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You are the center of our attention.

Building a lasting relationship with you and our community is important to us. And, it all starts with listening and simply being there for you, anytime. It also means understanding your needs and responding with solutions to meet those needs. Like family. We wouldn’t have it any other way. Talk to us today.

205.345.6200 Banking products are provided by Synovus Bank, Member FDIC. Divisions of Synovus Bank operate under multiple trade names across the Southeast.

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editor’s letter

Publisher James W. Rainey Editor-in-chief Becky Hopf Design Editor Lindi Daywalt-Feazel

ABOVE: My brothers and sister and I, minus not-yet-born brother, John, and the Jolly Old Elf, himself, making holiday memories at Santa Claus, Indiana.

Photographers Gary Cosby Jr. Erin Nelson

LEFT: The Greensboro Opera House is one of West Alabama’s hidden treasures.

Copy Editors Amy Robinson Laura Chramer Edwin Stanton Operations Director Paul Hass Advertising Director Lynnie Guzman Prepress Manager Chuck Jones Published by The Tuscaloosa News 315 28th Avenue Tuscaloosa, AL 35401 Executive Editor Michael James Controller Steve Hopper Magazine (205) 722-0232 To advertise (205) 722-0170 To subscribe (205) 722-0102


ur Winter issue hits the stands just in time for a favorite time of the year: the holidays. The period between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day is a bit of a rollercoaster ride. We start off slowly, making plans, then suddenly find ourselves spiraling and racing to get everything done in time. There are deadlines after deadlines to meet: gifts to buy, food to prepare, parties and gatherings of friends and family, work projects to finish before we can take a few days off. It is nonstop. But just when the pace seems out of control, we idle back again, if only for a moment. We dust off board games we haven’t played since the last year’s gatherings, take leisurely walks together in the neighborhood and find ourselves doing the unthinkable: sitting in a theater, watching a movie on a weekday afternoon. It’s the moments, big and small, that make the holidays a treasure. In this issue, we offer ideas, big and small, of places to go, near and far, and things to do, for those breathing moments that come along during the holidays. Some are as simple as walking down Tuscaloosa’s Tinsel Trail along the Riverwalk. It’s free and it’s freeing. Or how about ice skating — outside, in the Deep South, along a riverbank? Get lost in the music and the ethereal beauty of “The Nutcracker” ballet. Or go see our Scrooge, Jeff Wilson, and the Theatre Tuscaloosa cast perform the classic “A Christmas Carol” or any of the other wonderful musical and theatrical events our city’s masterful artists host. Make some of the easy but oh-so-goodand-warming soup recipes Kelly Pridgen has concocted, or treat yourselves to some great local dining experiences like newcomers AB restaurant or Urban Cookhouse. Our “Holiday Style” section embraces those moments. And take a moment to read and learn more about the living treasures our city harbors in our 6 Intriguing People section. One is particularly near and dear to my heart — Larry White — a former co-worker who, along with his family, I cherish like family. Or just note how our magazine’s gifted photographers, Gary Cosby Jr. and Erin Nelson, can tell a story without uttering a single word. This holiday season, we wish you joy. We wish you peace. We wish you sweet memories, big and small, to last a lifetime.

Becky Hopf, editor Reach Becky Hopf at Follow us on Facebook and Twitter!


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Wishing you the happiest of holidays from Tuscaloosa magazine.




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VOLUME 14, NO. 4




Animal Butter brings global street food to downtown T-Town








Soups that will warm you up on a cold winter’s day

The latest in local food, trends, recipes and epicurean events

‘Tis the season to make memories







DickenA s CLASS IC


m $3 .95

Shelton State’s Culinary Arts Program is cooking up amazing creations




This Highlands kitchen has it all — style and function

A holiday window box is the perfect exterior accessory

Chef Pleshette Bevelle and students enrolled in Shelton State’s Culinary Arts program created our cover dessert, Red Velvet Chocolate Chip Cake. It’s Chef Bevelle’s own recipe, tweaked for our Winter issue of Tuscaloosa magazine. She gives traditional red velvet cake a twist with the addition of chocolate chips. It’s iced in a cream cheese frosting and topped, to add an air of elegance, with sugared fruit and floral sprays. It’s a dessert that will bring a smile (and an extra helping) to even the Scroogiest of guests at your holiday events. Photo by: Gary Cosby Jr. See story: Page 42



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STYLE What to wear on those special occasions Page 52.




74 ART



Giving and receiving any of these will bring a smile

“This is How We Roll” hits the big screen highlighting UA’s wheelchair basketball teams


A grand old dame is slowly coming back to life

Meet six folks who are making a difference in the community


The best bashes, parties and charity events of the season

A photographic collection of moments in our community



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Eat the Street: Animal Butter brings global street food to downtown T-Town

A Shwarma Salad, made with sweet potato, curry yogurt, sunflower hummus, seeds, organic greens and a tahini dressing, is one menu item served at the new restaurant Animal Butter, located next to the Children’s Hands-On Museum on University Boulevard in downtown Tuscaloosa.


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t should come as no surprise to anyone who’s eaten at Epiphany that chef and owner Tres Jackson’s first venture into the fast-casual restaurant world is anything but ordinary. Epiphany, on Greensboro Avenue in downtown Tuscaloosa, was serving farm-to-table food when that kind of cooking wasn’t cool. “I opened Epiphany 13 years ago,” Jackson said. “I don’t know that I had a vision for it. You just cook seasonally and let things evolve and grow.” Menus at the innovative restaurant are always changing and always surprising. You might find, for example, red chili biscuits with whipped mint ricotta, grilled peaches and honey; slow-roasted lamb with hibiscus yogurt, walnuts, raisins and cauliflower; or goat cheese panna cotta with blueberries, maple candy and pepitas. A blackboard on the restaurant’s wall lists farms that are sources for ingredients.


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Hot Chicken Bao Buns, with crispy chicken, collards, onion and a spicy peanut sauce on a steamed bao bun is one menu item served at AB.

“Why can’t fastcasual restaurants be responsible about what they’re serving? ” — TRES JACKSON


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Slow–Cooked Beef Tacos, with cheese, hot peppers and salsa roja.

Joel Frederick (left) is the head chef, and, with Tres Jackson, is co-owner of the new restaurant Animal Butter.

At Epiphany, there’s never a dull moment for the adventurous eater. Jackson’s new restaurant, Animal Butter – you may also see the restaurant called AB – opened recently at 2217 University Blvd., the former home of Sweet CeCe’s Frozen Yogurt and Treats and just around the corner from Epiphany. AB serves street food from around the world. “We’ve been working on this concept for about three years,” Jackson said. He said fast-casual eateries are becoming more popular as “the world is going more casual.” But many of these types of restaurants leave a lot to be desired when it comes to the quality of their food, he said. Joel Frederick, who’s been the sous chef at Epiphany for about five years, will be head chef at Animal Butter. “We’ll have the same philosophy as Epiphany and work with four or five farms,” he said. Frederick, who’s from the Smith Lake area, said he started cooking for practical reasons. “It started out as a way to pay my rent,” he said. “I’d cook for my friends two or three times a week.”

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The Al Pastor Pork Taco, with a green tomato verde, hot peppers, pineapple, onion and cilantro.

After graduating from the University of Alabama, he stayed in Tuscaloosa and applied for a job at DePalma’s Italian Café on University Boulevard. “My mom’s parents came over from Sicily, so they were great Italian cooks,” Frederick said. “On the other side of the family, the Fredericks are Scottish.” He doesn’t do much Scottish cooking, he said, smiling. “I came to Epiphany as a cook and worked here and at DePalma’s for about a year,” Frederick said. “Deciding on a career in cooking was pretty immediate. I like things to be dramatic and to see how much pressure I can put myself under.” He got married in March to Raquel Murphy, who teaches at Northridge High School. Appropriately enough, the two met at a restaurant, he said. Jackson said he was “technically born in Tuscaloosa, but we moved to South Carolina right after I was born.” He came back to Tuscaloosa when his father returned to teach aerospace engineering at UA, he said. “My mom and my grandparents always cooked,” Jackson said. “Mom did Southern cooking. We were always shelling peas, stringing beans or shucking corn. I worked in restaurants while I was in college. I was in restaurant management in college at Alabama.” Jackson said he likes the “grab-and-go concept of street food.” “It’s like a big market where everyone is serving different types of food,” he said. “The tastes are super acidic or super spicy, with bold flavors.” Jackson and Frederick said AB’s menu will have the same fresh, local focus as Epiphany but that its menu won’t change as often. The dishes, however, will be equally inventive. Joel Frederick prepares fresh tortillas for a taco dish.


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AT LEFT: A Roasted Cabbage Salad with kale, peanut sauce, cabbage, mint and peanuts. AT BOTTOM: Crispy Brussels sprouts with sweet soy, kimchi, radish and hot sauce.

For starters, Hot Chicken Bao Buns have crispy chicken, collards and spicy peanuts, while Catfish Larb includes cabbage, fish sauce, mint, onions and herbs. Taco choices (you get two tacos per order) are Al Pastor Pork with green tomato verde, pineapple, onions and cilantro as well as Alabama Catfish with smoked pineapple, slaw and cucumbers. Tacos will be corn tortillas – no wheat versions – made in-house. There’s a Slow-Cooked Beef Grilled Cheese sandwich with maple and horseradish yogurt, cheese and onions. The Slow-Cooked Pork Shoulder rice bowl includes bacon, cabbage, pickled citrus fruit and toasted peanuts. “We’ll have a good amount of vegetarian options,” Jackson said. AB’s location next to the Children’s Hands-On Museum and a yoga studio led the chefs to offer plenty of options for parents, fitness buffs and other health-conscious folks, he said.



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“Whether people want to talk about it or not, many are overeating,” Frederick said. “I don’t need a 1-pound burrito bowl every time I go to Chipotle. If you service people correctly and think about what you’re making, that’s better than eating pounds of food.” AB has soft drinks, which you can grab out of a case, that are organic or naturally sweetened with cane syrup. “We have beer on tap, all local, for about $5 a glass,” Jackson said. “We’ll have wine on tap, too. That’s pretty new to this area, but there’s no waste this way. It will be about $7 a glass. We’ll have four beers and four wines.” As one might expect at a fast-casual restaurant, AB’s prices are lower than Epiphany’s. “Our price points will be great for students,” Frederick said. AB’s interior is as bold as the flavors of its dishes. “It looks like a giant Crayola box,” Jackson said. Frederick said that was done for a reason. “Think about street vendors,” he said. “They have to have bright colors to draw people in.” If all goes according to plan, Jackson will open other AB restaurants, most likely starting in Birmingham, he said. If you’re curious about the restaurant’s name, it comes from the beefy, buttery taste of bone marrow, Frederick said. “We roast a bone until the marrow pops out, do various cheffy things to the marrow, and stuff it back in the bone,” he said. “It’s like animal butter.”

The Slow-Cooked Beef Rice Bowl, with a peanut broth, kimchi, soft egg, and herbs.

Animal Butter is at 2217 University Blvd. in Tuscaloosa. The restaurant will be open Tuesday through Sunday for lunch and dinner. For more information, follow AB on social media.

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SUPPERS Warm up on cool nights with these deliciously easy recipes BY DONNA CORNELIUS PHOTOS BY ERIN NELSON


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eef may be what’s for dinner, but for supper, it’s hard to beat soup – especially on chilly fall and winter nights. Kelly Pridgen, who often shares her cooking know-how and tasty recipes with Tuscaloosa magazine, has come up with three delicious soups plus some quick breads that pair nicely with them. Add a salad, if you’d like, and you’ve got a complete, comforting meal. Just choose your favorite soup and eat it with your family, take it to an ailing friend – or have it on Christmas Eve in front of the fireplace.

Chicken and Orzo Soup INGREDIENTS: • 2 tablespoons canola or olive oil • 1 cup chopped celery • ¾ cup sliced carrots • ½ cup chopped onion • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt • ¹/₃ cup orzo pasta (you also can use egg noodles) • 1 clove garlic, minced • 4 cups chicken broth or stock • ½ pound chicken tenders (see Cook’s Note) • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley • Freshly ground black pepper DIRECTIONS: Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the celery, carrots, onions and salt. Cook until tender, 6 to 8 minutes. Add the

pasta and cook until slightly toasted and golden, 3 to 4 minutes. Add garlic and cook 1 minute. Add broth and bring to a boil over high heat. Add chicken and cook until pasta is just tender and chicken is cooked through, about 8 minutes. Turn off heat. Remove chicken tenders and allow to cool slightly. Chop chicken and return to soup. Add chopped parsley. Season to taste with pepper and additional salt, if desired. Reheat if necessary. Makes 1½ quarts. COOK’S NOTE: Pridgen said you also can use chopped rotisserie chicken in this recipe instead of chicken tenders. If you use rotisserie chicken, add it with the chopped parsley just to reheat.


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Tomato–Blue Cheese Soup INGREDIENTS: • ¼ cup butter • 1 cup finely chopped yellow onion • 1½ teaspoons minced garlic • ½ cup all-purpose flour • 3 cups water • 32 ounces canned diced tomatoes (use 1 large can and part of a smaller can) • 2¼ teaspoons salt • 1 teaspoon white pepper • ½ cup heavy cream • 4 ounces blue cheese, crumbled

DIRECTIONS: In a large heavy saucepan, sauté onion and garlic in butter over medium heat until they’re translucent. Add flour and stir to make a roux. The roux should have a light almond color. Whisk water into roux until smooth. Add diced tomatoes, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then turn off heat. Add cream. Puree soup in blender (or use a hand blender) until the soup reaches a smooth consistency. Return to pan and add crumbled blue cheese. Stir and adjust seasonings. The soup should be as smooth as possible while still leaving some small chunks of blue cheese. Makes about 2 quarts. COOK’S NOTE: Pridgen said she doesn’t really have a specific recipe for her grilled cheeses, which are pretty much a must when you serve tomato soup, but here are her easy instructions. Spread slices of ciabatta bread, Tuscan boule or any thick, substantial bread with mayonnaise. For the insides, use any favorite cheese, such as white cheddar or gouda, plus some smoky tomato jam if you have it. (Several online sources have this flavor, including the Nashville Jam Co., Brown each sandwich in a skillet over medium-high heat.


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My Best Southern Cornbread Muffins INGREDIENTS: • 2 cups self-rising white cornmeal mix • 1 large egg • 2 cups buttermilk (whole buttermilk, if you can find it) • ¼ cup vegetable oil (plus a bit more for greasing the muffin tin) • Butter for serving

DIRECTIONS: Preheat oven to 475 degrees. Put cornmeal mix in a medium bowl. Beat the egg in a 4-cup Pyrex measuring cup (or another medium-sized bowl), add buttermilk and vegetable oil, and mix until smooth. Pour buttermilk mixture over the cornmeal and stir until combined. Don’t over-mix; a few lumps are fine. Set aside batter and prepare the pan. Grease a 12-count muffin tin by drizzling ¼ to ½ teaspoons of vegetable oil into each cup and spreading it around, making sure to coat the sides. Place muffin tin in the hot oven; you should be able to smell the oil cooking in the pan, and the oil should be almost, but not quite, burning. This should take only about 5 to 6 minutes if your oven is nice and hot. Carefully take the pan out of the oven and immediately fill each cup with cornmeal batter, about ¾ full. The batter should sizzle and pop as you pour it in. Do this quickly, and immediately return the pan to the hot oven. Bake until muffins are dark golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes. When the muffins come out of the oven, immediately remove them from the pan. Otherwise, the crusts will steam and turn soft. Serve right away with hot butter. This recipe is from

Pan Bread INGREDIENTS: • 1 package dry yeast • 1¼ cups warm water (105 to 115 degrees) • ½ cup sugar • 1 teaspoon salt • 3 teaspoons dry milk • 4 cups all-purpose or bread flour • ½ cup canola oil • 2 eggs • 2 tablespoons melted butter • Sesame seeds or poppy seeds, optional • Flaky sea salt, such as Maldon, optional DIRECTIONS: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Dissolve yeast in warm water. Mix sugar, salt and dry milk. Add the dry ingredients to the yeast mixture and blend well. Add 2 cups of the flour and stir until

smooth (use the dough hook if using an electric mixer). Blend in oil and eggs. Add the remaining 2 cups of flour and mix until smooth and shiny. Cover the bowl and let the mixture rise for 1 hour. Pour into a greased 9-inch x13-

inch pan. Spread mixture to the edges of the pan. Cover and let rise for 1 hour. Carefully brush the top with melted butter and sprinkle with seeds and/or flaky sea salt, if desired. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes until golden brown.


