News from the Tennessee Valley Columnists

Steve Stewart

Lulu, Dolly: the llamas of Baileyton

Eleven-year-old Sarah Harper started a newspaper, “The Lord’s Messenger,” to help raise money for a playground at her church, Pleasant Grove United Methodist at Hulaco.

That isn’t her only interest, though. With her parents, Keith and Karen Harper, and her sister, Megan, she helps care for two llamas at their home near Baileyton.

Melanie Smith says the animals’ names are Little Lulu Llama and Dolly Llama.

Change comes to Clintwood

Rose Brooks of Decatur told Ronnie Thomas that when she was growing up in Clintwood, Va., there wasn’t a traffic signal in town.

“Now there’s two,” she said. “They first put one in front of the school on Main Street, and later they put one in front of the funeral home.”

Main Street has something else new. The Ralph Stanley Museum & Traditional Mountain Music Center opened there in 2004.

The facility has an extra-special meaning for Rose and her family. Her father, Carl Stanley, was a cousin to Ralph Stanley, now 80, the patriarch of bluegrass music.

And Rose said that before her dad went to the coal mines, he worked as a youngster in a furniture store.

“He sold Ralph his first guitar,” she said. “My sister and I were talking about that the other night.”

Carl Stanley died at 88 in 1994.


A couple of passing trains, sirens from firetrucks, a diesel bus’s rumble and everyday traffic at times drowned out speakers and a choir at the launch of a “Hallelujah Trail,” a driving tour of North Alabama churches.

The event was on the new patio and amphitheater at St. John’s Episcopal Church on Gordon Drive Southeast.

The setting in the heart of downtown reminded Melanie, The Daily’s religion writer, of Decatur’s dual identity as an industrial and transportation hub, and the home of more than 125 churches.


Melanie enjoyed the crowd’s enthusiastic singing of “I’ll Fly Away,” accompanied by a bluegrass group. The music overcame the background noise.

Leading the song were Dana Lee Jennings, president of the Alabama Mountain Lakes Tourist Association, and Susan Hines, president of the Hartselle Chamber of Commerce — billed as “Two GRITS” (Girls Raised in the South).

They joined Tim Hayney, a regional superintendent of Alabama State Parks who is a member of the State Park Boys.

Demolition and diamond

Kevin Weaver finished only third in a demolition derby in Bloomsburg, Pa., but he won what he wanted.

He had painted “Karen Slusser will u marry me” from the hood to the trunk of his car, and put a stuffed bunny on top with an oversized, stuffed ring in its paws.

Karen got the message, The Associated Press reports.

She met him at the gate to the drivers’ pit and answered, “Yes!” Then Kevin handed her a real diamond ring.

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. This column appears Sundays and Wednesdays.

Steve Stewart Steve Stewart
DAILY Weekend Editor

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