6-18-2016 11-13-53 AM

Betty Buckley is a happy woman born in the South, raised in the North, and finally made it back home. She is one of the most positive, joyful people I have ever met. If I were given just one word to describe her, it would be either “unsinkable,” or “irrepressible.” Born in Hammond, VA in 1948, Betty grew up in a solid Midwestern home, and her father was the first to come down to Athens for work. Her mom soon followed, as did the rest of the family, and Athens is most definitely home. She did spend close to 30 years in Florida with her husband and raising her kids, but eventually everybody ended up here. “They came in waves,” she says of her tribe.

Betty married at the age of 15, and said with a twinkle in her eye, “I didn’t have to, either. It was just that back in 1963, that was pretty common, and really, all I ever wanted to be was a wife and mom. And, I stayed married to the same man!” I have a feeling that she was great in those most important roles, and when her kids were school age, she worked in the Yumatilla, FL school system as a teacher’s assistant, and got so good at it, that when a woman with whom she had worked was ill, the school specifically contacted her to take the class for a full month. The teacher said that she wouldn’t trust anyone else with her kids.

She lived in England for 5 years, has had a fascinating life, and then the time came when her full time occupation was caring for her mother until she passed. I asked her if she was with her mom at that moment, and her face shone as she said, “Oh, yes, we all were, and I know where she is.” Such are the many gifts when a family that loves each other is present for a “home going.” She told me that one of the blessings of having to become such an excellent caregiver for her mom was that it prepared her to face her own health challenges, which has been a pretty substantial undertaking. She has had rare, complex and extensive problems with her aorta, and really shouldn’t still be here, according to the statistics. “But, I have a job to do,” she said again with that infectious smile, and while she is currently still in a wheelchair, she is determined to walk again.

She raves about the care that she has gotten at Athens Rehab, and she has been here since March 31st. She was in a different facility, and on the last possible day of her care contract, a place opened up at Athens Rehab. “This is where I wanted to be. Everyone has been ‘super-duper.’ When I saw Washington Street from my window, I knew I was going to be ok.” The day we met, she had just gotten the news that an apartment had opened up which is exactly where she wanted to live, and her son and the rest of the family will be helping. I asked her if there was anyone she especially wanted to acknowledge at the Center, and she said, like the good mom she is, “Oh, yes. I already told them when I found out we were going to be doing this article. I didn’t want anyone to be left out, so what I am going to say here, is, ‘You know who you are.’”

We moved on to favorites.
Favorite Color? “Blue-green, or peacock. I like blue, I like green, so ‘peacock’ works best.”
Favorite food? “Spaghetti, my recipe I learned when I was a kid. It’s simple, and so good.”
Favorite movie? “Gone With The Wind.”
Favorite book? Not surprisingly, “Gone With The Wind.”
Favorite actor and actress? “Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn. They just don’t make ‘em like that anymore.”
Favorite scripture? John 3:16. “I grew up in Camp Meetings and Vacation Bible School, and loved them.”
Favorite song? “Onward Christian Soldiers, and the Old Rugged Cross.” We took a couple of moments to sing, “And the Cross made the difference for me” before we moved on.
Favorite President? “JFK.”
Biggest change in her lifetime? “For good or bad, I would have to say the Internet.”
Advice to young people? “Appreciate everything you have, and everyone you know.”

Words of wisdom from a joyful warrior. And Miss Betty, we wish you the very best in your new place.
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner

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The global premiere of Hating Israel: In Search of The Truth Behind BDS was screened on Wednesday evening at the Jerusalem Cinematheque in the presence of a select group of parliamentarians, clergy, business leaders, and VIPs. The full-length documentary takes viewers on a personal journey through Israel in search of the truth behind the global movement to defame and destroy Israel. The film is the latest initiative of Proclaiming Justice to The Nations (PJTN) as part of their ongoing global educational and mobilization campaign against the BDS movement. The film will be distributed through PJTN’s media partners on several television networks, reaching a combined audience of over 950,000,000 viewers in 200 nations worldwide.

The documentary offers a news-driven, satirical approach to focus on the global impact of the “BDS Movement”- a movement to boycott, divest, and sanction against the State of Israel. Through the lens of Emmy Award winning director, Stan Moore, host Brad Stine leads viewers through a twisted landscape of
false perceptions to fully explain the anti- Semitic roots of BDS.Through commentary, interviews, and visuals from headline news from around the world, the documentary exposes the frightening rise of a new anti-Semitism being promoted through the BDS Movement.

