The Local, Volume 5, Number 1

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F I V E | I S S U E O N E T H R E E | I S S U E O N E

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There are times in life when all the warmth of familiarity welcomes you with open arms and creates a sense of peace. When every day feels like home, and the morning brings the light of security. These days come in the Spring along with beauty and awakening. But the reality of this life is that picturesque moments are not promised. This Spring has been a whirlwind of uncertainty, void of promise of change. However, I think that in these times, more than ever, we grow. Rather, we have the opportunity to flourish amidst the chaos. These uncertain days are numbered, they will not last forever. Yet, here and now we have the opportunity to make beautiful things that will have a lasting impact. Producing a magazine is always challenging and full of unexpected twists and turns, but this issue has been a unique experience. Never before has a global pandemic struck the production of The Local, but there’s a first

for everything. This magazine has always been about showcasing the strength and beauty behind the city of Birmingham. This Spring that our city has been tested; however, the beauty behind Birmingham is it’s fortitude and unbridled perseverence. We aim to showcase the heart of our city in this issue, while practicing the art of gratitude. As a staff, this issue is special to us for many reasons, but mainly because it echoes the strength of Birmingham by enduring the chaos of uncertainty. The stories we tell are real and honest, placing the full range of human emotion on display. No matter where this issue may find you, we hope that you find hope and are enlightened through this lens of the city you love.

Sarah Watlington Editor-in-Chief

table of

featured photo: Cahaba River, An Unsung Victim pp. 22

contents THE BOYS FROM BHAM | 6 Meet The Brook and The Bluff

RECYCLE A HOUSE, REVITALIZE A COMMUNITY | 10 Sustainabile living with the BuildUp Foundation

STAY HEALTHY | 13 Mental wellness in an uncertain time

SO WE NEVER FORGET | 16 Telling the stories of Alabama’s Holocaust survivors

AN UNSUNG VICTIM | 22 Development impacts Birmingham’s largest river

A MILD OBSESSION | 26 Musician Bob Tedrow’s dedication to craft

PEANUTS IN THE MAGIC CITY | 30 The success of Alabama Peanut Company

PUTTING DOWN ROOTS IN THE MAGIC CITY | 35 Birmingham’s first kombucha taproom

THE ART OF EMOTIONAL CONNECTION | 38 Meet artist Mary Grace Wolnski

THE PINK HOUSE | 42 Homewood history restored

TRAVEL LOCAL: A WEEKEND TRIP | 45 Weekend getaways abound in the South

we aim to



meet the staff PUBLISHER clay carey


DIGITAL EDITOR alexis amann

gunnar sadowey




sarah watlington

kaitlyn baker meredith beck

ON THE COVER Bob Tedrow, owner of Homewood Music, plays one of his banjo ukuleles. Story on page 26. Photo by Sarah Watlington.

shelly fulks


tori green

cassidy robinson


stephen defrancesco

katie roth

The Local is an annual magazine published by students at Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama. The stories and photographs that appear in The Local are produced by students in Samford University’s print and online journalism practicum programs. The views expressed in The Local do no necessarily reflect the views of the staff or of Samford University. Samford University is an Equal Opportunity Institution and welcomes applications for employment regardless of race, color, age, sex, disability, or national or ethic origin.

MISSION STATEMENT The Local aims to awaken natives and newcomers alike to Birmingham’s vibrant culture and development, encompassing the spirit of the city. Through captivating narratives and compelling visuals, we seek to build unity, celebrate diversity and maintain integrity.






efore The Brook and The Bluff moved to Nashville in 2018, they found their roots in Mountain Brook and Bluff Park neighborhoods of Birmingham, Alabama. Once they established their roots in Birmingham, however, they found themselves going down very different paths. Fred was going to be a first grade teacher. John was going to be an accountant. Alec was going to be a guitar teacher. Joseph was going to be a music educator. This is what the Brook and the Bluff could have been. But this is not what they are. You may have heard of the Birmingham-born, Nashville-based band from your college friends. You may even have heard some of their songs on local radio stations. Maybe you heard about their tour across the United States and their goal to play 44 original shows throughout the South and East coast in 2017. There’s more to The Brook and the Bluff than what you’ve heard, though. The band’s story starts out in Crestline where bassist Fred Lankford and electric guitarist Alec Bolton were next-door neighbors. When Fred and Alec went to Auburn University, they met lead singer Joseph Settine. Joseph was studying music education, but he quickly realized teaching wasn’t for him. While John was about to accept accounting position, he saw Alec and Joseph at a gig and began to play music with them. A couple gigs on the weekends turned to more gigs during the weekdays which turned into the thought that maybe the trio could make a living off of music.

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Alec, Joseph, and John decided to start The Brook and the Bluff, move back to Birmingham after college, and see what happened. Also realizing that teaching wasn’t for him, Fred decided to get more involved with music and eventually joined The Brook and the Bluff as the band’s bassist.

schedules; however, they want people to not take them too seriously even though they are gaining popularity. You can listen to The Brook and the Bluff newest album “First Place” on all streaming services and maybe even see them play live in a city near you by checking out their tour dates at

During their time in Birmingham, the band saw great success. Releasing multiple EP’s and a full-length album, the harmony-centric group started touring more outside of the state. With a growing fan base and a rapidly-growing hunger for music, the band decided to move to Nashville, Tennessee in February 2018 where the music scene seemed to hold more opportunities.

Photos courtesy of Paradigm Agency.

While the first couple of months in Nashville involved lots of Uber drives and Shipt jobs, the band focused on planning a tour while they weren’t playing gigs. Assembling an allstar team proved to pay off in the end as the band found their producer, Micah Tawlks. Being in the recording community in Nashville versus Birmingham helped the band reach higher musical standards because of the more intense music scene in their new city. With the help of Tawlks and their musical community in Nashville, the band released a full studio album, “First Place,” in October 2019. “I’d say your sound is just naturally a combination of all the things that you love to listen to...especially for me I’d say for this album it would be Frank Ocean’s “Blonde”, Kacey Musgraves’ “Golden Hour” and John Mayer’s “Continuum”, lead singer Joseph said. “Those are probably the three biggest albums that are landmark points in my life, so I think that those three are what guided this album.” When asked where they see themselves in the future, drummer John Canada said, “There aren’t limits to our aspirations, but I think for us being on the inside of it, everything for us is day to day. For us to actually make it we kind of have to put blinders on and just put our heads down and be day to day. Only focusing on making the best songs that we can make. And no matter how big we get, we’re still gonna be doing the same stuff. We’ll still be touring and recording, but we’ll have more people’ll always be us.” Touring throughout the Spring and playing various music festivals in the fall will take up most of the band member’s

