Alabama historical preservationist Jerry Lathan moving, restoring Rosa Parks’ childhood home

Jim ‘Zig’ Zeigler

Marker at birthplace of Rosa Parks
Marker at birthplace of Rosa Parks. Image: Jerry Lathan

It’s a piece of history that has become run-down and in danger of ruination. No more.  

Rosa Parks’ childhood home has been obtained by Mobile historic preservationist Jerry Lathan. The Lathan Company has a plan to restore the historic farmhouse and open it as a museum. Details of the ultimate site of the home are expected to become final this year as plans are being made for it to be disassembled, moved and then re-assembled at the permanent site.

Plans are being negotiated to move it to a permanent site at nearby Tuskegee University, where Parks was born. Right now, the original home site is in Henry County near Abbeville, near the Georgia state line in southeast Alabama’s Wiregrass.

Rosa Parks was a key figure in the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s. The seamstress was arrested when she declined to give up her seat to a white man on a downtown Montgomery bus. That action was a precursor to the Montgomery Bus Boycott, which was headed by Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., then pastor of Montgomery’s Dexter Avenue Baptist Church.

One small action by Rosa Parks affected history. It started in Montgomery but spread nationally and internationally.

The home being preserved was where Rosa Parks lived until about age 5, when her parents separated, and she moved to Pine Level in southern Montgomery County.

Rosaparkshome1 Alabama News
Rosa Parks childhood home. Photo: Jerry Lathan

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Jim ‘Zig’ Zeigler writes about Alabama’s people, places, events, groups and prominent deaths. He is a former Alabama Public Service Commissioner and State Auditor. You can reach him for comments at [email protected].

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Iconic ‘Old Hickory’ BBQ recipe found; It will be served FREE on April 27th in Sylacauga

Jim ‘Zig’ Zeigler writes about Alabama’s people, places, events, groups and prominent deaths.  He is a former Alabama Public Service Commissioner and State Auditor. You can reach him for comments at [email protected].
See the original 1819News article by clicking HERE!

For over a half-century, if you traveled from the Birmingham/Shelby area to Lake Martin, you knew the Old Hickory Barbecue Restaurant in Sylacauga.

If you traveled Highway 280 to Auburn home football games, you may have pulled into the Old Hickory and bought their unique barbecue for tailgating.

The barbecue was so unusual that some folks would make a special trip just to eat at the Old Hickory. It became a destination.

The Old Hickory Barbecue in Sylacauga, famous for decades for its unique taste, has been closed since the 1980s, and the barbecue recipe was presumed lost.

Enter Sylacauga native Lamar “Mole” Humphries. The retiree (Class of ’66 Sylacauga High) took on the mission of finding the recipe and re-creating Old Hickory barbecue.

He did. He located the original recipe, blended the sauce, and barbecued with it.  Voila! A return of the Old Hickory taste and feel.

He then cooked up 17 gallons of Old Hickory Barbecue Sauce and made it his gift to friends in pint jars.

Now, “Mole,” as he is universally known in East Alabama, is taking folks on a trip to yesteryear, back to the Old Hickory era. The gastronomical nostalgic trip is on Saturday, April 27 at Blue Bell Central Park in downtown Sylacauga. Mole is bringing the Old Hickory sauce, setting up his giant commercial-grade smoker, and cooking free for all comers.

Mole will start serving around noon.

No ticket, no RSVP and no money are required. Just show up and get in line. First come, first served. Many coming that day will bring sides for all — baked beans, potato salad, chips, Cole slaw, and desserts.     

It’s the second coming of the Old Hickory.

Blue Bell Central Park is located across the street from the classic entryway to the Blue Bell Ice Cream plant at 436-498 North Norton in downtown Sylacauga.­

Bluebellpark Alabama News
Blue Bell Central Park. Four Square City Guide

The occasion for Mole Humphries’ free barbecue is the annual “Frosty Inn Reunion.”  The “Frosty”, the beloved gathering place for teenagers of the 1960s, 70s and 80s, has also been closed going on 40 years, but those teenagers of yesterday remember and re-create the golden days of their youth each year. The Frosty alums will gather again from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, April 27 at Blue Bell Central Park.

2024 marks the 14th straight year these Baby Boomers regroup for the Frosty Reunion. This will be the first time they and all the others there will eat Old Hickory Barbecue as their lunch in the park.  

