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Alabama People: Eli Gold

Golden Voice

Eli Gold’s voice is one of the most recognizable on radio. He’s best known to Alabamians as the voice of the Alabama Crimson Tide, where he has called both football and basketball games since 1988. Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., he knew he wanted to be a sports broadcaster at an early age, and got a job selling peanuts at Madison Square Garden so he could be around the great sportscasters of the day. He’s announced NASCAR races and games for the Arena Football League, the NFL and the UAB Blazers. He is the author of several books, including From Peanuts to the Pressbox. He and his wife Claudette live in Birmingham, and their daughter, Elise, is a UA graduate.  We caught up with Eli at the beginning of the 2018 football season.  – Lenore Vickrey

In 2009, you said that the Alabama broadcasting job is the best in the business. After 30 years, do you still feel that way?

Oh, gosh, yes. It’s a spectacular position. This is a job that brings with it a lot of responsibility and scrutiny. I cradle this job in my hands like a rare piece of crystal. I don’t want to drop it, I don’t want to mess with it or cause it any harm or disrepair. You want to work for a program where people care, and that’s certainly true of Alabama where the fans are as passionate as you’ll find anywhere.

Do you have the same spotter who helps you?

Yes, Butch Owens has been with me for 30-some-odd years. We use a system of hand signals. Brian Roberts also does that on some occasions, and we have Jimmy Bank, who worked in Major League Baseball for 30 years. This year we have an all-new crew with former quarterback John Parker Wilson as our color man, and sideline reporter Rashad Johnson, who played for Alabama and in the NFL. Chris Stewart, who had been our sideline reporter, has been promoted to host of the show in the broadcast booth.

What’s a typical game day like for you?

It’s the same format for away games and home games. The variable is the time of the game. If it’s an early game at 11, we get to the stadium by 7 and are on the air at 8. If it’s a night game at 8, we’re on the air at 5. We get to the stadium no later than 3 or 3:30. We’ll sleep in as a crew, have lunch somewhere, get a decent meal, because that has to last us until 2 the next morning! Then we all get our routines going. After about 40 minutes on the air, I go downstairs and Coach Saban and I tape our pregame show about two hours before kickoff. That’s his deal. All the other coaches did it on Friday, but Coach Saban says this is the most important interview of the week because it’s the one that immediately precedes the game. He wants to give listeners the latest information. In Tuscaloosa, we do this in his private dressing area. On the road, I always search for a (quiet) area to do the show, not within earshot of the players.

What’s Coach Saban like to work with?

He’s all about preparing for the football game. He never stops. With other coaches, you could sit down and shoot the breeze with them for 30 or 40 minutes. He’s none of that. Now that said, if I need to talk to him I have full access. He’s a wonderful guy, he and Miss Terry. There are things he does, things for others, that he doesn’t want people to know. He doesn’t like to talk about it because that’s not why he does it.

Photo by Robert Sutton

Do you know (Auburn announcer) Rod Bramlett?

Yes, Rod and I are good friends, we talk a good bit. When he got the job, I was the first guy to call and congratulate him. His color man, Stan White, is my insurance man. Jim Fyffe (former AU announcer) and I were dear friends. We’d ride to the games together from Montgomery.

You’ve recounted your top 5 favorite calls for al.com. Your top call was the final play of the Georgia game for the national championship. That was fun to watch.

I had to eliminate some to get it down to five. I’ve heard from so many fans who agree wholeheartedly. Now will something like that happen this year? Who expected the end of the game against Georgia would be like that? That was remarkable.

You have part interest in Nino’s Restaurant in Pelham. What’s the best thing on the menu?

I personally love our seafood dishes, the Salmon Milano, the Seafood Primavera. Our pizza is to die for. Our calzones are wonderful. I like to go by and grab a chair and sit down with customers. I don’t get to go there as often this time of year because of football.

Celebrating garden myths and superstitions

By Katie Jackson

Whether you’re superstitious by nature or not, it’s hard to avoid this month’s focus on the otherworldly, and there’s no place better than the garden to focus our attention on myth and lore.