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Viewers joined American Comedian Brad Stine on a journey in search of truth that takes him across Israel and the United States of America. He met with Ethiopian Jews in Jerusalem, and Muslim Israelis in Haifa. Brad encountered Israeli colleges and high-tech companies to hear about the latest breakthroughs in Israeli innovation. Mr. Stine traveled into the West Bank to hear personal stories from local Palestinians to learn firsthand how, if successful, the BDS movement would actively destroy the livelihoods of thousands of Palestinian families.

6-18-2016 9-12-14 AMIn America, Stine met with an array of experts including former CIA director James R. Woolsey, Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz, Jewish comedian Jackie Mason, exiled Palestinian Christians and Jewish students under attack on university campuses He learned about the increasingly violent protests and intimidation tactics used against pro- Israel students. Laurie Cardoza-Moore, president and founder of PJTN noted: “Not only have we been relentless in exposing the BDS movement and its leaders as anti-Semitic, but it is inherently antithetical and deeply damaging to the cause of peace, justice, equality, democracy, and human rights for the people of Israel. The movement also threatens Palestinian jobs”. She continued: “This docu-tainment film is PJTN’s next step to expose the lies of the boycott Israel movement”.

Hating Israel: In Search of The Truth Behind BDS will have= its global release in the fall. The film will have a limited theatrical release in the U.S. and Europe and will air in over 200 nations, reaching over 950 million viewers globally. The film will also be screened on college and university campuses, before civic groups,as well as churches and synagogues around the globe.

Proclaiming Justice to the Nations (PJTN), a 501c3 non-profit organization, was established to educate Christians about their Biblical responsibility to stand with their Jewish brethren and Israel, utilizing powerful film and video presentations, a variety of grassroots rallies, events and speaking engagements to facilitate dialogue between the Christian and Jewish communities in support of the State of Israel and against global genocidal anti-Semitism. In recent months the organization has led the struggle against BDS in America with a wave of state resolutions and the upcoming release of a new documentary film that will expose the truth behind the BDS movement.
By: Jackie Monaghan

This Spring, all of Athens celebrated as the new City Hall building was completed, moved into, and ready for business. One of the challenges that accompanied the project was the extended closing of North Marion Street, which made access to Drucilla’s Restaurant much more challenging. Now that traffic is flowing freely again, Drucilla’s is celebrating by announcing a special “Grand Reopening” event to be held on June 10th and 11th. It is a reservations-only Victorian Supper by Candlelight, and Chef Angela McClure will be preparing a lovely 4 course meal for the occasion.

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We’ll talk a bit more about all that Drucilla’s has to offer, as well as Chef Angela’s fascinating background, but for now, a bit of history for those of you who are not familiar with Drucilla’s. It is beautifully situated in a wonderful house located at 300 North Marion, in the historical section of Athens. It is named after Olna Drucilla Bullington, who taught both at Piney Chapel and Ardmore, and she was the grandmother of the owner, Carol Holland. Drucilla was a great cook, and taught Carol both to love cooking and do it well. Carol is a native of Athens, got her engineering degree from UAH, and for 35 years she worked for the Department of Defense as an Industrial Systems Engineer. She retired, and when the house on Marion became available in 2014, she knew this was the place where she would be able to realize her lifelong dream of being a restaurateur. She was already familiar with the house, (known as the Manse,) as her brother went to school with the boys who used to live there, and she knew it would be the perfect place to launch Drucilla’s.

6-6-2016 10-37-23 AMThe house was built in 1901 as the Manse (or parsonage) of the Presbyterian Church, and since then has sheltered both families and businesses. It has been beautifully maintained, and has leaded windows that cast rainbows on the walls when the sun shines through. It boasts the high ceilings of the day, has two fireplaces, and is furnished cheerfully with brightly colored tablecloths as well as an eclectic assortment of antique tables and chairs, which Carol loves to arrange so that each place offers a different chair in which to sit. The daily menu could be described as being “Southern Eclectic,” and the “you choose” theme is reflected there as well. All the Southern standards from chicken salad, banana pudding, home-made pies and yeast rolls, to quiche and Poulet Normandie, (a French chicken dish) are available, and Carol has been able to hold to her hope of keeping lunch for two under $20.