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Recycle a Home. Revit

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talize a Community. BY: MEREDITH BECK The low hum of an 18-wheeler slowly approaching fills the quiet street in Homewood, Ala. (AL). Families are tucked away in their houses, sharing stories around the dinner table, completing homework assignments, bathing children. Their neighborhood will look a little different the next morning when the sunrise reveals an empty lot where a quaint house once stood. All day the construction workers prepared for this moment. The empty house is sitting on stilts, no longer secured by its foundation. Dollies are carefully maneuvered beneath the house, which attach to the 18-wheeler. Slowly, the driver pulls away leaving a plot of land ready for a new home to be built. Transporting a house is not a novel idea. Todd Kirkpatrick of MT Kirkpatrick House Movers says house moving is over one hundred years old. “House moving has been around since the 1800s,” Kirkpatrick said. “It’s still mind boggling to us how many people don’t know about house moving.” Kirkpatrick also said the process of moving a house takes a minimum of five days from the very start of the process through to the end, but it can take longer depending on the house structure. One particularly difficult job

moving a house for Build UP required cutting the structure in two. “The house we brought to Ensley actually had to be cut in half, which is somewhat complicated,” said Kirkpatrick. SUSTAINABILITY Sustainable living is a movement sweeping across the globe. Through recycling and eliminating single-use plastic, individuals all over the world are seeking to decrease their carbon footprint and become better stewards of our earth’s resources. Many families and individuals make a habit of recycling plastic water bottles, junk mail, cardboard boxes, milk jugs, and anything else the city accepts as “recyclable.” However, recycling a house is an entirely different kind of project. Build UP, a non-profit organization in Birmingham focused on community revitalization, is playing a role in this sustainability effort in a way that has never been seen before through recycling houses. The recycled homes originally come from Homewood and Mountain Brook, and are transported to Ensley, Alabama, where Build UP apprentices restore the houses into quality starter homes for families in the community.

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BREAKING DOWN THE BENEFITS Donating recyclable homes is sustainable both economically and environmentally. According to Build UP founder and CEO Mark Martin, moving houses from communities in Homewood and Mountain Brook essentially pays for itself. Greater Birmingham Homebuilders Association president Colt Byrom says donating keeps the older homes from going to landfills and provides the homeowner with a tax write-off that should cover the cost of moving it.

However, if they donate the house to Build UP, which is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization, they are entailed to a likely tax refund of more than $55,000. HOW THE PROCESS WORKS

In order to donate a home, the owners pay Build UP for half the cost of moving the house from the property to the designated location in Ensley. This is a minimum of $15,000 at the time when the house is being moved. Additionally, the home owners pledge to make a cash donation to Build UP after receiving the According to Build UP, recycling a house is receipt of their tax refund which will cover the not only cost effective for the family donating remaining amount for moving the house. the home, but it also is beneficial for the future inhabitants of the house. A standard Once the house is transported, the scenario for the home donation initiative is homeowners can potentially sell the lot for even when property owners are looking to sell the more, knowing that most interested buyers home they have lived in for approximately ten would have demolished the house to build a years to move elsewhere. Often, the house was larger, more modern home. Ultimately, the constructed in the 1960’s, but has been taken homeowners can potentially receive $25,000 care of and has some updates. The land value from the tax benefit and an additional $20,000 alone in Mountain Brook and Homewood is in added value for selling their plot of land in typically appraised to be valued at $185,000, Mountain Brook or Homewood without the and the house alone is valued at $145,000, 1960s house. making the total value $325,000. However, cleared lots in neighboring areas can sell for The bottom line is everyone wins. Build UP apprentices, families, and the Birmingham anywhere from $325,000 to $375,000. community now receive a home to help If the homeowners have a projected adjusted end generational poverty and revitalize the The homeowners benefit gross income (AGI) of $300,000 for 2019, this neighborhood. places them at a 35% federal tax rate, which financially by approximately $50,000 through incurs a tax burden just over $80,000 plus a donating and recycling the home and selling the minimum of close to $15,000 owed to the state land, while not having to pay any demolition of Alabama. This makes the homeowners’ costs. The environment wins by keeping a total tax burden approximately $95,000. stable, sturdy home from going to a landfill.

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tay healthy. Stay safe at home. Practice social distancing. These phrases have been repeated by many across the globe,

but how do they address our mental health? COVID-19 attacks

physical health, but all the measures to prevent this pandemic also can affect one’s emotional and mental well being. BY: ALEXIS AMANN

How do I keep fear from overtaking my thoughts?

Why is community important?

How do I find community right now?

Can I be productive at home?

Can I handle change? Am I OK when I am alone?


OVID-19 has created unforseen challenges to people across the globe. Fear, panic and health concerns were at the forefront of minds in addition to the importance of staying safe at home. In the midst of the chaos, some practices COVID-19 has required but can apply to normal life after this pandemic ceases to rule our everyday lives. Staying safe at home and practicing social distancing creates an opportunity to learn about self care and maintaining a healthy lifestyle for your mental health. Half the battle with mental health is being aware of your thoughts and emotions. Taking the time to stop and reflect over questions about feelings of aloneness, fear, routines, and community, or more specific to

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your life, is very important, especially in times of uncertainty. Whether you face challenges regularly with mental health or not, it is important to be aware of how unexpected changes can affect mental health. “I think routine is very helpful,” said licensed professional counselor and supervisor Anna Stanley. “It can help you set a realistic pace for your day, set small attainable goals, and not get lost in a lazy haze of scrolling through your phone or binge watching on Netflix for hours,” Stanley continued. “We are all in a slow ‘detox’ from our normal, and most clients I talk to (myself included) feel a keyed up sensation like adrenaline pumping during a ‘fight or flight’ experience. A routine can help you keep moving through that feeling as it will begin to wear

off, focus on some things you name as important, and set you up for success for the long haul. Routine can help you finish the marathon.” Technology, and especially social media, have been in the spotlight throughout COVID-19. Normally social media can receive a bad rap due to cyberbullying or the threat of becoming addicted and distracted from more important aspects of life. However, in a time of uncertainty, technology and social media is an outlet for hope, positivity and social connection. “I do think that connection during this time is important,” Stanley said. “I feel like most people are missing their people more than anything. Social media can help us stay connected if it’s used in healthy ways and in healthy doses. I think it can

be helpful to make a list of healthy, loving, important people in your life. Stay connected to those people even if you cannot see them in person. Connection through technology is better than nothing, but you can also call them, FaceTime them, and see them through Zoom or another group video platform.

running a marathon. A slow and steady pace finishes the race. Some are setting too fast of a pace, and it’s not sustainable. I also think we need to practice compassion and respect toward ourselves and others. Everyone has different opinions and I think it’s important to respect lines that we are drawing.”

Also, it’s important to set boundaries with social media. If you feel that a certain person, platform, or channel is hurting you ( too much information, too much drama, too much ‘pollyanna’ coping, etc.) then block them or turn them off. I think you can also decide as you go because your needs may change.” This is an ideal example of a resource being used for good and in moderation.