Considering how important plants and animals are to our very survival, it should come as no surprise that, over the eons of human existence, we’ve created an abundance of garden-related traditions and superstitions, many of which have become part of our vocabularies, if not our belief systems.

Knocking on or touching wood, which is supposed to help us avoid tempting fate by either warding off bad or encouraging good luck, is a case in point. The practice has been traced back to early Germanic pagans (however, many cultures and religions across the world and centuries share a similar practice), who believed that tapping or touching a tree summoned help from protective tree spirits.

Herbs, with their often aromatic and medicinal qualities, are perhaps the most superstition-laced plants. Take parsley for example. Because it can be difficult to grow from seed, gardeners of yore used to make three sowings — two for the devil and one for the gardener — and the ability to grow parsley from seed is supposed to be proof of a person’s honesty. However, bringing a parsley plant into a house is said to bring along bad luck, as does giving it away to someone, so if you want to share parsley with a friend, have them “steal” it from your yard.

While parsley may bring about some bad luck, other plants such as rosemary, ivy and snapdragons are thought to offer protection from evil spirits and curses, so they are welcome both indoors and planted near entryways to keep such problems at bay.

A superstition that I struggle with is the one that says we should never thank someone for a plant or cutting or the plant will fail to thrive or even die. It goes against my raising to not say “thank you,” but after I sent a thank you note for a lovely plant gift and then promptly killed the plant, I decided to be safe rather than sorry: These days I offer heartfelt thanks for the pot or the potting media rather than the plant, or simply say “I’ll really enjoy this.”

What we say to plants and other garden creatures is also considered important in garden lore. Cursing parsley or basil as you’re planting it is supposed to make it grow better. Peppers are said to be hotter and more prolific if you plant them when you’re angry. Talking to plants and bees is supposed to make both more productive, though bees reportedly prefer juicy gossip rather than polite conversation.

Want to protect your garden or home? Try some garden artifacts. St. Francis of Assisi and St. Fiacre statues are always nice, but so are garden gnomes, which protect gardens from pests and evil spirits. Gazing balls and windchimes ward off evil spirits, bottle trees repel and capture evil spirits and those gnarled and wizened green man faces channel ancient forest and nature spirits to watch over plants and homes.

The list of garden lore and superstitions could go on and on, including planting by the signs and other traditions still practiced today in every culture across the globe. To learn more about these intriguing and varied traditions and beliefs, a huge selection of books and articles can be found online and in bookstores and libraries, or ask your gardening friends about their practices and beliefs. Oh, and please share yours with me at katielamarjackson@gmail.com!

Finally, if you want to spend time this month in a garden with otherworldly creatures, create your own superstition-influenced garden decorations or visit the Huntsville Botanical Garden’s Gardens of Myth exhibit, which features sculptures of mythical creatures — think fairies and dragons — created by artist Kendall R. Hart. (Learn more at hsvbg.org or by calling 256-830-4447.)

Katie Jackson is a freelance writer and editor based in Opelika, Alabama. Contact her at katielamarjackson@gmail.com.

Recipes: Pass the Pumpkin

Buffalo Pumpkin Chili and Creamy Pumpkin Soup

By Jennifer Kornegay

Food/Photography by Brooke Echols

There are so many signals of fall, the sights, sounds and sensations that tell us autumn has arrived: the slant of sunlight filtered through leaves beginning to lose their green; the beat of school bands practicing for football halftime shows; the feel of crisp cool in the evening and early morning.

     But in the last few years, a deluge of “pumpkin-spiced” dishes and drinks has dominated the seasonal shift, and as a side-effect, convinced some that the flavor of pumpkin spice — a blend of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, allspice and clove — is synonymous with the flavor of actual pumpkin itself. It’s not. Pumpkin-spiced anything (latte, muffins, beer) has a taste akin to pumpkin pie, which includes pumpkin spice (or the afore-mentioned individual spices) on its ingredient list.

     On their own, pumpkins have a distinct profile devoid of any “spice.” Their orange flesh has a light freshness (that can even be a bit bland), close to a sweet potato, but less sugary and less starchy. This semi-blank canvas works wonderfully when pureed, mixed with stronger flavors (like pumpkin spice) and baked in a piecrust. Hence the prevalence of pumpkin pie, the fall dessert that always makes this season’s “most popular” list, and all its offshoots.

