It is that time of year again, an exciting one, when both children and adults are headed back to school. At the Center for Lifelong Learning, it is back to school time also. We just put out our Fall Catalogue, and it is filled with new learning opportunities:

Kudzu Chronicles: A Southern Writers’ Event at Art on the Square is this week-end. Friday, September 7 at 6:00 pm several authors will be available to talk with participants and sign books. There will also be a silent Auction for several other books signed by Southern writers. The fee is only $20. Then on Saturday, September 8, from 9:30 to 2:30, there will be panels to discuss writing, publishing, researching and more. And several featured authors will discuss their newest books. The entire event on Saturday is free to the public. You can register online. Or call 256-233-8260.

This is the 150th anniversary of the Civil War. During the next year, the Center will be sponsoring several trips to the sites of battles. Dr. Ron Fritze will be giving the history lessons and describing the events that led to the battlegrounds that will be toured. Thursday, September 13, he will begin the series with the Battle of Farmington. Then on Sunday, September 16, the Center will be sponsoring a trip to Farmington/Corinth, Mississippi for a reenactment of the Battles.

This fall, we are offering a new category of classes in Business. Whether you need to write your resume or you need to study for a certificate program to get a job, we have several offerings for you. The newest certificate program at the Center is the ServSafe Food Manager Safety Certificate. If you are working in the food service industry the Food Safety Certificate is now the law in Alabama. Classes and the exam are offered October 13 and December 17-18. Check out the web site for more information or call 256-233-8260 .

Also new this Fall are several classes in the category of Learning For Life/ Just For Parents. Whether you want to know how to deal with ADHD, Oppositional Defiance or are thinking about adoption, there is a class for you. Information about these classes is our website, or you can call 256-233-8260.

If you did not get the catalog, go to the website,, or call 256-233-8260 and we will send you one. If you can’t find what you are looking for, you can always call the Center. We are always looking for class ideas and teachers.
By: Wanda Campbell

I love movies. My favorite movies are the stories of great characters. This past weekend I watched the new Robert Downey movie, “Sherlock Holmes: Game of Shadows.” Holmes is a character created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in 1887. Holmes is also said to be one of the greatest detectives because of his logical reasoning and his use of forensic sciences.

Downey is okay as Sherlock, but my favorite movie/television Sherlock is Basil Rathbone, who starred as Holmes from 1939-1946. (Basil Rathbone: His Life and His Films, by Michael B. Druxman [Hardcover: South Brunswick and New York: A.S. Barnes, 1975]) I am looking forward to the new series premiering this fall on CBS, “Elementary,” also based on Sherlock Holmes.

I read a lot of the Sherlock Holmes stories when I was young. It was the beginning of a love for detective stories, but the “Baker Street Irregulars,” (Holmes’ fan club,) will hate to hear me say he is not my favorite detective. I also read a lot of Agatha Christie’s stories. Dame Christie was the creator of Miss Marple, Hercule Poirot, Chief Inspector Japp, Tommy and Tuppence, and Parker Pyne. These characters gave me many hours of my three favorite things – reading, movies, and crime dramas.

I expect you will recognize the titles of some of the books that were adapted to movies. Miss Marple was an older lady from a small town who used her worldly wits and observation skills to investigate crimes. Margaret Rutherford played Miss Marple in “Murder, She Said,” which is based on “4:50 from Paddington.” Angela Lansbury played Miss Marple in “The Mirror Crack’d.” Helen Hayes played Miss Marple in two made for television movies – “A Caribbean Mystery” and “Murder with Mirrors.” Julie McKenzie has been the current Miss Marple in a television series since 2009.

Poirot was a Belgian detective who wanted everyone to use the “gray cells” to solve crimes. Chief Inspector Japp was from Scotland Yard and helped Poirot much like Watson helped Holmes. Austin Trevor played Poirot in “The Murder of Roger Ackroyd.” Tony Curtis played Poirot in “The Alphabet Murders.” Albert Finney played Poirot in “Murder on the Orient Express.” Maybe the best known Poirot was Peter Ustinov, who played Poirot in six films, and David Suchet, who is the current Poirot in films and television. Suchet also played Chief Inspector Japp opposite Ustinov.

