Thursday, May 31, 2007

Stone & Purr

After visiting a friend at Vaughan Place, I walked out on the porch and heard a soft "Mee..oow." This black-and-white beauty had spotted a cat lover (me), and she walked over to solicit a pat between her ears. Then I noticed the stone kitty wearing a pink bow at left. I suppose she makes a nice decoration and conversation piece, while the talking feline makes good company at this assisted-living home.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007


These wispy, power-puff blossoms smell so good that I don't know why someone hasn't made Mimosa air freshener yet, or maybe even a cologne!

The mimosa is not native to America. It grows naturally from Africa to Asia and was brought here in the 1700s as an ornamental.
And yes, the hummingbirds and the bees love it!

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Selma Souvenirs

That morning cup of coffee couldn't be better than in a mug from Selma, Alabama! Or, how about some Southern Flavor (in the basket) to add extra pizazz to your barbecue? We use the Cajun seasoning for grilling smoked turkey and pork roasts.

Then, try a bottle of marinade. This window display at Swift Drugs offers a few of many Selma products and souvenirs. If you look into the background at top left, you'll see the city fountain reflected from across Broad Street.

I am adding the link to Southern Flavor's website. Seems they offer free samples!

Click to enlarge the photo for better window shopping.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Stars and Stripes

The new walking trail in Valley Grande is lined with flags for Memorial Day.
The winding path through tall pines was dedicated last week, and sponsors placed the Stars and Stripes there to honor soldiers who have died for their country.
Valley Grande is located just north of the Selma city limits.
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Sunday, May 27, 2007

Ecor Bienville

Long, long ago, Selma's first recorded name was Ecor Bienville.
The French colonizer Jean Baptiste Le Moyne Sieur De Bienville visited the Alibamo Indians here in 1714 while he was governor of the province.

I'm sure others of you have heard of Bienville.
He also founded New Orleans, Louisiana as well as Mobile, Alabama. His brother, D'Iberville, founded the Louisiana colony at Biloxi.

Born in Montreal, Canada, Bienville's other claims to fame include service in the French Navy, explorer, governor of Louisiana and military commander.
He is credited with maintaining the colony of Louisiana after the death of his brother. According to various biographies, Bienville's administration faced challenges with famine, Native Americans and the governments of Spain, Canada and France.

This stone marker is in tiny Bienville Park on Water Avenue by the Alabama River. It was erected by the Colonial Dames of America.

Click to enlarge the photo for a better view of the inscription.
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Saturday, May 26, 2007

Courtyard Fountain

A steady trickle of water in the courtyard fountain of the Selma/Dallas County Public Library creates a relaxing atmosphere for visitors who might want to rest upon one of the benches. Some choose to make a wish here. Looking through the fountain, you can see the children's wing of the library. The wrought-iron grillwork is in keeping with the municipal complex's southern-inspired architecture.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Vintage Rexall

Here's a closeup of the vintage Rexall sign seen in the background of previous downtown photographs.

These signs have become rather rare - a relic of the World War II and Baby Boomer generations and generally found in small towns. I did a little research and discovered that the company traces its history back to 1902 when Louis Ligget called 40 drugstore owners together to form a cooperative. United Drug Stores sold products with the Rexall name, and after World War I, the company became a national franchise. Rexall advertised on radio shows such as "Amos 'n Andy" and manufactured pharmaceutical supplies...vitamins, herbal remedies, even combs and brushes. The chain was sold in 1977, and in the 1980s, Sundown acquired the Rexall trademark and today operates as Rexall Sundown.

Apparently, there are more Rexall signs in Canada than the U.S.
Does anybody know how Rexall got its name?

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Thursday, May 24, 2007

Greeted by Geese

When we visited Grist State Park the other day, these geese swam over to the recreation area, formed a line and came over to greet us. Then, they sat in the shade with other resident fowl. I suppose they are the unofficial Welcome Committee.

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Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Pomp and Circumstance

Graduation Day!
One of my sons graduated high school last night, and along with the rest of the Class of 2007, is entering the Real World. Here, they march onto the football field to "Pomp and Circumstance." There were no long speeches from learned men or women, just short reflections from the class president, valedictorian and co-salutatorians, followed by the awarding of diplomas. Then, they marched around the field to throw up their caps in celebration.
The once-solemn ceremony (in my day) has changed to one of jubilation with many seniors' family and friends clapping, cheering and yelling as their honoree's name is called to receive the diploma. There is no longer any admonition to hold the applause and cheers until the end of the ceremony, resulting in some grads' names hardly being heard above the commotion.
How are graduations conducted in your part of the world?