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Corn Tortilla Chicken Soup

INGREDIENTS: • 1 tablespoon canola or olive oil • 1 small onion, chopped • 2 large cloves of garlic, minced • 1 tablespoon chili powder • 2 teaspoons cumin • ½ teaspoon dried oregano • 6 cups chicken stock • 1 8-ounce can tomato sauce • 1½ teaspoons salt • 1 teaspoon sugar • ¼ teaspoon pepper • 2 large chicken breasts, split with bones attached • 1½ cups corn (Pridgen uses 3 ears of fresh corn, cutting and scraping the kernels from the cobs, but you can use canned shoepeg corn) TOPPINGS: • Fried corn tortilla strips* • Diced avocado • Sour cream • Cilantro • Shredded cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese

DIRECTIONS FOR SOUP: Heat oil in a skillet. Add the onion and sauté until translucent. Add the garlic, chili powder, cumin and oregano. Sauté for 1 minute. Add the chicken stock, tomato sauce, salt, sugar and pepper. Bring to a boil. Add the chicken. Simmer, covered, about 20 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through. Remove the chicken to a plate and cool slightly. Shred the chicken, discarding skin and bones. Add the corn to the soup and cook 5 minutes, until corn is tender. Add the shredded chicken. Simmer for 1 minute. Ladle into bowls and top with fried tortilla strips, avocado, sour cream, cilantro and shredded cheese, if desired. Makes 2 quarts. This recipe is adapted from one in the Junior League of Mobile’s “Bay Tables.” COOK’S NOTE: Pridgen said you also can use chopped rotisserie chicken in this recipe instead of chicken breasts. If you use rotisserie chicken, add it after the corn has been added and the soup has cooked for five minutes.

*Fried Corn Tortilla Strips INGREDIENTS: • 8 corn tortillas • Vegetable oil for deep frying • Kosher salt

DIRECTIONS: Cut the tortillas into thin strips. Heat the oil in a heavy pan to 350 degrees. Fry the tortillas in batches for 1 to 2 minutes, until golden brown. Drain on paper towels and

immediately salt to taste. COOK’S NOTE: Pridgen said it’s totally worth the effort to fry your own tortilla strips even though you might be tempted to skip this step.


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WE’RE HERE FOR YOU. SEASON AFTER SEASON. Around here, the new year doesn’t start in January. It starts with the first home game. Every August the good people of West Alabama awake from their long summer nap to celebrate being part of a shared history and a common purpose. Your friends and neighbors at the DCH Health System love being part of this annual ritual. We’re also proud to be members of an organization with its own history and purpose – to provide high quality, compassionate health services to this community. So let’s all cheer on the Tide. And remember that if you need us, we’ll be right here for you,


just as we’ve been season after season. That’s what we mean by Caring. For Life.

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he holidays are all about spending quality time with family and friends. Here are but a few ideas for places to go and performances to see — some very close, others close enough to hop in the car and arrive at the destination with a carload of kids and your patience all in harmony. Some dates hadn’t been set by press time, so be sure to visit websites like www. or Visit Tuscaloosa on Facebook for the most up-to-date listings.

Tinsel Trail

Dec. 1, 2016-Jan. 1, 2017 • Tuscaloosa Riverwalk • Tickets: Free Get into the holiday spirit, day or night, with a stroll down the Tinsel Trail. It features more than 100 live Christmas trees, decorated by local merchants, organizations and individuals. For more information, visit

Holidays on the River ice rink Dec. 1, 2016-Jan. 1, 2017 • Tuscaloosa Amphitheater • Tickets: Box office or Fun for young and young at heart. The outdoor rink is 60 feet by 100 feet. In addition to skating, there are holiday characters and hourly snow flurries. Even if you’re not ice skating-inclined, you can come view it all for free. For more information, including ticket pricing, call 205-248-5280, or visit or call Ticketmaster at 800-745-3000.


7:30 p.m. Dec. 1, 2016 • 3-4:30 p.m. Dec. 4, 2016 • School of Music Concert Hall • Tickets: $5-15 A holiday tradition hosted by the University of Alabama School of Music. Quite literally, music to your ears. For tickets: or call 205-348-7111.

“Elf the Musical, Jr.”

Dec. 2-4, 2016 • 7 p.m. on Dec. 2 and Dec. 3 • 2 p.m. on Dec. 3 and Dec. 4 • Bama Theatre • Tickets: $20 premium, $15 for adults, $10 for students and seniors Follow the silly antics of Buddy the Elf, who is really a human who sneaked into Santa’s toy bag one Christmas Eve and followed Santa home to the North Pole. It’s presented by the Tuscaloosa Children’s Theatre. For tickets, visit or call 205-310-8010.


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HAPPENINGS Candyland Breakfast and Brunch with Santa and Mrs. Claus

Dec. 3, 2016 • 8-9:30 a.m.; 10-11:30 a.m.; or 12-1:30 p.m. • Children’s Hands-On Museum • Tickets: $15 per person, or $14 per person for museum members or for groups of 4 or more Bring your kids and your cameras for photos with Santa and Mrs. Claus. The beloved couple also host the Reindeer Hop with music by DJ Chuck and dances by Elsa (from “Frozen”), Rudolph and Frosty. And when that fun ends, even more fun can continue with a visit through CHOM. Pre-register by calling Carla at 205349-4235, extension 24; email: Carla@chomonline. org or go online to

41st Annual West Alabama Christmas Parade

6:30 p.m. Dec. 5, 2016 • Downtown Tuscaloosa • Tickets: Free An annual favorite event, it features floats, marching bands, and the star of the show, Santa Claus. It’s holiday family fun, a tradition for all ages. This year’s theme is “Home for the Holidays.” Sponsored by the Tuscaloosa County Park and Recreation Authority.

“Dickens Downtown”

Dec. 6, 2016 • Downtown Northport • Tickets: Free Step back in time to the Victorian era. Downtown Northport transforms into the ghost of Christmas past with costumed characters roaming the streets, including Father Christmas and an English town crier. This year’s event will include a sneak-peek performance of Theatre Tuscaloosa’s “A Christmas Carol” as well as music from local choirs and the 5th Alabama Regiment Band. Shopping, dining and a “snow” flurry make the event a delight for all ages.


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“The Nutcracker” Dec. 8-11, 2016 • 7 p.m. on Dec. 8, Dec. 9 and Dec. 10 • 10 a.m. on Dec. 10 • 2 p.m. on Dec. 11 • Bama Theatre • Tickets: $21 for adults; $17 for seniors and military; $12 for students and ages 2-17 A classic. Presented by the Tuscaloosa Community Dancers, it’s visually lovely and a perfect showcase for local talent. The dancing, the costumes and the scenery are perfection. For tickets, visit or call 205-752-4220.

“A Christmas Carol” Dec. 9-11, 2016 • 7:30 p.m. on Dec. 9, Dec. 10, Dec. 15 and Dec. 16 • 2 p.m. on Dec. 11, Dec. 14, Dec. 17 and Dec. 18 • Bean-Brown Theatre • Tickets: $12-$17 No “Bah, Humbug!” to this production. Theatre Tuscaloosa’s presentation brings Charles Dickens’ treasured story to life on stage as the cranky Ebenezer Scrooge is visited by four ghosts who help him learn the true meaning of Christmas. A holiday play for all ages. Purchase tickets online at www.theatretuscaloosa. com, at the box office (Bean-Brown Theatre is located on the campus of Shelton State) or call 205-391-2277.

Porches and Parlors Tour of Homes Greensboro, Alabama • 1-5 p.m. Dec. 11, 2016 • Tickets: $20

If you’ve never been to Greensboro and appreciate the charm and beauty of homes that are more than a century old and maintained by families and citizens who take the preservation of these homes to heart, this is a destination and event tailor-made for you. And no trip to Greensboro should ever be made without a stop at The Pie Lab. You’ll thank us for this advice. Tickets for Porches and Parlors Tour of Homes can be purchased at Magnolia Grove on 102 Hobson St. the day of the event.

University of Alabama Opera presents “Amahl and The Night Visitor” 3 p.m. Dec. 11, 2016 • School of Music Bryant-Jordan Hall •Admission: Free A new production by the University of Alabama that is a gift to the community: admission is free. The university describes it as “a new event for the entire family, inspired by Bosch’s ‘The Adoration of the Magi.’ Menotti’s drama tells the tale of the three kings on a journey to bring gifts to the wondrous child, a loving mother with a heart of gold and the young boy, Amahl, who offers his crutch as a gift in the true spirit of Christmas.” For more information, go online at www. or call 205-348-7111.

Christmas Afloat

5 p.m. Dec. 10, 2016 • Black Warrior River, along the River Walk • Tickets: Free Grab a lawn chair and enjoy the light show from along the banks of the Black Warrior River. The event is put on by the Pirates of the Warrior boat club. Last year’s show included about 20 boats, beautifully lit by colorful lights that reflect spectacularly on the water’s surface. The boat parade route is from the Riverview Boat Landing upriver from the McFarland Boulevard/U.S. Highway 82 bridge and downriver ending near the Tuscaloosa Amphitheater and downtown Northport.

Tuscaloosa Symphony Orchestra Christmas Spectacular • 7 p.m. Dec. 12, 2016 • Moody Music Building Concert Hall • Tickets: $10-40 Celebrate the season with choral and orchestral works that bring the Christmas spirit to life. Adam Flatt is the conductor of the concert that also features the Alabama Choir School and Prentice Concert Chorale. It’s an annual sell-out.For tickets or more information, visit or call 205-752-5515.

“The Best Christmas Pageant Ever” Dec. 16-19 • 7:30 p.m. on Dec. 16, Dec. 17 and Dec. 19 • 2 p.m. on Dec. 17 and Dec. 18 • Bama Theatre • Tickets: Prices to be determined A comedy sprung from the pages of the young adult novel by the same name and presented by The Actor’s Charitable Theatre. A couple struggles to put on a church Christmas pageant and is forced to cast some badly behaved children. Mayhem and fun ensue. For tickets, visit or call 205-393-2800.

14th Annual Holiday Singalong 1-3 p.m. Dec. 10, 2016 • Capitol Park • Tickets: Free Great holiday fun at a great price: free! The Tuscaloosa News sponsors this event by providing hot dogs, soft drinks and, most important, lyric sheets so you can sing along with the musicians and song leaders. For more information, call 205722-0201 or email Mark Cobb at


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Macy’s Pink Pig 25th Annual Fantasy in Lights Callaway Gardens • Pine Mountain, Georgia • Nov. 18, 2016-Jan. 7, 2017 • Tickets: Depending on date of visit, $21-28 for adults; $10.5014 for ages 6-12; free for ages 5 and younger With 8 million lights and 15 scenes, it’s a holiday lighting spectacular that Clark Griswold would envy. Pile the family in the car for the 3 1/2-hour drive from Tuscaloosa for a Christmas event they’ll remember for years to come. The lights come on at dark, and you can choose to take an open-air trolley or drive your own car through the outdoor display. Prices vary by days and dates, so check online for prices at And, no matter when you go, kids 5 and younger are admitted free.

Oct. 29, 2016-Jan. 1, 2017 • Macy’s, Lenox Square Mall, Atlanta, Georgia • 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Mondays-Fridays • 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Saturdays • 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Sundays • 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Dec. 24 • Closed Christmas Day • 10 a.m.8 p.m. Dec. 26 • 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Dec. 31 • Tickets: $3 per ride This one is for the little ones. It’s been an Atlanta tradition for more than 50 years, and the backstory is purely delightful. The original Pink Pig, Priscilla, began downtown at Rich’s department store. Priscilla rode on a monorail positioned along the top of the store, and children — no adult could fit inside the original Priscilla — would climb aboard and ride over the toy department. It was so popular and such a part of Atlanta’s children’s holiday experience that Priscilla added a twin brother named Percival to ferry the children. Priscilla has been located outside Macy’s in Atlanta’s Lenox Square Mall since 2003. She returns each holiday season, settling inside a giant 1950s-themed Pink Pig Tent. The ride is short — and the riders need be as well, but plenty of parents have squeezed inside the pink seats, to the delight of their child. Cost is $3 per ride, but be warned, your mini-me’s will want to go more than once. For two rides, the cost is $5.50 or three rides for $7.50. Combine your trip with shopping, and the four-hour drive for a couple of minutes of Pink Pig fun will make it more than worth the trip.

Christmas at Biltmore

Asheville, North Carolina • Nov. 4, 2016-Jan. 8, 2017 • Biltmore Estate • 9 a.m.-5 p.m. for day tours • 5:30-8 p.m. for Candlelight Evenings

Magic Christmas In Lights Bellingrath Gardens • Theodore, Alabama • 5-9 p.m. Nov. 25-Dec. 31, 2016 • (Closed Christmas Day) • Tickets: $15 for adults; $7.50 for children age 5-12; free for children 4 and younger A walking tour through the famous garden’s holiday light scenes that include giant swans reflected in the water, toy soldiers and, naturally, flowers. This one, the Gardens’ 21st edition, features 1,000 set pieces and 3 million lights. It’s about a 4-hour drive from Tuscaloosa to Theodore and Bellingrath Gardens. Tickets to tour the lights and the Bellingrath Home are $24 for adults, $13 for ages 5-12 and free for kids 4 and younger. To just see the lights, it’s $15 for adults, $7.50 for ages 5-12 and free for ages 4 and younger. On Mondays, active-duty members of the military and their immediate family members can purchase adult tickets for a 15 percent discount with valid military ID. For more information or tickets, visit or call 800-247-8420.

This is definitely not a day trip — it’ll take about seven hours to get to Asheville from Tuscaloosa, but the grandeur of this estate will make it worthwhile. This year’s theme is “Hearth and Home,” and it will include some 70 trees decorated inside the mansion. Tour the mansion by day — the decorations are marvelous — or try to get a coveted ticket for one of the Candlelight Christmas Evenings. Entry times for those are 5:30 p.m., 6 p.m., 6:30 p.m. and 8 p.m., and tickets range from $55-$85, depending on how far in advance you purchase the tickets and what dates you go. Daytime tours, from 9 a.m.-5 p.m., range from $55-$75. Children 9 and younger receive free entry yearround with a paying adult. Youth ages 10-16 get 50 percent off the adult prices. To order tickets or learn more, visit

All the information wasn’t set yet at press time, but the Birmingham Zoo’s annual Zoolight Safari is set for 5-9 p.m. on Dec. 9-11, Dec. 16-23 and Dec. 26-31. Check the website at for information. And there’s also the annual Oak Mountain Festival of Lights. (Buy the 3-D glasses for the latter — they make snowmen and stars and other characters appear on the lights.)


