pig Canadian BBQ Rub (available at Werner’s Trading Co.) Take steaks from refrigerator, rub Dizzy Pig on each side and allow to sit at room temperature for 30 minutes. Using straight charcoal, heat smoker to 800 degrees and grill steaks for 2 minutes on each side with top open. For medium-medium rare, flip to original side, shut off smoker at top and bottom and grill for about 4 min.


6 sweet potatoes roughly 6x3 inches olive oil 1 stick of butter brown sugar black walnuts, roasted Rub sweet potatoes with olive oil. Bring coals in a smoker to 350 degrees then cut off air supply. Placing potatoes on top of the coals, cook for 30-60 minutes, turning every 15

Rob Werner grills drunken chicken four at a time on a special rack he sells. You can take his T-shirt warning seriously – or not.

minutes, until tender. While they’re cooking, melt butter and add brown sugar until consistency of syrup. Split potatoes, add walnuts on top of them, then douse with syrup. Charred potato skins are part of the experience, just take care not to get them inside the sweet potatoes when splitting them.


6-8-pound Boston butt #1 Wild Bunch Butt Burners All Purpose Seasoning #2 Southern Flavor Bad Byron’s Butt Rub Trim extra fat and cover generously with seasoning. One variation calls for Wild Bunch Butt Burners, the other for a 50-50 mix of Southern Flavor and Bad Byron’s Butt Rub. Light hickory

Who says grilling has to be in the backyard?

T.J. Hagan fires up a grill downtown on Third Street NE beside his and his dad’s business.

chips and bring grill to 250-300. Cover grilling surface with aluminum foil, the edges turned up to catch grease. Put butt on aluminum and cook with the top closed for 3-4 hours until internal temperature is 160. Let meat sit for at least 10 minutes before cutting.


3-4 pound whole chicken Greek dressing (Gazebo Room) Tammy’s Herbal Rub (John Henry’s) 1 can of good beer Bacon or sausage Cut any excess skin off chicken. Rub chicken down with Greek dressing (you can substitute olive oil), then apply herbal rub to all surfaces of the chicken, inside, outside and under the skin. Dispose of 3/4 of the beer as you see fit, leaving the rest in the can. Push the chicken cavity over the top of the can and place on grill. Stuff

the top hole of the bird with bacon or sausage. Using pecan wood, light the grill and heat to 350 degrees. Cook bird about 2 hours or until dark meat reaches a temperature of 175. Let rest for at least 5 minutes.


15-20 lb. Turkey 1 pkg. Turkey Perfect Brining Kit (Fire & Flavor’s) Tammy’s Herbal Rub (John Henry’s) Greek dressing (Gazebo Room) Brine turkey over night using herbflavored brining kit. The next day rub turkey down, inside and out, first with Greek dressing (you can substitute olive oil) then with herbal rub. Using pecan wood, light the grill and heat to 350 degrees. Cook turkey on aluminum foil about 350 until dark meat is about 175 degrees. Let rest for at least 15 minutes before cutting. MAY | JUNE | JULY


Great Shopping in Cullman? You bet! Just ask anyone who lives here or has visited lately. We have some of the best, one-of-a-kind stores and the national retailers you need to fit any lifestyle. We are happy to say Cullman is full of shops to satisfy your need for retail therapy.

For more information, please contact:

Susie Hood Ashley Retail Development Coordinator 256.739.1891 “Like� us on Facebook!



Good Eats

Ralph and Annette Harris draw big lunch crowds to Rumors Deli and Coffee Shop in the Warehouse District of

downtown Cullman. They believe they will do the same with the coming addition of a bar and name change to Rumors Deli and Pour House. Besides the menu, the delightfully eclectic décor is another Rumors attraction. “We wanted a comfortable, interesting look,” says Annette. “Ralph is a hoarder, so we had a bunch of the stuff in the attic. We had a lot of donations, too. Husbands brought us things their wives didn’t want in the house.”

Rumors: ‘meant to be,’ and meant to be good A

Story and photos by David Moore

nnette and Ralph Harris put their hearts into making Rumors Deli and Coffee Shop deliciously and delightfully successful. They will do the same for Rumors Deli and Pour House when it opens in late summer or fall. That’s no rumor. That’s straight from Annette’s mouth. And while she hasn’t had dreams about drink and appetizer recipes like she did with the famous sandwiches they serve, there’s still time for that to happen. The Harrises plan to build the Pour House bar behind the deli’s kitchen, an

area of the building unused for 20-30 years. They hope to begin construction as soon as late spring. They will serve wine, high-end liquor and a of variety beers, opening with 16 draft taps and emphasizing Alabama craft breweries. You can order sandwiches and, at night, appetizers up until 11 or 12 on Fridays and Saturdays. They expect to draw a 30-and-up crowd. The Harrises have sold their coffee shop and will close that adjacent area when the bar opens, but the addition will still give them about the same total of 3,000 square feet. Having the bar in back, Annette says, will allow them to maintain a family atmosphere in the front. Decorating hasn’t been figured

out yet, but it’s sure to use some of the tons of fascinating “stuff” Ralph has left over from decorating the deli.