Click to enlarge. This photo is a long shot, taken from the other side of the stadium.

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Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Grist State Park Ready for Campers

Today, we head 13 miles north of Selma to Grist State Park. It's a popular outdoor recreation area and YMCA camp. In a few weeks, Camp Grist will be teeming with children. The camp is located up a steep hill above the playground and picnic shelters (on the right in this photograph). A hiking trail leads down to the lake and swimming area. Campers also get to cool off in a pool, slide down red-clay canyons, glide across the water in canoes and participate in games and sports. Day and residence camps open in June and close just before school starts in August.

Click to enlarge for a better view of the playground and swimming area.

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Monday, May 21, 2007

Ode to the Price at the Pump

Regular gasoline at $2.33 per gallon? Don't we wish!

Not too long ago, gas sold for this amount at a station near our house. Then the station closed.
Since then, the price locally has soared to almost a dollar per gallon more. Just the other day, I paid my all-time high of $3.06 per gallon. A couple hours later, my son filled up at the same station, and the price had jumped to $3.20 per gallon. I don't even want to surmise what the price will be next time the tank nears empty!
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Sunday, May 20, 2007

The Railroad Bridge

The railroad bridge across the Alabama River makes a nice subject for photographers. Here's my version, taken one morning in early Spring. While this area appears to be wilderness, it is just east of downtown.

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Saturday, May 19, 2007

Church Street Methodist Bell Tower

The Church Street United Methodist Church bell tower is one of four church towers located within a block of each other. The sanctuary beneath this tower was built in 1901 to replace the one finished in 1856. The original sanctuary was severely damaged in 1899 when a strong wind gust toppled the steeple shortly after choir practice ended. The steeple landed point first into the floor, but no one was injured.

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Friday, May 18, 2007

The Brooke Cannon

Here is the only Brooke cannon that ever fired a shot in anger.

Manufactured in Selma during the Civil War, this cannon was mounted on the CSS Tennessee, which at that time was a new and powerful warship, also built here. Named for Ordnance Officer John Brooke, the cannon was designed to punch holes in Union ironclads. It was very accurate, mounted to fire in three directions and could zing a 100-pound shell four and a half miles.

Other Brooke cannons were manufactured in Richmond, Va.
Shipped via the Alabama River to Mobile in 1864, this cannon defended Mobile Bay in the deadliest naval battle of the war. When Union ironclad Tecumseh sank within two minutes after striking underwater torpedoes, Union Adm. David Farragut uttered his famous words: "Damn the torpedoes! Full speed ahead!" Then the CSS Tennessee plowed out to meet the enemy virtually alone. After a fierce fight, she lost the ability to fire the cannons, was surrounded and had to surrender.

While casualties totaled around 315 for the Union (most on the Tecumseh), only 22 Confederates lost their lives, but they ultimately lost the battle.

After its capture, the CSS Tennessee became the USS Tennessee and was retired for scrap metal a few years after the war. this particular Brooke cannon eventually returned to Selma more than a century later. It is mounted on the grounds of the municipal complex. Now, its base has deteriorated, and the paint is flaking. Funds have been raised for its renovation.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Vaughan Regional Medical Center

Vaughan Regional Medical Center is Selma's hospital. At one time, we had three hospitals: Vaughan Memorial, Selma Medical Center and Good Samaritan. The Vaughan was locally owned and operated. Medical Center was owned by a hospital chain, and Good Sam was operated by the Catholic Church. Good Samaritan closed in the 1980s, and later the hospital group that owned Medical Center purchased the Vaughan. Vaughan services relocated to this site, but the name stayed with it. The old Vaughan building, where my oldest child was born, was recently razed.
In this photo, a medical professional building is at right, and behind these buildings is a new outpatient surgery center. Cahaba Mental Health and numerous physicians' offices, dialysis centers, a nursing home and assisted-living facility are nearby.
The medical facilities here primarily serve Selma and surrounding counties.

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Wednesday, May 16, 2007

The Cats Who...Ran a Household

"Cats are cats the world over.
These intelligent, peace-loving,
four-footed friends...
who are without prejudice,
without hate,
without greed...
may someday teach us something."
__James Mackintosh Qwilleran
(Fictional cat lover and columnist in Lilian Jackson Braun's "Cat Who" book series)

This cat collage is not so much about Selma, but about cats who have run a household in Selma.