Other resources for mental health are exercise. In a time of social distancing, at home exercise is key as well as taking walks outdoors with precautions (such as staying six feet away from others). It is an unusual time, but there are still many outlets to exercise and receive the benefits physically and mentally to exercise and outdoor fresh air!

“The thing that seems detrimental to me is acting as though you know how to handle this,” Stanley explained. “The healthiest people are trying their best, accepting this is a trial/error process, and change things as they go. Also, I don’t think we can do this alone. I think we need to see it as training for/

A pandemic like COVID-19 is a scary time, but to keep hope, persevere and take care of our physical, emotional and mental well-being is important. Stress is high and times are confusing. The coronavirus will not last forever and the world will move forward. Remember these times and keep the learned practices of social distancing back into “normal” life after the chaos of COVID-19.

“The thing that seems detrimental to me is acting as though you know how to handle this. The healthiest people are trying their best, accepting this is a trial/error process, and change things as they go. Also, I don’t think we can do this alone. I think we need to see it as training for/ running a marathon. A slow and steady pace finishes the race. Some are setting too fast of a pace, and it’s not sustainable.” - Anna Stanley



Set a wake up time and bedtime to keep consistenty in your day. This also allows to get your day started at a decent time in the morning.


Stop activity/work for meals. Take a lunch break. Have an end to your work or school day.


Exercise, even if it’s just a walk around the block. Fresh air is good to keep motivation up and keep energy up!


Set work hours if you are working from home, and it may help to have a designated “work space” instead of just on your bed. I’ve seen so many people being creative where they actually get dressed for work, set a small work table up in a corner for their office, and only work there. This protects your bedroom (for rest), your living room (for downtime or connecting), and so on. This sounds like overkill, but it is actually helping people navigate this long term situation and not wear themselves out on the first leg.


It can be good to look at some at home projects you could do. Some kind of progress can make you feel positive and focus on something besides your loneliness or disappointment. Tips from Anna Stanley.

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B Y : S H E L LY F U L K S

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obert May was in second grade in Camberg, Germany, when Adolf Hitler rose to power.

His childhood changed quickly: children shunned him and left him out of afterschool activities. “The up and

Stormtroopers began down the streets,” May

marching recalled.

“They began boycotting the Jewish stores. That was just the beginning of the Nazi regime of persecuting the Jews.” May was fortunate to have wealthy relatives in Frankfurt who opened their apartment to him so he could attend a Jewish day school. Not long after his move to Frankfurt, the Nuremburg laws were passed, further excluding Jews from city activities and employment. In November of 1938, May and his aunt were warned to not return to their apartment that day or night. On the night now known as Kristallnacht, the pair walked the streets until morning. No one knew they were Jews, so they could do so freely.

“From the outside, we could see nothing happening to our apartment. When we walked to my school, we could see it burning. I remember seeing the fire department watching the school burn to make sure none of the surrounding buildings caught fire,” May said. Eventually the pair gathered the courage to return to their home. While the outside of the building seemed unharmed, the inside was demolished. Furniture was turned over, mattresses were cut, washbasins were broken and fixtures were destroyed. With the apartment in Frankfurt upheaved just like his family home in Camberg, neither May nor his family had anywhere to go. Just a month later, May moved to a boarding school in England. The country had opened its borders to all Jewish children under the age of 16. May was able to receive an education, be housed and fed. He remembers writing to his parents from England begging them to get out of Germany. They were able to escape in September of 1939 just days before Germany declared war on Poland.


Robert May’s Passport marked with a “J”

Emmigration papers from Germany. Name written as Robert ISRAEL Marcus May


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The idea for this exhibit was born as Becky and Alan Seitel were trying to appreciate and respect each other’s faiths. Since Becky, a Christian, and Alan, a Jew, did not worship together, they wanted an opportunity to share a similar experience out of that traditional worship experience. Giving back seemed like the best option to find this outlet. Becky had rediscovered her love of photography so this guided them towards art, but the cause that they would support was a bit more difficult to determine. After attending a memorial, the Seitels

local Holocaust found their cause.

“I had never met a Holocaust survivor and had certainly never heard a first-hand account of that horrible time in history,” said Becky Seitel. With the help of Mitzi Levin, an artist who is also Christian and married to a Jewish husband, the two women completed their original exhibit featuring nine survivors from the Birmingham area. The exhibit was originally shown in the Birmingham Levite Jewish Community Center in 2007 and was then invited to be shown at the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute. After being shown at the Civil Rights Institute, the exhibit grew from telling the stories of nine to the stories of 20 from all over the state. It was then donated to the Birmingham Holocaust Education Center with the hopes of being able to educate students and other residents of the state. Many survivors suffered ridicule and anti-Semitism far before Hitler came into power in Germany and discuss their childhoods where they were bullied by both their classmates and their teachers.

Jack Bass was only eight years old when his teacher made him come up to the front of the class to read a demeaning portion of the poem “The Tree Which Wanted to Change Its Leaves” by Friedrich Ruckert. Whenever the poem was read, Jack would have to come to the front to read the story of the bearded Jew who stole the golden leaves from the tree. Ilse and Ruth, two sisters who tell their stories, grew up in Germany and focus on the happier memories in their childhoods. Ruth tells the stories of riding in her father’s car before the war. Ilse remembers her mother’s cooking for Shabbat. Just as they focused on different elements of their childhood, each survivor highlights elements of their lives that they are especially appreciative of after the cruel treatment they faced in concentration camps. Henry Aizenman was so thankful to have the opportunity to be another year older that he celebrates his birthday twice—once on the day he was born and once on the day he was liberated. “The Holocaust robbed six million Jews of celebrating another birthday when it eliminated approximately twothirds of Europe’s Jewish population,” Aizenman says. Each and

survivor offers a gratefulness for

unique their

“Although I realize that every day is like a present from G-d, I also realize that the Germans and their Hungarian collaborators stole from me one of the most precious things in life: the magic of youth,” Agnes Tennenbaum said.

“ I t w a s g o n e . . . g o n e f o r e v e r. ”

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perspective survival.

Things grew more and more volatile in the next year as the family awaited visas to come to the United States. Once again, in the nick of time, their visas arrived just before the London Blitz began in August of 1940. The family took a convoy from Liverpool to Cuba. With blacked out windows and horrible food, the journey was anything but pleasant. “When we were closer to the Irish channel, I remember watching a boat not too far in the distance being torpedoed. We were holding on to our life vests and standing underneath a lifeboat,” May said. ***

Ruth in front of her portion of the From Darkness into Life exhibit

When the Birmingham Holocaust Education Center was founded in 2002, the organizers had no budget, no plans and no ideas. They simply knew that the stories of survivors like Robert May needed to be shared. Now, almost 20 years later, a small team of employees, a few remaining survivors and passionate teachers and volunteers are doing just that. Ann Mollengarden, Robert May’s daughter, was one of those founders. She had just returned from a national workshop about the Holocaust and needed to know what was being done to educate the Birmingham area on those tragic events. Along with a broader community of educators and survivors, Mollengarden began learning more about other survivors’ experiences from the children’s section of the library. Now, as the education coordinator for the BHEC, she helps others learn. From the end of the war until the 1960’s, many survivors were simply trying to put the pieces of their lives back together. Many, including May, had hidden their past away. “In Birmingham, survivors didn’t begin speaking about their experiences until the 1980s. It takes a while to muster the courage to speak about it,” Mollengarden said. Now the Birmingham Holocaust Education Center provides numerous ways for these survivors’ stories to be told.

