News from the Tennessee Valley Columnists

Steve Stewart

Friends got out of house as water rose

Sandy Heflin and family members from Biloxi, Miss., are worrying about friends who did not evacuate before Hurricane Katrina.

She told Melanie Smith about learning that one friend and her boyfriend got trapped in a house when the water rose. As they took what they thought were their last breaths, the house burst and they floated to safety, Sandy said. Sandy, who evacuated before Katrina hit, operated a beauty shop and lived within a mile of the beach. She said her family plans to relocate in Decatur, where they formerly lived.

Look around you

Garner Memorial Christian Methodist Episcopal Church gave a dinner for displaced hurricane victims.

Members and helpers from other churches prepared for 150 people, the pastor, the Rev. Milton Proctor Sr., told Melanie.

When only 13 evacuees came, the church invited people in the neighborhood. Proctor said that about 80 came, and everyone had a great time.

The gas business

Ah, for the days of gas at 30 cents a gallon!

Becky Pearce remembered those good ol' days when she returned to Decatur for the funeral of the grandmother who reared her. She recalled that Billie Simmons ran the Standard Oil franchise station on Bank Street after her husband, Fred, had a stroke.

"That was before it was cool for women to work outside the home," Becky told Patrice Stewart.

"My grandmother was hard-working, strong-willed and very opinionated but also kind, generous and loving. She kept the station running, and it made a good living back then. They got government contracts during the war and had the contracts from Meadow Gold Dairy."

Numbers don't lie

Hartselle City Clerk Rita Lee said she didn't realize how old she was until she looked through her high school memory book, Deangelo McDaniel reports.

"Gas was 37 cents per gallon," the 1978 Susan Moore High School graduate said. "I must be getting old."


The North-central Alabama Regional Council of Governments accepted $84,000 in federal funds and a commitment of $21,000 in local funds for mass transit.

Officials will use the money to buy vans for transporting elderly and disabled riders. The vans are on order, but Mayor Don Kyle suggested one more proviso. "If we can get gas, we will run them," he said, recalling the recent brief gasoline shortage.

No charge

Falkville Town Councilman Matt Stiles commended the work of the Park and Recreation Board, parents and others involved with sports activities.

Ronnie Thomas says Matt also encouraged residents who have not attended youth soccer games to show up because they're missing a treat.

"Those young kids are amazing to watch," he said. "They're worth the price of admission, which is free."

Send stories for You Don't Say to or call Weekend Editor Steve Stewart at 340-2444. DAILY staff members contribute many of the items you see here.

Steve Stewart Steve Stewart
DAILY Weekend Editor

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