Skidzoo, the black-and-white shorthair at left, serves as a morning alarm, waking his subjects no later than 5:30 a.m. every day. His meows don't stop until someone is in the kitchen, and the family hasn't needed an alarm clock for going on a dozen years! He's an animal-shelter rescue, reportedly bewitching a customer who was looking for a dog. At his advanced age, he still sometimes reverts to kittenhood, racing and skidding around the house.

Miss Kitty (top right) a Norwegian Forest feline according to one vet, and a Dallas County long-haired cur according to another, found 7th Heaven after cat lovers discovered her eating fly-infested leftovers from a garbage can. She was rib-poking skinny with a roaring stomach and maggot-infested skin sores. But she had a magnanimous purr, affectionate disposition, and like Harry Potter...untapped potential. She was meant to reign. But nobody claimed her, and she became queen of their house.
After her wounds healed, Miss Kitty's large frame filled out, and she gradually began to trust her family, occasionally creeping from a corner to comfort them when they were sick. She became Nurse Kitty, snuggling whoever sneezed, coughed or was down in their back. After several years, curiosity and an insatiable desire for food literally ended her life. Last summer, Miss Kitty apparently went sniffing around a fired-up grill while another animal was also checking it out. A ruckus ensued, but the unseen perpetrator escaped. It must have been big, because Miss Kitty weighed around 20 pounds and had thick, sharp claws with which to defend herself.

Taz (bottom), said to be a Maine Coon cat, was the most gentle pet around. He didn't even mind being held upside down (not that such tactics were encouraged)! He was also known as the In and Out Cat, because as soon as he came inside, he wanted back out...and vice versa...all day long. He kept all escape routes open and in working condition.

So, an extra pat on the head to all those crazy, comforting and cuddly cats!

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Tuesday, May 15, 2007

First Baptist Gargoyles

First Baptist Church on Lauderdale Street has several interesting gargoyles that are quite unusual for Southern Baptist structures. Most Baptist churches are relatively plain, but the ornate Gothic architecture makes this one among the most unusual and beautiful in Alabama.
I have not researched the symbolism, but this gargoyle appears to be a lion with wings. The Bible refers to a lion with wings as one of Four Living Beings in Revelation 4:7-8. The others were an ox, a man and an eagle. I don't notice these on the church, but their purpose was to give glory and honor to God.
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Monday, May 14, 2007

Those Bloomin' Pecans

Pecan tree blooms are falling and covering the backyard. A few landed on the rustic swing. Once upon a time, when batches of mud pies and cakes were baked in the sun, little chefs stripped the blooms and used them as decorative sprinkles on their concoctions. Now, while the blooms are rather a nuisance, the pecan nuts are still a southern delicacy.

This photo was taken from behind the swing looking down on the seat and to the red brick below.

Tip: If you make a pecan pie, add a tablespoon of flour to the syrup mixture. It helps cut the sweetness and stickiness.

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Saturday, May 12, 2007

Flower Garden

I couldn't resist posting this flower garden for Mothers' Day. Hanging baskets and bedding plants are the traditional gifts at my house, and I love getting those summer annuals. This garden is located in the back courtyard at Sturdivant Hall Museum and always looks so lovely.
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Big Fish, Blue Fish & Go Fish

Big Fish
Blue Fish
It's the fish
That most agree
We like to see.

Big Fish
Gray Fish
It's a fish
That holds a key
Not in the sea.

Okay, so I'm no Dr. Seuss, but let me introduce you to Big Fish. He and a bunch of little fishes swish their way around the undersea world of the library aquarium.

Yes, we're back at the library...can't stay away, because as interesting as books may be, libraries are just SO not boring anymore! There are aquariums, computers, puppet shows, giant, lighted globes; summer arts and crafts, quilt shows, art shows, videos, how-to demonstrations, and uh, one more kind of fish!

Can you go fishing around the library and find it?
Hint! It is the opposite of Big Fish!

The commenter who reels in this fish first gets a prize!
Postcard? Brochure? Custom-written poem about the winner by me?
Don't like poetry?
Escargot from the Tally Ho? (Well, I guess not.) But, you choose the prize!
I will snail mail the postcard or brochure or email the poem.

Note: The picture was taken with my old 35 mm Pentax K1000.

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Friday, May 11, 2007

St. James Hotel

Union troops slept here.
It seems those Yankees had headquarters all over town when they took Selma during the final days of the War Between the States. Back then, in 1865, the St. James Hotel was known as The Troupe House. Today, it is said to be the only existing antebellum riverfront hotel in the Southeast.