     But pumpkin is equally delicious in savory preparations. It is a species of squash after all. Chunks of pumpkin, dusted with a hint of chili powder or cumin and roasted till tender, pair nicely with all kinds of meat. Or throw them into a food processor, drizzle in some cream and make a pumpkin soup. Treat pumpkins like summer squash and shred, bread and fry them into fritters. And don’t forget those seeds. Tossed in oil, toasted and salted, they make an extremely craveable snack. Pumpkins also shine in desserts other than that ubiquitous pie.

     If these options have piqued your interest in pumpkins and have you thinking about ingesting them in some new ways, check out our reader-submitted recipes.


Cook of the Month

About five years ago, when Sheila Copenhaver was looking for a way to use up some pumpkin she had on hand, she came up with her Creamy Pumpkin Soup recipe. The idea of pumpkin in a savory dish intrigued her. “You often think of pumpkin in sweet things, but its flavor pairs really well with the garlic, onion and other ingredients in this,” she said. “And of course, the bacon on top is wonderful.” She’s not the only one who thinks so. Her husband and three young kids request this soup and then gobble it up every autumn.


Creamy Pumpkin Soup

1 medium onion, chopped

1 garlic clove, minced

2 tablespoons butter

2 14.5-ounce cans chicken broth

2 cups potatoes, peeled and diced

2 cups cooked pumpkin

2 cups milk

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

For topping:

Sour cream

Bacon, cooked and crumbled

Green onions, thinly sliced

In a large cooking pot, sauté onion and garlic in butter until tender. Add the broth, potatoes and pumpkin. Cook until the potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and cool. Puree with an immersion blender or puree (half of the mixture at a time) in a blender or food processor until smooth. Return all to the pot. Add the milk, nutmeg, cloves, salt, and pepper. Heat through. Taste and season as needed. Spoon soup into bowls and top each with a dollop of sour cream, bacon crumbles and green onions.


Whole Wheat Pumpkin Pancakes

1 1/2 cups milk

1 cup pumpkin puree (fresh or canned)

1 egg

2 tablespoons melted butter or oil

2 tablespoons vinegar

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour

1 tablespoon sugar, optional

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/8 teaspoon (pinch) ground cloves

1/2 cup oats

In a medium bowl, mix together the milk, pumpkin, egg, oil and vinegar. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices in another bowl, adding oats last. Stir dry ingredients into pumpkin mixture just until combined. Heat a griddle or skillet over medium high heat, and lightly oil if desired. Pour 1/4 cup batter for each pancake, and cook on each side until brown. Serve with syrup. Makes 15-20 3-4-inch pancakes.

Christiane McKelvey, South Alabama EC


Buffalo Pumpkin Chili

2 pounds ground bison (or substitute beef)

1 quart tomato juice

1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes

1 large onion, chopped

1 large portobello mushroom, chopped

1 large green pepper, chopped

1 15-ounce can pumpkin

1 2.25-ounces can sliced olives

1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice

1 tablespoon hot sauce

1 tablespoon chili powder

1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Brown the bison (or beef) in a large pot, then add onions and mushrooms and cook for about 5 minutes. Add everything else, bring to a boil then back to a simmer for 1 hour.

Jamie Petterson, Tallapoosa River EC


Pumpkin Bites

1 box yellow cake mix

1 14.5-oz can pumpkin

1 1/4 cups mini semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix cake mix and pumpkin on low speed of mixer until combined. Fold in chocolate chips. Spray mini muffin pan with cooking spray. Spoon about 11/2 tablespoons dough into each hole. Bake for about 15-17 minutes. Makes 48 mini muffins.