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The charms of oyster dressing


or all the years of my childhood, our family had Thanksgiving dinner at my grandparents’ house in Gordo. My grandmother, Mary Campbell, was born in the little white frame house with bottlegreen shutters and lived there all her life. Just about everyone in Gordo called her by the same name her grandchildren used: “Da.” The faces at the gathering changed over the years – my grandfather, Don Campbell, died when I was in seventh grade, and family members got married and had children – but our holiday celebrations remained pretty much the same for a long time. We sat in the dining room at my grandmother’s long Duncan Phyfe table, which was always dressed up with her good china, silver, crystal and linens. The menu seldom varied: turkey and dressing, mashed potatoes with brown gravy, rice with white gravy, sweet potato casserole with marshmallows and pecans on top, green beans, pickled peaches and, always, hot homemade rolls with butter. After we ate, the women would roll up their sleeves to put away food and wash the dishes; in the 90-plus years my grandmother lived in the house, she never had a dishwasher. The men and the children would wander out into the front yard. At that time of year, acorns from an old oak tree covered the grass. “Don’t slip down,” my grandmother would warn. “Those acorns are as slick as glass.” Last year, our family spent Thanksgiving at my parents’ house in Destin. The weather was warm enough for us to go to the beach, so we had sand under our feet instead of those treacherous acorns. We had a long weekend of fun – eating, drinking, shopping, playing games, and yelling so loudly when Alabama beat Auburn on Saturday that the across-the-street neighbors said they could hear us through their closed doors. We ate lunch one day at a bayside picnic table and, at the beach, sipped decadent cocktails or sodas, depending on our ages, while watching the waves. Our Thanksgiving meal in Destin was slightly different, too. We had some of the old favorites but added a

few newcomers: crispy Brussels sprouts with walnuts (a hit with most) and roasted parsnips with heirloom carrots (which some family members avoided like the plague). What I loved most, second only to Bama beating Auburn, was getting ready for Thanksgiving with my mom. My sister gave us matching monogrammed aprons to wear. We shopped together for the food and wine. We chopped, diced, mixed and stirred. And suddenly, I had a flashback to Thanksgivings gone by and said, “Remember Da’s oyster dressing?” My mother’s eyes lit up as she recalled that my grandmother often did add oyster dressing to our holiday feast. One problem: We didn’t have the recipe. We hadn’t even thought about the dish for years, much less made it. But we did have the internet, and we searched until we found a recipe that Mom thought was very similar. The only change was that we used fresh oysters, which I don’t think would have been readily available at any grocery store in Gordo years ago. I thought the casserole was delicious. But I don’t know if it was the ingredients or the memories that made it so. With every spoonful, I thought of Da. Sometimes those of us who are fascinated with food can feel a little guilty. Maybe, we think, we could be spending our time more productively than cooking, reading cookbooks and food magazines, and watching Food Network. But I wouldn’t trade anything for last Thanksgiving in the kitchen with my mom or for seeing the smiles on my family members’ faces when they tasted the oyster dressing and, like me, were taken back to the days at the Duncan Phyfe table.

Donna Cornelius is a Tuscaloosa writer whose motto is: So much food, so little time. Contact her to share recipes, restaurant news or anything food-related at Follow her on Instagram and Twitter @blonderavenous.

Here’s the oyster dressing recipe we came up with: INGREDIENTS: • 1 pint oysters • 2 cups saltine cracker crumbs • 6 tablespoons butter, melted • Black pepper • ¾ cup light cream • ¼ cup oyster liquid • ¼ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce • ½ teaspoon salt

DIRECTIONS: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Drain oysters; reserve ¼ cup liquid. Combine cracker crumbs and butter and spread 1/3 of this mixture in a large baking dish. Cover with half the oysters and sprinkle them with pepper. Spread on another 1/3 of the

crumb-butter mixture. Cover with the remaining oysters and sprinkle them with pepper. Combine the light cream, oyster liquid, Worcestershire sauce and salt and pour over the casserole. Top with the rest of the crumb-butter mixture. Cook for about 40 minutes.



Dec. 3 • Tuscaloosa • Children can dine with Santa and Mrs. Claus at the Children’s Hands-On Museum, 2213 University Blvd. Breakfasts are at 8 and 10 a.m., and brunch is at noon. The cost is $14 for museum members and $15 for nonmembers. For reservations, call 205-349-4235, ext. 24, or send an email to carla@ You also can make reservations and get more information at


Dec. 9 • Brundidge • Hot chili with all the accompaniments are served family style at the historic We Piddle Around Theater in this Pike County town. Music and master storytellers are part of the event, too. For more information, visit


Feb. 6 • Birmingham • This annual sweetthemed fundraiser for the Alabama Wildlife Center has a new location this year: the Harbert Center, 2019 Fourth Ave. N. in downtown Birmingham. The event includes chocolate desserts, savory appetizers, wine and beer, live and silent auctions, and music. For tickets or more information, visit www. or call 205-6637930, ext. 8.


Feb. 26 • Montgomery • This annual festival at Temple Beth Or, 2246 Narrow Lane Road, features rugelach, strudel, challah, brisket, stuffed cabbage and other ethnic foods. The Treasure Market offers gently loved finds. For more information, visit www.


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Chipotle Braised Pork Sliders with house-made pickels and aioli on a warm yeast roll served with a broccoli salad is one menu item served at Urban Cookhouse.

FAST&FRESH Urban Cookhouse will open its first Tuscaloosa store in December


avid Snyder’s education about three important subjects began in Tuscaloosa County. “A lot of my fondest memories are of visiting my grandparents in Coker and seeing the process of how produce grows,” he said. “My grandfather taught me how to cook over hickory wood and charcoal. We’d have a big meal with vegetables from his garden and then watch a football game. “I learned about gardening, cooking and football right there in Coker.” David and his wife, Andrea, will bring their fast-casual restaurant, Urban Cookhouse, to Tuscaloosa in mid-December. They opened their first Urban Cookhouse in Homewood in 2010. “This is the way I feel about Tuscaloosa: I want to be prouder


Berry Good salad, which combines seasonal berries, tomatoes, spiced pecans and feta cheese, is served with a citrus vinaigrette and an orange roll at Urban Cookhouse, seen at its Birmingham location at The Summit.

of that store than any other store I own,” David said. “To me, Tuscaloosa feels like home.” The T-Town Urban Cookhouse will be at the Village at Northbank. The new commercial building

faces Rice Mine Road and is next door to Church of the Highlands. In addition to the Tuscaloosa and Homewood stores, the Snyders own Urban Cookhouses in Birmingham at The Summit, in

Mountain Brook’s Crestline Village and in Montgomery. Urban Cookhouse’s slogan, “Buy Local. Eat Urban,” isn’t just a clever catchphrase. “We source a lot locally,” David said. “We’d like to talk to some farmers in the Tuscaloosa area. We have growers’ agreements with some farmers. They may not grow strawberries, for example, but we can ask them to do that and promise to buy a certain amount.” Andrea said Urban Cookhouse places a high priority on “giving farmers an outlet.” “It’s in our business model to buy from them and support them,” she said. The restaurant’s commitment to buying locally produced foods whenever possible shows up on the menu, too. “Nothing is fried,” David said. “Most of our meats are cooked on a Big Green Egg.”


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FOODIE NEWS From the menu’s “Fork and Knife” section, customers can order full meals like the Grilled Chicken Special with rice pilaf and a garden salad or the Down Home, with thick slices of turkey and pineapple ham, hot cheddar cheese pasta, and broccoli salad. These dishes come with a warm orange roll (the rolls are also sold in bake-at-home versions), while the Chipotlebraised Pork has two slices of white bread plus cheddar pasta and broccoli salad. Sandwiches include the Urban Cowboy, with lime-marinated steak, caramelized onions and peppers, pepper jack cheese, and aioli on a French roll. The Turkey Crunch has smoked turkey with provolone cheese, tomatoes, marinated slaw, and hot-sweet mustard and is grilled on wheat bread. Sandwiches and wraps come with one house-made side dish. Salads are fresh and hearty, too. The Local Mix has applewood bacon, corn, hard-boiled egg, red onions, cheddar and Urban Cookhouse’s honey mustard vinaigrette. The Berry Good combines seasonal berries, tomatoes, spiced pecans, feta cheese and citrus vinaigrette. Grilled chicken, chicken salad, wood-fired shrimp and other proteins can be added to any salad. On the sweet side are the Strawberry Lemonade Milkshake, Brown Sugar Brownie, and the hard-to-resist Half-Baked Cookie topped with vanilla ice cream and chocolate syrup.

Urban Cookhouse also has beer, wine and sangria. The restaurant does a lot of catering, the Snyders said, and will offer catering in Tuscaloosa, too. Family-sized meals are available to take home. That will be an easy process thanks to one of the Tuscaloosa store’s features that’s a first for Urban Cookhouse. “We’re excited about our drive-through,” David said. “You can’t order at the window, but you can call your order in and get it when you’re on your way home from work or from picking up the kids at soccer practice.” The Village at Northbank store will have a covered patio behind it. “This also will be new for us,” David said. “The patio will have couches, ottomans, coffee tables and probably a TV. Inside, we’re building a custom work table where customers can charge their phones and computers. There will be a front patio with regular tables and lots of seating.” The Snyders, who have a 5-year-old and a 3-year-old, have made their restaurants family-friendly. “As soon as we see a mom come in with a child, we ask if she needs a high chair or booster seat,” Andrea said. “We tell her to go ahead and get in line, and we get her table ready. We set it up with the seat, a coloring page, crayons, an ‘I’m a Cool Kid’ sticker and – the pièce de résistance – a little container

The Berry Sangria, with blueberries, strawberries and blackberries.

Urban Cookhouse owners Andrea and David Snyder at their Urban Cookhouse location at The Summit in Birmingham.

of Cheerios. We put the kids’ coloring pages up on our community bulletin board along with notices about events.” The Snyders said they want to hire workers from Tuscaloosa. “We’re not looking at bringing in a whole lot of staff,” David said. “I will run it myself for several weeks. We’re looking for a manager.” The Snyders have other Tuscaloosa connections in addition to David’s family. Andrea and David met while both were students at the University of Alabama and worked at Zoe’s Kitchen in Tuscaloosa. “We probably ate about a thousand meals at City Café,” David said. David became Zoe’s director of operations and later worked for Chef Chris Hastings at Hot and Hot Fish Club in Birmingham. “That was where we first met farmers,” Andrea said. David said the first farmer to become an Urban Cookhouse source was Trent Boyd, another UA graduate. “He lives in Cullman,” David said. “We buy over 1,500 gallons of strawberries from him every year.”

Boyd will get even more business when the Tuscaloosa store opens. “We’ve ordered another 500 gallons for Tuscaloosa for our strawberry lemonade,” Andrea said. David’s parents, Sherry and Bobby Snyder, live in Tuscaloosa. His Coker grandparents were Wynona and Bobby Snyder. His maternal grandparents, Betty and Leo Colburn, lived in Holt. With so many T-Town connections, the Snyders are hoping their first venture in the city that means so much to them is a big hit. “If you play football at an outof-state school, and your family finally gets to come and see you play, you want to score five touchdowns,” David said. — Urban Cookhouse will be at the Village at Northbank, 1490 Northbank Parkway. For more information, visit or follow the restaurant on social media. Farmers or those who want information about employment or catering can send an email to either of the Snyders at or 29

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Cranberry honey butter

You know how people will say they love a gift because it’s something they wouldn’t buy for themselves? I feel this way about flavored butters: I like them but seldom take the time to make my own. If you have equally slothful friends, whip up a few jars of amped-up butter. This recipe from has a holiday-themed flavor, but you can easily make other versions with fresh chopped herbs, stoneground mustard or roasted garlic. For sweet butters – and a neat Thanksgiving hostess gift – stir in a little pumpkin puree, cinnamon, nutmeg and brown sugar. Don’t be afraid to experiment; it’s butter, for goodness’ sake, not caviar. INGREDIENTS: • 1 cup butter, softened • ¹/₃ cup dried cranberries, finely chopped • ¼ cup honey • 2 teaspoons grated orange peel • ¹/8 teaspoon kosher salt

DIRECTIONS: In a small bowl, beat all ingredients until blended. Store in refrigerator for up to two weeks or freeze for up to three months.

gifts TO GO These treats-in-a-jar are tasty time-savers


love making edible gifts for Christmas. After all, every friend would surely rather have a savory loaf of homemade cheeseand-olive bread than a gift card to the day spa. (My friends are no doubt reading this and thinking, “Not me, Sister.”) Seriously, food gifts are great for neighbors, hosts and hostesses, teachers – and me! I love food gifts, in case anyone needs a hint. These recipes are easy even for novice cooks to make. They’re simple to package up, too; all you need are some holiday-themed jars or plain jars fancied up with festive ribbons. Each concoction has natural tie-ins, too, so you can add extras like breads, crackers and whatnot if you want to be generous.

Arugula–walnut pesto

I love, love, love pesto. I hate, hate, hate the tedious task of picking basil leaves off their stems to make the traditional version. Solution: Use arugula. It tastes good and saves time, particularly when you buy it already bagged and washed, and it retains its bright color. (We will call this exchange of greens “smart” instead of “lazy.”) While pesto is yummy with crackers or on flatbread, it’s delicious on pasta, too, so tuck some fancy noodles, a wedge of Parmesan cheese, and a loaf of bread in with this gift. This recipe is from INGREDIENTS: • ½ cup walnut pieces • 1 garlic clove, minced • 2 cups packed arugula leaves • ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese • Kosher salt • 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil

DIRECTIONS: In a food processor, combine the walnuts, garlic, arugula, Parmesan and 1 teaspoon salt and pulse to blend. With the machine running, pour in the olive oil through the food tube in a slow, steady stream and process until smooth, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Taste and adjust the seasonings.


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1. Bloody Mary Bites If you look closely at the photo of this dish, you’ll see I used those lovely heirloom cherry tomatoes that come in different colors. If you make this dish during the winter, obviously you won’t be able to do that – but the good thing about this concoction is that it works well with off-season cherry or grape tomatoes, too. (The booze evidently performs miracles.) Save the marinade and use it to jazz up your real Bloody Marys. This recipe is adapted from INGREDIENTS: • 1 pint of cherry or grape tomatoes • 1 cup vodka • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce or Moore’s steak seasoning sauce • 1 to 2 tablespoons hot sauce (I used Frank’s hot sauce)

DIRECTIONS: Use a toothpick to poke a few small holes in each tomato. Place the tomatoes in a sealable jar. In a bowl, mix vodka, Worcestershire or Moore’s sauce, and hot sauce. Pour over the tomatoes. Seal the jar and marinate the mixture for at least two hours. Serve with dipping salt made from about 2 tablespoons each lemon pepper seasoning salt, celery salt and dried dill weed.

2. Rosemary Nuts

Sometimes you do indeed feel like a nut, especially when folks drop in during the holidays and all you have in your cupboard is a half-empty bag of Cheetos. This sweet and spicy snack is handy to have on hand as well as to give.