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Drucilla’s has another special feature which I have thoroughly enjoyed, and that is their high teas. They are custom designed; you get to pick your tea cup, tea pot, and flavors of tea for your event.” They include all the elements of a “proper English tea,” including scones, tarts, dill sandwiches, and more. They start at $9.95 and go up to $19.95, and the kitchen needs a 24-hour notice so they can custom design and display your wishes. Drucilla’s is a perfect place for bridal or baby showers, family reunion dinners, small weddings, and catering is a big part of their array of services. If you work in the downtown Athens area, they will also deliver lunch to you.

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Now, for Montgomery native Chef Angela McClure and the collaborative effort that will pull off the Victorian Candlelight Suppers with aplomb. Angela could be described as a true “Southern renaissance woman,” holds a law degree, has worked at 5 star restaurants in North Alabama, is nearly finished with her culinary arts certification from Drake State, and will be spending next summer in France learning haute cuisine from a French Master Chef. Oh, and did I mention that she owns and breeds champion racehorses, breeds and shows rottweilers, and is a licensed dog groomer? She grooms Carol’s Shih Tzus, and that’s how they met. She especially loves to create fabulous meat dishes, and for the special supper, one of the entrees will be a layered filet mignon with fresh accompaniments which has been aptly named “Steak Drucilla.” As a matter of course, Carol loves to feature local produce as much as possible, everything will be homemade, and all of it is going to come together for a memorable meal to celebrate their Grand Reopening.

There simply is no restaurant in Athens that can offer the combination of a superbly crafted meal set in a beautiful historic home, and Drucilla’s would love to invite you to make your reservations today for an evening you’ll never forget. Serving will start at 5:30 pm, and the kitchen will close at 8:30 pm both nights.
Drucilla’s
300 North Marion Street
Athens, AL, 35611
256-497-7279
Hours: M-F 10:30-2
www.drucillasrestaurant.com
Facebook: Drucilla’s
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner

5-20-2016 11-35-22 AM

In 2015, in response to his own and others’ outrage over the execution of two New York cops while they were eating a quick bite in their patrol car, Jerry Barksdale started an organization called Together We Stand, Alabama. The purpose was, and is, to show our first responders that we are both grateful for and aware of the risks they take to protect us, and to show our support in any way we can.

People put blue light bulbs in the sockets of their porch lights to show solidarity with cops who were pulling the night watch. About 150 came out of the woodwork from all of North Alabama to raise money, design graphics, do advertising, organize entertainment, and the result was a beautiful meal held for our law enforcement personnel and their significant others in the Limestone County Event Center. The place was packed out, and I personally had the pleasure of “greeting and seating,” as well as seeing the gratitude on their faces as we showed our gratitude. The Mayor did several skits as his favorite alter-ego, Barney Fife, Chief Floyd Johnson had to handle being referred to as “Flossie” for awhile, City Councilman Chris Seibert was a biker, and even Adam and Eve were there. Jackie Greenhaw produced another fine show, the laughs were hearty, and the thanks were deep.

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What was particularly gratifying to me was that there was enough money collected and donated to do another event, and this time the honorees would be the First Responders who are connected with Fire, Rescue, Paramedics, EMTs, and Dispatch. While most of the time they do not have to be involved in stopping or preventing actual crime, they put their lives on the line, too, and fatalities are not unheard of in their line of work.

I had a chance to chat with Jerry Barksdale about the event, which is coming up on June 3rd. He had the following to say: “It is not just the police who rush to danger. Others, do too, and they deserve to be honored. I want the public to know that we are doing this for all the citizens of Athens Limestone County, representing them and saying thanks for them to all these brave men and women who deserve to hear it. If we had a place that could hold everyone who wants to come and say thanks, we would do that, but for now, we have to focus on our first responders and make sure they have an evening they will remember. We want them to know that we know what they do for us.”

Jerry also mentioned that he is gratified by the swell of support that started in 2015, and has continued on into this year. “We really didn’t know what would happen,” he said. “What started out as a way to support the men and women in blue grew to what it is today, and I am just glad that we can show the other First Responders how much we are behind them.”