Ralph, who moved to Cullman

at age 10, didn’t meet the hometown Annette until they were at Wallace State Community College 30 years ago. After marriage – while he worked as a mechanical inspector, she as a pharmacy tech then an office manager – they’d sometimes go out to eat and comment to each other that they could run a better, more consistent restaurant. Friends that ate at their house agreed. The Harrises went so far as to buy some restaurant equipment, but for 10 years issues interfered: children too young, wrong locations... MAY | JUNE | JULY


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“We felt lead by God to do it, but nothing worked. Nothing was right,” Annette says. “When it finally did happen, it was almost like the spur of a moment thing.” That was 2000. By then, Zac was 13, Maddie was 12 and their youngest, Ethan, was 7. Annette and Ralph found a space down the street from where they are now. They managed to get 50 or so seats in it, then put their hearts into making Rumors Deli successful. Trying to come up with a name, Annette pored through her old album collection and spotted “Rumours” (the nonU.S. spelling of “rumors”) by Fleetwood Mac. “We thought it was perfect,” she says. “When people eat, they talk, gossip and spread rumors. Then we decided to name our sandwiches along that theme.” Rumors has its own way of making about any sandwich, such as Reubens. Sandwich names such as the Mouth of the South, Talk of the Town, Tattletale and Hearsay derive from the word “rumor,” but how to make some of them came in dreams Annette had. “I would wake up knowing exactly how to make something, write it down, and it turned out great,” she says. Her most vivid dream gave her the exact recipe for their Aloha sandwich and sauce. “I woke up knowing exactly what to put in it – pineapple juice, garlic, brown sugar and spicy brown mustard,” she says.


few years after they opened, Ralph began lobbying to move into a place three times larger, down the street in the Warehouse District. Annette opposed paying three times the rent, but she eventually relented. Before moving in 2004, Annette got a call one day from a woman at Southern Living. She almost hung up on her. “I thought she wanted to sell an ad, but she said the magazine wanted to do a story.” Annette agreed, and after the interview, as the writer left, he told the Harrises they would need to expand the deli after the article was published the next year. “He was right, and I am glad we moved,” Annette says. “We were cramped for space in the old place, but we did not realize business would bloom like it did.” In 2006 they expanded into a former scrapbook store next door, which became the coffee shop and added to their name. With the coming of the Pour House, the second half of their name will change again. “We still have a lot of hoops to jump through, but we are up for it,” Annette says. “We’ve been planning this since November. It’s a big undertaking, but we put our heart into it like we did the deli, so it’s going to be very successful.” There’s a reason they put their heart into, too. “We felt the deli was meant to be, and we feel like that’s why it’s been successful. We are not overly religious people, but when you feel like something’s meant to be, you know in your heart that’s what you are supposed to do. If it doesn’t come from your heart, it’s not going to work.”

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A home is a home is...

A beautiful contradiction in terms 28



Story and photos by David Moore

f there’s such a thing as a subtly dramatic, rustically modern house, Kevin and Melissa Dodge have created it, contradictions notwithstanding. Cedar shingle siding, brown-stained beams and stonework encase huge windows and provide rustic earth tones that soften the drama of the huge, 6,500-square-foot structure. Corrugated steel roofing adds to the rustic feel while simultaneously helping create an industrial look that accents the modern flair. Eight-foot overhanging eves – scallop-ended rafters, angled support beams at the corners and

The Dodge’s lot, with 385 feet of

shoreline, is about a mile from the dam at the confluence

of Ryan Creek and the Sipsey. Despite numerous homes

around several bends in the lake, their

next door neighbor is the only sign of

other development.

But Kevin recently

spotted survey stakes in the woods across

the lake from them.

They don’t care for

the open space under most decks, so they

built several covered porches onto their house, the walled

space below them part of the yet unfinished basement. A large,

stone archway forms a rather grand

entrance into the basement. corrugated steel visible beneath – dramatize the roofline. Large, soft arches over the entrance to the basement floor and garage play counterpoint to the angled support beams and overhangs. Two square towers – three floors high from the driveway approach, four from the “front” – add to the drama nearly as much as the quiet location. The Dodge House rises from a point in a lightly developed area overlooking the deep, clean waters of Smith Lake. The house is all the more contradictory because the Dodges did so much of the work themselves. It’s DIY on steroids. Taking it all in, it’s hard to resist the high-mileage cliché: this is the Dodges’ dream house. Right?

Nope. “I don’t fall in love with houses,” Kevin says. “I don’t believe in dream houses.” The Dodges are flippers. This is the ninth house they have so far built or remodeled to resell, or flip, after a year or two. Their profits go into buying the next house. To cut future resale costs, Melissa is earning a real estate license to handle their transactions. But there’s more to the Dodges’ house-flipping business than profits. They truly enjoy creating cool houses, inviting living spaces to live in. “I liked building stuff even as a kid,” Kevin says. There’s an itch factor, too. “When I start doing maintenance work on a house,” he MAY | JUNE | JULY


The house has 5,000 square feet on two floors and towers. Another 1,500

unfinished square feet in the basement remain as a DIY project that will entail a second kitchen, three bedrooms and two baths. Besides the DIY

aspects of the house, it’s also pretty unusual in that they’ve not taken out a

mortgage. “We believe in owning, not being beholden to the bank,” Kevin says.

says, laughing but serious, “it’s time to move.” That said, here’s another contradiction.... A house built to flip for profit can still be loved, says Melissa. It can still be a home.


evin is from Massachusetts. Melissa from Pelham, but the accent that’s rubbed off from Kevin fools people. They met at Auburn University in 1987 and married the following year. In their early 20s they owned a starter house with no initial plans to flip it. But after remodeling and making “cute,” as Melissa says, they sold it for a profit, and their flipper houses lined up and fell like dominoes, each sale allowing a bigger, nicer, new house. 30