House-made Hummus I had no idea how easy it was to make hummus – and how much better it tastes than most grocery store versions – until I tried it. (Side note: It’s way cooler to say “house-made” than “homemade.”) If you’re planning to give this to someone who really likes the stuff, make several versions. Just stir in ingredients such as roasted red peppers and chopped basil, canned chipotle chiles and lime juice, or chopped olives. Throw in a package of pita bread or really good crackers (into your gift bag or basket, not into the hummus) for gift-giving. Cook’s note: You can find tahini at most large grocery stores in Tuscaloosa. Sumac is available at some specialty grocery stores, or you can order it from Amazon or another online source. INGREDIENTS: 1 15-ounce can chickpeas • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil • 3 tablespoons tahini • 1½ tablespoons lemon juice, plus more to taste • 1 small clove of garlic, roughly chopped • 1 teaspoon salt • ½ teaspoon finely ground black pepper • 1 teaspoon sumac, optional • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika, optional DIRECTIONS: Drain the chickpeas and rinse in a colander under cool running water. Combine the chickpeas, olive oil, tahini, lemon juice, garlic, salt and pepper in the bowl of a food processor or blender. Process the hummus continuously until it becomes very smooth, 1 to 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Taste the hummus. If it’s thicker than you’d like, add more lemon juice or olive oil to thin it out and make the hummus creamier. Sprinkle with sumac and/or smoked paprika if you like. Serve with pita chips, pita bread or raw vegetables. Hummus will keep for up to a week in a sealed container in the refrigerator. Makes about 2 cups.

INGREDIENTS: • 2 egg whites • 3½ tablespoons brown sugar • ¼ teaspoon salt (you may want to add more if you’re using unsalted nuts) • ¹/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper • Leaves from one large

rosemary sprig, chopped • 2 ½ cups raw mixed nuts (I like to use the posh mix with cashews, almonds and pistachios) DIRECTIONS: Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. In a large bowl, mix the first five ingredients into

a paste. Add the nuts and stir to coat them. Spread the nuts on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper and roast 20 minutes, stirring about every 5 minutes. Transfer the nuts to a cold pan and let them cool. Store in an airtight container.

3. Marinated Mushrooms

This fuss-free dish is slightly adapted from, which you can always count on for simple but really good recipes. I’ve served these mushrooms cold or at room temperature as an app and also heated them up when I needed an extra side dish, just FYI.

INGREDIENTS: • 1 pound small portobello mushrooms • ¼ cup olive oil • ¼ cup white wine vinegar • ¼ cup diced red onion • 2 cloves garlic, minced • 2 teaspoons brown sugar, packed • ½ teaspoon dried oregano • ½ teaspoon whole black peppercorns • ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

• 2 bay leaves (make sure to remove before serving) • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste • 2 to 3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves DIRECTIONS: Cook mushrooms for 3 to 4 minutes in a large pot of boiling salted water. Drain well.

In a large bowl, combine the olive oil, vinegar, onion, garlic, brown sugar, oregano, peppercorns, red pepper flakes and bay leaves. Add the mushrooms and stir. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate for at least 8 hours and up to 5 days. Sprinkle with parsley before serving.


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BY DONNA CORNELIUS PHOTOS BY GARY COSBY JR. yndy Cantley has been designing kitchens for some 30 years – and her clients tend to fall into one of two categories, she said. “In half the kitchens we do, they just want it to be pretty and to match the rest of their house,” said Cantley, who owns Cantley and Company in Birmingham with her husband, Keith. “They don’t do a lot of cooking and, when they entertain, they have everything catered.” Julie Wilson of Tuscaloosa falls into the second group – people who want their kitchens to be functional as well as fashionable. “I love to cook,” Wilson said. “We have family and friends over for football games and the Fourth of July and other holidays, and we’re in a supper club. And even when you have a tiny kitchen, that’s where people gather.” She and her husband, attorney Eric Wilson, live in a Cape Codstyle house in The Highlands. The family includes 12-year-old Ethan, a student at Rock Quarry Middle School.


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“I love to cook. We have family and friends over for football games and the Fourth of July and other holidays, and we’re in a supper club. And even when you have a tiny kitchen, that’s where people gather.” — JULIE WILSON Julie and Eric met when both were graduate students at the University of Alabama. She’s from Huntsville, and her husband is a Tuscaloosa native. The Wilsons have lived in their Patton Place home for 11 years, she said. “Before that, we lived in The Downs, so we obviously like older houses and neighborhoods,” Wilson said. “I’ve loved this house since I was in school here.” The Wilsons bought the house from their friends, Erin and Curtis Tucker, who moved not far away to another house in the neighborhood. “This house had a galley-style kitchen,” Julie Wilson said. “It was very functional, but we had a big breakfast room that we never used.” The Wilsons saw how the spaces might be reconfigured from a design plan drawn by Curtis Tucker. They called in Cantley to make the renovation a reality. “We’d talked about doing this for years,” Julie Wilson said. “I saw something on Facebook about Cyndy and met with her several years ago. She was so patient with us.” One of the first-ever projects for Cantley and Company, which is at 2821 Second Ave. S. in Birmingham, was the kitchen in the home of high-profile chef Frank Stitt. Earlier this year, Cantley created the kitchen for the Alabama Symphony Orchestra’s Decorators’ ShowHouse in Birmingham. Her many projects and years of experience have taught her one important rule about kitchen design, she said. “You have to talk to people and find out how they live,” Cantley said. Last year, the Wilsons decided the time was right to go ahead with the renovation. “Cyndy came here, and we went to her shop in Birmingham,” Wilson said.


ON THESE PAGES: Julie Wilson’s kitchen and dining area makeover in her Patton Place home in Tuscaloosa were designed to work with her home’s historic period as well as a contemporary chef. The open-kitchen design flows into the formal dining area. Updates included white marble countertops and a marble-topped island that doubles as seating space. A breakfast room was converted to add space in the kitchen and now includes a butler’s pantry.


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AT HOME The plan called for turning the former kitchen into a butler’s pantry. The little-used breakfast room became the kitchen. “We started work last October, and it went on until about mid-January,” Wilson said. “We were basically out of our kitchen for three months. Since I love to cook, having the house torn up, especially during the holidays, was hard. My mother-in-law brought us lots of food, and we had a microwave and a small refrigerator in the laundry room.” The results of the project turned out to be well worth the inconvenience of being kitchen-less. The renovated kitchen space is open, bright – and tailored for someone who likes cooking. “Cyndy asked questions like, ‘Do you cook a lot?’ and ‘What countertop appliances do you use the most, and which do you want to hide?’ ” Wilson said. “We’re not freezer people, so we did freezer drawers instead. We have a spice drawer, which has been amazing, a cutlery drawer and a silver drawer. Before, I kept my silver in a box.” The formerly red cabinets were replaced by new white ones built by Keith Cantley. Countertops now are honed white marble. “Everybody tried to talk me out of white marble, but not Cyndy,” Wilson said. “I love the look of it.”

Passed on to each owner of the home on Patton Place, including the Wilsons, is a copy of a 1937 edition of The American Home magazine. The Wilsons’ house was featured in the October 1937 edition.

Although marble can be more prone to scratching and staining than other materials, Cantley likes it so much she has marble countertops in her own kitchen. “We’ve done marble for 25 years,” she said. “The first stain is kind of tough, but things are going to age. People think you have to be so careful with marble, but it’s tougher than you think.” White cabinets are a smart as well as a stylish choice, the designer said. “White is very timeless and classic,” Cantley said. “It’s great any time of year – during Christmas, for example – and your china is always going to match it. If you want to change colors, you can paint the walls.” Wilson said she loves her new six-burner Wolf gas range. On one side of the range is a new refrigerator with paneling that makes it look identical to cabinets on the other side. “People will come in, look around and ask, ‘Where’s your refrigerator?’ ” Wilson said.



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“Everybody tried to talk me out of white marble, but not Cyndy. I love the look of it.” — JULIE WILSON THE VIEWS FROM THE KITCHEN: Walking into the kitchen from the carport gives an open view of not only the kitchen but also the formal dining area. The makeover also included some cosmetic changes to a living space that connects to the kitchen and, with its expansive windows, gives an airy feel and charming view to the Wilsons’ outdoor space.


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ward house” was “pleasing and extremely practical in every way.” The house’s living room, dining room, master bedroom, entrance hall and even an upstairs ventilator are mentioned in the story – but not the kitchen, although one photo does show a corner cupboard. “Keith removed the cupboard’s doors and used them on cabinets in the new butler’s pantry,” Wilson said. “We even kept the original hardware.”

M o r e s t o r e s. M o r e g i f t s. M o r e m a g i c.


Don’t forget for those on the nice list

The kitchen opens into a living space for both comfort and convenience.


She’s pleased to have more cabinet space than before. “I can buy in bulk now,” she said, smiling. “And I really like one cabinet that has dividers for baking sheets and trays.” Cantley said it’s wise to provide easy access to dishes and serving pieces. “So many people have their wedding china stored in boxes under a bed, and so they never use it,” she said. Wilson said the new kitchen island is popular with the whole family. “With just the three of us, we can sit there to eat, and Ethan can do his homework there,” Wilson said. The island has a deep farm sink. In the butler’s pantry, there’s a smaller sink and a beverage refrigerator. Some of the cabinet doors aren’t solid wood but have pigeon wire insets. “We get the pigeon wire from France,” Cantley said. “It gives you the look of a little age.” Eric Wilson’s mother, Margaret Wilson of Tuscaloosa, did some of the paintings that hang in the kitchen, including a charming one of cupcakes from New York City’s renowned Magnolia Bakery. While the old kitchen and breakfast room were “pretty much gutted,” Julie Wilson said, a few elements remain. Original oak floors in the renovated space were re-laid and refinished. “More people are doing hardwood in the kitchen now,” Cantley said. “Plus, when the room is open to the rest of the house, you want the floors to look the same.” In October 1937, the Patton Place house was featured in a magazine called The American Home, which sold for 10 cents a copy. The homeowner then was Whitley P. McCoy, and the house is described as being in “University, Alabama.” The article, “A Professor’s Preference,” said the “simple, straightfor-


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Window boxes make a great decoration for the holidays. This box was created at Barton’s Nursery in Tuscaloosa.



Welcome holiday guests and greet the neighborhood and passersby with these cheerful window boxes to decorate your home’s exterior. Amanda Laycock, manager at Barton’s Nursery, created these three designs that will wow your visitors and amaze yourself at how easy they are to make.


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SUPPLIES: • 2 gallon, 24-30” columnar evergreen (She used lemon cypress) • Assorted sizes of empty cardboard boxes • Aluminum foil • Floral foil in assorted colors • Several pieces of floral wire • Five 6-inch floral picks • Any wired ribbon for bows • Four 6-inch pots of green ivy • Two 6-inch and three 4-inch plastic ball ornaments • Two ¼-inch wooden dowels, cut or broken into halves INSTRUCTIONS: Plant the tall shrub in middle of box, and space ivy evenly across front of basket, then plant. Wrap the cardboard boxes in aluminum foil, then in floral foil in color of your choice. The double wrapping helps protect the boxes from rain damage. Tie ribbons and bows on front of packages. Insert a dowel into bottom of each box, then stick other end into soil to hold it in place. Using one floral pick per ball, insert wire through hole at top of ball where ornament hanger usually goes, then wrap end of wire around wooden part of pick. Insert pick into dirt. This prevents the ornament from rolling out of the window box.

SUPPLIES: • 3 yards fresh or permanent garland (we used cedar) • 1 bow wired red velvet ribbon #40 • Several stems of plastic red berries • Fresh or permanent boughs of greenery such as holly, magnolia, pine or cedar cut into 12-20” pieces • Floral wire INSTRUCTIONS: If using a window box with plants in it, attach garland to front center of basket using floral wire. Make shallow swag on either side of center, then wire garland to back left and right of rack using wire. Allow excess garland to fall flat against wall toward ground. Stick stem ends of greenery and berry picks directly into dirt. (Amanda suggests using plastic berries in outdoor arrangements, as birds will eat any real ones and create quite a mess). Replace picks every week as they dry out. If you like, you can bury vases or jars into the soil. Add 2 inches of gravel and water and insert stems directly into the water. Add water frequently as needed. If there are no plants in the box to start with, then you can fill the rack with soil or plastic foam to act as your base.

SUPPLIES: • 2 yards wired ribbon, 4-5 inches wide • Window box planted with pansies and ivy • Birdhouse • Four 12- to 18-inch-tall wooden trees on bases (can also use ornamental deer) • Two wire coat hangers straightened out and cut into 16-inch pieces INSTRUCTIONS: For this one, Amanda used a rack that was already planted with ivy and pansies. If yours is empty, you can plant it or used permanent picks and stems of ivy, magnolia, holly, etc. Place birdhouse in center of box. This one pictured is elevated on a piece of plastic foam that is hidden by being buried in the soil. If your birdhouse is not heavy enough to withstand wind, put 2 to 3 inches of gravel in the birdhouse to weigh it down. Place the wooden trees where you want them to go. Bend a 16-inch piece of hanger wire into an elongated “U.” It will look like half of a giant paper clip. Insert ends over base of trees, then push down into soil to hold trees in place. In this example, two wires per tree were used, one on each side of center. Thread the ribbon in and out of the front pieces of the wire rack, securing the ends of the ribbon with floral wire.

Need more ideas or prefer to have someone design a window box or decorate your mailbox for a unique look for the holidays? Drop by or call Barton’s Nursery and Gifts at 205-345-5544 at 251 Rice Mine Road. Owner Debby Laycock, Amanda and the staff will be happy to help. — Amanda Laycock, designer, is well known in our area for her imaginative interior floral designs. She takes a modern approach in the arrangements she does, both inside and outside of the home.


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Around here, hugs are more common than handshakes. Neighbors watch out for each other. Friends are family, and tailgates are family reunions. Here, we’re known to pull together in the face of challenge, support one another in times of need. And when the health of our community is at stake, we rally. We rally, because this place and its people deserve exceptional care. We deserve the best modern medicine has to offer, delivered close to home, day-in and day-out. The DCH Foundation is committed to delivering this standard. Our work is bigger than funding a new hospital wing or a fancy piece of technology. It’s about building the capacity to move all our lives—and our home—forward. Because nothing is more important than your health.



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COOKING At Shelton State, the culinary arts program is turning up the heat with a student-run restaurant, kids’ camp and a prize-winning team

Bethany Lewis, Jaxon Marshall and Dana Grant (left to right) work on the presentation of their fajita dish they have prepared for the Culinary Arts class at Shelton State Community College.


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Dorothy Gladden, Jasmine Lewis and Chef Pleshette Bevelle confer over the cake mix they are preparing in the Culinary Arts class at Shelton State.


ulinary students who have grown up watching celebrity chefs on Food Network may think they’re poised to be the next Bobby Flay or Giada De Laurentiis. Pleshette Bevelle, an instructor in Shelton State Community College’s culinary arts program, pops that bubble pretty quickly. “I break that myth right away by starting out with a food challenge,” Bevelle said. “I bring out ingredients in baskets, and the students have to create something from them.” The challenge is much like Food Network’s popular “Chopped” series, where the show’s four contestants are given baskets with four different foods and asked to create a dish

using all the ingredients – which often are wildly disparate. “I might give them chocolate, green or red onions, potatoes or rice, and some meat – usually things that wouldn’t go together or something exotic,” Bevelle said. “We can incorporate different cooking methods and techniques. Some students get really creative.” The worst basket challenge dish? “A student made a spice blend and used so much cayenne I couldn’t even eat it,” Bevelle said with a smile. Dietitian Carolyn Williams, who teaches food safety and nutrition at Shelton State, said students enter the program with varying degrees of cooking chops.