My favorite book and movie are “And Then There Were None.” This is a “locked room mystery,” a term used to describe crimes, (most often murders,) committed under what seem to be impossible circumstances. Ten strangers gather on an island for a dinner party. They share secrets from their past, and then they start dying one by one. Who is the killer? The movie was called “Ten Little Indians.” It was originally filmed in 1965, then again in 1979, and redone in 1984.

Agatha Christie’s last book was “An Autobiography” which was published a year after she died in 1976. The autobiography tells of her story from early childhood, through two marriages, and her archeological expeditions with her second husband. She is the Queen of Crime and my favorite author.

Learning is a lifestyle, and reading is the key to making it delightful and entertaining.
By: Wanda Campbell

The South has produced some of the best known authors. Harper Lee is from Alabama. Margaret Mitchell, Flannery O’Connor, and Carson McCullors are from Georgia. William Faulkner and Tennessee Williams are from Mississippi. Truman Capote is from Louisiana, and these are only a few of the Southern Writers.

Saturday, September 8, the Center for Lifelong Learning is hosting a free workshop, Kudzu Chronicles, a Southern Writers Event at Art on the Square. There are four panel discussions – Writing Tips, Writing Children’s Books, How to Get Published, and Researching and Genealogy. The featured speakers include C.S. (Christopher) Fuqua, Robert S. Davis, Dr. Julie Hedgepeth Williams, and Frank Travis.

Robert S. Davis is the author of Civil War Atlanta and Andersonville Civil War Prison. He has more than 1,000 publications dealing with genealogy, history, records, and research. He has been widely quoted by or appeared in CNN, Time, Smithsonian, Newsweek, the Wall Street Journal, and elsewhere.

C.S. (Christopher) Fuqua is the author of Alabama Musicians: Musical Heritage from the Heart of Dixie. As a guitarist and craftsman of Native American flutes, C.S. Fuqua’s interest in music led him to research and write numerous magazine articles about music and musicians. A native Alabamian and full-time freelance writer, he lives in Athens, Alabama. His published books include Notes to My Becca, Divorced Dads, and the four-novel audio book series Deadlines. His poems, short stories, and nonfiction articles have appeared widely in newspapers, magazines, and journals.

Dr. Julie Hedgepeth Williams is the author of A Rare Titanic Family: The Caldwell’s Story of Survival. Dr. Julie Hedgepeth Williams is a journalism professor at Samford University. She received a B.A. in English and history from Principia College in Elsah, Illinois, a Master’s in journalism and a Ph.D. in mass communications from the University of Alabama. She lives in Birmingham, Alabama.

Frank Travis will be presenting Livin’ Poetry. He is known throughout the state of Alabama as “Mr. Poetry,” as most of his spare time is spent performing his “Livin’ Poetry” presentation at schools all across the state.

Friday, September 7, from 6:00 to 8:00 pm, there will be a Meet and Greet event with the authors. Participants will be able to talk with authors and get books signed. Stop by the Silent Auction to bid on other signed books from authors such as Rheta Grimsley Johnson, Daniel Wallace, Mark Childress, and many more. Refreshments will be served. The fee is $20.

For a brochure about this event, call 256-233-8260 or go to our website, This is such a great opportunity for Athens. Whether you want to write your family history or write a novel, Kudzu Chronicles will give you a chance to hear from people who have already been successful. Ask your questions, learn how to do the background research and get the writing tips you need to get started or get finished. Learning is a lifestyle and this is a very special learning opportunity.

People who know me can’t believe that I am really a shy person. How could I be shy when I seem so at ease while I talk on television and radio, give speeches to community groups, and introduce myself in crowds? This is how I can do that.

As I said in this column before, we moved a lot when I was a kid. Moving was really hard for me, especially when we moved while I was in high school. I had visions of not going to the prom, and being left out of everything that makes high school special. Not only was I going to miss prom, but we moved in the middle of the year, and everybody already had their groups formed. On top of that, our stuff was not going to get there in time for Christmas.