These are the kinds of things that make me glad that I live in Athens, Alabama, and I want to thank all of you who are expressing your gratitude in such a grand and abundant manner. It is my joy to stand with you as you stand with all our First Responders, and we all stand together.
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner

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It is hard to believe that Joe’s World Famous Pizzeria has been with us for a full year, and what a year it has been! In May of 2015, Joe opened up his place, which is located at 1260 Hwy 72, just down from Nestle’s Toll House Cookies. The unique blend of having pizza made in a 4,000 lb hand-made oven, the ‘50s/’60s diner décor, and Joe’s quintessential New York approach to life and pizza have been a winning combination.

Joe is a veritable legend in international “Pizza-dom.” There is an Olympic competition for pizza, and he has won multiple Golds. He is a 3-time world pizza champion, and has won several other awards he doesn’t bother mentioning. He is the Guinness Book of World Record holder for the highest pizza toss, (over two stories straight up,) and in 2010, Joe’s was voted The Best Pizza in America. In 2012, he won the award in Naples, Italy, for being the World’s Fastest Pizza Maker. He has a certificate from the Scuola Italiana Pizzaioli, which loosely translated, means, “Professional Pizza School.”

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His media exposure has been extensive. Besides being featured in newspapers here and abroad, he has been seen on CNN, ESPN, The Food Network, Martha Stewart, and the Today Show. Last fall during football season, Joe made a pizza that looked like football legend Tim Tebow, and this past March he made another that featured an amazing likeness of Donald Trump.

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While I was in Joe’s shop for this edition, I met a 4 year old little girl who had come to know Joe well in this last year. Her name is Tinley Romine. She was with her grandma, Teresa Gibbs, and every time they come in, Joe gives Tinley a little bit of dough to play with. In return she gives Joe a hug, and it was a joy to watch her with her “play dough.” Tinley is a bit older than Joe’s little girl, Valentina, who is the light of his life.

Speaking of Valentina, Joe named the oven that makes his shop “pop” after his daughter, and he has exciting news: he has purchased a second oven made by Marra Forni, with whom Joe has worked for years, and the wood fired mobile unit has been mounted to a trailer. So, what’s the plan? To take “Valentina” to festivals, corporate events, wedding receptions, parties of all kinds, and to bring Joe’s World Famous Pizza to people “anywhere, anytime, and anyplace,” he told me.

5-20-2016 11-24-49 AM“Valentina bakes at 800 to 900 degrees,” he said. “We can make 250 pizzas an hour, and it takes 90 seconds.” “What? That’s like a natural microwave” I said, and added, “and much better for you.” He smiled. The mobile Valentina is usually fired by oak, and Joe gets his wood from Ricky Adams, of Adams and Son, here in Athens. It takes a crew of 3-4 to work a festival, and it takes around 3 ½ hours to get the fire just right for baking. So far, Valentina has been to Whistlestop in Huntsville, Blue Pants Microbrewery in Madison, Do Dah Day, and will be appearing at our very own Athens Grease Festival, as well as the Florence Arts Alive Festival. He is going to go on the road for events in Florida, and Ocean City, MD. I asked him, “Are you going to make special pizzas for Grease?” “Yes,” he said, but I knew he was not about to say any more, and based on personal experience, I am sure it will be a glorious surprise. While Joe is at the festivals, Chris Miller, his assistant chef, will hold down the Athens fort.

5-20-2016 11-25-13 AMThere are a number of things Joe would like us to know after his first year in our fair town. “I am very thankful to the community of Athens for how they have welcomed me, and supported me,” he said. He went on to tell me about his crew. “I am thankful for my staff,” he said. “They stuck by me, and became a small family. I am losing some high school seniors who will be irreplaceable because of their work ethic.” He finished up our time with saying, “I thank God for everything I have.”

Good word, Carlucci, and may there be many more anniversaries to celebrate at Joe’s World Famous Pizza.