“Some don’t know how to boil water. Others have grown up around cooking or have worked in food preparation before coming to school.” — DIETITIAN CAROLYN WILLIAMS


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CLOCKWISE FROM TOP: Dana Grant discusses the presentation of her dish of fajitas with Chef Pleshette Bevelle. Presentation of the prepared dish is part of the art of cooking and is part of the students’ culinary education. • A student prepares a fajita. • Student Hunter Lewis takes a photo of his finished dish of fajitas before the class samples the finished product. • A guacamole dish prepared in the class.

“The program takes two years for most students, but we have some who take only one class at a time.” — DIETITIAN CAROLYN WILLIAMS

“Some don’t know how to boil water,” Williams said. “Others have grown up around cooking or have worked in food preparation before coming to school.” Shelton State’s two-year degree program includes classes that teach basic know-how like kitchen safety and knife skills and more specialized subjects such as catering and cake decorating. “We have a baking certificate program and hope to introduce more certificate programs,” Williams said. “We have classes in baking, food safety and sanitation, specialty breads, pastry, and chocolate and truffles.”

About 75 students are enrolled in the program, although not all attend full time, Williams said. “The program takes two years for most students, but we have some who take only one class at a time,” she said. “You’re getting an associate’s degree, which is about 51 credit hours.” The associate’s degree curriculum includes courses in other subjects, such as English and math, so those who already have an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in another field can complete the culinary arts program in less time, she said.


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Presentation is a key element each student learns in the classes.

“We have full-time students, and we have retired and ex-military people who just want to learn a new skill or hobby,” Williams said. Karen Freeman of Tuscaloosa is among Shelton culinary students who started with one class. She and her husband, John Freeman, have two children: Anna Grace, a University of Alabama senior, and John Glen, an Echols Middle School eighth-grader. “My husband and I owned a business here in Tuscaloosa for about 25 years, and we sold it,” Freeman said. “He’s a pilot, so he still had his full-time job, but I got a little bit bored. I’d always been interested in the culinary arts and decided to take one course to stick my toe in the water. “That was last fall. I enjoyed it so much that I decided to keep going.” Since she has a bachelor’s degree from UA, Freeman already is “halfway there” to completing an associate’s degree, she said. “Our instructors are fabulous,” Freeman said. “It’s been 30 years since I was a college student. But because I’m so interested, the workload hasn’t been hard.” She said she started the culinary program

simply because she wanted to be a better cook. “I really had a desire to learn to cook properly,” Freeman said. “I wanted to learn things like French cooking techniques and about the five mother sauces – to know and understand things.” But there’s a possibility she might use her associate’s degree in a professional setting. “I have a feeling I might do something with it,” Freeman said. Williams, a Tuscaloosa native, was a food editor at Oxmoor House Publishing and also ran a test kitchen in Nashville before joining Shelton’s faculty about eight years ago. “As a dietitian, the classes I teach have more of a nutrition slant,” she said. Bevelle, also from Tuscaloosa, graduated from Culinard, Virginia College’s culinary institute, and worked in her family’s restaurant, The Brown Bag in Northport. “I do a lot of catering – sometimes for celebrities, including Nicki Minaj and Ruben Studdard,” she said. “I’ve taught here for not quite three years. I like teaching and sharing what I’ve learned.”



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The program also has several adjunct instructors. One is Nicole McLaughlin, a Birminghambased food stylist and graduate of Johnson & Wales University’s College of Culinary Arts. Although Shelton’s culinary arts program has been in place for about 15 years, Bevelle and Williams are trying to expand it and boost its profile in the community. “We’re planning to start a retail restaurant one day a week,” Williams said. “It will be student-run and managed. The students will rotate through all the different positions, from head chef to cashier and dishwasher.” Updates about the restaurant will be posted on Shelton State’s Facebook page, she said.

Last summer, Shelton State’s cooking class for kids turned out to be so popular it had a waiting list. “We’d love to do a college-prep class, too,” Williams said. In April, Shelton State fielded a team for a popular Tuscaloosa cooking competition, the Family Counseling Service’s Death by Chocolate. The students, led by Bevelle, competed against restaurants and caterers at the annual fundraiser. The Shelton State team placed second. “I chose some students to participate, and they came up with ideas and tested them,” Bevelle said. “We did chocolate-chipotle truffles with maple and bacon sauce.”


Topping selection creations for the fajitas include guacamole, tomatoes, peppers and onions.

Students Sherry Triggs and Desmond Anderson put the finishing touches on their dish of fajitas during Culinary class at Shelton State.


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“One of the nicest things to see is bright students who struggled in high school and watch them blossom here.” — DIETITIAN CAROLYN WILLIAMS

Both women said they think their efforts to promote Shelton State’s culinary department are paying off. “It’s a great program, and we’re getting good feedback from the community,” Bevelle said. “People are hearing things and are excited about it.” The two instructors said the most popular classes include garde manger – preparing cold foods such as salads, sandwiches and hors d’ouevres – and, not surprisingly, a class on chocolates and truffles. “The least favorite is purchasing and cost control,” Williams said. But both women said culinary students need to know the practical side of the food business. “Many students say they want to open their own restaurant one day, so they have to learn things like how to order food and how to cost

out a recipe,” Williams said. “They need to realize it can take a while to see a profit.” Catering concepts are taught at Shelton State, too. “You have to teach them how to do displays, how to set up buffets and menu design,” Bevelle said. “Even in catering, you may not have a person to do the daily management and have to do it yourself.” Williams said students are encouraged to explore different ways to have a culinary career. “The glamorous jobs are in restaurants or as personal chefs,” she said. “But the pay and benefits can be better if you work for larger corporations or for hospitals and nursing homes. That’s why it’s especially important to know about nutrition.” Some students end up transferring into the

University of Alabama’s hospitality program, Williams said. Others already are working at restaurants or in catering. She said several culinary students have been on the autism spectrum and have “done very well.” Other students find their niche in the program. Bevelle said one of her students hadn’t excelled in high school but did so well at Shelton State that she was inducted into Phi Theta Kappa, an honorary society for two-year college students. “One of the nicest things to see is bright students who struggled in high school and watch them blossom here,” Williams said. — For more information about Shelton’s culinary arts program, visit The program is based at Shelton’s C.A. Fredd Campus, 3401 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.

TOP: Chef Pleshette Bevelle checks the progress of a cake that is baking. AT RIGHT: Student Jasmine Warren sifts flour as she prepares cake batter.


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COVER STORY The red velvet cake version created by Shelton State’s Culinary Arts Program features three moist layers, sprinkled with chocolate chips.

INGREDIENTS: • 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour • 1 ¾ cups sugar • 1 tsp baking soda • 1 tsp salt • 1 tbsp cocoa powder • 3 large eggs,beaten • 1 cup of buttermilk at room temperature • 1 ½ cups vegetable oil • 2 tbsp (or more) red food coloring • 1 tsp white distilled vinegar • 1 tsp of vanilla extract • ¾ semi-sweet chocolate chips

CREAM CHEESE ICING: • 4 oz cream cheese, softened • 3 tbsp powdered milk • 6 tablespoons milk • ½ cream of tartar • 2 cups confectioners’ sugar • 1 tsp vanilla extract Using a fitted attachment or hand mixer, slowly combine confectioners’ sugar with the cream cheese. Once combined, add in remaining ingredients one at a time. Mix well until there is a smooth consistency.

INSTRUCTIONS: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and lightly flour cake pan. In a large bowl, sift together the dry ingredients: flour, sugar, baking soda, salt and cocoa powder. In a separate bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients: eggs, buttermilk, vegetable oil, food coloring, distilled vinegar and vanilla extract. Incorporate the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients slowly, 1 cup at a time, to prevent the batter from developing clumps. Once the batter is thoroughly mixed, stir in the chocolate chips. Pour batter into the greased and floured cake pan and place in the oven. Bake for 30-45 minutes. Once the cake is done, cool cake in the cake pan for about 10 minutes before inverting on a cooling rack. Once cool, frost the cake with cream cheese icing. Garnish with fruit, pecans, chocolate chips or chocolate ganache.


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On Ethan: Three Sisters red striped twopiece knit set, Lily Pads Boutique, $49.95. On Kelvin: Polo Ralph Lauren Soho Plaid woven robe, Belk, $65; Polo Ralph Lauren gray thermal long-sleeved crewneck shirt, Belk, $49.50; Polo Ralph Lauren waffle-knit pajama pants, Belk, $49.50.


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The most wonderful time of the year is also the busiest. Time off means it’s time to get out and go. But what to wear? Here are some ideas to help ring in the season in style.



The kids may find it hard to sleep tonight, but they’ll look adorable trying On twins EJ and Talia: Banana Split Santa smocked two-piece set (styles for boys and girls), Lily Pads Boutique, $56.95. On Talia, Beyond Creations large wide ribbon bow, Lily Pads Boutique, $8.95. Animal Adventure rocking horse, available at Cracker Barrel, $59.99.


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OF LIGHT When the stars appear on the eight nights of Hanukkah, Morgan and Sam are ready to commemorate the miracle of light.

On Morgan: C/MEO Collective There is a Way long-sleeved top, Effie’s Inc., $180. Black Finders Keepers Wild World skirt, Effie’s Inc., $140. Suede tassel necklace, Effie’s Inc., $30. Wilson black suede Sam Edelman Bootie, Effie’s Inc., $180 (not shown). On Sam: Peter Millar brown vest, Mobley and Sons, $165; Peter Millar khaki jean, Mobley and Sons, $145; Peter Millar shirt, Mobley and Sons, $125; W. Kleinberg belt, $135.


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Stars OF THE SHOW The stage is the centerpiece, but who says you can’t make an entrance and stand out in the crowd?

On Fletcher: Paul Betenly suit, Mobley and Sons, $595; Gitman Bros. white shirt, Mobley and Sons, $135; Robert Talbott red tie, Mobley and Sons, $98.50.

On Chaney: Likely black Canterbury Dress, Canterbury Clothiers, $249; Generation Love, rabbit fur crop jacket, Canterbury Clothiers, $599; Vince Capri pumps, Canterbury Clothiers, $450; Botkier Cobble Hill Crossbody purse, Canterbury Clothiers, $198. On Sarah Frances: Sally Miller Couture, Krush Boutique, $110.


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SMILE AFTER SMILE Hearts will be glowing as those who are dear gather near.


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On Ethan: (driving to visit his grandfather and greatgrandmother): Izod threepiece set, which includes navy trousers, dress shirt and vest, Belk, $62. On Daisha: Ralph Lauren black lace dress with white collar, Belk, $174. On Talia: Ralph Lauren, Holiday Cruise red dress, Belk, $59.50. On EJ: Chaps white oxford shirt, Belk, $28; Polo Ralph Lauren khakis, Belk, $45; Chaps red sweater vest, Belk, $30. On Tamara: Rebecca Minkoff Scottie striped sweater dress, Canterbury Clothiers, $198. On Kelvin: Polo Ralph Lauren long-sleeved Classic green polo, Belk, $125; Polo Ralph Lauren Polo Black stretch classic fit trousers, Belk, $98; Polo Ralph Lauren cotton half-zip classic pullover, Belk, $98. On Mrs. Croom: Kasper silver multi jacket, Belk, $119; Kasper platinum sleeveless top, Belk, $39; Kasper solid straight black skirt, Belk, $69. Gifts: provided by Lily Pads Boutique; lollipop provided by Cracker Barrel.


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DAY ’Tis the season for bowl games, and the Ways are ready to cheer on their favorite team.

On Michael: Mobile Bay plaid, wrinkle-resistant stretch Drifter longsleeved button down in Ketchup Gingham shirt, Kinnucan’s, $85; Southern Marsh khaki Grayton twill trousers, Kinnucan’s, $79; Drake Clothing Company windproof fleece layering vest in black, Kinnucan’s, $100. On Leigh Anne: Charlie O three-quarter-sleeved floral dress in rust, Kinnucan’s, $45. On Jackson: Kuhl boys Revolvr pants in carbon, Kinnucan’s, $55; Patagonia boys Better Sweater Jacket in Sumac Red, Kinnucan’s, $89. On Anna Rachel: Koko-Nut Kids elephant-sleeved dress, Lily Pads Boutique, $59.95; FootMates Lydia shoes in apple red with non-marking soles, Lily Pads Boutique, $56.95; Beyond Creations gray bow, Lily Pads Boutique, $7.95.


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NIGHT It’s all fun and games when family and friends gather.

On Anna Rachel: Luigi Kids Acvisa lime/pink polka-dot Frog Ruffle pants set, Lily Pads Boutique, $62.95; Beyond Creations large wide ribbon lime bow, Lily Pads Boutique, $8.95. | On Ethan: Polo Ralph Lauren long-sleeved white T-shirt, Belk, $19.50; Polo Ralph Lauren sports pants in Polo Black, Belk, $35. | On Jackson: Under Armour pants, Belk, $39.99; Under Armour water-resistant jacket, Belk, $99.99. | On Talia: Polo Ralph Lauren Park Avenue red dress, Belk, $45. | On Leigh Anne: Lauren James Beachcomber long-sleeved T-shirt in CLRed/Sky, Kinnucan’s, $54; Krass & Co. black leggings, Kinnucan’s, $64. | On EJ: Nike Dry shirt in Volt, Belk, $28; Nike pants in Anthra/Volt, Belk, $30.


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When the weather outside is frightful, or when it’s unseasonably warm, jetting down the slopes or taking a walk through the woods never looked so good.

On Daisha: Bcg women’s active lifestyle Roughin’ It Bermuda shorts in khaki, Academy Sports & Outdoors, $14.99; Columbia women’s Tamiami II long-sleeved shirt, Academy Sports & Outdoors, $45; Austin Trading Company Sloane casual boot, Academy Sports & Outdoors, $29.99. | On Fletcher: Game Winner men’s Big Bend packable rain pant, Academy Sports & Outdoors, $29.99; Game Winner men’s Real Tree Xtra Boone Jacket, Academy Sports & Outdoors, $49.95; Game Winner Blaze GW Shield hat in blaze orange, Academy Sports & Outdoors, $5.99; Game Winner Ozark 2-in-1 Glove, Academy Sports & Outdoors, $34.99; The Original Muck Boot Company Edgewater II boots, Academy Sports & Outdoors, $119.99. | On Gabby: Magellan Quilted Premium Jacket in bright white, Academy Sports & Outdoors, $99.99; Magellan Outdoors ski bib in black, Academy Sports & Outdoors, $34.99; Under Armour fitted compression shirt in white, Academy Sports & Outdoors, $49.99; Sperry Nellie Kate Black boots, Academy Sports & Outdoors, $74.99; Magellan Outdoors Heather Glove in black/gray, Academy Sports & Outdoors, $9.99; Magellan Outdoors Anti-fog Snow Goggle, Academy Sports & Outdoors, $24.99. | Props: Ski Skooter fold-up snowboard kick-scooter, Kinnucan’s, $47.99; metal Monsieur Turkey, Barton’s Nursery & Gifts, $85.95; Brazos Walking Sticks in hardwood, Academy Sports & Outdoors, $19.99.|


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Carol OF THE

BELLES Baby, it may be cold outside, but Chaney, Tamara, Sarah Frances and Talia are warmed by the joy of the season — and their overcoats. On Tamara: Generation Love Evelyn black cape, Canterbury Clothiers, $359; Rebecca Taylor Box Clip Top, Canterbury Clothiers, $325; Rag & Bone black high-rise skinny jeans, Canterbury Clothiers, $185. On Chaney: Theory Malkan Pm Bergen sleeveless flounced-hem layered dress in sumac/burgundy, Canterbury Clothiers, $395; Rebecca Minkoff Kimberly faux fur-trimmed jacket, Canterbury Clothiers, $498. On Talia: Bonnie Jean Scottie two-piece fleece coat (also comes with a hat, which was not worn) in red, Belk, $55; Bonnie Jean black and white dress, Belk, $60. On Sarah Frances: Bonnie Jean striped jacquard dress, Belk, $74; London Fog double-breasted wool peacoat in black, Belk, $90.