Robert May Speaking - Holt High School at the BHEC, April 2019

“One thing that is so heartwarming is when survivors say to me ‘You have helped me be able to tell my story.’ They know that we will continue telling their stories,” said Mollengarden. May is one of the three survivors still able to go on speaking engagements through the center. Worldwide, it is estimated that there are 400,000 living survivors of the Holocaust.

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LESSONS FROM A SURVIVOR What can you learn from the life of Robert May?


First, you learn that only in America could a little boy who was raised in a little town in a strange country could they come across the ocean could they achieve a decent life and make a success of their life.


Third, it takes a family to raise a child. A mother and father cannot always raise a child but it takes a family unit to raise and educate a child and make something out of a child.

Through their children, trained speakers and prepared presentations, the BHEC is working to ensure their stories are told long after the remaining survivors cannot. “It is important that we continue their legacy. We must make sure they know what they experienced was not in vain and people will continue to learn,” Mollengarden said.

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Second, only through education can you make the most of the adversities of life. I stress education-- basically this is what lifted me up from the masses. I was able to achieve something because I went to a decent school. I did not miss out on my education like a lot of the other refugees who escaped.

Fourth, and not least,

this should never happen again.

Incorporating the words and stories of survivors with images of the present and paintings of their memories, the exhibit From Darkness into Light is a powerful and moving experience whether you are visiting online or in person.

The BHEC tells these survivors stories in several ways. Created to celebrate the lives of 20 Alabama Holocaust survivors, the Darkness into Life exhibit of the Birmingham Holocaust education center is a beautiful collaboration of photography and art blended with the stories of survivors, like the one of Robert May.

“It’s different. It is meant to be uplifting. Horrible stories, called Darkness into Life because life continues. It’s not because they don’t have wounds, but you have to move forward and carry those wounds with you,” said Mollengarden while describing the exhibit. When survivors like May tell their story, they are able to teach the lessons that they believe need to be taught. Each time May speaks with a class, he ends his talk with the question, “What can you learn from my life?”

“The exhibit isn’t something we commissioned; it just happened,” Mollengarden explained.

In addition to connecting students and others to the individuals who survived the holocaust, the BHEC hosts

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Holocaust Survivors at L’Chaim, a celebration of life, in 2019

teachers for workshops and cadres. They provide a number of scholarships each year for teachers to attend national workshops about the holocaust. Their website even provides PowerPoint presentations and other materials for teachers to use as resources while they teach. “We hope to entice teachers with materials that they want to incorporate into their classroom more. We have teachers who call to ask specific questions. It is amazing to see how creative these teachers are,” said Mollengarden.

in their eyes. To be able to open a door to something that the average person has not been aware of is profound. It’s the small little things that make the biggest impact. It is special when you really touch someone and make them think of the experiences of others,” Mollengarden said.

“It is special when you really touch someone and make them think of the experiences of others,”

Through original stage productions, holocaust survivor testimonies, name reading and other events, staff and volunteers of the center are continually working to ensure that the lessons of Robert May and the other survivors are learned and that something so tragic can never happen again.

--Ann Mollengarden

“Any time you can touch a person and see the light go off

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g n u s n U n A m i t c Vi


The Cahaba River is the primary drinking source for the city of Birmingham.


locking in at 194 miles long, the Cahaba River is the longest free-flowing river in the state of Alabama. It is the primary drinking source for the city of Birmingham, but it also faces a major challenge. Development in the Birmingham-metro area has been on the rise in the last 20 years. Communities around the Cahaba River have seen an increase in population of about 60 percent according to the City of Birmingham. David Butler, staff attorney and riverkeeper for the Cahaba Riverkeepers, is committed to increasing awareness about pollution in the Cahaba. “We’re a non-profit advocacy group,” Butler said. “We document issues in the river and hold people accountable.” The Cahaba Riverkeepers are responsible for many programs to help locals understand the complex biodiversity of the river and how to be safe when using it. The Swim Guide is released weekly during the summer months and gives people an idea of where it is safe to

swim. According to Butler, it also documents the number of waste treatment facilities and septic tanks. But there is more to pollution in the Cahaba than just trash and waste treatment excess. “The biggest threat to habitat is just dirt and accumulation of sediment,” Butler said. “People look at dirt and see it as a natural part of the river, the bed of the Cahaba is very rocky and the mud flows in the river and blocks the rocks and the things that require that space don’t have a habitat anymore. So they have to move down the river where they won’t survive.” According to Butler, he believes the river is cleaner chemically than it was historically but the overall health of the river is at a steady decline due to the amount of development around the river. “We are changing the river so fast it doesn’t have time to heal itself,” Butler said. “The impact is greater and greater and has a smaller margin, habitats for species are vulnerable.” spring 2020 | 23

Butler says that the Cahaba River has some of the most biodiversity than any other body of water in the world. As development continues, certain species are at risk for being endangered or even extinct. The Riverkeepers take samples and record what they find in the river to develop a catalog, something that has never been done. “Last year we collected 500 samples from different creeks and rivers so we can document what is still found in the river today,” Butler said. “Each time we take a sample, we put themin storage so it is kind of like a time capsule.”

and public outreach, we are also working on a partnership to install litter traps to collect trash before it migrates to other places.” The Riverkeepers are member-supported and rely on their members for funding and volunteers according to Butler. “We utilize tons and tons of volunteers to do the work,” Butler said. “ You can get involved with your time, money or energy, plenty of ways for people to get involved in the river actively.”

The Riverkeepers and Butler like to think that they are preserving those samples for future generations so they can see all that has lived in the Cahaba.

One large event each year is the Renew our Rivers cleanup along the Cahaba which is sponsored by Alabama Power and the Cahaba Riverkeepers.

“The biggest gap in information is just that nobody has really ever done a comprehensive survey of the river to develop a baseline,” Butler said.

“For the 20 years of the Renew our Rivers program, almost 120,000 volunteers have removed almost 16 million pounds across Alabama, Mississippi, Florida and Georgia, with over 11 million in Alabama alone,” Mike Clelland, the Alabama Power coordinator of Renew our Rivers, said.