Joe’s World Famous Pizzeria
1260 Hwy 72 Athens, AL 35611
Hours: Mon-Wed, 10:30-8, Thur-Sat, 10:30-9:30
Phone: 256-434-8400
Facebook: Joe’s World Famous Pizzeria
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner

5-6-2016 10-01-59 AM

In May of 2015, Camellia Moree, owner of Camellia’s Country Store and Restaurant, opened up a “country cookin’ place” on the corner of Lucas Ferry Road and Nuclear Plant Road, where Athens meets Tanner. She is no newcomer to folks in our area, as she had previously operated the restaurant in the same location, Marie’s Country Store, as well as had a successful catering business. For several years she had a contract with TVA to provide “home-cooked” food for employees. She would work around the clock during an outage, sometimes only getting 30 minutes of sleep. “We were all in it together,” she said. When the day came that Camellia was offered a new opportunity, she says she was “cryin’ like a baby, ‘cuz we were like family.” Wherever Miss Camellia goes, she “builds her a community.” “I’ll be back, you just hang on,” she told her “TVA-ers,” and they knew, God willing, she’d be true to her word.

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“Life happens,” as they say, and during this tough time, she also lost her dearest friend and head cook, Peaches Walton. Even talking about it all these years later brings tears to her eyes, and there is a monument to their friendship hanging on the wall right next to the kitchen. The current location became available in May of last year, and it is a pleasure to announce that business is brisk, and the word is spreading.

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By way of background, Camellia grew up in Andrews, SC, in what she calls the “low country.” Her parents operated a BBQ place for 30 years, have since passed, and it’s still going strong. She learned a number of things beside how to cook for a crowd from her parents. The first and most important thing they taught her was, “Ya gotta love your customers,” she told me. Her parents also told her that if you “Be good to your customers, and cook good food, you won’t have to worry about customers.” She has certainly followed that advice, and when I visited during lunch hour, the place was packed. The Fire Marshall will let her have a few over 60 seated at any one time, and as one of her servers told me with a happy sigh, “It’s like this every day.”

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Hard work is obviously another component for success, and Camellia’s is open from 5am to 1:30pm, Monday through Saturday, with the help of staff who are as dedicated as she is. She also says, with a charming blend of firmness and shyness, that she is “funny about good quality food.” She is simply not going to cut corners, and, for example, the biscuits are made from scratch, and that’s just that.

She went on to tell me what they have found to be customer favorites, and the day I was there, two gentlemen, one from Huntsville and one from Madison, were glad to have made the trip just to get the “real deal.” Camellia says her signature piece is pork chops, which are served on Wednesdays. “On Friday, we have catfish,” she said. Other specials include fried chicken, BBQ chicken, ribs and salmon patties, and one client says he comes “just for the chicken.” There is meatloaf from an age old recipe, and the day I had lunch, my BBQ chicken fell right off the bone. Because I was sitting in the corner working mostly out of sight, I licked my fingers with abandon, and I don’t think anyone could have blamed me!

5-6-2016 10-02-29 AMCamellia’s also serves the sides one would expect to find paired with a home cooking café. There is mac and cheese, mashed potatoes, turnip greens, collard greens, sweet tea, and then there are the desserts. They vary from day to day, but include caramel pecan delight pie, Elvis Presley cake, Sundrop Cake, blackberry wine cake, chess pie, and she has recently gotten requests for her chocolate gravy over biscuits.

I asked her why, when there are a number of home cooking places in North Alabama, should I come to her. She was thoughtful, and then said, “We have good quality food, and we put the love into the food.” She went on to say, “We like to laugh and joke with our customers, and make them feel at home.” I will also add that they’ll cry with their customers, too, as I had just received the news that a very dear friend, (who would have felt right at home at Camellia’s), had suddenly passed, minutes before our appointment. I was conducting this part of the interview through tears while we sat outside on the picnic bench, and when we were finished, Miss Camellia gave me what one friend describes so well as a “proper hug.” If you are looking for a café that is also a community, as well as a wonderful caterer, then come and join the people who make the drive from Pulaski, Priceville, Florence, Huntsville and Madison to get country cookin’ at Camellia’s.
Camellia’s Country Store and Restaurant
18025 Nuclear Plant Road
Athens, AL 35611
Phone: 256-444-4800
FAX: 256-444-4801
Hours: M-Sat 5am-1:30pm
Facebook: Camellia’s Country cooking
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner

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The 34th annual Limestone Sheriff’s Rodeo is just around the corner, and the “get ready” events have already begun.The program is being set for the publisher, T-shirt orders for all the Special Needs Rodeo participants are being processed, all the event and major sponsors have been secured, the Street Dance and Fashion Show are being planned, and committees of volunteers are receiving their instructions to complete a successful event. The Queen contestant applications are being processed, and in addition to all of the traditional goings on, the Sheriff’s Office staff and volunteers are making last minute plans for the biggest outdoor rodeo east of the Mississippi River.