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It’s the party season and time to glam it up.

On Morgan: Saylor Misha romper, Effie’s Inc., $264; Chinese Laundry beige suede sandal, Effie’s Inc., $68; Teardrop prism earring, Effie’s Inc., $15. On Sam: Jack Victor suit, Mobley and Sons, $795; Eton striped shirt, Mobley and Sons, $245; Robert Talbott tie, Mobley and Sons, $98.50. On Gabby: Bailey 44 Keep on Dreaming dress, Effie’s Inc., $298; Raye Blake black patent single strap sandal, Effie’s Inc., $190; pearlized T-drop earrings, Effie’s Inc., $15


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It’s out with the old and in with the new, as Brittney and Ryan make a toast to say goodbye to 2016 and hello to 2017.

On Brittney: Cinq a Sept Pandora cutout fit and flare dress, Canterbury Clothiers, $395. On Ryan: Hickey Freeman suit in black, Mobley and Sons, $1,495; Robert Talbott Best of Class tie, Mobley and Sons, $140; David Donahue shirt, Mobley and Sons, $135; Hanauer white pocket square, Mobley and Sons, $22.50.


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CREDITS Chaney Boatright

Fletcher Boatright

Sarah Frances Boatright

Ethan Croom

Kelvin Croom

Mrs. Louise B. Croom

Gabrielle Deas

Morgan DeWitt

Daisha Dudley

Erwin “EJ” Dudley Jr.

Talia Dudley

Tamara Croom Dudley

Brittney Rhoden

Ryan Rhoden

Sam Sogol

Anna Rachel Way

Jackson Way

Leigh Anne Way

Michael Way

Photographer: Erin Nelson | Styling: Becky Hopf Hair and makeup: Chaney Boatright and Jeana Eidson, New Creations Hair and Nail Salon (NC Salon) Clothing provided by Academy Sports and Outdoors, Belk, Canterbury Clothiers, Effie’s, Kinnucan’s, Krush Boutique, Lily Pads Boutique and Mobley and Sons.


Special thanks for props provided by Barton’s Nursery and Gifts, Cracker Barrel, The Actor’s Charitable Theatre, Theatre Tuscaloosa, Tuscaloosa Children’s Theatre and Tuscaloosa Community Dancers. Special assistance on site at the shoot provided by Andrew Carroll, and, from Canterbury Clothiers, Stephanie Partlow.


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CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: Girl’s peacoat ($49.98) at Crazy 8. | Girl’s silver dress shoe ($24.88) at Crazy 8 | Heritage candles ($10) at Tom’s Jewelry | Fashion necklace ($58) at Lavish | Sorel women’s slimboot made with waterproof materials ($159.99) at Ervin’s Work and Western Wear 68

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CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: American Strutter crimson and white gingham button-down shirt ($69.99) at Ervin’s Work and Western Wear | Hoka One One Clifton 3 women’s shoes ($129.99) at Wagner’s Runwalk | ‘47 Brand compression arch support, moisture-wicking socks. One size fits most ($14) at The Locker Room | Deontay Wilder bobblehead ($19.99) at Wagner’s Shoes for Kids | 8x10 photo frame ($129.99) at American Shutterbug 69

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CLOCKWISE FROM TOP, LEFT: The Polka Dot Stadium Cross Body Elephant Purse is made of genuine leather and canvas cloth ($90) at The Locker Room. | Brother NQ1400E ($1,799) at General Sewing and Vacuum | The White Pinstripe Vintage A Knit with three-button placket, open sleeve and full golf fit ($69.50) at The Locker Room | The University of Alabama seal cufflinks ($85) at The Locker Room | Assorted chocolate baskets ranging from $20 to $200 and peppermint $25 per tin at Peterbrooke Chocolatier 71

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CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: UGG Bailey bow ruffle boots in pink ($119.99) at Wagner’s Shoes for Kids | True Grit fleece ¼ zip pullover, offered in adult and kids sizes ($145) at The Shirt Shop | Autobiography by Mal M. Moore with Steve Townsend ($18) at SUPE Store, Bryant Museum and select local retailers and Deontay the future World Champ! ($17.99) at Wagner's Shoes for Kids | 14K white gold checkerboard cut ruby stud earrings ($175) and Fashion Ring ($3,250) at Tom's Jewelrey 72

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FROM LEFT TO RIGHT: Toddler Rudolph onesie ($73) at Katelyn’s Korner | Silky Soft Day Dream blanket by Aden+Anais (149.99) at BabyTalk




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ROLL Docuseries follows UA wheelchair basketball’s national championship run


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BY JOEY CHANDLER | PHOTOS BY ERIN NELSON hey are two teams perennially composed of some of the world’s greatest athletes, Paralympian stars from around the world. On Oct. 26, members of the University of Alabama’s men’s and women’s wheelchair basketball teams became stars of the big screen when the Bama Theatre played host to what was billed as a sneak peek of the documentary series “This is How We Roll — A Season with Alabama Wheelchair Basketball.” The 10-episode docuseries, produced by Power 10 Films and directed by Daniel Koenig, follows the men’s and women’s teams on and off the court during the 2014-15 season as they prepare for a different opponent each week, culminating

with the collegiate national championships. It sheds light on the training, educational and social elements of life as a collegiate wheelchair basketball player. “I think the thing about the documentary is that it raises awareness for our athletes and our program, and athletes with disabilities in general,” said Dr. Brent Hardin, executive director of University of Alabama Adapted Athletics. “Awareness is one of our really big obstacles because we’ve found when people see what we are doing and meet our student-athletes, and see how awesome they are, they want to be involved and want to support us, and things just grow in a typical manner,” Hardin said. “So that is one of the big things: It gives people a true picture of the subculture of collegiate athletes with disabilities, raises awareness and raises expectations of what an athlete will be.”


I think the thing about the documentary is that it raises awareness for our athletes and our program, and athletes with disabilities in general.


The Bama Theatre in downtown Tuscaloosa rolled out the red carpet for the premiere of the docuseries. Guests were treated to souvenirs from the event.

executive director of University of Alabama Adapted Athletics


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It was just a great experience to get our team out there and what we are all about and show people how dedicated we are to playing the sport of basketball.” — CAITLIN McDERMOTT, a member of the USA’s national team


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The idea for the series came to life while Koenig was filming his documentary “Trials: Finding the Medal,” which featured Alabama assistant professor Margaret Stran and three other para-rowers as they tried out for the U.S. National Rowing team. Stran and Hardin introduced Koenig to Alabama Adapted Athletics and came up with the idea to follow the wheelchair basketball teams on their quests to win a national title. Koenig began filming in October 2014 and finished in March 2015. At the October 2016 screening, Koenig said he was still working on the editing process and that the series documentary should be available on iTunes and Amazon before the current wheelchair basketball season ends in the spring of 2017. He is also hoping to air it on television in the Tuscaloosa and Birmingham market. “It was kind of a rigorous filming process

because every single week had to be a whole new story arc and episode,” Koenig said. The series is narrated by then-seniors Caitlin McDermott, a member of the USA’s national team, and Jannik Blair, who competed on the Australian wheelchair basketball men’s team in the 2016 Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro. In the premiere, viewers are introduced to McDermott, Blair and their teammates. In addition to clips from practice and the first game of the season, the director pulls back the curtain on Blair and his roommates taking part in their everyday activities. Koenig said that the viewers will get to know more members of the team better throughout the series. “It was pretty chill. We got along with Daniel pretty well,” Blair said. “He spent a lot of time at our apartment, and it was a pretty relaxed atmosphere at our crib, so he just became a part of the furniture, basically. He would show up unannounced and sort of observed us in

our day-to-day activities. It was a very enjoyable experience.” Like Blair, McDermott said she became used to Koenig’s presence in her everyday life. “It was definitely a little adjustment having Daniel follow us around with a camera and knowing our life was going to be in the spotlight,” McDermott said. “It was just a great experience to get our team out there and what we are all about and show people how dedicated we are to playing the sport of basketball.” The women’s wheelchair basketball team won its fourth national title during filming. They also won national championships in 2009, 2010 and 2011. The men’s team won a national championship in 2013. “We are just as competitive as any other sports team, and a lot of people say we are inspirational, and we really don’t like that term,” McDermott said. “We are just any another student-athlete who wants to win a national

>> TOP: Savannah Gardner, a member of the University of Alabama’s wheelchair basketball team, autographs a poster promoting the docuseries before the premiere at the Bama Theatre. BOTTOM: Megan Musselman presents her ticket to see the premiere of “This is How We Roll.”

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championship and wants the same notoriety, and we play at the same caliber as any other collegiate Alabama sports team.” The premiere, presented by UA Adapted Athletics and the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, kicked off the beginning of Alabama’s 2016-17 wheelchair basketball season. “We are really excited about it, because one of our projects we’ve adopted is working with adapted athletics at the university,” Olli president Richard Rhone said. “We started a little over a year ago, and have a really good relationship. We have an adapted athletic committee that supports their programs.” The intro scene of the series, which had more than 7,000 views by the end of October, can be found on the Alabama Adapted Athletics Facebook page, and more information can also be found at and the Power 10 Films Facebook page. “The whole point of the documentary is to try and expose people to wheelchair basketball and get people familiar with it and want to come out and support it,” Koenig said. “It is also trying to make it so that when people think of wheelchair basketball, they think of the University of Alabama.”

TOP: UA men’s wheelchair basketball team member Shaun Castle autographs a team poster that was one of the items given away as part of the premiere. BOTTOM: The opening credits as they flashed on the screen.


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The stage is classic to its early 1900s era, with guilding highlighting the columns that frame the narrow stage. The theater itself is located on the building’s second level, which was also a common feature of opera houses across America.



Among the artifacts that have been salvaged are century-old piano music rolls.

he Sleeping Beauty is waking up.” With those words, announced on social media in June 2015, a piece of American history — located on, appropriately, Main Street USA — slowly began to emerge from its decadeslong nap. The Greensboro Opera House was originally built in the 1890s. Fire gutted the building around 1902, and a new opera house was built in the same downtown location, opening in 1903. It is a building where the term “if walls could talk” needn’t even be said. These walls do talk, in the form of etchings and early 20th-century graffiti drawn by actors, patrons, members of secret societies who held meetings there, and the random teens who sneaked into the building.

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To pass the façade today, one might never guess the grandeur, though dusty and suspended in time, that lies inside on the second floor. In fact, it seems unfathomable that a small town in West Alabama would ever have been home to something so fancy. Yet the Greensboro Opera House was the cultural and social center of what was once a very prosperous town. Its wooden stage was lit by footlights at a time when many homes across the country still didn’t have electricity. It was a showcase for traveling minstrel shows, performers and dances. “They had them in every town this size, all these little towns across America. That’s what makes it so outstanding, really. It’s not that it’s that unique. It was such a part of American culture in all little towns across the country. But most of them disappeared. This is the only one dating from that period of this nature that is left in Alabama and probably, virtually, all over,” said Winifred Cobbs, president of the Greensboro Opera House board of directors. The advent of motion pictures led many opera houses to transition into movie theaters. Greensboro was among those converts. However, unlike some of the others, Greensboro retained its stage and, in addition to showing Rudolph Valentino films and the like, it continued to host vaudeville acts, bands, cultural performances and orations.


CLOCKWISE, FROM TOP LEFT: The chandelier that once hung in the center of the theater was removed when the opera house was converted to a movie house because it blocked the image being projected onto the screen. • The entrance into the theater on the second level includes the ticket booth. • Behind the balcony is the area used as projection space. The walls throughout the “hidden” areas of the opera house are filled with drawings and graffiti, left by actors, workers and patrons, and dating to its earliest years to the year when its doors were shuttered. • Fireplaces appear in almost every room of the opera house, built when there was no central heating.


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“My grandfather was an attorney and a wonderful orator — he kept people spellbound,” Cobbs said. “My mother wrote in her memoirs that during World War I my grandfather was the person who would raise money to buy war bonds. He would stand on the stage of the opera house, and he was so effective that he would tell them, in his orator’s voice, that if the Kaiser takes over, everything will be gone. Your property won’t be your property. Your wife won’t be your wife. And people were running up there to pay their money.” Opera houses were often located on an upper floor. Retail stores filled the lower level. As opera houses aged and the theaters became obsolete with the opening of movie multiplexes, store owners tore apart the theater interiors to convert the space to storage. Greensboro’s entrance doors opened from the street to the stairs. The business owners below removed the stairs to make more room on the first floor, in essence sealing off the second floor and sparing the opera house. “It was really to our benefit that they tore out the stairs because the upstairs wasn’t used for anything else,” Cobbs said. “Because of that, the upstairs remains completely intact, pretty much.” The opera house was shuttered for the better part of 50 years, seeing its end with the closing of the movie theater in 1939 on the eve of World War II. With dreams of restoring it to its former glory, Cobbs and others, led by Judge William “Sonny” Ryan of Moundville, raised money and purchased the building in 2003, Cobbs said, for “somewhere between $120,000 and $130,000.” Over the years, the nonprofit’s board borrowed more money to help fund the project. A gala was held in 2006. It helped raise about $100,000. They held another gala in April 2016. A new chandelier lights the entrance’s staircase.


The original ceiling medallion, a painting featuring cherubs, still centers the theater. It will be cleaned and restored to its original beauty, and will be reunited with the chandelier that once hung from its center.


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“My mother wrote that coming up the stairs as a child, the stairs were so wide to her. And the swish of the curtain was a big deal to her. High schools didn’t have auditoriums in places like this. This was the center of community life.” — WINIFRED COBBS, president of the Greensboro Opera House board of directors The opera house, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is slowly transforming. Progress has come in stages, as funding allows. A lot of it has gone unseen, like fortifying the structure to meet code restrictions. This past spring marked the unveiling of the completion of Phase I, renovation of the façade and the first-floor reception room. The next phases are the rehabilitations of the theater, secondand third-floor spaces, an adjoining store space, and expansion of the rear of the building to make more room for wings and dressing room areas. The projects are being overseen by Tuscaloosa architect John McClellan and Auburn’s Rural Studio. The Alabama State Council on the Arts and Humanities, the Tuscaloosa Preservation Society, Goodrich Foundation and so many others, including local plumbers, contractors, steelworkers and structural engineers, are among the many sources helping make this long-term renovation and restoration reality. “We have people who are — I’m going to use the French term — artistes, in the old sense of the craftsperson,” Cobbs said. Among them are metalworker Ben Harper, contractor John Tucker and electrician Woody Stokes. “The three of them have just been wonderful,” Cobbs said. The flooring from the retail stores couldn’t be saved, but they found enough heart pine from a salvage store in Cullman to replace it. The original first-floor ceiling tiles remain. A new grand staircase, lavishly adorned and lit by a new crystal chandelier, greets visitors at the entrance. The room is used for receptions, meetings, luncheons and dinners. Plans are to host art exhibits, lectures, readers’ theater, musical acts and performances.


TOP: Winifred Cobbs, on the staircase overlooking the completed first level renovation. BOTTOM: Narrow staircases flank the stage, leading to the actors’ dressing room.