Debra Adams, Black Warrior EMC


Chocolate Pumpkin Cheesecake Trifle

12 chocolate shortbread cookies, crushed into crumbs

1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted

8-ounces cream cheese, softened

1 cup pure pumpkin puree

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/2 cup sugar

2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice

1 large tub (12-ounces) whipped topping, thawed, divided in half

1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

In a medium bowl, combine chocolate cookie crumbs and butter. Transfer into a trifle dish or large glass bowl. Gently press down crumbs to form an even layer of crust. In a large bowl with an electric mixer, beat cream cheese until smooth. Add pumpkin, vanilla, sugar and pumpkin pie spice. Beat until well combined and creamy. Use a spatula to fold in half of the whipped topping. Gently combine ingredients until smooth. Spoon a layer of pumpkin cheesecake onto the cookie crust in trifle dish, followed by a layer of whipped topping. Repeat layers until your trifle reaches the top of your dish. Store trifle in the refrigerator until ready to serve. Garnish with mini chocolate chips.

Robin O’Sullivan, Wiregrass EC


Pumpkin Spice Sheet Cake

Cake:

1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

4 large eggs

1 box spice cake mix

15-ounce can pumpkin

8-ounce package toffee bits

In a large mixing bowl, mix together: cake mix, canned pumpkin, pumpkin pie spice and eggs. Mix well, stir in 8-ounce package of toffee bits. Pour into a greased and floured 9×13-inch pan and bake at 350 degrees for 28 to 33 minutes. Cool 1 hour.

Icing:

8-ounces cream cheese, softened

1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened

1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

1 teaspoon vanilla flavoring

2 cups powdered sugar

Mix well and spread over cooled cake. Garnish top of cake with chopped Heath English Toffee candy bars.

Jane Kendrick, Coosa Valley EC


Pumpkin Dip

2 packages cream cheese, softened

1 15-ounce canned pumpkin

2 cups powdered sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon ginger

(Pumpkin pie spice can be used too)

Beat all ingredients together and chill one hour before serving. This dip is a crowd pleaser when served with ginger snap cookies. Graham crackers are also suitable for serving with this dip.

Joy Griswold, Dixie EC


Sticky Bun Pumpkin Muffins

2 cups pecan halves and pieces

½ cup butter, melted

½ cup firmly packed light brown sugar

2 tablespoons light corn syrup

3 ½ cups all-purpose flour

3 cups granulated sugar

1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1 15-ounce can pumpkin

1 cup canola oil

4 large eggs

2/3 cup water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake pecans in a single layer in a shallow pan 8-10 minutes or until toasted and fragrant, stirring halfway through. Stir together melted butter, sugar and corn syrup. Spoon one rounded teaspoonful butter mixture into each cup of 2 lightly greased 12-cup muffin pans and top each with 1 rounded tablespoon pecans. Stir together flour and next four ingredients in a large bowl and make a well in center of mixture. Whisk together pumpkin, oil, eggs and 2/3 cup of water; add to dry ingredients, stirring just until moistened. Spoon batter into prepared muffin pans, filling ¾ full. Place an aluminum foil-lined jelly pan on lower rack to catch any overflow. Bake at 350 degrees on middle rack for 25-30 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean. Invert pan immediately to remove muffins and arrange muffins on a wire rack to cool. Spoon any remaining topping over muffins. Cool 5 minutes. Yield: 2 dozen.

Tracey Estes, Pioneer EC


Pumpkin Pecan Pie

1 unbaked Pillsbury piecrust

1 15-ounce can pumpkin (not pie mix)

½ cup light or dark brown sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

½ teaspoon ground ginger

¼ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 eggs, well beaten

½ cup evaporated milk

Topping:

¼ cup butter, softened

½ cup light brown sugar

½ cup pecans, chopped

Line pie tin with pastry, tucking overlap inward and pinch up edges. Using electric hand mixer, blend ingredients together in order listed. Add to pie crust and bake in a preheated 350-degree oven for 40 minutes and then sprinkle on mixture of: ¼ cup butter, ½ cup light brown sugar and ½ cup chopped pecans. Bake an additional 25 minutes. Cool and refrigerate a few hours to set well for slicing. If a ginger snap crust is preferred use 38 ginger snaps, ¼ cup finely chopped pecans mixed with ¼ cup melted butter.

Barbara Umland, Sand Mountain EC


Pumpkin Rolls

1 tablespoon, plus 1 teaspoon, active dry yeast

¼ cup warm water (110-115 degrees)

1 teaspoon sugar

2/3 cup warm milk

1/3 cup melted butter

1/3 cup packed brown sugar

1½ teaspoons salt

2 tablespoons ground flax seed

1 cup canned pumpkin

2 cups white whole-wheat flour

2-2½ cups all-purpose flour

Dissolve the yeast in warm water with the teaspoon of sugar for 5 minutes. Stir in the milk, butter, brown sugar, salt, flax and pumpkin. Add whole-wheat flour and beat until well mixed, about 2 minutes. Add enough all-purpose flour to form a soft dough. Knead on a floured surface until smooth or mix in a stand mixer for about 5 minutes. Place in a greased bowl and turn to grease the top of the dough. Cover with a clean towel. Let rise in a warm place until double, about an hour. Punch down and return to floured surface. Roll out and cut with a biscuit cutter. Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet, cover with a towel and let rise again for about an hour. Bake at 400 degrees for 11-13 minutes until golden brown.

Carolyn Johnson, Sand Mountain EC


Send us your recipes for a chance to win!

Themes and Deadlines

December: Party Foods | Oct 8

January: Protein-packed | Nov 8

February: Pasta | Dec 3

Online: alabamaliving.coop

Email: recipes@alabamaliving.coop

Mail:  Recipes, P.O. Box 244014 Montgomery, AL 36124

Cook of the Month winners will receive $50, and may win “Cook of the Month” only once per calendar year. One gift basket winner will be drawn monthly at random and each name will be entered only once. Items in basket may vary each month. To be eligible, submissions must include a name, phone number, mailing address and co-op name. Alabama Living reserves the right to reprint recipes in our other publications.

Alabama hunters anticipate excellent deer season

By John N. Felsher

More than 300,000 Alabama sportsmen will take to the fields and forests this fall to hunt whitetail deer, the most popular game animal in North America.

“During the last season, hunters killed some really good deer, but the overall harvest was down,” says Chris Cook, the Alabama Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries deer studies leader in Northport. “Since the harvest was down in 2017-18, a lot more bucks lived to grow another year, so they should be bigger.”

When any sportsman kills a buck or a doe, that person must report it to Game Check within 48 hours. This includes people hunting on private or public lands. The data allows biologists to monitor population trends and the overall health of the deer herd. The easiest way to report a kill is to download a free app to a smart phone. New this year, sportsmen must delete the old app they used last season and download a new one. The old app won’t work this year. For details, see outdooralabama.com/contact-us/mobile-apps.

“Even in places where there is no cell service, people still need to enter their information on the new app and submit it,” Cook says. “The app will automatically upload when it senses a cell signal. In addition, that harvest record is on the phone in case someone checks to see if that person reported the deer.”

Alabama whitetail caught on game camera.
Alabama Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries

Another change this season: Alabama sportsmen traveling out of state to hunt deer must comply with new procedures to prevent the spread of chronic wasting disease. Also called CWD, the disease affects all members of the deer family and attacks an animal’s brain like mad cow disease. So far, CWD has not been confirmed in Alabama, but a deer found in western Mississippi in February 2018 tested positive for the disease.

“Before people can bring a deer or any other animal in the deer family to Alabama, they need to completely debone the meat or have it processed,” Cook says. “They also need to remove all brain, meat and spinal tissue from any deer parts they plan to mount. Once an animal is exposed to CWD, the disease can stay dormant for up to 60 months without the animal showing any signs of it. CWD is a major problem. Fortunately, we haven’t seen CWD in Alabama yet and we want to keep it that way.”

With the purchase of an annual wildlife management area license, people can hunt more than 721,000 acres in 35 state-managed WMAs across the Cotton State. Sportsmen can also hunt several national wildlife refuges, other federal properties and some special opportunity areas. For more on applying to hunt SOAs, see outdooralabama.com/hunting/special-opportunity-areas.

“Each county in Alabama has a healthy huntable deer population,” Cook says. “Some of the best counties are in the northwestern part of the state such as Lamar, Fayette and Marion. Deer populations are on the rise in those counties and in good shape because they have good habitat. Historically, the Black Belt in the central part of Alabama has also been good deer country and produces some quality deer.”

Cook recommends Oakmulgee and Barbour WMAs. In the Talladega National Forest, Oakmulgee spreads across 44,500 acres of Bibb, Hale, Perry and Tuscaloosa counties. The habitat consists mostly of mature pine and upland hardwood forests. People can also hunt the surrounding 392,567-acre national forest.

“Oakmulgee is usually near the top in number of deer killed every year,” Cook says. “It also has some good age structure and antler quality, but not quite as good as Barbour or Black Warrior. Barbour has some of the best habitat in the state with pretty good soils. Skyline is another area that traditionally produces good deer.”

Barbour WMA covers 28,214 acres of Barbour and Bullock counties near Clayton. The property includes a good mix of pine and hardwood forests. James D. Martin-Skyline WMA covers 60,732 acres of the Cumberland Plateau near Scottsboro. The area contains abundant oak trees that provide excellent deer food. The largest WMA in the state, Black Warrior covers 91,263 acres of the Bankhead National Forest near Moulton. People can also hunt the 181,230-acre national forest outside the management area.

“For older bucks with better antler development, I recommend Black Warrior WMA,” Cook says. “The Bankhead National Forest has a low deer density, but a lot of big bucks. It’s very rough country and a tough place to hunt. Black Warrior WMA has the earliest rutting dates in Alabama. The rut there typically peaks around Thanksgiving. During the rut, it’s easier to kill big bucks because they are moving around looking for does.”

Depending upon where one hunts and how, the Alabama deer season could last from Oct. 15 through Feb. 10, 2019. Seasons and regulations may differ on public properties, so always check before hunting anywhere.

For season dates and other information, see outdooralabama.com/hunting/deer-season-zone-map. For information on specific WMAs, see outdooralabama.com/hunting/wildlife-management-areas.

John N. Felsher lives in Semmes, Ala. Contact him through Facebook.

Hardy Jackson’s Alabama: The evolution of tailgating

Story by Hardy Jackson

Illustration by Dennis Auth

It began as such a simple pleasure.

Drive early to the game in a pick-up truck full of stuff to eat and drink. Get there, park, lower the tailgate, use it as your table, and there you have it — tailgating.

Only hardly anyone goes in a pick-up any more.

I do, sometimes, but I am hardly anybody, which is my point.

My first experience with tailgating was as a boy with my Daddy. We would drive over to Auburn from the home place at Slapout, stopping along the way to buy barbecue sandwiches from church folks who set stands by the side of the road. When we arrived at the stadium, we parked, ate and then went to the game.

A few years later, some college friends and I wandered down from our Birmingham-Southern hilltop campus to Legion Field to mingle with tailgaters who packed the parking lot. Things had gotten fancy. Some had set up tents and grills and such.

Then I was at the University of Alabama, living not far from Bryant-Denny Stadium. My housemates and I marked off our yard and sold slots to eager tailgaters who paid us well and let us party with them.

Then it was the University of Georgia (by this time my father had about decided that my goal was to attend every school in the SEC). There, tailgaters crowded into the lawn around the history department building and we graduate students mingled and consumed because everyone belonged to the Bulldog nation.

Finally, I taught and tailgated at Jacksonville State.

All of which is to say that I have watched the evolution of tailgating from a way to get a good parking place and a bite to eat before kickoff into a pre-game/post-game event that, for some, is more important than the game itself.

Another sign of the sophisticating of the South.

As football spread beyond its small-town Friday night roots and as more Southerners developed loyalties to college teams, tailgating became part of the weekend ritual.  Even the ticketless who could not make it inside the stadium gathered with food and friends and a radio or TV.

Today, at home or on campus, tables are loaded with food and drink appropriate for the occasion.  Like so much else that is Southern, football has become yet another excuse to eat.

Wings, fried chicken, barbecue, and a mess of other stuff that can be eaten from a paper plate with one hand. Occasionally someone will whip up something fancy, but most buy it and bring it.

For many, tailgating is a multi-family affair, so the food is kid-friendly. The vehicles also form a protective barrier that keeps the small ones in.

There they are, we are, dressed in team colors. Milling about or sprawled in lawn chairs, waiting while the Tigers, the Tide, the Trojans, the Gamecocks, get ready to take the field.

Then the band marches by, with majorettes and flag corps and cheerleaders, whipping fans into a frenzy.

Then it is off to the stadium to cheer and stomp and have a fine time.

And when it is over, everyone returns for a little more of the same.

Which is often more fun than the game.

Harvey H. (Hardy) Jackson is Professor Emeritus of History at Jacksonville State University and a columnist for Alabama Living.  He can be reached at hjackson@cableone.net.

October Snapshots: Pumpkin Patch

Submit Your Images! January Theme: “Snow Day” Deadline for Jan: Nov 30

Submit photos online: www.alabamaliving.coop/submit-photo/ or send color photos with a self-addressed stamped envelope to: Photos, Alabama Living, P.O. Box 244014 Montgomery, AL 36124

Rules: Alabama Living will pay $10 for photos that best match our theme of the month. Photos may also be published on our website at www.alabamaliving.coop and on our Facebook page. Alabama Living is not responsible for lost or damaged photos.

Cooper Rainer enjoying her first trip to the pumpkin patch. SUBMITTED BY Faye Pike, Foley.

Renyn, Rylan and Rhys Watkins at Dreamfield Farms. SUBMITTED BY Rebekah Watkins, Eclectic.

Rachel and Lauren Parnell are the “cat burglar” duo at their pumpkin patch during Halloween.SUBMITTED BY Rachel Parnell, Millry.

Webb Cannon at Cornfield County Farms. SUBMITTED BY Laurie Blazer, Wetumpka.

Our sweet angel, Jessica, gained her wings May 7, 2018. SUBMITTED BY Kim Smith, Albertville.
Emerson Josey (6 months) at Old Farmer In The Dell Pumpkin Patch in Auburn. SUBMITTED BY Megan Josey, Montgomery.

Cooper Hayes (10 months) at 4-D Farm in Cullman County in 2014. SUBMITTED BY Debby Boyd, Addison.

How Social Security defines disability

By Kylle’ McKinney

Disability affects millions of Americans, in one form or another. Social Security is here to help you and your family, but there are strict criteria for meeting the definition of disability. The definition of disability under Social Security is also different than it is for other programs. We do not pay benefits for partial or short-term disability.

We consider you disabled under Social Security rules if:

  • You can’t do work that you did before;
  • We decide that you cannot adjust to other work because of your medical condition(s); and
  • Your disability has lasted or is expected to last for at least one year or to result in death.

This is a strict definition of disability.

Social Security is also required by law to review the current medical condition of all people receiving disability benefits to make sure they continue to have a qualifying disability. Generally, if someone’s health hasn’t improved, or if their disability still keeps them from working, they will continue to receive benefits.

To help us make our decision, we’ll first gather new information about a benefit recipient’s medical condition. We’ll ask their doctors, hospitals, and other medical sources for their medical records. We’ll ask them how their medical condition limits their activities, what their medical tests show, and what medical treatments they have been given. If we need more information, we’ll ask them to go for an examination or test for which we’ll pay.

Social Security is a support system for people who cannot work because of a disability. You can learn more about Social Security disability at socialsecurity.gov/disability and also by accessing our starter kits and checklists at socialsecurity.gov/planners/disability.

Kylle’ McKinney, SSA Public Affairs Specialist, can be reached by email at kylle.mckinney@ssa.gov.

Choctaw General Hospital offers innovative senior care

Choctaw General Hospital

By Dale Quinney

With 86 percent of Alabama’s rural hospitals having a net operating loss, new ideas and innovation in providing services must be developed.  The Choctaw General Hospital, located in Butler in Choctaw County, has a program for providing health and health-related services to seniors with special needs that could be an example for possible statewide implementation.

This Senior Care program involves bringing seniors experiencing difficulties in adjusting to life without a spouse or other challenges to a special unit three mornings a week.  They are given primary health care, an opportunity to socialize, a delicious and healthy lunch, counseling and other mental health care, social worker assistance and other services.  Transportation is provided by a hospital van dedicated to this program.