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What began 33 years ago as a means to supplement the purchase of patrol cars for the sheriff’s office has now blossomed into a community event that is second to none. Teresa Todd, President of the Athens Limestone Tourism Association estimates the revenue impact from the rodeo at over a million dollars locally. “It is important to all of us as fans, visitors and competitors that come to Limestone County every year for the rodeo, shop in local stores, buy gasoline, stay in local motels, eat in local restaurants, and generally boost our entire economy. We strive to match that gift by producing a fun filled event packed with family entertainment and fierce competition in all of the rodeo events,” said Sheriff Blakely.

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Sheriff Blakely has always been a big fan of rodeo, even from his high school days when he would compete. “The rich tradition and values of rodeo are still alive in this community and are often relative to our parents’ teachings. Most of our parents taught us the same things that cowboys call the ‘Code Of The West’ to this day: ‘If it’s not yours, don’t take it; If it’s not true, don’t say it; If it’s not right, don’t do it.’ It is very humbling as an elected official to see this entire community support this event each and every year,” remarked Blakely.

This year the Limestone Sheriff’s Rodeo is returning to an IPRA sanctioned event. The International Professional Rodeo Association sanction will mean the cream of the crop in professional competitors will make a stop in Athens to earn points toward the International Finals in Oklahoma City, OK next January. IPRA President Dale Yerigan remarked “We sanction 350 rodeos a year and the Limestone Sheriff’s Rodeo will rank among the top 10 in prize money rodeos in the Nation. And Lone Star Rodeo Company will continue to produce a great rodeo with some of the most competitive stock on the circuit,” added Yerigan.

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If you have never attended the “Greatest Show on Dirt,” you should join us on May 20 or 21 and see what you have been missing. Your family will thoroughly enjoy themselves, and you will be positively impacting the success of local law enforcement.

And if you have never attended the Special Needs Rodeo, you owe it to yourself to see how your community rallies around a group of people to make sure they have their day too. Just show up at the arena on Friday morning, May 20 at 10 a.m., and witness the outpouring of volunteers as they paint faces, help with roping and disco dancing, pin the star on the sheriff, horseback rides, the petting zoo, hay rides and much, much, more.
By: Paul Cain, Limestone County Deputy Sheriff

4-15-2016 5-05-25 PM

Charlene Cummings is a native to Alabama, having been born in Clanton near Birmingham on September 22, 1942. She never married, but really likes kids, so she did “lots of babysitting.” As far as her work life, she did “a little of this and a little of that.”

She used to visit Athens a lot, because her brother, David, was here. “He works part time for the Sheriff’s Department,” she said. When it came time for her to be in a place where she could get full time care, Athens Rehab and Senior Care was the perfect choice. She arrived about a month ago. The Activities staff at the facility told me that “Miss Charlene is a hoot,” and so I was really looking forward to getting to know her.

Her dad was a barber, and her mom stayed at home. She grew up as a Baptist, and also has been to Calvary Assembly in Decatur. We talked about times we had both been to Calvary Assembly for various events, and how much we enjoyed it.

I asked about her favorite song, and she thought for awhile before she said, “Reach Out And Touch The Lord As He Goes By.” I sang the one I thought she meant, and it turns out, it was indeed her favorite.

Here are the lyrics:
Reach out, and touch the Lord as He goes by
You’ll find He’s not too busy to hear your heart’s cry
He is passing by this moment, your needs to supply
Reach out, and touch the Lord as He goes by*

She really enjoyed baking, especially pies and cakes. “These days, though, I have a feeding tube, so I don’t get to taste anything,” she said. One of her favorite foods is banana pudding, and she loves the way food smells at the facility.

Speaking of Athens Rehab, she really likes the care she gets and says, “The people have been good to me.”

We moved on to favorites. As a child, besides the Bible, her favorite books were the Little House series. “I think I read them all,” she said, and I told her they had been some of my favorites as a kid, too. As an adult, she has really enjoyed reading Debbie McComber.