For decades, thousands of Alabama residents drove past the Old Hickory Barbecue each day. The restaurant was located on what was then U.S. Highway 280 and 231 as they traversed Fort Williams Street in downtown Sylacauga. 280 was the main route from Birmingham to Lake Martin to Auburn and on to Phenix City/Columbus, while 231 was the route to Montgomery. Both passed the Old Hickory and then separated paths just south of Sylacauga.

Later, 280 and 231 were re-routed to a new four-lane west of Sylacauga, but the Old Hickory remained for 20 more years.

This won’t be the first time that Mole Humphries has gone the second mile for his fellow yutes of yesteryear. He is known as “Mole the Music Man” and preserved the music of the 1960s, first on a reel-to-reel, then on a cassette, and finally on CDs. Mole has given out free CDs of the music he grew up with at gatherings over the past five years. Generous.

Mole came by his love of 1960s music naturally. His family owned a music/record shop in downtown Sylacauga in the 60s. It was the cool place to go, browse and listen.

So how did Mole Humphries come by his other obsession — to locate the Old Hickory barbecue recipe and cook free for everybody on April 27? Ask him while he’s taking the meat off the grill.

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A “Winning” Night for Watwood

Courtesy of Meredith Wesson Hughes

The A. H. Watwood Elementary School PTO Reverse Drawdown was held Saturday evening (4/13) at Childersburg Parks-Recreation.

We would like to thank everyone who supported our school through ticket purchases and door prize donations.

Our very own Superintendent-Dr. Suzanne Lacey-won the drawdown and gave the PTO her winnings!

We are very thankful for Dr. Lacey and we could not be happier to see all of our hard work pay off in a spectacular way for our school. Thank you to all of the Watwood staff that helped us tonight and our teachers who supported us through ticket purchases.

There are so many people who had a hand in making tonight a success and we appreciate you! On behalf of myself, Emelia Pate Edwards and Adam Aj Jordon- we would also like to thank (Principal) Amy Smith, (Cburg Parks and Rec) Brad Logan, (Asst Principal) Delisha McClure Cardwell, (Talladega Co School Board member) Sharon Landers, Les and Dusti Smith (Cater Up), & (Childersburg Police Department) Officer Brandon Hughes for all your help to make this event successful.

Baby Boomers of East Alabama recreate their youth April 27: Frosty Inn Reunion

Jim ‘Zig’ Zeigler writes about Alabama’s people, places, events, groups and prominent deaths. He is a former Alabama Public Service Commissioner and State Auditor. You can reach him for comments at [email protected].

You remember the movie “American Graffiti.”

“Where were you in 62?”

Teenagers riding around town in cool cars. Casing their favorite hamburger joint.

“Boy meets girl, and girl meets boy.”  – The Tams

Those scenes will be remembered and recreated on Saturday, April 27, at Blue Bell Central Park in downtown Sylacauga. Teens of the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s will gather now as they did then.

Then, the gathering place was The Frosty Inn, a root beer and hamburger joint on what was then U.S. Highway 280. The highway was later rerouted from in-town Fort Williams Street to a four-lane west of town. But the Frosty Inn stayed into the 1980s.

Yutes from Sylacauga, Alex City, Goodwater, Childersburg, Talladega, Fayetteville, Shelby County, Clay County, Winterboro, Socapatoy and anywhere in driving distance headed to “The Frosty” many weekend nights and sometimes during the week. It was the designated gathering place for your old friends and to meet new friends. Many a romance and a few marriages started at The Frosty.

It was a safe environment. Was there trouble? Only a very little, and nothing like the trouble we hear of nowadays. A very occasional fistfight – no guns. A little beer (though not allowed) – either no marijuana or else well-hidden. A little showoff driving. Mostly just all-American fun.

There is now a marble plaque where The Frosty Inn once stood. It succinctly tells the story:

Once there was a place of fun and safety. Where lifelong friendships were made. Victories celebrated. Losses consoled and newcomers welcomed. That place was The Frosty Inn, located on this site during the 1960s and 70s. Thanks to Catherine and Frank McCaa for treating us like family and providing a place to spend the wonderful days and nights of our youth.

“See you at the Frosty.”

That salutation, “See you at the Frosty,” was a calling card for the yutes of that era. You still can occasionally hear one of them say to another, “See you at the Frosty.” Since the inn is no longer there, that just means that they will be at the annual Frosty Inn Reunion and expect the others to grace the occasion with their presence.

That plaque was envisioned, paid for and created by these same ex-yutes in the earlier years of The Frosty Inn Reunion. It is a local tradition, a part of history that the supporters of the reunion refuse to let die.

The official mother of the Frosty Inn was Catherine McCaa. She and husband Frank started, owned and ran the Frosty. During the day, they served as surrogate parents for dozens – maybe hundreds – of teenagers who grew up in the parking lot of The Frosty. There was no inside seating, so everyone was an equal in the surrounding lot. The McCaas dispensed advice, admonitions and encouragement in addition to hamburgers and quite tingly root beer.

Mrs. McCaa herself came to the Frosty reunions and served as Grand Marshall when they used to have a parade around the former Frosty site (now a Sonic) and around the block-away Dairy Queen, which was the route that yutes would drive incessantly.

Mrs. McCaa continued to grace the gathering with her presence until her death at age 98 in 2021. Now, her son Duke McCaa represents the family. He too was a yute of the era. The Frosty era.

Those yutes are now aged 60s and 70s. A few 80s and 50s. They will become teenagers again on Saturday, April 27 from 10:30 a.m. until about 3 p.m. – come and go. In and out, just like at the old Frosty Inn. Casual dress, just like then.

Will we see any madras shirts, peddle pushers, penny loafers or bell bottoms? Maybe a few. There would be more, but the actual clothes they wore in that era seem to have shrunk, and the former yutes cannot get into them. This is not a costume party, but some have not changed their style much and some will go retro. Most just in jeans.

Blue Bell Central Park is located at 470 North Norton, right across from the classic-looking entrance to the famous Blue Bell Ice Cream plant. Except for the pavilion, it is an outdoor venue.

There is no entry fee to get into the reunion. No ticket or RSVP are required. Just like at the old Frosty. Just show up.

And bring your appetite. Don’t eat lunch before you come. There will be FREE food there. That’s a difference with the old Frosty, which charged cheap prices for their good food.

Music will be provided by retired DJ Barry McAnnally, who had been a radio personality in the Birmingham market in the 60s and 70s under the radio names, “Joey Roberts” and “Bob Barry.”  You may remember his smooth voice from WSGN, WYDE, WMLS and other stations. You will remember all of the great music you grew up with.

“See you at the Frosty.”

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Music Lady of Sylacauga Suzy Wade Hammonds dies at 72

Jim ‘Zig’ Zeigler writes about Alabama’s people, places, events, groups and prominent deaths.  He is a former Alabama Public Service Commissioner and State Auditor. You can reach him for comments at [email protected].
The original 1812news article can be found HERE:

She first played the lead role of Maria in “The Sound of Music” as a student at Sylacauga High School. It was just the beginning.

Over the years, she played the singing von Trapp wife again and again. Remember Maria von Trapp when the musical was performed at Birmingham’s Jewish Community Center in the early 70s? It was a highlight of Birmingham’s Festival of the Arts.

That was Suzy Wade from Sylacauga.

Remember the famous Crystal Pistol at Six Flags Over Georgia?  That dynamic singer and actress in the mid-1970s was Suzy Wade.

She toured the southeast with her own band. The lead singer?  Maria, I mean Suzy.

And then it was back home to the Marble City. Suzy Wade Hammonds never forgot where she came from.  Sorry, Miss Velma Goodgame (her English teacher). Suzy never forgot from where she came. You can take the girl out of Sylacauga, but you can’t take Sylacauga out of the girl.

In 1978, she began her long, stellar career as a music teacher in the Sylacauga City School System, retiring after a quarter century. She was also Director of the adult and children’s choirs at First Presbyterian Church in Sylacauga, her home church.

Suzy instilled her love and joy of music into thousands of students.  It was contagious.

Now, that angelic voice has gone to sing with the heavenly choir. Suzy Wade Hammonds died on April 8 at age 72.

A Celebration of Life for Suzy will be held on Saturday, April 13, at 2 p.m. at the First Presbyterian Church of Sylacauga followed by a reception in the church’s Perryman Hall. At a later date in a private family service, Suzy’s ashes will be scattered in the memory garden in Montreat, North Carolina, a place she loved for more than forty years. Those North Carolina hills are alive with the sound of music.

Suzy is survived by her husband, Dr. Phil Hammonds. He is a retired school administrator and was Superintendent of Education of the Jefferson County School System. They have two sons, Seth and Lee. They have three grandchildren. Suzy leaves two brothers, Dr. Steve Bowman and pilot Sam Wade. 

Suzy Wade Hammonds will continue to make a difference in the lives of others. She and her family have suggested donations in Suzy’s name to: The Sylacauga City Schools Foundation, 43 North Broadway Avenue, Sylacauga, Al 35150; the First Presbyterian Church of Sylacauga, 100 S. Norton Avenue, Sylacauga, Al 35150; or the Encore Respite Ministry at Canterbury United Methodist Church, 350 Overbrook Road, Birmingham, Al 35213.

“You brought music back into the house.”  — Captain von Trapp

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Gov. Fob James’ weekly radio show: That was a different day

Jim ‘Zig’ Zeigler writes about Alabama’s people, places, events, groups and prominent deaths.  He is a former Alabama Public Service Commissioner and State Auditor. You can reach him for comments at [email protected].
His original 1819news article can be found HERE:

Can you imagine nowadays? The governor hosting a live weekly call-in radio show? Taking all calls? Not screening any? Hearing out all callers and responding?  No professional host. Answering the phone himself or herself. Just the governor. The Wild West of radio.

Think of a cross between Paul Finebaum and Gov. Kay Ivey.

It probably couldn’t be done now — for a variety of reasons.

But in 1995, it was done. Gov. Fob James hosted his own weekly radio show on about 30 radio stations — from Huntsville to Mobile. From the Shoals to the Wiregrass.

“Fob James Live” had started with candidate Fob James in 1994.  A former governor running to win back his old office.  Trailing badly to incumbent Gov. Jim Folsom, Jr. (D-Cullman), who had risen from lieutenant governor upon the conviction of Gov. Guy Hunt by a Montgomery County jury.

James needed a difference-making way to catch up quickly and overtake Folsom. His political guru DeLoss Walker of Memphis came up with one. An every-Monday-night radio show. He lined up about 30 local stations, some one-horse stations but others with quite large audiences. Plus, Walker figured news reporters would listen in and generate free news stories from the dialogue.  They did, but it was the only thing free about the show. It was all a paid political ad, paid for by the James for Governor campaign.

I’m going to stop calling him “James” and call him “Fob.” Just Fob. That’s what almost everybody called him except for Yankee reporters who just couldn’t understand and called him “Bob.”

Fob had a few ground rules for the show—very few. He said to get the caller’s name and where they are from. And nothing else. There was no hint of what they wanted to talk about. There was no screening of personal agendas, anti-Fobs, inarticulate callers, nuts, or repeat callers.

Can you imagine?

Understand that Fob served as the host of the show. We are used to politicians going on to talk shows as the guest, with a professional host running the show. The host asks the questions and basically controls the show.  The politician/guest gives the answers. This was different. Fob hosted the show, and the callers were the guests.

Were there some rough moments with connecting and hearing the callers? Yes. Did it all run smoothly? Heck, no.  That was part of the attraction. The show was real. 

“Fob James Live” was a 1990s Alabama radio version of a New England town hall. A Roosevelt fireside chat. A Huey Long radiothon. A Winston Churchill BBC radio broadcast.

Candidate Fob did come from way behind and win the November 1994 general election in a huge upset. Few saw it coming.  Polls showed incumbent Folsom ahead of Fob by about 10%. Election day results were far different. 

How much did the radio show have to do with the turnaround and Fob’s victory? No one knows. Fob rode the wave of the national Republican sweep. There was a strong voter reaction against the first two years of the Bill Clinton administration, particularly here in Alabama. There was a strong reaction against the Clinton healthcare plan that ultimately failed. 

There was House Speaker Newt Gingrich nationalizing the election with his ‘Contract with America.’

Some Alabama news media had painted a picture of some aides in the Folsom administration using their offices for personal gain.

Some Folsom supporters were over-confident and did not take Fob seriously.

You add all those factors, and maybe the Fob radio show didn’t make that much of a difference. But, and it is a big but, the election results were close. Very close. Fob wound up ahead by less than 11,000 votes. 

So, former governor and present radio talk host Fob James became governor again in January 1995.  What to do about the radio show and the statewide network of stations?

Why, keep on. So long as Fob’s campaign fund paid the costs of the show (and it did) let the show go on.

On Monday nights, anybody in Alabama could tune in and listen or call in and talk. Talk to the governor of Alabama. Ask whatever was on your mind. 

If you think about it, that access is unusual.  Nowadays, we think of governors as being largely inaccessible. Behind closed doors. Accompanied by a security guard and an entourage. Wisked in and out quickly for a public appearance. A scripted speech. Briefed by aides.