Melissa once had family in Good Hope, but it was Smith Lake that lured them to Cullman County. “We went to a friend’s lake house for a party,” Melissa says. “Kevin caught lake fever – bad.” Living at The Preserve in Hoover – a designed neighborhood with big houses on tight lots – they decided the cure for lake fever was obvious. In 2004 they began building a house in Lakeshore West near Smith Lake Dam and moved in during construction. They sold the house the day they finished it. They bought the point lot next door and built a 6,000-square-foot house on the lake. With the market then tanking, they lived there several years before abruptly flipping it. They rented another house in Lakeshore

West while Melissa quickly found a good deal on a lot in the still young Clear Water Coves development where they started building their present house in 2012. They moved in the next year, even though a lot of projects remained. One back-killing job was stonework, much of which Kevin did himself, including porch floors and The Great Wall of Dodge, a retainer wall that faces the lake and creates a level backyard on the sloping lot. “She works as hard as I do,” Kevin says of Melissa. “Good thing I’m not a princess,” she laughs.


s they had with their previous lake homes, the Dodges worked with Christopher Architects of Birmingham

The great room

offers a wall full

of lake views. Son

Charlie, below, relaxes there after school

with a snack. The walls of the room

are covered in white

pine, the channeling between the planks

and bleeding knots

adding texture to the

rustic look. The huge, freestanding steel

chimney for the gas log fireplace in the

great room adds to

the house’s modern, industrial look.



The modern look can

be seen in the five-

by-nine-foot, salted

tin-topped table in the kitchen. Melissa got

inspired after the table

was installed and built

one herself for outdoor dining. The modern

also is apparent in the

steel light fixtures and handrails in the tall

foyer, right. Outside,

the steel cable are

used for railing on

the upstairs porches

minimally affect the

view of the lake.



The boys’ tower, designed to entertain friends, features built-in seating

around the windowed wall with the

stairs coming up in the middle of the floor. Charlie has claimed it as his

second bedroom. The second tower,

as yet unfinished, pictured here form the boys’ tower, is accessed by stairs

through a large trap door. Kevin has

claimed it for his cigar-smoking room, since Melissa won’t let him smoke in the living area. The tower rooms are 14x12 feet. Kevin’s smoking room

features walnut walls and a cypress ceiling. The accentuated eves not

only add dramatic appeal but are

practical, too. They shade interiors and protect windows from sun and weather.



The Dodges are not built – and don’t build – to stay put – at least not yet. But even though they have built or remodeled nine houses to resell, that doesn’t mean, Melissa says, they have not been homes.

on designing their new house. Unlike the other houses, this time Kevin served as general contractor. It helps that he owns Kevin Dodge Flooring and has been laying wood floors for years. His crews did some of the work on the house, including laying the rustic-flavored – and forgiving – hickory floors. Melissa is the bookkeeper. They work out of their house, but he keeps a warehouse in Montevallo. “I don’t pick out colors or decorations,” Kevin says. “That’s Melissa’s job. I do the overall look of the place.” For some house’s features, the Dodges admit, their spending was over the top. Elsewhere, they took pains to save money, such as the boathouse. They bought it used from another lake resident and floated it to 34


their location. Melissa spent a week repainting it. The Dodges stay busy with the house but limit projects to a few at a time. Otherwise, the work and the expense – they pay as they go – would be overwhelming. When they aren’t working, their lakefront home offers numerous ways to relax. “I love it out here,” says Kevin, who found life at The Preserve too tightly packed. “It’s peaceful.”


t’s not a bad place for kids, either, and the Dodges have three: Alec, an Auburn freshman in engineering, and Cold Springs students Nic and Charlie, 16 and 13 respectively. They seem to take the frequent flipper moving in stride. “As long as we build cool houses,”

Melissa laughs. Fortunately, all of their homes have been cool places. But their present one steals the show. Then again, Melissa says, this time they had more money to invest. “Which,” she adds, “always helps.” While built or remodeled to flip, all of their houses have been like babies to them, Melissa says. “They reflect our style. We always build what we want. They are a sort of legacy. We leave behind a cool house. “They are home while we live there,” she continues. “Sometimes it’s hard to leave. One day we’ll probably stay in a house. One day.” And it’s a good bet that it will be another DIY project, another cool place, perhaps even another beautiful contradiction in terms.

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Going fishing for your school Story and photos by David Moore

With bass fishing’s popularity growing,

Bassmaster and The Bass Federation are trolling high schools nationwide for future tournament talent. With the formation of the Alabama Student Angler Bass Fishing Association a few years ago, the state was second in the nation to develop a grass-roots fishing organization to recruit and promote bass fishing among teens. The Alabama Legislature has proclaimed it the state’s official high school bass fishing group. Jon Stewart, senior manager of the BASS Nation and head of its high school

and youth programs, says Alabama is an ideal spawning bed from which high school students might enter professional ranks. “We applaud the work done by the ASABFA in involving high school students in the sport of bass fishing,” Stewart says in story for Bassmaster. “They’ve done a great job in creating a strong foundation among students in Alabama, and we believe our program is an excellent complement to that... It’s another chance for them to get outdoors, compete and enjoy fishing.” Four local high schools –Vinemont, Holly Pond, Fairview and Cullman – are associated with the ASABFA. Here’s what some of their student anglers and volunteers have to say about “going fishing for your school”...