Her favorite color? “Purple.” That was also the color of the T-shirt she was wearing for our time together.

Favorite celebrities? Bob Hope and Minnie Pearl.

President? JFK. We talked about a day we will never forget, November 22nd, 1963.
The biggest change that has occurred in her life? “Rockets and Space.” To this day, she is still enthusiastic about everything that happened during the Space Race, especially here in our area.

Favorite Scripture? “Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” Jn 14

I asked her what her advice is for young people. “Trust in Christ. Don’t do alcohol or drugs, and be good.” Then I steered her in her wheelchair back to one of her favorite places in the facility. As we maneuvered down the hall, I bent down near her ear and sang “Reach Out And Touch The Lord…” I am glad that here in Athens, Alabama, we have a care facility where that would not be frowned upon.

*Words and music by Bill Harmon
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner

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John and Amanda McGrew joined the “Made in America” movement when they did their Christmas holiday shopping for the 2012 season. The “Made in America Challenge” was designed to encourage people to purchase their gifts from American companies, with goods produced here in the good ol’ U S of A. Amanda said, “It’s not that we are opposed to imports, it’s just that we feel that things are out of balance, and we want to help keep America from losing jobs that Americans need to be working at here at home.”

They got “bit by the bug,” and came up with the idea of opening Homeland Trading Company, which was born in July of 2015. It was one bold throw, a labor of love as well as time, and they are pleased to announce that they are starting to prepare for their first anniversary celebration.

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As is the case with any small business, the first year always has a steep learning curve attached to it. They learned a lot by listening to their customers, and finding out what they really wanted. For example, women who wear plus sizes want to have the same kinds of styles as Misses, and thankfully, the current “tunic trend” has made that unusually easy.

“We have met a lot of cool people who are on board with the ‘American Made’ movement,” said John. He added, “People see our sign, and come in to find out what we are about. We are not just a women’s store”, he said.

He went on to say that he and Amanda try to “touch on the ‘Made in America’ movement” when they are greeting new customers, and says that “About 75% of the people who come in and buy are receptive. Some don’t care, but that’s ok, because we have really good prices, and they like that.”

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As we chatted, I learned something fun about both John and Amanda. Not only does John have a strong sense of fashion, but as a former Architecture student at Auburn, he knows more of the actual science of form, line, balance, and color. “I know what works,” he said. Truth is, he does a lot of the display work at Homeland Trading, and has found that his time at Auburn has garnered him a o great opportunity for practical application in his own store.

4-15-2016 3-52-26 PMAmanda and I are somewhat the same when it comes to fashion. We don’t want to spend a lot of time figuring stuff out when it comes to clothing. We just want to know what can be put together quickly, look well put together, put it on, and “git ‘er dun.” Amanda will tell you that her sense of style and fashion has grown since they opened the shop. “John always tells me, ‘You are shopping for every woman, not just you.’” She tries to wear stock from Homeland as much as she can, and this past Easter wore a charming green polka dotted dress that is available at the shop to church. When I asked her how she felt in her “frock,” she smiled, put her hands out, and would have twirled like her daughter, Katy, if she’d had the chance.

Both John and Amanda work at other jobs, and “meet themselves coming and going.” They operate equipment and/or supervise in the construction based fields, and the blue collar worker has always been part of the target market at Homeland Trading. John says it well: “Homeland Trading Company carries stock that is American made, a family store with family prices for working people.” He also wanted to emphasize that Homeland is not just a women’s store. There is men’s work and casual apparel, including denim work shirts, jeans, T shirts, and John’s favorite, Thoroughgood brand work boots. He says, “These are the kind of boot that you never throw out, you get them re-soled. They don’t wear out, they ‘ugly out.’” He swears by them.

So, what’s ahead? Eventually they want to add more children’s clothes, and a teen line, which is hard to break into because of how particular teen shoppers are. They are planning on having food, fun, and give-aways for the anniversary party, and more information on that will be forthcoming as July gets closer. It will be an “Independence Day” of a sort that has been understood by generations of people who have either been born here or have risked all to come here and be a part of what we have come to call the American Dream.