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TOP: The first level, once home to two retail stores, has been opened up and transformed. The ceiling tiles are original, but refurbished. The two styles of tiles reflect how they differed in the stores. BOTTOM, RIGHT: Among the artifacts found in storage in the opera house is this sign from one of the retail stores.


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The group has raised more than $500,000 to get the project rolling, with help from grants and donations. “We’ve had so many people who have reached into their pockets. It’s a real act of love,” Cobbs said. “We owe about $50,000 on what we’ve done so far. I’m just guessing that it will take about $500,000 to renovate upstairs. The heaviest expense upstairs is going to be the structural expense for making it safe.” The building was shuttered during Cobbs’ childhood, but her mother’s writings describe vivid memories of attending events there. “My mother wrote that coming up the stairs as a child, the stairs were so wide to her. And the swish of the curtain was a big deal to her. High schools didn’t have auditoriums in places like this. This was the center of community life.” While the downstairs area now shines, the second floor remains a step back in time. Collected in the center of the room waiting to be restored are the theater seats; an electric popcorn machine that dates to, Cobbs estimates, the 1920s; the auditorium’s chandelier; a vintage sound machine with rocks inside that, when turned, mimic the sound of thunder; piano music rolls; a random costume shoe. They found old burlap cotton sacks that once draped across the auditorium’s ceiling to cushion sound. It was built before air conditioning and central heating, so the auditorium and adjoining rooms have fireplaces and iron stoves for the winter months and windows that prop open for what must have been stifling heat in the summer. “Someone who heard about the renovation wrote of a memory about how it was so hot in there that the boys would climb out the windows and sit on the roof,” Cobbs said. “They’d smoke their cigarettes and watch through the windows.” In the 1920s, a prank of leading a donkey and letting it loose upstairs became town lore.

TOP LEFT: The façade of the Greensboro Opera House was among the first renovations. TOP RIGHT: The theater seats are among the artifacts saved that will be transformed into their former glory. BOTTOM RIGHT: An old stage door is seen from the balcony on the third level of the Greensboro Opera House.

Autographs, poems and sketches on back room walls reflect the times. On the projection area wall, someone drew, freehand, a cartoon of Tom Mix, who starred in cowboy films between 1909 and 1935. And, perhaps the most chilling, a cartoon drawing of Adolf Hitler, a noose around his neck, with the notation that Hitler died that day, April 30, 1945. The tiny box office remains as does the original circular canvas, painted with cherubs, that surrounded the auditorium’s chandelier. The chandelier was removed because it blocked the projection to the screen. The narrow stage backs up to an exterior brick wall. Flanking the stage are narrow steep steps leading to the actors’ third-floor dressing rooms. The third-floor wing on the opposite end holds the balcony and the old projection room where chimneys with vents had to be installed because the early projectors got so heated.


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“The first time I walked in here, I thought it was stupendous. It’s almost like I can feel ghosts whispering to me, and I could listen to the rustle of the dresses on the stage. It was like stepping into a time capsule,” Cobbs said. “I love everything I know about this place, so this is really a passion for me.” — WINIFRED COBBS, president of the Greensboro Opera House board of directors

There’s a closet-sized room where Jeffries W. Blount and the secret society, the Knights of Pythias — originally established before the Civil War to discuss plans to keep order and foster a friendship between the North and the South — held meetings. Attendees had to identify themselves through a peep window. An adjoining room once served as a dentist’s office. Offices were common on the upper floors of those types of buildings. The renovation plans call for refinishing the balcony benches. The balcony will go from what was once the worst portion of the theater to the best with the addition of boxed seats. “The first time I walked in here, I thought it was stupendous. It’s almost like I can feel ghosts whispering to me, and I could listen to the rustle of the dresses on the stage. It was like stepping into a time capsule,” Cobbs said. “I love everything I know about this place, so this is really a passion for me.” Graffiti on the walls throughout the building reflects the times. This World War II-era drawing dates to the day Adolf Hitler died.

Greensboro Opera House’s current board of directors listed on its website includes: Winifred Cobbs, president; William Ryan, vice president; Nicholas Cobbs, secretary; Mary Anna Williams, treasurer; and Leland Avery, Stephen “Buzzy” Barnette Jr., Wynne Coleman, Anne Burt Drury, Michael Harrow, John Jay, Anne Langford, Mary Lawson, Gayle Seale and Larry Taylor. To donate toward its preservation, visit

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REV. GEORGE JACKSON Health Care Administrator



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NO. 1

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t 89 years old, the Rev. George Jackson works seven days a week. He rises before the sun each day at 4 a.m. and arrives at the Heritage Health Care & Rehab nursing home and assisted living facility every morning at 6:30. “People are amazed at my age,” said Jackson, the administrator of Heritage. “I’m full time. I’m here every day. I come in early – I’m in at 6:30 in the morning. I walk the halls and check with my family and my patients and everything.” Heritage Health Care & Rehab is a familyoperated business that has served families in Tuscaloosa since it opened in 1971. It started then with a main nursing home building on the campus and 120 beds. Over 45 years, it has expanded to include a pair of adjacent assistedliving facilities on the grounds and now accommodates its nearly 200 residents with 216 long-term beds, making it one of the largest health care facilities in the state. “The (families of residents know) I have an

open-door policy, so I have a good relationships with my families and my patients,” Jackson said. “That means a lot. They know that I’ll do what I tell them I’ll do.” During weekends, Jackson takes time to go in, visit with residents and staff, and make sure everything is going smoothly, but he doesn’t stay all day. On Sundays, he visits the facility before and after attending service at Saint Mark United Methodist Church in Northport, sometimes taking part in activities or simply sitting down and eating with residents. “It’s funny to have simple things like cornbread and sweet milk just for in the morning or in the afternoon,” Jackson said. “I go and have a bowl of milk and cornbread with them; that means a lot to them. They know I care that way, and that’s what I want them to know, that I care.” Jackson is a firm believer in forming good, lasting relationships with the Heritage residents, their families and the Heritage staff members. “If you care, get into health care,” he said. “You have to care, and you have to have compassion. You’re not going to make it if you

don’t. It takes a special breed of people to work in a nursing home. You’ve got to learn how to cry. You’ve got to learn how to feel sorry… but there’s nothing like doing something for an 80- or 90-year-old lady or gentleman, and they look up at you and say ‘Thank you.’ It’s worth it. I get choked up sometimes. It makes your day to hear them say ‘Thank you.’ ” The Heritage Health Care & Rehab administration is into its third generation of Jacksons. Jackson’s son, Eddie, and grandson, Blake, have both followed his footsteps into the health care business. Eddie has served several terms as the president of the Alabama Nursing Home Association, and Blake is the assistant administrator at Heritage, working alongside his grandfather. “I hope that I have taught the boys to carry on the work that I planted for them,” Jackson said. “My grandson will tell you he wants to be an administrator like his granddad. So there (are) a lot of possibilities, that’s why this place has never been sold. I knew the boys (were) coming on, and I know they’re capable, have the knowledge, ability and care to keep the facility going.”


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Name: George L. Jackson Before his time as administrator of Heritage, Jackson served in the military in 1944 on an aircraft carrier during World War II. In 1948, he went back into the military to serve in the Korean War until 1953. After his service in the Korean War, Jackson traveled to Birmingham, where he married his wife, Gloria. He worked as a wholesale appliance company salesman until he felt the call to enroll at Birmingham-Southern College and become ordained as a United Methodist preacher. He served as pastor at churches in Birmingham, Hueytown, Bessemer, Samantha, Tuscaloosa and other locations and continues to fill in as a preacher in several locations to this day. Jackson decided to go into the nursing home business after his father died. He said he spent time working at one of the nursing homes in Tuscaloosa as part of an internship, so he and his wife chose to move his mother to Tuscaloosa. Transferring her to a nursing home turned out to be a difficult and emotional experience, one that inspired Jackson to try to help better the nursing home conditions and experiences so families wouldn’t have to go through the same thing – and he did. Since then, Jackson has earned numerous awards for his work in the industry and at Heritage Health Care & Rehab. In 1992-93, he was recognized as administrator of the year for the Alabama Nursing Home Association in Montgomery, served many years on the association’s board of directors and was asked to serve on the state committee that developed the regulations for assisted living facilities. He was also recognized as the oldest active nursing home administrator in the state as well as for his exemplary career and services by the Alabama Senate. “It’s (been) a great life, and if I had to do it over, I wouldn’t choose another field,” said Jackson, who was born in 1927. “I don’t think I could do better than the two fields I chose, the ministry and this. This is the same as the ministry – I’m doing the same thing I did in the church, caring for people. I carried the church right with me when I came into this.”

Age: 89 Personal: Wife, Gloria Jackson, 88; son, Eddie, 57; daughter, Lisa, 44. Hometown: Knoxville, Tenn. People who have influenced my life: A lot of people, but my father and, of course, my mother were a great influence on me, too. I also had some great ministers in my life who were influences on me. Something people don’t know about me: I hope I haven’t hid anything that they’ll find out later after I’m gone. I’m not bragging or anything, but I’ve taken money out of my pocket and bought medicine for my patients. When people give me a love offering at a funeral or something, I take it and buy medicine for patients or something that they need or don’t have. I use it to do that. My proudest achievement: I’m on the board of directors for two funeral homes in town. Why I do what I do: Because I care – I wouldn’t do it if I didn’t care, and I couldn’t do it if I didn’t care. If I didn’t care, I wouldn’t be in this business. You can’t fake it; you have to care.

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NO. 2

Keith “Cashmere”




eith “Cashmere” Williams wasn’t born with a guitar in his hands, but maple fretboards were just a blip ahead in his childhood. He began playing at 5, and by 7 had won his first contest, performing a gospel tune taught to him by his uncle, The Rev. George Carter Jr., who preached and played in churches around Duncanville and Sawyerville. “The last time we talked, we talked about going ‘almost full circle,’” said Williams, in a phone interview, referring to a Tuscaloosa News story from a decade back, when he’d cut the disc “New Birth,” about his daughter, Harmonie. “Well, I am now full circle; I made it.” Through funk, pop, rock, soul, jazz and more, Williams has recently found himself with a new mission, one tied to his earliest music memories. Though as a child he absorbed old-time religion, when Mom went to work,

the young Williams would dial in funk and soul stations. His professional breakthrough came playing Top 40 hits with the Click Band, while he was still too young to get served in the bars like Gallette’s and The Booth. The band, composed mostly of 40-something men, played Parliament Funkadelic, Ohio Players and other deep grooves. His mom acquiesced when the gigs starting bringing in cash. When the guitarist made $20, he’d give her half. As Click wound down, he segued to jazz, forming an instrumental quartet while at Shelton State Community College on scholarship, bending his ear to fluid players such as Wes Montgomery, Earl Klugh and George Benson. In 1995, he moved to study at Boston’s Berklee College of Music, which had become the first higher education institution to teach jazz, back in 1945. But his scholarship didn’t cover all his expenses, so Williams moved back to Tuscaloosa in 1996, where he cut his first, self-titled, solo CD. Gigs rolled in – corporate, country club and more – built around his lush, smooth sound, leading to the nickname “Cashmere.”

For the greater abundance of gigs, he moved to Birmingham in 2004, sitting in with Ona Washington’s Champagne, and Just a Few Cats, the band that backed Ruben Studdard. After Studdard exploded on “American Idol,” Williams played national tours with Studdard, showing up on talk shows with Letterman, Leno, Ellen DeGeneres and others. While in Chicago on tour, he met his wife. In 2006 they had Harmonie and Williams became a stay-at-home dad because his wife’s steady job paid the bills. As their daughter, now 10, grew old enough for day care, Williams eased back into music. “New Birth” stayed on jazz charts for months. Williams turned his focus more to composing, and began writing about his life and music. More recently, he won Best Male Jazz Artist for 2016, given by the Alabama Music Awards Organization. He’s working on a new CD reflective of his return to spiritual music, titled “Redemption.” “It’s a calling, is what it is,” Williams said. “In 2012, I feel like the good Lord called me to represent him through music. I had a dream, and it was a very majestic dream that I had.


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It gave me the inclination of ‘This is what you’re going to be doing for the rest of your life.’ So I’m working in inspirational music, but still with the Cashmere touch.” That won’t lead to club gigs, but he’s OK with that. Instead he’ll be seeking festivals friendly to gospel and jazz, and returning to houses of worship. “In an interesting way, it’s going to take me through the churches, so I can minister through the music,” he said. The CD is writing itself, he said. “Some of my songs have been spiritual in context (in the past), but I was too immature to write the words; now, I feel, musically, I can release those songs.” But it’ll still move: “It’ll be funky; it’s gonna make you tap your foot.” The only cover will be “Amazing Grace,” with his mom singing while Williams backs her on acoustic guitar. “She said ‘Son, I want you and I to do a song together,’” he recalled, something lasting for future family to enjoy. In June he cut the song “Step Into the Morning Light.” “We look at the news, see all this stuff going on, and wonder ‘Wow, are we making any progress?’ For you to be loved, you have

to exert love. You have to be an example of love.” He’s also at work on that autobiography, to be titled “Full Circle, God Comes First,” which he expects to get out early in 2017. “I’m going to be talking about living out your purpose through whatever you do, whether you’re a painter or writer or whatever,” Williams said. At about three-quarters of the way finished, he laughed “I didn’t know writing was so hard!” But with years of journal entries and notes to draw from, there’s a deep well. For his musical future, he’s no longer content to be a sideman, even for Studdard. “It’s going to be all about the ministry,” he said. “It’s time for me to be more out front, to follow my purpose. And I can’t do that as a sideman.” Though his ministry is already in the music, Williams knows most listeners hear the sounds more than the lyrics. So his fullcircle journey will be made more clear and explicit in the book. “My music still sounds jazzy,” he said. “I think what’s going to really hit ‘em is when the book comes out. I don’t want to be vague about representing Jesus Christ. He’s the reason we exist.”

Name: Cashmere Williams Age: 46 Personal: One daughter, Harmonie Nicole Williams, 10 Hometown: Tuscaloosa The people who have influenced my life: My mom, Olivia Mae Carter, is my biggest influence. She introduced me to church, music and the guitar. She’s 68 years young. Something most people don’t know about me: I’ve only been to one Alabama football game my whole life, even though they’re my favorite college football team. The 1992 team was the best! My proudest achievement: Birth of my daughter, Harmonie. Why I do what I do: I play music to inspire and reach people on spiritual level so they realize life is about helping others.

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NO. 3





ows and rows of white ceramic items line a small Birmingham pottery shop, ready to be plucked and painted. Mixed in with unfinished bisque items are some glossy, alreadypainted samples that have been through the kiln. Customers at Do It Yourself Crafts can choose from a selection of functional items to decorate, such as plates, platters or coffee mugs. Or they may prefer the figurines, like an elephant, a mermaid or even a TARDIS from “Doctor Who.” “Among other studios, I’m known for my crazy number of samples,” said 47-year-old Julia McNair, the owner of Do It Yourself Crafts. “Most paint-your-own-pottery shops, you go in and there are maybe 20 samples. That doesn’t work for me.” The hundreds of samples are to help make sure that anyone can replicate any one of the designs found in the store. “I don’t believe in having anything that is beyond the scope of the ability of my customers,” McNair said. She also enjoys getting to interact with customers, to make them happy and be a part of their artistic process. That, she says, is the fun part of doing a job she loves. “We’re probably really known for being really good and hands-on,” she said. “We’re called Do It Yourself Crafts, but we’re right there with you.” McNair opened the paint-your-own pottery and crafts store in 1999 after becoming dissatisfied while working an accounting position in a department store.

“When I was 29 years old, I was convinced I needed to start my own business, so I started this store, which was really, really ambitious for (someone who’s) 29,” said the Tuscaloosa Academy and Vanderbilt University Graduate. “Sports marketing, management, project management and accounting, they all sort of feed into running a retail store – everything I’d done had led to this.” Around that time, McNair had been spending time scouring arts and crafts shops each weekend for supplies to complete projects she had in mind, but she wanted to be able to work on one project and move on. She molded the store around this dilettante philosophy. When Do It Yourself Crafts first opened, McNair offered scrapbooking, rubberstamping, wine glass painting, card- and invitation-making and French message boards, “all of these things that you would want to do, and you would want to do well, but you didn’t have to go buy everything you

needed.” Over the years, though, some activities were nixed for others. The number of people interested in painting wine glasses, scrapbooking and rubber-stamping declined, and she decided to add painting pottery to the store’s repertoire after watching its popularity increase after the mid-1990s. “People loved it because they were able to (do) that bucket list thing,” McNair said. “They wanted to do stuff – it reminded them of what their grandmothers did or what their parents did, but they weren’t making a multiweek commitment.” Aside from painting pottery, Do It Yourself Crafts also currently offers canvas painting, working with clay, clay handprints and impressions, silver fingerprint jewelry, and glass-fusing, which involves cutting, layering and melting different-colored pieces of glass together to create an art piece. The store also offers space for events such as birthday parties and field trips.


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Prices vary depending on the project, but the store offers an all-inclusive charge that’s paid during a customer’s first visit. If a project isn’t finished during the first visit, it can be placed in a works-in-progress cabinet, and customers can return to work on it another day for no additional charge. Around the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, McNair said there’s a noticeable shift in customers wanting to work on handprint projects, and the store offers several activities to let people do just that. Around 1,000 hand and footprint items are done in the store between October, November and early December – some handprints are turned into turkeys and Santa Claus, while footprints are turned into snowmen. “They’re fabulous. I love them,” McNair said with a grin. “I love what we do here. We do baby’s first Christmas, we do handprints; we’re the presents that people remember.” In fact, her son, Henry, who turns 11 years old in December, has created many handprint Christmas ornaments and handprint turkey plates, the latter of which were used when the family hosted Thanksgiving at their house when he was 6 years old. “(When Henry was) in first grade, I started having him paint plates with a Christmas tree in the middle and stripes around the edge,” she said. “He turns it over and writes his name, his year, his age and then he writes his Christmas list around the edge. Then I go over it in paint (because marker comes off in the kiln), so I’ve got his handwriting, I’ve got his Christmas list, and if he wants Christmas gifts when he’s in 12th grade, he will do one of these plates. “So when he’s an adult, he’s going to have a set of 12 salad plates. I can see his painting ability change, I can see his handwriting change, (and) I’ll see his Christmas list change, but we’re going to see him grow up with that.” Christmas is without a doubt the store’s busiest season, McNair said, but it’s also her favorite because it’s the place “where memories are made.”

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Age: 47 Personal: Husband, Michael Allsup, 61; son, Henry, 10; stepsons, Clinton, 23, and twins William and Joseph, 30. Hometown: Tuscaloosa Influences: My parents, Kirk and Lynne McNair, and seeing the way they’ve worked hard; Catherine Standiffer, a teacher at Tuscaloosa Academy and yearbook adviser; June Stewart, a former employer; and other studio owners. Something that most people don’t know about me: Nobody ever knows that I was an anthropology major or that I went to Vanderbilt University instead of Alabama. My biggest achievement: That Do It Yourself Crafts is 17 years old. Why I do what I do: At this point, I don’t know what else I would do, but I do it because I love it. It’s not the exact same every day. I make people happy. We’re getting people at their best, and that’s nice. For the most part, this is a happy, happy place, and people get to do happy things, and what’s not to love? I get to paint pottery.

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NO. 4




arry White’s days are often hectic, just as they were when he directed the athletic media relations department at the University of Alabama. It’s just that “hectic” now takes on a

new definition. These days, his hours could be filled with woodturning. Or they could include tending to chickens or cultivating the garden that produces the meals that Larry and his wife, Sandy, enjoy. Or they could be filled with taking care of the 13 acres and more than 50 fruit trees surrounding their house. One thing his retirement doesn’t include, by design, is many idle moments. “There are nights when we come in from dinner and I’ll look at Sandy and say ‘What have we done today?” White said. “Well, we

might have picked apples, she’s made jelly or I’ve picked tomatoes and she’s made tomato soup or something with the things we grow here. We’ve just been busy all day. It’s kind of neat.” Long hours were regularly part of a career in college athletics administration that began in 1976 as the information director at the Southland Conference and included 32 years in two stints at the University of Alabama. White, a native of Shreveport, La., was at UA from 1982-84 and returned to the university in 1988 to become sports information director. He was promoted to associate director of athletics for media relations in 1997, directing a staff, including himself, who won dozens of awards for publications and writing. It’s not difficult for White to pinpoint the moments he cherished most during his time at UA. “I think anytime you spend that length of time somewhere, you see a great amount

of people,” White said. “Just the folks that I worked with, the coaches, but probably more importantly the athletes who came through – not only in football but basketball – and other athletes that I had a chance to interact with. I think what was really the driving force for me was having an opportunity to be around those athletes – that meant a lot.” Times weren’t always easy. White was at Southern Methodist University in 1985, serving as the assistant director for sports information, when the NCAA levied the “death penalty” against that university’s football program, shutting it down for the 1987 season. An iconic photo captured White catching NCAA lead investigator David Berst when Berst, upon making the announcement, stepped away from the podium and fainted. He faced a similar negative media and public frenzy in 2002 when the University of Alabama came just short of the death penalty when its football program was severely penalized by the NCAA.


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And White was at UA during plenty of good times for the football program, including the 1992 national championship. “Work is kind of like life: There’s going to be ups and downs and good and bad,” White said. “You glide through the good times. Sandy, I don’t know, 30 years ago, made me a little sign that sat on my desk (that read) ‘Tough times don’t last, tough people do.’ I’d always look at that.” In 2006, White approached then-athletic director Mal Moore about his desire to take on a new challenge. White said Moore was “gracious enough” to grant the request, and so White served as the associate athletic director for events and game management during his final two years at the university. His next decision was how to proceed with the next step in his life. “Sandy and I talked about retirement, just like anybody who reaches that stage does,” White said. “Do we move? Do we go to Florida to a retirement community? I was still relatively young, I was 60. We bought some property up in the northern part of the county, about 30 minutes from town. We built a house

and have 13 acres up here. We go in on Wednesday and Sunday to church and I’ve got a little Bible study I go to on Saturday morning. That may be the only time that week that we go into town. We have our hands full here.” Several times a year, he goes on mission trips, helping build homes or aid in disaster relief. He most recently helped with aid to the victims of the massive flooding in Louisiana. And, in the next few months, he’s planning to join a friend and hike a portion of the Appalachian Trail. Woodturning has turned from a hobby into a passion. He makes bowls, jewelry boxes, cutting boards, toys for his grandsons, Daniel and Ethan and various other things. That takes up just part of what are busy days for Larry and Sandy. “I grew up in the suburbs,” White said. “We were one of the first houses in our suburb, so when I was a young kid, they were building all these houses around us. I was just fascinated by the carpenters, so I went out there and watched them measure and saw. That kind of always stayed with me.”

Name: Larry White Age: 68 Personal: Wife, Sandy; daughters Jennifer (married to Timothy) and Kelley Brooke, and son, Collins; two grandchildren, Daniel and Ethan Hometown: Shreveport, Louisiana People who have influenced my life: My father; former LSU sports information director Paul Manasseh; former University of Alabama football coach Gene Stallings. Something most people don’t know about me: I enjoy doing mission work locally and internationally. Proudest achievement: The birth of my children. Why I do what I do: I finally have time to spend on projects I enjoy doing.

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s a boy, Jack Royer’s best friends were not the kids on the playground, but the journalists and producers many times his own age working in the studio of NBC 13 in

Birmingham. “It’s sort of pathetic to some people, this lonely kid following his dad around, but I just loved it so much,” said Royer, television anchor and reporter at Tuscaloosa’s WVUA 23. “I felt at home there.” As often as two or three times per week, Royer would ride to the studio with his father, Mike Royer, a reporter and anchor at the station who was a fixture in Birmingham broadcast news for nearly 40 years. As early as 6 years old, Jack Royer knew he wanted a journalist’s life, surrounded by the work his father and others were doing as they told the stories of their community through television. “Growing up around my dad, I think I’ve al-

ways looked forward to the time when I don’t have to go to class anymore and I can just do this,” said Royer, who, at age 21, according to a release by WVUA, is “the youngest permanent anchor of a weeknight newscast in the history of the Birmingham television market.” In the years that followed, every afterschool decision Royer made was about how he could move closer to that dream. In high school, it took the form of color commentary on local radio for football games. By the time he was a freshman at the University of Alabama, it took the form of working for TideTV, learning how to shoot and produce sports pieces. However, Royer always knew he wanted to be a broadcaster. “For me, it’s just never been an option to do anything else,” he said. “I don’t know if that is particularly healthy or a good thing for my well-being, but it’s who I am.” Last June, Royer joined WVUA, quickly moving from small reports to in-depth stories and profiles. This year, some of Royer’s stories have included the Crimson Tide’s season

opener against the University of Southern California in Arlington, Texas; hours reporting on a standoff between a shooter and the Tuscaloosa Police Department over the summer; and the story of the small town of Hackleburg and its efforts to rise from the destruction of the April 27, 2011, tornado. Royer uses each assignment as an opportunity to grow and learn more about his craft. “I think it’s easy in this business to get comfortable, to be complacent and stagnant, which breeds bad work very quickly,” he said. “I try to remain motivated by looking at every story as purely as I possibly can.” Having met prominent broadcasters such as Tom Brokaw and Brian Williams early on, Royer considers his father’s influence very strong in his work and has no problems with his association by blood. “I can say ‘I want to be my own person’ all I want, but when you go to a gas station and people say, ‘You’re Mike Royer’s kid,’ that’s always good,” he said. “It speaks to the stellar career he had and still has, which is by no means over.”


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Name: Jack Royer

“It’s surreal to watch, and I couldn’t be more proud when I see him do what he does. “I’m just so proud of where he is at this point in his career.”

Age: 21 Personal: Parents, Mike and Amy Royer; younger brother, Will, a freshman at Birmingham Southern College. Hometown: Birmingham. The people who have influenced my life: Mike Royer, Tom Brokaw.


It would be easy for Mike Royer, now managing editor at WVUA, to think his son’s success was due to his own career, but he knows the way he has risen through the ranks at the station at such a young age was not by accident. “I don’t want to ever brag on him and make it sound like Jack is pretty good at what he does because he’s my son,” Royer said. “He’s my son and I’m proud of him no matter what he does, but his skills are developing and continuing to get better all the time in large part due to his hard work and his love for what we do.”

Something most people don’t know about me: I play the drums.

Working alongside his son and watching what the future holds for him has also been a privilege for the elder Royer. “It’s surreal to watch, and I couldn’t be more proud when I see him do what he does,” he said. “I’m just so proud of where he is at this point in his career.” Looking to the future, Jack Royer said he wants whatever he does to be authentic. “My goal is to be trusted and respected, and I try to earn that every day with my work,” Royer said. “I don’t expect opportunity, but I try to earn opportunity and earn the respect that I strive for.”

My proudest achievement: Anchoring the news in the Birmingham market before I turned 20 years old. Why I do what I do: I love television and I believe journalism is sacred. Combining the two in one job is a blessing like no other.


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url Lawson’s home is filled with his handiwork. The 74-year-old retired upholsterer alters almost every piece of furniture he buys for his home to fit his

tastes and needs. He redesigned the armrests on the chair he usually sits on in his living room. He turned an old coffee table into a storage bench.

He reupholstered one chair because he didn’t like the fabric. But Lawson’s craft extends beyond his own home and into the homes of thousands, if not millions, of other people. Lawson began his upholstering career at Berkline Furniture in his home state of Tennessee in 1961. Although he is retired because of health problems, he continues to do occasional projects in his garage in Tuscaloosa. Between 1961 and present day, Lawson has constructed, upholstered, reupholstered and refinished thousands of pieces of furniture, but he left his mark on furniture history when he designed a distinctive squared-off armrest

that adorns sofas and chairs that are still produced and sold today. He designed the Lawson arm sofa and chair in 1964 after two co-workers at Berkline created designs that were selling like hotcakes. The company paid his co-workers a nice sum of money for their designs, and Lawson said that encouraged him to develop his own idea. of money for their designs, and Lawson said that encouraged him to develop his own idea. “At Berkline – back in the days when they trained you to upholster – if you could come up with ideas and put it in the suggestion box (and) you saved them money, they would use it. So I invented the Lawson arm sofa and put


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it in the box, and they said, ‘We can use that,’” Lawson said. “It was a cheap-made sofa, and it was selling for $89 back in ’64. It’s still selling today, but right now, the same sofa is selling for over $500.” He said it took him three weeks to come up with a design that featured a 5-inch square armrest. Surrounded by sofas and chairs on a daily basis, he said he realized all the armrests were round. So he dropped his idea in the box, built the sofa, and the company paid him $135 for the rights to his design. Lawson said he started out making $49 a week at Berkline while training – driving 47 miles one way from his home in Sneedville, Tennessee, to work in Morristown, Tennessee. He learned to upholster in about a year’s time and became the second fastest upholsterer at the company. He stayed with Berkline for seven years, and returned later to work two more years, making $250 a week. In 1985, while shopping around for a better-paying upholstery job, he made a trip to Tuscaloosa to visit a friend and landed a position at Bigham’s Upholstery in Alberta, where he made a little over $1,000 in the first week.

“I called (wife) Betty, and I said, ‘We’re moving to Alabama,’” Lawson said. And he has lived in Tuscaloosa ever since. In 1992, he opened his own upholstery business in Cottondale before moving shop to Northport in 1995. Now, he sporadically takes on projects and works on them in his garage. He said he can make furniture in any design requested. Lawson has completed some high-profile upholstery jobs throughout his career. He reupholstered the seats and door panels of an antique car Mary Elizabeth McDonough drove as Erin Walton on an episode of the TV show “The Waltons.” A chance meeting at a Tuscaloosa restaurant with iconic actor and comedian Jackie Gleason led Gleason to request that Lawson reupholster an office chair while he was in town. Gleason shipped the chair from California. Lawson had barely 24 hours to do it, but he got it done for Gleason. Even so, he said some of the work he is most proud of is the pews he reupholstered for multiple local churches. He said the praise he receives for such work inspires him to continue to do what he loves.

Name: Burl Lawson Age: 74 Personal: Wife, Betty; daughter, Heather Banks; son-in-law, Brandon Banks; granddaughter, Heather “Little Heather” Michelle Banks. Hometown: Sneedville, Tennessee. People who have influenced my life: My mother. My dad because he was a hard worker. He inspired me to be a hard worker. Former coworkers at Berkline, Eddie Manis and Earl Dikes. Something most people don’t know about me: I did mechanic work on the side. Proudest achievement: I’m proud of my daughter. Why you do what you do: Lawson said it inspires him to continue his upholstery work when people like the finished product, especially the work he has done at local churches.








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Baleigh Swaney and Adam Bowman share a hammock on the Tuscaloosa Riverwalk along the Black Warrior River.


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11/15/16 3:44 PM

Tuscaloosa Magazine Winter 2016  

Dickens of a Classic

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