Cullman High School seniors Lee Mattox, in the bow, and Mason Jones and boat captain Jacob Fine had lousy

luck at the ASABFA tournament at Smith Lake in March, shown here. That changed in April on Lake Wheeler (please see Page 4). Lee and another student informally fished tournaments as sophomores. When CHS formed a

team two years ago, he eagerly joined. One benefit came at the 2014 Bassmaster Classic when his coach introduced him to fishing industry executives. “I learned to talk to businesses owners, communicate with them,” Lee says. “I

think that will help me down the road.” Mason, heading to Birminghamscholarship, hopes to also fish there. “I really enjoy it,” he says.

Fishing all day without catching anything still beats any

Southern on a football

“It’s a time to be with God. day in school.”

Kenneth Chambers’ adrenalin

had jumped to 52 schools, and this year there are 88. Mirroring growth in the pros, bass fishing in recent years has spread to the collegiate level. Indeed, two Cullman brothers – Matt and Jordan Lee – dramatically etched their way

appreciates that, which is why he’s VP and marketing director for the ASABFA. He moved from Missouri to fish for The University of Alabama. Today, he’s striving to make it to the elite level of pro fishing while running a business and volunteering with the ASABFA. “It’s great to see these kids out fishing,” Drew says. “I am glad to help out, to give back.”

churned like the wake behind his Phoenix bass boat as it skimmed across Lake Eufaula at 70 mph. It was 2011 and Hartselle High School’s second tournament as part of the Alabama Student Angler Bass Fishing Association. Kenneth, a boat captain, was intent on getting his two team members to a hotter bass hole. The clock was ticking. yle Morris is a Cullman He glanced at the two young High School alumnus who helped teens beside him. start fishing at UA in 2006. A They were intent on catching walk-on for the Crimson Tide fish, too, but for now bass had football team, he injured his escaped their minds. They were shoulder as a sophomore and was holding Goldfish crackers out in unable to fish that first year but front of them, letting the blasting did so the following two. wind rip them from their fingers, While this is Cullman’s first then trying to catch them in their year with the ASABFA, its mouths as they flew past. official team started two years Kenneth cracked up. He ago, participating in BASS High didn’t stop, but he did freeze the School Nation tournaments Graphic artist Mike Macon of Maconart moment – and the flying fish as well as those held by High in Hanceville designed the logo for the lesson – in his mind. School Fishing under The Bass ASABFA. A long-time angler, he’s also “It’s their innocence in life,” Federation umbrella. Kenneth laughs now. “It’s Last year, CHS fell 11 ounces involved with BASS Nation. “I sure wish refreshing to be around them short of qualifying for the BASS they’d had high school fishing teams when I after being in the rat race. They High School Classic, held in was growing up,” Mike says. can entertain you and remind you conjunction with the Guntersville what’s fun in life.” Classic. That’s one reason the Kyle, who now teaches and Vinemont man, who owns Freedom coaches football at Cullman Middle into bass fishing lore on the Auburn Marine in Marshall County, School, expressed interest in the University team. volunteers his time with the Hartselle fishing team, so CHS reeled him in Elder Matt beat Lee by one fish in team and is a sponsor of the ASABFA. head-on competition in the finals of as coach this year. He’s off to a good The flying Goldfish bring to mind an the 2012 Carhartt Bassmaster College start. In April at the tournament on old photo of him and his dog sitting Lake Wheeler, Cullman’s three team Series Classic Bracket to qualify on Big Rock at Smith Lake. Kenneth boats finished fifth out of 212 boats to for the 2013 Bassmaster Classic in has a fishing pole in his hands. The qualify for the ASABFA state tourney Oklahoma. Jordan came back to win picture captures the innocent fun of the same Carhartt tournament in 2013 May 9-10 on Neely Henry Lake. fishing he enjoyed as a kid. Beyond ASABFA events, to earn a slot in the 2014 Bassmaster Don’t get Kenneth wrong. Sure, Cullman remains involved in the Classic at Lake Guntersville. the youth involved in the Alabama national groups and will fish about Further testifying to the sport’s Student Angler Bass Fishing growth at the local level, last year Joe six Saturdays during May and June, Association have a lot of fun, but, by Hendrix, Jeremy Smith and Brian Hall including the High School Classic and large, they are competitors who started a fishing team at Wallace State Open, plus a Bassmaster’s state take fishing seriously. qualifier in the fall. Community College. And their ranks are swelling. The “I love the classroom,” Kyle says, In the same way college bass second such state-level organization “but sports teach things that can’t fishing is a stepping stone to the in the country, the ASABFA started in pros, high school is a stepping stone always be learned in class, such as 2010 with 29 schools. By 2013, that mental and physical toughness.” to college fishing. Drew Sanford




Fairview High School anglers Blake Kent and Camryn Bailey, accompanied by boat captain Shane Kent, fish a

qualifying tournament on Lake Guntersville during the fall in this photo shot by April Daniel. Out of 172 boats to enter the March tournament at Smith Lake, Fairview’s five first-year team boats qualified for the ASABFA state championship May 9-10 on Neely Henry Lake. Coach Heath Daniel said despite getting organized late, the team is having a good year. He’s taking no chances next season, however, and already held sign-ups. Daniel says ASABFA format changes next season should benefit competition. “It’s a work in progress,” he says of the team and organization, but the kids are really having a good time.”

For instance, at the April 12 tournament on Wheeler Lake, it was sunny and 75. While the sun eventually cracked through March 29 at the tourney on Smith Lake, the morning was cold, windy and wet. “It took toughness to go out there and fish,” Kyle says.

When fishing was offered at

Fairview High School for this season, kids took to it like spawning bass to beds in the spring – 18 students signed up including two junior anglers. “This is our first year, and we are all

learning a lot,” says Shane Chambers, one of the parents assisting coach Heath Daniel. “We’ve had a lot of help through sponsors and the community.” The sport attracts many parents who find in fishing a common bond with their kids. Shane, who has fished forever, has a son, Bryar, on the team. “He got a fishing pole the day he was born,” Shane says. A sixth grader, Bryar has two years before he can fish ASABFA tournaments, but he can fish other events, including the county tournament Fairview will host May 17

on Lake Guntersville. At the weigh-ins at FHS, bass will be kept in aerated holding tanks then returned to the lake for release. “We are all about catch and release,” Shane says. “We guide students and hope to teach them to be better fishermen and better kids,” continues Shane, a resource officer for the Cullman County Sheriff’s Office. “Fishing keeps them busy and not getting into whatever else they could get into, which is unlimited. In my background, I see that commonly.” MAY | JUNE | JULY


Whether he’s on a basketball court or bass boat, Landen Walker is very competitive. A Holly Pond sophomore, he fishes tournaments – in the stern at Lake Guntersville, above – with his boat captain dad, Kenneth Walker, and

big brother, Braden. It raises the question whom he’d rather beat, Braden or the other schools. “Probably the other schools,” Landen says. (Holly Pond beat enough of them to qualify for the ASABFA state championship May

9-10.) Says Braden, “As long as we catch five good ones, it doesn’t matter who catches them. I like to see both of us do well.” Braden, a senior, also rides rodeo. “It’s a really good organization,” he says of the ASABFA. “I graduate this year, but I will be more than glad to help out any way I can.”

Most people think of Kenneth

Walker as chairman of the Cullman County Commission. He’s also a boat captain for Holly Pond High School’s fishing team, coached by Richard Hays. Kenneth volunteered when his son Braden, now a senior, joined the school’s first bass team three years ago. Now his son Landen, a sophomore, is on the team, which was well received from the get-go. 40


“We had more people sign up than we had boats for,” Kenneth says. In fact, with the boys excited about it, Kenneth bought a bass boat. “As a kid, my family had a farm at Berlin that had three ponds on it. I grew up pond fishing,” he says. “Usually, if I go bass fishing now, one of the boys goes with me, but sometimes I go off with a friend or carry somebody.” As a boat captain, he can’t fish at ASABFA events. Still, he says, it’s

good to get out with the kids. Other benefits, he says, include education – through ASABFA sponsors, $35,000 in various scholarships are awarded – and learning fishing skills, such as patience and water and weather conditions. “There’s lot more about fishing than going out and wetting a hook,” Kenneth says.


ponsor and coach Chris Gable heads the new team at Vinemont

Freshman Vinemont fishing team member Chyan Gable lets fly with a cast in the rain during the ASABFA

tournament at Smith Lake in March. With her are her dad and boat captain, Chris Gable, and junior class teammate

Zack Drake. “We kept trying different baits,” Chyan says of the messy day. “One minute it was calm, then it would start raining and the wind was pushing the boat 3 miles per hour.” She and Zack work well as a boat team. “We know how

to have fun and be serious,” Chyan says. “We’re pretty good whenever we’re on our game,” he says. “That day we just

couldn’t get them to bite and stay on. It was a little miserable out there, but you got to do what you got to do.” He says the idea of a team caught on fast at Vinemont. “Most people there enjoy fishing and hunting, so it fits in pretty good.”

High School. He hopes to see teams formed at all of the county schools. VHS started its first season with enough kids for three boats but has grown to five boats and 10 students, including three girls. “There are kids who need something to do,” Chris says. “A lot of them don’t play other sports, and I see kids get into trouble who don’t have anything to do.” The kids enjoy being on the team, he says, and, because of the

“no-pass, no-play” rule, fishing encourages them to study and stay in school. Chris, too, says fishing in bad weather at the Smith Lake tournament helped build mental toughness. “That bodes well for the sportsmanship that goes to the core of what fishing is all about,” Chris says. “Tournament fishing, especially, is not a fair-weather friend. We try to prepare the kids

ahead of time to be prepared to fish, regardless. Some laugh it off, but they learn to listen when the boat captain says to bring rain gear.” Chris loves the competition of fishing against adult anglers at tournaments. The ASABFA, though, teaches teamwork. For instance, he says, the Vinemont boats communicate with each other, passing on bait and other tips to help the overall team. Next year, Chris is looking MAY | JUNE | JULY


forward to having Kenneth Chambers working with his team.