Until then, just know that there is a young family that embodies all that is possible with hard work in America, and that is Homeland Trading Company. Stop by and see for yourself!
Homeland Trading Company
1207 East Forrest Street Athens, AL 35613
Hours: Tue-Thu 9-5, Fri-Sat, 9-5:30
Phone: 256-444-4825
Facebook: Homeland Trading Company
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner

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Nine years ago, a group of hard-core “automobile aficionados” got together to put together a car show on the Limestone County Courthouse Square for two reasons: they wanted to enjoy their hobby as well as the fun that comes from getting together, and wanted to help support charities in Athens Limestone.

This year’s event will be held on Saturday, April 30th, from 8am to 3pm. Tickets are $20, day of show.

“We don’t make a dime from this,” event organizer Tom Schuman told me. “We just love doing it, and love being able to give back to the community,” he added.

As is the case with many events in Athens, what started off as being a small, local event, has grown tremendously. This year they are expecting between 400 and 600 cars, and motorcycles have been added to the lineup. There will be antique cars, muscle cars, classic cars, hot rods, and more, and the same is true for the motorcycles.

It is not uncommon for Cars and Bikes on the Square to bring 3,000 people to Athens, so in addition to being something that raises money for several local charities, it also helps to kick off our tourist season.

One of the automobiles that will be at the show is literally a million-dollar car, having been selected as a finalist in the Detroit Auto Rama Great 8 Competition. It is a lime green 1965 Dodge Dart, and has had 14,000 hours of labor put into it.

Another “must see” car is a locally owned and restored 1955 Porsche Speedster convertible, which has an interesting story attached to it. Jay McCook, of McClary Ford purchased the Speedster over 40 years ago, and it sat for decades up in Chicago, in a completely ruined state. “It was rusted through,” he told me, “and it wasn’t worth anything.” He had paid a whopping $700 for it back in the day, and sank around $175,000 into it to restore it. “We researched every detail, and made sure that this car looks exactly like it did back in 1955 when it was new.” It was indeed a labor of love and meticulous attention to detail from the period, and it is now estimated to be worth $400,000. Jay is planning on selling it eventually, but for now is just enjoying the fruit of his labors as he drives it around. I got to sit in it for a few minutes as he parked it outside the Keep Athens Limestone Beautiful Gulf Station, and pretended I was Grace Kelly or Audrey Hepburn back in the day. Man, what a car!

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There will be what is known as a Builders’ Alley, which is sponsored by Clayton Machine Works, as well as a Hot Rod Alley. Professionals from the vehicle restoration business from Alabama, Mississippi, and Tennessee will be on hand. An added treat will be the presence of Derek Travis from the Discovery Channel’s hit TV show, Street Outlaws, and Lou Santiago from Car Fix, also seen on Discovery/Velocity. They will be available to chat and sign autographs. For fun, Shake, Rattle and Roll will “roll on down” from Columbia, TN, along with an Elvis impersonator.

One unique and important feature of Cars and Bikes on the Square is that it is not a judged event in the usual sense, other than there is a Mayor’s trophy. Tom told me, “Early on we realized that people liked the drawings and the cash prizes, and wanted us to leave the judging out.” However, there are ample opportunities for both exhibitors and attendees alike to win cash prizes, as well as bless those who are in need. Tom added, “There is a drawing every half hour from the money tree, and that begins at 9 am. People need to get there early.” There will be at least $10,000 in cash and other prizes given away, and another feature, which is known as the “50/50 pot.” That is a raffle that is open to all attendees, and at the end of the day the winner will be announced. Fifty percent of the pot will go to the winner, and 50 percent to a designated charity.

Cars and Bikes on the Square as always supported Hospice of Limestone County, but as the event has grown, so has their ability to give back. This year they will also be donating to the Ft. Henderson Museum project, as well as the Alabama Veterans’ Museum. LCCI (Limestone County Churches Involved), which runs the food bank on Jefferson Street in Athens, will be the recipient of the 50/50 pot.

If you are in the market for good, family fun, an opportunity to view automotive history, and be part of helping several good causes in Limestone County, then come to the 9th Annual Cars and Bikes on the Square on April 30th.

For more information, contact Tom Schuman at tschuman@comrep.com, or his cell at 256-457-9179, or visit their Facebook page at Cars and Bikes on the Square.
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner