February Spotlight

Alabama Living Magazine

The American Village to commemorate President’s Day

The American Village in Montevallo will hold several events on Feb. 17 to celebrate its 20th anniversary, Presidents Day and the Festival of Tulips (weather permitting).

Among the scheduled events: A service of thanksgiving, Thompson Colonial Chapel, 10 a.m. to 10:45 a.m.; anniversary convocation, Liberty Hall, 11 a.m. to 12:15 p.m.; and a groundbreaking for Independence Hall and commemorative photo at 2 p.m.  

The American Village is an educational institution whose mission is to strengthen and renew the foundations of American liberty and self-government by engaging and inspiring citizens and leaders. Its address is 3727 Highway 119 in Montevallo; for more information, visit

Help available to quit tobacco

With the free Alabama Tobacco Quitline (1-800-784-8669, or visit, anyone who hopes to quit the tobacco habit can find resources and help to begin a healthier lifestyle.

Support includes individualized coaching services and free nicotine replacement therapy to those who qualify. 

In Alabama, 19.2 percent of adults are smokers, compared to the national rate of 16.1 percent, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The Quitline is a service of the Alabama Department of Public Health.

Take Alabama Living with you and you might win $25!

Ashley Weston, a member of Dixie EC, in New York City.

During 2020, we’re looking for photos of our readers with a copy of Alabama Living on their travels. Send us a photo of yourself, or other family member, holding a copy of everyone’s favorite magazine while you’re on vacation. 

Send your photo, name, address, location of the photo and your co-op name to: Each person highlighted wins $25!

Alabama writers Gains, Henry honored with literary prizes

Two Alabama writers will be honored at the Monroeville Literary Festival March 5-7 in Monroeville. Charles Gaines has been selected as the 2020 recipient of the Truman Capote Prize in Literary Non-Fiction, and Patti Callahan Henry has been named the 2020 recipient of the Harper Lee Award for Alabama’s Distinguished Writer. 

Charles Gaines

Charles Gaines was born in Jacksonville, Florida, and at the age of 10 moved with his family to Birmingham. He received his undergraduate degree from Birmingham-Southern College. His first novel, Stay Hungry, was published in 1972 and focused on the subculture of bodybuilding during the early 1970s. The book was made into a motion picture in 1976 starring Jeff Bridges, Sally Field and Arnold Schwarzenegger (in his first film). 

An award-winning writer across multiple genres, Gaines has written or produced screenplays and adaptations, other fiction and numerous articles about fishing and outdoor life. In 1980, with his friend Hayes Noel, he became a co-creator of the game of paintball. Gaines is a 2008 inductee of the Alabama Writers Hall of Fame.

A New York Times bestselling author of 15 novels including the critically-acclaimed historical novel, Becoming Mrs. Lewis – The Improbable Love Story of Joy Davidman and C.S. Lewis, Henry is also a USA Today, Publishers Weekly, and the Globe and Mail bestseller. Henry hosts the popular seven-part original “Behind the Scenes of Becoming Mrs. Lewis Podcast Series” launched in October 2019. She is also the recipient of the 2019 Christy Award for “Best Book of the Year.”

Patti Callahan Henry

 Other awards for her fiction include a finalist in the Townsend Prize for Fiction, an Indie Next Pick, an OKRA pick, and a multiple nominee for the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance (SIBA) Novel of the Year. Her articles and essays have appeared in numerous magazines, newspapers and anthologies.

 Patti attended Auburn University and Georgia State University. For 25 years she was a resident of Atlanta, before moving to Mountain Brook in 2011 with her husband, Pat, and three children. She has written six books in Alabama, including her seventh novel, forthcoming in 2021. 

For more information, and tickets, visit

Find the hidden dingbat!

It may not have snowed at your house last month, but hundreds of our readers found the snowflake we tucked away in January’s magazine. In fact, we came across only two answers that were incorrect, so congratulations to the rest of you! The single snowflake was hidden in the center of the hubcap of the electric car on Page 18. 

We always enjoy hearing from our readers, who send us thank-you cards, letters, and even poems (thank you, Susan Needham of Hanceville, Elenore Madigan of Dothan and Marjorie Wynn of Frankville). Many wrote about how long it took to find the dingbat, or how quickly  they found it. Charlotte Graves of Collinsville, a member of Sand Mountain EC, said she started looking on New Year’s Eve with no luck, but then renewed her search early on New Year’s Day in daylight and found it. Ada Mae Graham of Spruce Pine, a member of Franklin EC, used a magnifying glass to help and it worked. Dot Langham of East Brewton, a member of Southern Pine EC, got help from her six-year-old grandson, Landry, as did Jewel McCormick of Greenville from Pioneer EC, whose grandson Jessie, a first grader, found it with the help of a flashlight. 

One of our favorite letters came from Tina Brown of Holly Pond, a member of Cullman EC, who races with her husband each month to see who will be the first to find the dingbat. She found the snowflake “with only two looks through the magazine.” We were amazed that she is probably the only reader who found the hidden sunglasses in our July 2019 issue (they were well hidden in the moon surface photo from NASA). 

Congratulations to this month’s winner, Preston Jernigan of Hanceville. This month we’ve hidden a heart, just the right item for the Valentine’s month of February. Remember: It won’t be on Pages 1-8 or in an advertisement. Send us your answers by Feb. 10. Good luck!

Submit by email:

Submit by mail: Find the Dingbat, Alabama Living, P.O. Box 244014, Montgomery, AL 36124

Letters to the editor: Readers make a connection

Dear Hardy Jackson,

We love reading your articles in the Alabama Living. So refreshing to read something that has a Mayberry feel.   My aunt and I always share a chuckle about the story.

We live in the Holtville/Slapout area in central Alabama near Lake Jordan. She says there was a Hardy Jackson who was a rural mail carrier in this area in the early 1900s. Could it have been your grandfather?  She said he lived somewhere around Blackwell’s Bridge, close to the lake.   My aunt is in her 80s and remembers my grandmother talking about hearing all the news when Hardy came around with the mail.  They closed the post office here in the Holtville community many, many years ago.  In fact, my grandmother received the last package delivered out of that post office.

Sheila Hunt and Laura Norris


Hardy Jackson responds: That mail carrier was my grandfather, Harvey Hardaway Jackson.

He died before I was born. He was a big man – 6 feet 6 inches and over 250 pounds – who, in addition to his duties as a rural letter carrier, was employed as a bouncer at Blackwell Fish Camp, one of the honky tonks on Lake Jordan.  He met my grandmother when she was teaching school at Pine Level.  They had five children – Sarah Ellen, Hazel, Daddy, Mac and Ann.  I believe they all graduated from Holtville High School. All are dead. Mac’s son, Leon, lives out on Sunset Circle, on the last of family land still in family hands. I have not been back in many years.  I need to make the trip.


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