A big point Butler tries to make is that there is an economic benefit of having species like snails in the river. According to Butler, the lack of strict environmental laws and funding for programs poses a problem for the health of the river. “Another big challenge is that our state has underfunded environmental management. The DEM only has the budget given by the state legislature to protect the hundred thousands of miles in Alabama,” Butler said. The work performed by the Riverkeepers is often viewed as political according to Butler. He wants to change that point of view. “It is really as simple as the Cahaba River is the source of our drinking water and unravelled by biodiversity,” Butler said. “Both parties have achievements and failures in terms of environmental record, the answer is really being involved, people just don’t take action.” The Cahaba Riverkeepers have several events and training throughout the year to get people involved in their efforts. “We sponsor water quality training sessions, we do training and send out volunteers to collect samples and monitor,” Butler said. “There is a lot of litter awareness

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Specifically along the Cahaba, Renew our Rivers has been supporting and participating in cleanups along the river, from the upper reaches down to the Cahaba Wildlife Refuge, alongside volunteers from Cahaba Riverkeeper and Friends of the Cahaba, according to Clelland. “Over 1,000 volunteers have removed over 63,000 pounds of trash,” Clelland said. “There is a cleanup scheduled this year on April 18th.” According to Butler, he sees that when people are out doing the volunteer work and giving their time to the river, they see the value of the work and have more opportunities to learn about the river. “Most people in Birmingham don’t have an understanding of the Cahaba other than it is the river they drive over everyday,” Butler said. “One of our biggest goals is educating people about how special and unique the river is.” Photos by Sarah Watlington.

A MILD OBSESSION Talent? No, none of that. Obsession and tenacity? That’s what Bob Tedrow is all about. B Y : K A I T LY N B A K E R Bob Tedrow attributes his musical skill not so much to raw talent as to what he calls “mild obsession and tenacity.” When those two qualities are paired with a focused sense of direction, he says, you can learn to do almost anything.

“We had a babysitter … and when she went to college, she gave my sister and I her 45 R.P.M. record player and her big stack of records,” Tedrow recalls. “I listened to the records and tried to play music and whatnot, and then I just never stopped. Now I’m 66 — I still like the records, I still like to play, I’m still trying to do it.”

“I worked a lot to do simple things, because I’m just a regular person,” he says. “But I do sound like I have talent, and what I lack in talent I make up for in stage presence.” Tedrow credits his love for music to his grandmother, who was collegeaged in the 1920s. A jazz piano player and artist, she drove an MG TD sports car and made raisin cookies — “very good ones,” Tedrow says, and he still bakes them to this day.

One thing Tedrow has become skilled at over the years is building concertinas, bellows-driven, free-reed musical f decide want instruments popular from the 1800s to the early 1900s. Once upon a to do something time, he says, somebody gave him one as a gift. He knew he had seen think about it it before, but he wasn’t sure where. Cartoons! That’s it. He had seen and then will them in cartoons. Tedrow notes that Geppetto from Pinocchio plays one, learn to do it and so does one of the dwarves from Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. ob edrow

“I I








“I wanted to grow up to be an old lady for a long, long time, because she was the coolest person I knew. […] I didn’t think my dad was that cool, so I didn’t want to grow up to be like my dad. I wanted to grow up to be like my grandmother… which, I don’t know, maybe I did a little bit,” he wonders aloud. Tedrow’s grandmother taught him how to play the ukulele when he was just four years old, and that’s where it all began for him and musical instruments. Since then, he’s also learned to play the banjo, guitar, bass, clarinet, saxophone, harmonica and concertina — not to mention learning to build concertinas! Tedrow has been working with instruments and making music in Homewood, Alabama, for more than thirty years now. As a child, his family moved around a lot so he was always the “new kid” from one town to the next. “I didn’t have a lot of friends, but I played music because I thought I was really good — of course I wasn’t,” he says.


“So I started researching it … and then I just decided, ‘Well, I’m going to spend as much time as it takes to learn to build this and see if I can make something that is useful and valuable.’ […] I have the ability to summon an obsession, okay?” he recalls, chuckling. “If I decide I want to do something, I think about it, and then I will learn to do it.” That’s what he did. He obsessed. He took apart a concertina. He looked around and saw how each piece had to be built. “There’s about a thousand parts in it, and there’s no directions,” Tedrow says. “Well, now there’s directions, because I put directions up [on the internet]. But I just had to figure it out. “I made a bunch of really bad concertinas,” he says. “And every time I made one, I learned a little bit and made a little-bit-better one. [...] I kept improving it over the course of 10 years. From the spring 2020 | 27

first time I ever made one, it was functional, but I’m talking about making one that I thought was really quite good. And then they have to be pretty, too.”

stretches the concertina out and then pulls it back in — “which is close all the way and open all the way and be airtight… I mean, it took me a long time to figure out.”

Each concertina requires about 50 hours of work — “tedious, butt-crunching benchwork,” Tedrow calls it. “The wood work has to be nice, the glue has to be right, and all the measuring has to be exactly right — you know, the button spacing, the levers.”

But in time, he figured it out. He made about a hundred, and they’re all over the world now. “Every continent, for sure,” Tedrow says. “I don’t get to go places, but these have gone places. Grand Ole Opry, Ireland, Germany, Antarctica, Africa — places I’ll never get to go, but these…” His voice trails off, and I think we both quietly wonder what songs the concertinas could write of the places they’ve been and the people they’ve met.

And it’s all done by hand. “You can’t buy any of the parts,” Tedrow says. “Every button, every leather strap — everything is all made by me, with the exception of the reeds.” He bought the reeds from Italy. He says he could have made them, but it takes about 10 hours to make just one, and there are 60 in a concertina. “So that was out,” he says. He also learned to make the bellows, which are what supply air to the reeds and control the dynamics of the sound. “This was the hard part,” he says. “That’s all individual pieces of leather, all individual pieces of cardboard. And to make it do this,” — Tedrow 28 | the local

You never know where tenacity and a mild obsession might take you. Tedrow’s most recent endeavor is fishing. “Fly fishing,” he says. “It’s very interesting.” So if you see him around, all he wants to know is where the good fishing spots are. On page 26, Bob Tedrow plays a concertina he made. Above, Tedrow plays and works on instruments at his shop, Homewood Music. Photos by Sarah Watlington

“I don’t get to go places, but these have gone places.” — Bob Tedrow

PEANUTS IN THE MAGIC CITY BY: GUNNAR SADOWEY Headquartered in Birmingham's Peanut District, Alabama Peanut Co. utilizes the antique roasters original to the peanut business that occupied the space in 1907.