Kenneth Chambers grew up on

Eva Road pond fishing until his dad bought five acres at Big Rock on Smith Lake. After that, they often camped and fished there. Later they built a rough cabin. As a teen, he often invited buddies for fishing weekends. Next year, Kenneth’s youngest son, Eli, will be eligible for the VHS team. Kenneth looks forward to spending time with him and the other Vinemont kids, imparting his knowledge about bass fishing. “We learned things, but they are learning so much younger,” Kenneth says. “It’s amazing to watch.” The kids also are exposed to a growing career field. In Kenneth’s case, fishing as a kid led him to compete in tournaments while working as a Cullman city firefighter. Later he took jobs in boat sales, and, today, owns Freedom Marine Center on U.S. 431 in Albertville. Some of today’s young anglers may be BASS pros, he says. Or work for ESPN. Or sell bass boats. Fishing with the Alabama Student Angler Bass Fishing Association can open doors to such dreams. But there’s something else here,

It was about 1985 when Keith Turney took this photograph of his future

brother-in-law, Kenneth Chambers. Kenneth was 13 and fishing with his dog, Tiffany, from Big Rock near Elephant Point on Smith Lake. He likes that young anglers today have the opportunity to fish competitively and further their skills, but Kenneth says he also appreciates the innocent fun of fishing and the memories it creates.

too, something that harkens back to his fishing days as a kid. “I want these kids to have memories of fishing,” Ken says. “I look back at

that picture of me and my dog on Big Rock fishing. Everybody who went to our old cabin to fish will tell you those were the best times of our lives.”

ASABFA teams: the rules they fish by The basics... Here are the Alabama Student Anglers Bass Fishing Association’s basic rules: • Each high school team can field up to five voluntarily supplied boats, each with two student anglers and a volunteer adult boat captain. There are no classifications by school size. • The ASABFA sanctions six “spring” tournaments statewide. Each team fishes three of them in hopes of qualifying for the state championship. • Each boat can weigh five fish, and the average weight of each team’s top three boats determines the standings. 42


• A tournament’s top seven finishing teams qualify for state. If any of the top seven are already qualified, that many of the next top finishers are bumped up so that seven different teams from each of the six tournaments qualify for state. • The student angler catching the biggest fish at each tournament qualifies his or her team for state. If the team is already qualified, the state slot does not bump down. • A team of the year is named based on the highest overall

standings. Among changes for next season is a district system, and each district will hold three tournaments this fall. A school can enter as many boats as it wants to those tournaments, says Drew Sanford of the ASABFA, and students fishing those tournaments are eligible for three spring tournaments. You are still limited to five boats per spring tournament, Sanford says, but if your school fields, say, 15 boats, you can send five different boats to each tournament.

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The corn thief Story and photo by Steve Maze



Life was hard for many

families in Cullman County who tried to make a living on hard scrabble farms during the Depression years of the 1930s. Cotton and corn were the two primary crops my grandfather, Jay Hugh Maze, grew on his farm on the eastern side of the county. Cotton was the cash crop and the sole income he had to buy seed and other materials needed for the farm. He grew some hay to feed his cows and mules during the winter months, but corn was a very important commodity since it was used primarily to feed his hogs during cold weather. Grandpa’s entire family would spend day upon day of backbreaking work gathering the dried corn by hand each fall. The crop would then be stored in his corn crib and rationed out by the basketful as needed. Sometimes Grandpa would pick up several ears of the corn and hold them in his hands like they were gold. And in a way they were. A poor corn crop, of which he experienced several during his lifetime, would force him to sell or slaughter an animal to keep it from starving. One day he was startled to discover some of his corn missing from the crib. He saw what he described as a “hole” in the corn pile in a rear corner of the crib. A critter of some type, perhaps a raccoon or possum, was scooping ears of corn off the floor. The corn

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on top of the pile would then drop toward the floor and form this hole or depression. Grandpa could not locate an opening where the varmints were getting into the crib, so he sat one of his steel traps near where the corn was missing. The chain attached to the trap was then nailed to a nearby board to secure it. In addition to family members helping him on the farm, Grandpa would take on a sharecropper at times. He was not paid in cash but received a portion of the crops they grew and harvested together. The following morning after setting the trap, Grandpa’s sharecropper was supposed to assist him with some chores. The man was a good worker and normally reliable, but he was missing when Grandpa walked out to the porch. So he headed toward the barn to see if the man was there, and only then did he see him standing beside the corn crib. “Come on!” Grandpa hollered. “We’ve got work to do.” “I can’t,” the man replied. “Why not?” Grandpa asked, squinting his eyes. The stone faced man stood there without replying. Grandpa walked over to him and immediately saw why the man was unable to join him. His hand was caught in the steel trap that grandpa had set the evening before.


s it turned out, the man had been the varmint stealing the

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corn. Each night he would pull a loose board off the crib in order to gain access to the corn. When he scooped out all he wanted, the thief would tack the board back in place so his crime would go undetected. Unfortunately for him, he reached into the dark crib and had not seen the trap. Neither could he reach the trap through the narrow opening to release his hand. The man had been standing beside the corn crib all night when he was discovered. The sharecropper confessed that he had been stealing the corn and trading it to a moonshiner for whiskey. That made sense to Grandpa since he had noticed the man had seemed a little tipsy over the previous week or so. Grandpa had also been wondering how he had scraped up enough money to buy liquor. The sharecropper’s hand was swollen almost twice its normal size, and he was in severe pain, but that wasn’t his only problem. Grandpa was mad. Very mad. One thing he would not tolerate was a thief. He reared back and kicked the man’s rear end with his big work boot. The man screamed in pain as Grandpa kicked him five or six more times. Eventually, he released the sharecropper’s hand from the trap and told him that he had better not catch him back on his property – ever. And he didn’t.

