News from the Tennessee Valley Columnists

Steve Stewart

Grandmollie wrote Santa, kept copies

THE DAILY has been publishing Santa letters for more than 60 years, says Publisher Barrett C. Shelton Jr.

Louise Vickers Byrd, 68, of Decatur kept her own letters from the 1940s when she was 5, 6 and 7 years old.

She asked for dolls, a stove, a sewing set, fruits, candy, nuts, a housecoat, a blackboard, water colors, a nurse's set, games and books. She also asked Santa to remember others.

"Mother made the housecoat I wanted from an old adult one," Louise recalled in an e-mail to friends. "I didn't know that until years later. I sure was proud of my chenille housecoat."

Louise is retired from Decatur schools' food service and has two grandchildren, who call her "Grandmollie."

Dashing through red tape

Decatur's Building Department, occasionally dinged for its adherence to building codes, released official specs for Christmas trees and other holiday structures to a few folks with the sense of humor to appreciate it.

"Notice: Plans and specifications for Christmas trees to be placed in residential, commercial, and industrial structures must be submitted to the Building Department for review and approval," according to the specs, leaked to Martin Burkey.

The attached drawing noted groundwater flow, dripline and wheelchair access for the tree, a "runaway sleigh containment barrier" for rooftops, and "flame-retardant stockings to be hung with care" for fireplaces.

And this: "Roof must be capable of supporting eight tiny reindeer, one loaded sleigh and one overweight man."

Prayer request

Harold Wales is seeking your prayers.

The 62-year-old Athens city councilman has a tumor on his back, Holly Hollman says.

Harold will have surgery at Huntsville Hospital on Jan. 10 to remove the tumor. Doctors will send it for a biopsy to see whether it is cancerous.

"I've never really gone publicly to ask for prayers, but this scares me," Harold said. "I would appreciate your prayers now."

Turkey trial and error

Holiday family gatherings always make M.J. Ellington, DAILY state-capital reporter, thankful that her first turkey did not explode.

After working late the night before Thanksgiving 1970, M.J. and her new husband failed to make sure the turkey was thawed.

M.J. got up at 4:30 a.m. Following directions, she searched fruitlessly for a paper bag of giblets in the only turkey cavity she could get her hand into. She shoved the bird into the oven and went back to sleep.

Hours later, as guests arrived, the newlyweds took out a perfectly golden turkey and noticed an odd protrusion. The giblet bag had thawed and dropped into the cavity where normal cooks put stuffing — on the opposite end of the turkey from the one probed earlier.

"If giblet bags were plastic then like they are today, we wonder if the whole thing would have gone up in flames," M.J. said.

Send stories for You Don't Say to or call Weekend Editor Steve Stewart at 340-2444. Or write P.O. Box 2213, Decatur, AL 35609. DAILY staff members contribute many of the items you see here.

Steve Stewart Steve Stewart
DAILY Weekend Editor

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