he aroma of peanuts fills the air along Morris Avenue, a

historic cobblestone road in Birmingham. The scents of cajun spices and other unique flavors are almost impossible to resist. According to John Cassimus, those smells are Alabama Peanut Company’s best marketing tool. “Food memories are strong memories, particularly those related to good smells,” said Cassimus. “Coming into the store and having that first thing you smell be roasted peanuts is definitely something special. On a day when Jaime (Thursby, Alabama Peanut’s co-owner) is roasting, the aroma goes out the door and down the street and that alone can be used as advertising.” Cassimus has been involved with peanuts his entire life. He is the grandson of D.J. Cassimus, the founder of the original Peanut Depot on 2006 Morris Avenue. His grandfather D.J., an immigrant from Greece, began selling candy and peanuts on the same street in 1907. The business moved to its current location, 2016 Morris Ave after inhabiting the space of previous building owner Caldwell Printing Works in the 1940s. Cassimus passed the reigns of his peanut store on to Thursby and his brother-in-law in 2018, and the two founded Alabama Peanut Company. Since then, the company has been growing and attracting positive attention from a variety of people in the Birmingham area through the Southern art of boiling peanuts. Before collaborating with Cassimus, Thursby had been searching for a business he could start on his own after a stint as a sales executive at a shoe company. “We couldn’t find a boiled peanut vendor at my mom and dad’s antique store in Bluff Park so my brother-in-law and I started boiling peanuts in our driveway and selling them on the street,” said Thursby. “After doing a lot of research and finding that nobody was really doing it, we decided to make it a lifestyle brand.” Original 1907 roasters continue to function perfectly behind the counter and roast peanuts daily. Vintage Coca-Cola signs adorn the brick walls while containers of Goo Goo clusters sit atop wooden shelves.

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This AJ Deer Royal peanut roaster has been used since 1907. On page 33, one of the more than 15 flavors of boiled peanuts offered by Alabama Peanut Co.

A wide selection of t-shirts and hats that sport the Alabama Peanut Company name, some adorned with clever slogans such as “Southern and Salty” and “Shell Yeah,” are lined up on display. “The fun part to me is the marketing side,” said Thursby. “I love the creativity that comes with creating different peanut flavors and shirt designs.”

“One of the most rewarding and special pieces of the whole thing has been meeting customers and hearing their stories,” said Thursby. “Everybody has a story about this building and the peanut business. It is special to listen to people talk about coming here every weekend as a kid and the nostalgic smells that remind people of their childhood.”

According to Cassimus, the operation has been consistent for more than a century. Alabama Peanut Company is working hard to ensure the Southern tradition of boiled peanuts stays alive and well in Birmingham for the generation of customers who remember the store from childhood. “It is near and dear to the hearts of many people in Birmingham,” said Cassimus. “Jaime has customers that are in their 90s that came in as young children with their grandparents.” After taking over the store in 2018, Thursby quickly learned that the passion for peanuts in the Magic City was much bigger than himself.

The historical mix of old and new is what provides the perfect combination for peanut enthusiasts and hipsters alike. Incorporating new business strategies and concepts has been a positive experience for Thursby, but he is especially attentive to preserving the history within the walls of the store.

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“Everything we change at the store is done slowly and carefully,’’ said Thursby. “We want to keep our customers happy but also evolve as a company so younger people want to visit the store.”


I L L U S T R AT I O N B Y : M E R E D I T H B E C K

Kombucha taproom owners find inspiration in local ties


or those new to the world of fermentation, Pete Halupka and Lindsay Whiteaker like to describe kombucha as a healthy, nonalcoholic, carbonated soda alternative: the perfect mixture of tart and sweet. But not all kombucha tastes the same, which is readily apparent in Harvest Roots’ wide range of flavor profiles. Ginger Sunshine. Star Stuff. Elderberry and Lemongrass. Holy Basil and Rosehip. For Halupka and Whiteaker, no name or flavor is too unconventional. Halupka and Whiteaker, owners of Harvest Roots, are opening Birmingham’s first kombucha taproom in Avondale Mills. Nestled between Seasick Records and Tropicaleo, their 5,000-squarefoot brewery and taproom will feature 15 taps on draft and a ferment-forward small plates menu. “Harvest Roots is really interested in expanding the notion of what kombucha is and what it tastes like, as well as the other fermented foods we do, like pickles and sauerkrauts and kimchi,” says Halupka. “Kombucha isn’t one thing, and it doesn’t taste like one thing.” Halupka and Whiteaker’s friendship began in fifth grade in their hometown of Harvest, Ala., hence the name Harvest Roots. With patience, persistence and passion, what began as an in-

terest in food and farming transitioned into a full-time business focused on fermentation.


ack in 2012, after months of selling various types of produce and fermented beverages at farmers markets across Alabama, they realized there was a growing interest in the fermentation side of their business. “The growth of our business really seems to coincide with the growth of people’s interest in fermentation. People really wanted those products rather than another farmer growing kale and squash. We felt that [desire] from customers and started moving pretty swiftly in that direction,” says Halupka. “We started with $500 and grew as we could. It’s been a very organic growth and one where we exerted a lot of physical, emotional and mental labor.” All of their hard work paid off, and today their kombucha is sold in 23 different Birmingham locations and 15 other locations across Alabama, including grocery stores, coffee shops and restaurants. Halupka and Whiteaker first began marketing their products and creating a customer base at The Market at Pepper Place in 2013, choosing a Birmingham market because of their love for the city.

“Though we weren’t born here, we feel like our 36 | the local


heir fermented vegetables and kombucha were a hit, and that led them to transition into a fulltime focus on live-culture fermentation in 2015. They continued to grow their clientele in Birmingham while working out of their certified kitchen in the back of Little River Hardware in Mentone. In late 2018, Halupka and Whiteaker came to the realization that they were going to need a larger production space. They didn’t expect to grow out of their first production space so quickly, but they feel like the move is right on time. As a hub for local agriculture, an advanced food scene and home to a large part of their customer base, Birmingham was the obvious choice for the relocation. “Though we weren’t born here, we feel like our business was born here,” says Whiteaker. “I’m most excited about the community aspect of our space and being able to welcome people into our facilities and create customer engagement outside of people buying our kombucha on a shelf. We now have the opportunity to create an environment for people to enjoy our products within our space.” And while they will be the first to bring a kombucha taproom to the Magic City, they are more focused on being the best. “I think over the years we’ve become really disenchanted with firsts. Focusing on what we’re doing and the quality of our product, as well as how we build and nourish community, is our number one priority,” says Halupka. “The Harvest Roots promise that we’re work-

Harvest Roots is opening Birmingham’s first kombucha taproom in this space in Avondale Mills.

ing on is that when you leave the space, you’re going to feel better than when you walked in.” For those who want to learn more about fermentation, the Harvest Roots team is relaunching their pickling program and will also be offering a new fermentation workshop series as an opportunity for people to receive up to six months of education. Despite these uncertain times, they are still on track to hold the grand opening of their brick-and-mortar taproom on June 21, but are hoping for a later summer opening should that date get postponed.

r business was born here.”