Area churches help identify those who need help. The hospital hosts a Pastor Education Luncheon each year where area ministers and hospital officials share information on health care and the health needs of the community and individuals.

While this excellent and innovative program is not entirely the same as adult day care, it could serve as an example of services that could be provided through the expansion of adult day care in Alabama, especially as a reimbursable Medicaid service.

Alabama’s rural hospitals need to develop new streams of revenue to bolster their serious financial crisis.  Alabama’s Medicaid program needs to find ways to cut costs.  Can Alabama’s Medicaid program seek a federal waiver to offer reimbursement for adult day care service to those who do not need full-time residency in a nursing facility?  This could possibly be a new revenue stream for rural hospitals and/or nursing facilities, especially those with large numbers of empty beds.  It could offer savings to the Alabama Medicaid program since day care would cost less than full-time residency in nursing facilities.  It could benefit seniors who want to remain at home as long as possible before being institutionalized.  It could offer peace of mind to those wanting to keep Mom or Dad at home, but are not able because of work demands.

The people of Choctaw County, located in the Black Warrior Electric Membership Corporation service area, lost their hospital in 1993 and were forced to struggle without a hospital for 17 years until the Rush Health Systems of Meridian, Mississippi, invested approximately $20 million in building an excellent 25-bed critical access hospital on the site of an abandoned Vanity Fair sewing plant. Rush specializes in rural hospitals and clinics, owning or managing several other rural hospitals or clinics in Mississippi along with rural health clinics in Gilbertown and Livingston in Alabama.  Rush has plans for expanding its role in the provision of rural health care in Alabama.

Dale Quinney is the founder of Operation Save Rural Alabama, www.osral.net, and a past director of the Alabama Rural Health Association

Old Claiborne Pilgrimage offers history lesson on southwest Alabama

Monroe County’s Old Claiborne Pilgrimage, set for 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Oct. 13 and 1 to 5 p.m. Oct. 14, will provide a rare glimpse into the settlement of this Alabama ghost town, and of Monroe County.

Pioneers, planters and paddlewheelers created Claiborne on the Alabama River, a gateway to the old Southwest in the early 1800s, before Alabama was a state, says Gail Deas of Monroeville, who is spearheading the pilgrimage. But as quickly as Claiborne’s fortunes and population had risen, Yellow Fever, the Civil War and the effects of Reconstruction hastened its demise.

To help illustrate this forgotten town’s importance, the pilgrimage will feature docent tours of four rarely seen, private antebellum plantation homes; early churches; and sites of historic significance in southwest Alabama, along the Alabama River in Monroe County and in neighboring Clarke County.

Historian Tom McGehee will entertain with stories, scandals and legends of life along the river at 6:30 p.m. Saturday in the courtroom of the Old Courthouse Museum in Monroeville, followed by a wine and cheese reception on the courthouse lawn.

Ticket information and sales are available through the Old Courthouse Museum in Monroeville at 251-575-7433. For more information, visit monroecountymuseum.org.

The pilgrimage is presented by the Monroe County Museum Endowment, to generate financial support for maintenance of the historic Old Courthouse Museum in Monroeville, and by the Perdue Hill-Claiborne Foundation, Inc., which works to support and maintain sites of historic significance in Perdue Hill and the Claiborne area.

Alabama History Oct. 5, 1956

Oct. 5, 1956 — Birmingham native Charles A. Boswell shot an 81 at Highland Park Golf Course in Birmingham–a world record for a blind golfer. Permanently blinded by a tank explosion in Germany during World War II, Boswell became an international golfing icon and committed advocate for the blind. Throughout his career, he won a remarkable 16 national championships and 11 international championships. He served as the president of the United States Blind Golfers Association from 1956 to 1976 and founded the Charley Boswell Celebrity Golf Classic to raise funds for Birmingham’s Eye Foundation Hospital. He was inducted into the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame in 1972 and the Alabama Academy of Honor in 1983. http://www.encyclopediaofalabama.org/article/h-1771