Between then and now, however, this structure was a bit of everything, including a tire-recapping company. A public/private partnership funded extensive renovation, and the structure reopened as a hotel in 1997. The ballroom, which opens onto a terrace overlooking the river, is used for parties, weddings, banquets and reunions.

While legend has it that outlaw Jessie James also visited here, I think its most interesting moment came during the "War of Northern Aggression" when the owner went off to fight. He left his slave, Benjamin Sterling Turner, in charge of the hotel. After the war, Turner opened a livery stable and became wealthy. In 1870, he was the first black Alabamian elected to Congress where he worked for amnesty for the Confederate leaders and civil rights for the black race.

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Thursday, May 10, 2007

A Bit British

"All the world's a stage..." wrote English playwright William Shakespeare. At Selma's Tally Ho Restaurant, every table is a stage, meaning guests are treated like royalty.
White tablecloths, candles and crystal set the evening's dining experience in an Old English country atmosphere. Menu items offer an around-the-world experience. Try the local U.S. farm-raised catfish or imported European escargot. How about some Asian crab curry soup? The oysters royale made with garlic, parsley, parmesan cheese, sour cream and onions is an on-the-spot original. Homemade zucchini muffins are a staple. Or, try one of my favorites: chicken and shrimp saute.
Patrons enter this fine-dining establishment through the original log cabin. Previously a private dinner club and hangout for Craig Air Force Base officers, new wings were added, and floor tile salvaged from a building at Old Cahawba, Alabama's first state capital.
Present owner Bob Kelley purchased the restaurant in 1980 and opened it to the public. An Ohio native, Kelley grew up near Paris, France where his parents enrolled in culinary courses during their spare time. Their cooking skills paid off as all four children acquired them too, and Kelley became a connossieur of French wines.
He landed in Selma while doing restaurant consultations on vacation, and even after nearly three decades Kelley continues to improve his menu. He likes to do cooking exchanges as a guest chef in another restaurant, and that chef later visits Selma to create cuisine at the Tally Ho. Among his chef experiences are the Ram's Gate Pub in England as well as restaurants in Pattaya, Thailand; Bonnes, France; and Argentina. He has visited restaurants in a number of other countries.
By the way, there is no item on the Tally Ho menu that the staff has not eaten. When a customer inquires about a dish, his waiter can "testify" to its taste and ingredients.
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Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Saving the Gold

Before Wilson's Raiders swept through Selma in April 1865, the owner of this house saved the Bank of Selma gold by hiding it in one of the columns.
Bank President Washington M. Smith sawed a hole in the top of the column, lowered the gold to the bottom, then repaired the hole. Union troops searched and searched for the bank's assets and even used part of the house as their headquarters. After the Yankees left Selma, much of which they burned, Smith cut another hole in the bottom of the column and got the gold. The bank was kept secure.
This home has been featured in years past on Selma's Historic Pilgrimage where visitors viewed barely noticeable seams where the column was cut.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Crawfish Boil

Crawfish, corn on the cob and new potatoes! It's not just for Cajuns. Some folks in Alabama eat it too! This batch was among the dishes at a wedding reception, but nearby Faunsdale has the annual Alabama Crawfish Festival every April, begun guessed it...a native of Louisiana.

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Monday, May 7, 2007

Kudzu String Band

The "Almost Amazing" Kudzu String Band entertained guests at a wedding reception out in the country last weekend. The pond (featured in the preceding "By the Still Water" post) is in the background. This local band is popular for a variety of events including festivals at Kenan's Mill.

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Sunday, May 6, 2007

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Selma Heads West

Construction has begun on a Holiday Inn Express. It will be near the hospital and right behind the Hampton Inn that is in the background. A decade ago, this area to the west of town was in trees, but now it has a farmers' co-op, big truck stop, medical offices, new YMCA, health department, Human Resources and other government agencies. Many of them moved from downtown to the "suburbs." Now, I hear that Selma is getting a Zaxbys.
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Friday, May 4, 2007

Downtown Selma

It's May in Selma, Alabama, and here is part of downtown during early afternoon. This view on Broad Street looks toward the Edmund Pettus Bridge and Alabama River from the corner of the Selma-Dallas County Public Library.
In the middle center (tallest building just behind the Rexall sign) is the former Teppers Department Store, which was recently purchased by the Freedom Foundation and is being renovated for civic use. The old metal facade has been removed, exposing the original architecture. At the extreme lower right is the El Ranchero Mexican restaurant featured in the May 1 Theme Day.
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