- Lindsay Whiteaker, co-owner of Harvest Roots spring 2020 | 37

the abstract art of




ne of the most beautiful and powerful phenomenons of our world is the artist’s ability to capture the untapped emotion that our souls are constantly longing for. When an artist surrenders to their own heart’s desire -- the one that tells them they were born to create -- artistry becomes more of a way of life. It molds artists into what they never thought they could be and leads them into places they never thought they would go. Mary Grace Wolnski has experienced that firsthand. and her story is one that deserves to be told. There are times in life when you encounter a person who seems to have something important to communicate before even saying a word, Mary Grace is one of those people. The oldest of eight children, Wolnski draws inspiration from her big family.

“I feel like even though my parents were not explicitly creative, they nurtured and fostered a creative household,” Wolnski recalls. “ I think a lot of my siblings and I had that creative bend, and so yeah, I feel like my parents really encouraged us by making a space for whatever we wanted to be. So I have four sisters and three brothers, and we grew up in a tiny house together, kind of grew up on top of each other and that kind of shaped so much about who I am.” Almost eight years ago, Mary Grace borrowed her brother’s paints on a whim. Since then, her life has been devoted to her art. “I just went and got my brother’s paints from his bedroom because he was an artist. And I just started kind of like playing with color, but it wasn’t in any way technical, it was just like, very much an abstract approach. But yeah, I started and felt connected to it immediately. Like, dang, this just fits. 40 | the local

“I would say that I began considering myself a freelance artist in February of 2016, that’s when I quit all my other jobs and just went full time with painting. Yeah, that’s when I jumped in and said ‘I’m gonna do this for a living and see how it goes.” Her unique style, an abstract combination of bold color and texture, is accompanied by a passion to create raw, unbridled and bold art that speaks to its consumers. Wolinski had not received formal training before that day, but since has studied in Italy and Scotland. In Florence, Italy, Mary Grace learned the art of technical drawing which proved to be outside of her comfort zone, but greatly enriched her practice. In contrast, she describes her time in Scotland as “one of the most valuable things that I’ve done throughout my art career.” “My classes in Scotland for sure pushed me into new mediums, I was strictly doing oil paint on canvas before going there. So those classes pushed me into working with different textures--papers and fabrics which opened up a new world of tools for expression for me. There are so many things that affect the visuals. But taking courses like those have really pushed my work further and strengthened it.” With each brushstroke, Mary Grace communicates with her audience; speaking nonverbal words of wisdom, sorrow, joy, neglect, hope, all through texture and color. “I would say that most of my art is very emotionally driven, very much so. I like to approach my paintings in a very intuitive way ... every once in a while, I’ll have a very specific vision and plan it out before painting. But, when I am my happiest making art, I begin with a loose concept that I feel emotionally connected to, but no perfectly sketched plan or

under painting, nothing is inhibiting me, it’s just expression onto canvas, pretty much. So, I feel like no matter what medium I’m working in, it feels best to me when there’s a freedom of expression and nothing too technical.” Few people can communicate such strong feelings without opening their mouths, but Mary Grace does every time she picks up her paintbrush. The power of feeling is strong and present in each piece. Painting is her preferred form of expressing her creativity, but Mary Grace is also one with words. “Words are a huge part of my whole creative process, I wouldn’t say I’m necessarily a poet but it matters to me the words that I attach to my pieces,” she says. “That’s always been a thing for me, the way I title my pieces and sometimes I’ll add a little written prose or some strand of words--I would definitely say that’s important to me despite my lack of technical training in writing.” An instant curiosity when considering the mind of an abstract artist is where they draw inspiration, and the art of Mary Grace is no exception. “It’s interesting because visually it changes through the years, certain visuals are really inspiring to me, but the root of what usually drives me are things that seem real and exposed, like there’s some element of rawness in them...that could be anything. From a film or a photograph, or it could be an authentic moment with somebody that takes me aback. I think that’s one of the things I’m most passionate about--seeing the unscripted, unbridled, raw, exposed, nuanced moments in people and in life on earth and diving into the realness and emotion there ...but then, I would also say that color is also a huge thing that drives my art. If I see a combination of colors that speaks to me, that can be a huge driving behind a painting. “I have deep responses to color in the world around me.

I have always felt heavily affected by and connected to color and feel it is a form of expression in itself. Colors and different combinations of colors create feelings which makes it one of the most important tools to me in my work. I can feel very sensitive to when it is not quite ‘right’ and will work until it’s there--saying what I want it to say.” Beneath all forms of self-expression lies a certain level of fear: a fear of failure, of losing support or self. “It’s kind of a beast that I’m always trying to make sense of, and it kind of depends on each piece. Sometimes I have so much confidence in a piece and hardly anyone will react to it, and I will not be bothered at all, but a lot of times I so badly want what I feel connected to and what I feel is the most purely expressive to move somebody else in the same way. There’s kind of this rule with art where it’s best to create and let your mind go and then analyze the work later... like a stream of consciousness on canvas. “If I could go back and tell myself to trust what comes naturally I would. Through the years I feel like I’ve become more uptight and buried my natural instincts, and now I second guess too much. So I would tell myself to follow those natural inclinations.” Some artists have to consciously insert emotion into their pre-established ideas, but for Mary Grace, the driving force behind her work is the emotion already within her. The inevitability of establishing an emotional connection with her art is the promise behind each Mary Grace Wolnski painting. Bold use of color and texture communicate the depth of her heart, while still speaking into the soul of the beholder. Art and photography by Mary Grace Wolnski.

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the Pink House



ucked away in a corner of Homewood is a home with nearly a century of history. Although wisteriadraped evergreens hide the 98-year-old house from view, the hidden is beginning to get a lot attention.

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All the history behind the Pink House gave the city of Homewood a piece of its charm. In 2004, the home was sold after its second set of owners sold it to a developer, Patrick O’Sullivan, who planned to tear down the Pink House. In June of 2018, the Homewood Planning Commission said it was official, and they started planning for the historic Bridges Home to be torn down to make way for 5 new homes on the 2.5-acre lot.

In late September of 2019, with all hope almost lost, the family of Holley Ellis bought the Pink House and hopes to move in immediately. “We have purchased the home and are hoping to be moving in to begin restoring it. It will be a private residence. My brother and his family live a few doors down, so we are excited to be in Homewood with them,” said Holley Ellis.

although it is a private residence, Ellis created an Instagram account to post about some of the history of the Pink House.

Holley Ellis will renovate the inside of the home but hopes to keep its history alive by placing the original statues that were in the gardens in different areas around the home and in the new garden. The history of the home was just as important to the Ellis family as it was to the whole community, and

Continuing the legacy of Eleanor and Georges Bridges was important to her family. “Knowing that their story continues and finding out about their impact on Birmingham – it seems to continuously unfold,” said Holley.

“All the history is being kept,” Holley said. “One addition is a glass garden house that will serve as a dining room. It will be added to the side of the house with an entry under the current staircase in the living room.”