Hanceville (256)-352-6411 MAY | JUNE | JULY



Story and photos by David Moore

ullman County 47 is aptly called Double Bridge Road for the two bridges, perhaps a football field apart, that cross the Duck River and Mulberry Fork. Why, I wonder, didn’t they locate the road a short distance south, past the river’s confluence, so it required building only a single bridge across the Mulberry? But questioning bygone surveys quickly flows from my mind – along with lots of other clutter – on this sunny, near-spring morning. Climbing out of Bryan McFee’s vehicle, the two of us untie his canoe from the roof. Clint Creel and his 15-year-old, Warren, haul two canoes from the back of his truck, while Bill and Kim Lawrence unload their kayaks. We were in a Mulberry state of mind. The river beckons. I don’t make float trips and get on whitewater nearly often enough, but I’ve gone enough to know this will be fun. And, instinctively, I know I need the therapy of a running river. We lug boats and our gear down the steep embankment and launch our Mulberry adventure. The water is shallow, golden-green and clearflowing. It envelopes the hulls in soft, wet fingers gently tugging, urging us to go. Blue sky caps a world closely rimmed by trees, riverbanks and wooded hillsides. Dipping paddles, we glide off downstream, bound for Garden City, a distance of 7.25 crow miles, 11 canoe miles and five Mulberry Fork hours, including a stop for fun and food. During the entire trip, Cullman County will be on the right bank, Blount County on the left. We paddle the county line. In short order we pass the mouth of the Duck River. Bryan captains our canoe from the stern. An engineer for Combustion Components Associates, he and his wife live on Smith Lake in the Sulfur 46


Springs area. More pertinent to the moment, he’s been canoeing since 1975 and, at one point, was one of the top whitewater canoeists in Alabama. He’s taught the sport on the Ocoee River in Tennessee and used to be a stripper – a builder of cedar strip canoes, that is.

Today, we are in his faithful, old Old Town canoe, lovingly patched from years of roughly kissing untold rocks just beneath the surface. With every stroke of my paddle, my muscles help the bow slice cleanly through the now deeper green water. I love this, but for Bryan it’s a passion.

Clint Creel, Kim and Bill Lawrence in kayaks and Warren Creel paddle and float down a section of the Mulberry Fork a mile or two below Double Bridge Road on a pre-spring day. A white, rope swing hangs from a tree left of the page fold. Starting as a creek southeast of Arab, the Mulberry serves as nearly the entire length of the boundary between Cullman and Blount counties before flowing into Walker County. It has meandered 102 miles by the time it joins the Locust Fork from the east and the Sipsey Fork from the west to form the Black Warrior River. MAY | JUNE | JULY


Clint Creel starts off downstream from

the “double bridge”

over the Mulberry. Here the river

is about 30 feet

wide. By the time it reaches Garden

City it’s about 100

feet across. Past the

nearby Duck River, the Mulberry gets

a little deeper, but Bryan McFee,

Kim Lawrence and

Warren Creel, below, find the first few

miles to be smooth paddling.

“Canoes are romance,” he once wrote. “They are a direct link back to the Native Americans who used them as a transport on nature’s highways. When I get into a canoe I feel a connection to all of the history the canoe represents. I feel a part of something much bigger than me.” Waxing elegant, Bryan describes the canoe as poetry on water. “The lines are pure and classic. The boat dances across the waves with the grace of a ballerina. It has speed and agility. It is sleek and graceful. Even the paddle is a thing of beauty and utility.”


ow a contractor living in Good Hope, Clint grew up in Hanceville and has been exploring, swimming and canoeing on the Mulberry since he was young. From the two-man canoe he paddles solo, Clint points out privet thickets prevalent along this part of the Mulberry. Indeed, sections of the riverbanks are overrun with the invasive shrub benignly introduced to the U.S. some 400 years ago for hedges long since gone wild. “I remember when you didn’t see any privet along here,” Clint says as we paddle. Fortunately, most of the woods along the river are – for now – free of privet. Trees grow down to the water, some exposing impossibly entwined roots clinging to drop-off banks. Boulders and rock slabs sometimes jut into the river at random intervals. The Mulberry flows mostly straight and southeast here. When 48


Along the way, Bill Lawrence and Bryan McFee keep up the banter common between kayakers and canoeists. “Twice the paddle,” Bryan laughs, “half the man. Not to mention that kayakers wear skirts.” Technically, both are true. A kayak paddle has blades on both ends; a canoe paddle has only one blade. Also, kayakers do wear a skirt. It’s a neoprene “skirt” around their waist that attaches to the rim of the cockpit to seal out water. Bill finds a skirt very practical as he “surfs” a wave-hole behind a submerged rock.

churning shoals occasionally break the otherwise smooth running water, the current grabs the canoe with more urgency. That’s fine with Bryan and me, fine with Clint and, apparently, his son. Though Warren, a baseball player for the Good Hope Raiders, uses a canoe for small lake fishing, this is his first solo trip on moving water. But the natural sense of balance he exhibits in his one-man canoe impresses us all. Bill and Kim live below Birmingham and are part of the sizable subculture of people who love to kayak wild rivers. Bryan met them many streams ago through the Birmingham Canoe Club. This is hardly the wild, whitewater rush

hardcore kayakers such as the Lawrences covet, but they take the tamed currents graciously.


ime and distance muddle on the Mulberry, but, after 90 minutes or so, Clint says we should be nearing the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament and Our Lady of Angels Monastery. Almost on cue, we hear chimes at the shrine peal the half-hour, and soon we catch our first glimpses of buildings through the woods to the right. About the same time, we reach Pumphouse Bend, a long, 180-degree curve that swings us northwest, creating a large peninsula on which the vision of Mother Angelica became a great shrine.