The Fob radio show raised some issues and produced some interesting moments.  It told a lot about Fob and a lot about the people of Alabama.

The removed cross in Baldwin County

It was caller number 10.  He was upset because a large cross that stood on state right of way along a highway in Gulf Shores had been taken down, he said under a federal court order.  The caller wanted to know how to get permission to put it back up. Now, Fob had a lawyer right there in the radio studio to advise on pesky issues like church-state questions, but he didn’t ask his lawyer. He just leaned into the mic and issued marching orders: “Get your cross, just like the one that was there, go on back there, and put it back up. I’ll tell ’em you’re on your way.”

That was Fob. Be bold. Take initiative. Don’t ask anybody about it. Just do it.

Attempt to remove Ten Commandments from Judge Roy Moore’s courtroom

Circuit Court Judge Roy Moore in Gadsden has whittled and carved a wooden Ten Commandments. He put it in his courtroom at the Etowah County Courthouse. He also opened each session of court with prayer.

Naturally, these actions came to the attention of the ACLU. They sued. Court orders were issued.

You would imagine that this controversy was brought up by callers on the governor’s radio show. It was.

Here is Gov. Fob’s reply to a caller:

“I am sworn to uphold the United States Constitution and I will…. Judge Price’s order stripping Judge Moore’s courtroom of the Ten Commandments clearly prohibits the exercise of religion. I would use all legal means at my disposal, which includes the National Guard and the state troopers, to prevent the removal of the Ten Commandments from Judge Moore’s courtroom.”

The disgraceful abandoned cemetery

A repeat caller would ask Governor Fob about the same problem each week. There was a shameful run-down cemetery in Montgomery. The caller wanted the governor to have it cleaned up. After several weeks of calls, Fob had heard enough. He told his aides to get the cemetery cleaned up. They quickly found a seldom-used provision in the law (maybe never used?) that allowed the state government to do so. Gov. Fob contacted prison system officials and told them to use convict laborers and clean up that cemetery. They did. Problem solved.

Ironically, the cemetery was next to a TV station. Their news department noticed the cemetery clean-up and inquired. They produced a news story about the state cleanup, and the Montgomery Advertiser newspaper then picked up on it. Soon, it was state news, and many neglected cemeteries across the state were calling Gov. Fob’s office wanting their own cemetery cleaned up by the state.

The law of unintended consequences.

There was a downside to the radio show—the cost paid by Fob’s campaign fund. He drained the fund dry. When it came time for him to run for re-election in 1998, he had no funds left and had to raise them from zero. His opponent, Lt. Governor Don Siegelman (D), was a good fundraiser and retail campaigner. Fob lost the 1998 race. He left the governor’s office in January 1999. He has not run for office since.

The name of the radio show was “Fob James Live.” While the show has been dead for 25 years, Fob himself is still alive at age 89.

“Behind this judicial wall of separation there is a tyranny of lies that will fall… I say to you, my friends, let it fall!”  — Gov. Fob James

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International TV started in Alabama, blocked in Russia: ‘Out n About With Eddy Reese’

Jim’ Zig’ Zeigler writes about Alabama’s people, places, events, groups and prominent deaths. He is a former Alabama Public Service Commissioner and State Auditor. You can reach him for comments at [email protected].

For a TV network to be blocked in Russia, it must make a difference.

That was the attitude of Eddy Reese of Anniston, Alabama, when he got the notice that his Community Service Network (CSN) had been blocked and would not be seen in Russia.

CSN “shares good things but most importantly shares the love of my Lord and Savior.”

No wonder he got blocked in Russia.

NOTE: The inclusion of Eddy Reese’s “channels” on the Roku Network, GCV-TV has apparently bypassed the Russian blockade. Our network, and ALL of it’s channels (with the exception of music channels, which are only licensed to share copywritten music in the USA) ARE not only “available” in Russia and elsewhere, they ARE being viewed!

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Should you go to Sylacauga’s Marble Festival TWICE? April 2-13

Jim’ Zig’ Zeigler writes about Alabama’s people, places, events, groups and prominent deaths. He is a former Alabama Public Service Commissioner and State Auditor. You can reach him for comments at [email protected].

Lovers of marble, serious students of sculpture and the seriously curious should consider going TWICE to Sylacauga’s ‘Magic of Marble Festival’ — two different times this year.

Once, early. Say April 2 or 3. The first few days.

Then again, later. Say April 12 or 13. The last days.


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