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According to the Homewood Historical Preservation Society Facebook page, famous artists, Eleanor and Georges Bridges built this large pink stucco house in the heart of Homewood in 1921. Under Eleanor’s care and instruction, the Pink House also served as a boarding school for children abandoned at mining towns in the district. Eleanor taught them a focused curriculum of art and literature. Together the Bridges provided free art classes to students from Homewood City Schools and spoke annually on the importance of cultural education. Eleanor was named Birmingham Woman of the Year in 1953 and later became vice president for art and culture for the Birmingham Centennial Committee. Eleanor Bridges was a prolific painter. She was commissioned to paint presidential pets such as “Fala,” Franklin Roosevelt’s Scottish terrier, and “Liberty,” Gerald Ford’s golden retriever. Many of her portraits were exhibited at the Birmingham Museum of Art. She also painted the reading-room mural at the Woodlawn Public Library and a mural in the lobby of the Brown-Marx Building. As if the lives of this dynamic couple aren’t impressive enough, the Bridges hosted many famous guests over the years. For example, Ernest Hemingway, Zelda and F. Scott Fitzgerald, and even Grand Duchess Marie Pavlovna of Russia spent time at the Pink House.

For months, the people of Homewood have given unbelievable effort to save the home from demolition. The Homewood Alabama Historical Preservation Society, local investors, national organizations and the community started raising funds in hopes to purchase the property by February and convert it into a community space for local events, art classes, and a museum. The Homewood Alabama Historical Preservation Society, along with the community, raised also $40,000. “Razing the house and secret garden will leave a historic neighborhood unrecognizable and continue our city’s troubling cycle of destroying historical sites and regretting it once it’s too late,” said Dylan Spencer, a board member of the Homewood Alabama Historical Preservation Society. “Our plan is for the property to become sort of a miniature botanical gardens with space for an art gallery, free art classes, gardening, weddings, movies on the lawn. Something for the community to enjoy.” Although the Pink House will not be used as a community space, the people of Homewood are overjoyed to have a piece of their history saved from demolition. “When you start getting rid of the stuff that makes a place a place, we lose the feeling of home and charm that comes along with history,” said Spencer.

Photos by Dylan Spencer and Holley Ellis. A look inside the pink house and a photo of the home years ago.


A Weekend Trip! Everybody loves to travel. We want to see new places and experience new things. However, busy schedules get in the way of trips longer than a weekend. In this article, you will find great weekend destinations perfect for those who want to get away but may only have a day or two to do it.

Mentone, Alabama

Montgomery, Alabama

Sitting high atop of Lookout Mountain lies the quiet town of Mentone. With lookouts, waterfalls, canyons, and views for miles. Mentone is the perfect spot for a weekend getaway if you are looking for something outdoors and out of the city. Mentone is approximately 100 miles from Birmingham, making it one of the closest of the weekend trips. Here are some of the things to see and do in Mentone.

Where to stay: The Renaissance Montgomery Hotel and Spa is the perfect hotel. for a relaxing getaway. The hotel also has a beautiful spa that will be sure to help you relax from your busy life back home.

Where to stay: Winston Place Bed and Breakfast. Located right down the mountain in Valley Head this Antebellum mansion offers lawn gardens, a large dining room, and a game room. Where to eat: Green Leaf Grill. The Green Leaf Grill serves award-winning catfish and many other delicious options. Another popular place is the Wildflower Café, with its famous chicken salad. For something more casual, check out the Mentone Market or Little River Hardware for an amazing low-key lunch. Things to do: DeSoto Falls and Brow park. Check out DeSoto to see a beautiful natural waterfall and go to Brow Park for scenic views. Mentone is also home to The Little River Canyon National Preserve which houses waterfalls, hikes, mountains, and the perfect picnic places.

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Where to eat: To stick with a classy weekend trip check out Central. It is a little more expensive with a dinner around $30 a person. However, it is really great food.. With its high end yet cozy atmosphere, Central is rated #1 restaurant in Montgomery on Trip Advisor and it won the Open Table Diners’ Choice Award in 2018 for its fourth year in a row . Martin’s Restaurant is less expensive, but still delicious. Martin’s is one of the oldest restaurants in Montgomery. It has been serving since the 1930’s. They serve traditional Southern food and make especially great fried chicken. What to do: Montgomery is a city full of history. Visit the Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald Museum, the old home of the famous author, who wrote many books including The Great Gatsby, and his wife. Also visit the Rosa Parks Museum which homes exhibits on the Montgomery Bus Boycott. You can also visit the Old Alabama Town which is a collection of restored buildings from the 19th and 20th century to show how those who settled and developed Alabama lived. There is so much more to do in Montgomery, make sure you give them a visit to enjoy the rich history of the city.

Atlanta, Georgia Where to stay: Atlanta, being one of the biggest cities in the southeast, has many places to stay for every budget or every taste. Looking at downtown specifically there are so many. The Hilton Atlanta is a centrally located hotel surrounded by some of the most famous attractions and world class dining. If you like more boutique hotels that are unique, the award winning and eco friendly Ellis Hotel, or the historic Glenn Hotel, which is part of the Autograph Collection by Marriot might be for you. These hotels are close to everything and within walking distance to most of the famous attractions. Where to eat: Like hotels, there is an abundance of amazing restaurants in Atlanta for every taste. The Varsity is an Atlanta classic. Established in 1928, it has been a staple in the city. Make sure you stop by and get an F.O. (or a Frozen Orange Drink) that you can only find here and some onion rings. Another good place to eat is Eclipse di Luna located in Buckhead or Dunwoody. This Spanish tapas restaurant is a local favorite with a constantly changing menu but consistently great taste. The Buckhead location has live music every night and room to dance. This restaurant is not only delicious but it is a fun experience. For a special occasion dinner, go to Chops Lobster Bar and enjoy one of the best meals of your life. Known for its exceptional food and service, the food is served in the beautiful ambiance of the dark wood dining room.

What to do: There is so much to do in this city that most locals haven’t even done it all yet. The Georgia Aquarium is the second largest aquarium in the world and the largest in the U.S. This is a must-see in the city. The Aquarium is home to fish, whale sharks, and a brand new shark exhibit set to open fall of 2020. Guests can enjoy seven galleries that home fish and sea animals from different habitats. The Aquarium also has dolphin and sea lion education shows where the audience gets to interact and watch the animals perform training techniques and tricks. The World of Coke is the place for you if you are a soda fan. Atlanta, being the home to Coca-Cola holds a museum dedicated to the soda’s history and impact. This is a fun experience for everyone, especially children. Enjoy a tasting room where guests can try every Coke product from around the world. The National Center for Civil and Human Rights is also an amazing museum that is dedicated to the U.S. Ccivil Rrights movement and worldwide human rights. There is also the SEC Hall of Fame, the Swan House, the home of Martin Luther King Jr. Zoo Atlanta, Ponce City Market, Krog Street Market, and Underground Atlanta. There is so much more to do in Atlanta, so check it out and find some amazing places. Mentone photo credit: Sarah Watlington, Montgomery photo credit: Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce, Atlanta photo credit: Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce. spring 2020 | 4 7