The bend also carries us into Blue Hole, long-known by area locals as a great swimming spot. Rugged sandstone cliffs jut some 70 and more feet above the hole on the Blount side of the water. The river narrows at the end of the deep hole, and the roar it creates dropping through the rapids drowns out the pealing of the chimes as we break for lunch on the Cullman side. We also break for fun. This is good whitewater for the upper Mulberry, and Bill makes the most of it, not running the rapids all at once, but savoring them in fun chunks. Partway down, he swings his bright orange Dagger into a small eddy, maneuvers the bow so it’s MAY | JUNE | JULY


Good Hope baseball player Warren Creel finds that Kim Lawrence’s helmet does not fit very well,

but her kayak does. On his first time in one of the boats, he makes easy work of the rapids just below Blue Hole. facing into the torrent of a wave-hole behind a rock. Here he goes “surfing,” his kayak held in place by the opposing forces of downstream current hitting a short upstream hydraulic created by the water swirling down and back up behind the rock. Kayaking proves too much fun for Warren to watch from the sidelines. He gamely borrows Kim’s blue Dagger and putters around the hole, getting a feel for the double-bladed paddle and how low the craft sits in the water. The Lawrences offer tips. Then, after his short introduction in quiet waters, Warren, with Dad’s blessings, follows as Bill 50


back up the rock-strewn shore and run the rapids again. For the rest of the trip, Kim graciously swaps boats with Warren, who gamely paddles her kayak.


makes another run down the rapids. Clint, Kim, Bryan and I cheer the youngster’s roaring success from our picnic rocks on the bank. It’s such a thrill he hauls the kayak

hortly past Blue Hole and the rapids, we paddle into The Junction, where the Broglen River, fed by Eight Mile Creek from Lake Cotoma, flows into the growing Mulberry. Though still mostly easy current, from here on out, the river offers more fast running shoals and low-key rapids, stretches with standing waves easy and fun to run. The Mulberry pulls us into

Kim Lawrence is a sport and paddles Warren Creel’s canoe for the rest of the trip after the teenager immediately

takes to her kayak. Kayaker Bill Lawrence jokingly proclaims of Warren, “The kid’s gone over to the ‘Dark Side.’” her braces, and our buoyant craft is sucked forward by liquid power into the constant, roaring tune of fast running water. From one eddy, under Bryan’s instructions, he and I paddle back up into the rapids and maneuver into a wave-hole. He wants me to experience the sensation of facing into the current and surfing. The canoe hangs in the balance of opposing water powers churning into one another. “Twirl your paddle over your head,” he hollers at me over the rushing rapids. “That’s how you celebrate when you’re surfing.” The lower section of our run is more developed than the upper section, but “developed” is a relative term. We see a handful of very nice, newish houses, most tastefully set

back in the trees. Their residents will hear and have access to the Mulberry but, with summer foliage, not be seen from the water. Older cabins seem to have melded into the wooded banks, and we see a few folks enjoying the afternoon, sunning on small beaches or fishing from canoes. We exchange hellos and paddle on. It’s a pure-fun day under the blue sky of this pleasant pre-spring afternoon. I didn’t know I came for therapy, but that’s what I get. In fact, I feel safe to say, we all get a good dose of it. We are in a Mulberry state of mind.


ater we paddle under the bridge at Cullman County 10. Soon we pass Mud Creek. Eventually we hit a straight section of river visible from

the bridge on Cullman County 26, a.k.a. Racehorse Johnson Parkway. Form here, there is more interesting river left than I expect, but sooner rather than later we paddle under the CSX trestle and head for our take-out at the Garden City park on the river where we’d left shuttle vehicles that morning. I am a bit tired. I am not alone. But we’ve all enjoyed ourselves. Thoroughly. “It’s been about two years since I went canoeing,” Bryan confesses. “You don’t know how much I needed that.” Other than gas, it was basically free therapy for us all. Well, all but Clint. “Too bad,” Bill laughs at him, nodding toward Warren. “Looks like you’ll have to buy a kayak.” MAY | JUNE | JULY


While the Mulberry Fork is relatively tame in technical

whitewater terms, it perks up nicely a few miles downstream from Garden City. In fact, the run is so popular among kayakers and canoeists that for 33 years they have trekked here every March

from near and far to compete in time-clocked slalom racing. Since 1992, the Mulberry has hosted one of three races – the other two

on the Locust Fork – comprising the competition for the Alabama Cup. This year’s event drew an estimated 300-400 people to

Cullman to pit their skills against the rapids and watch the fun. Photos by David Moore

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Out ’n’ About If you were out and about at

Wallace State recently, you might have seen Benjamin

Miller of Hanceville, left,

Brashell Bates of Cullman and Hayden Gay of

Blountsville eating in the

common area of the new School

of Nursing and Center for Science Building.

Back in mid-April, you might

have seen Mr. Easter Bunny.

Debbie Wood, left, and Lynda McGriff Hankey saw him

in downtown Cullman. You

also might have seen him at school or in a nursing home

promoting an Easter egg hunt.

Mr. Bunny claimed he’s a good buddy of Gus Slaten, a DJ at

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Cullman County Good Life Magazine - Summer 2014  
Cullman County Good Life Magazine - Summer 2014