Since my life was “ruined,” I figured I would go spend money at the base shopping center. I was really surprised to run into a boy by the name of Alan Boyd there. Alan and I met in middle school in Clarksville, Tennessee. As we sat in the cafeteria catching up, I told him about my ruined life, and he told me that since I was in a new place, I could be anything I wanted to be. All I had to do was ‘fake it until I make it.’ I was really glad to have a friend in our new place, but he was leaving the next day.

Talking with Alan made me feel better, but I wasn’t sure I could do it. I knew mom always said things such as, “The new place will be as good as you let it be,” or, “You will have as much fun as you want to.” And those sayings always seemed to work out. I decided I would try it.

The first day of school at Mannheim American High School in Germany, I said hello to everyone I saw. I asked questions in class. I went home with a stomach ache. Every morning I had to remind myself that I was going to ‘fake it until I made myself one of the popular kids.’ Every morning I would tell myself I could do it.

By spring, I knew quite a few kids in school. I tried out for cheerleader and made it. I tried out for drama club and “starred” in a play called “Zingu.” I ran for Junior class Secretary and was elected. I had “made it.”

This may sound easy, but it was not. Every day I had to remind myself that I could do these things. Every day I had to force myself to perform the actions that would help me succeed. There were days I wanted to hide in the corner, and there were days I did not think it was working.

Some say you can change a habit in 30 days. I think it takes longer than that. There are days I still want to fall back on my old habits. From 13 Things to Avoid When Changing Habits, ZenHabits,, Jim Ryun, former athlete and politician, is quoted as saying “Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going.” Aristotle is quoted as saying, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit.” So, if you are going to make learning into a lifestyle, you might just have to “fake it” for awhile in the process, but if your heart is true, you will indeed “make it,” and the effort will surely be worth it.
By: Wanda Campbell

I am so excited and I can’t wait! We have three bushes that are loaded with green tomatoes, and you would think I had never been in a garden before.

We had gardens in a lot of places when I was growing up. I was never responsible for the planting or caring for plants; Mom and Dad did that. I did not have to pick much because I was allergic to most of the plants. My eyes swelled up and I “got itches,” so I could wait by the car while everyone else worked the garden.

I did love the food that came out of the garden though, especially homegrown tomatoes. I would eat okra if it was fried real hard, and green beans were okay. The corn was great, as was shucking ears when they were picked. I was not as fond of squash or zucchini, unless they were dipped in cornmeal and fried. The field peas were the worst, no matter which way they were cooked. Canning and freezing were not my favorite work, and fortunately, I did not have to do it often.

Gardens were a lot of work when I was a kid even though I only did a little bit of it. Once I got married and moved away from home, there was not much time to think about gardens.

We had four kids, and both of us worked most places we lived. There were lots of reasons not to have a garden. The biggest reason, though, was that I had a black thumb.

In the early ‘90s I got a subscription to Plant a Month Club. A nursery would send me a new plant every month with instructions for how to care for the plant. I would put the plant in full sun, partial sun, lots of water, no water – whatever the directions said to do. It did not matter. Within two weeks my plant of the month died. I am not talking droopy leaves, wilted died; I am talking all the leaves falling off, black stalks died. You could hear plants coming to my house crying before they ever got there. They knew their fate.

So how did I get three bushes full of tomatoes? That was easy. I used the pots my mom used to grow her garden last year. Mom can grow sticks so I knew the pots had absorbed good gardener vibes. And, I let my granddaughter, Christina, plant them. She is only 12, but she likes to plant things. I asked my sons to water and feed them. Ben is very into organic gardening and how things work, so he was willing. Brian just likes to help out. That leaves picking them. I will probably get someone else to do this part too, just to be sure my bad gardener cooties don’t get on them. I will just look and enjoy the fruits of everyone else’s labor.

Knowing your limits is part of learning. Knowing how to delegate is learned, too. That’s how you get three bushes full of tomatoes.
By Wanda Campbell

Learning As A Lifestyle

Get Footloose And More At The Center For Lifelong Learning

In an effort to provide courses and services to the teen population in Athens, The Center for Lifelong Learning has recently recruited a Teen Advisory Board. This Board, made up of representatives from the area schools, is tasked with helping us decide what kind of programming and events our area teens might attend.