Tears and Laughter: The freedom and economics of American stay-at-home moms

An Australian columnist, Sarrah Le Marquand, penned an article last week that has caused a worldwide discussion about stay-at-home mothers. In the United States we tend to respect and value all mothers whether they work full-time, part-time, or not at all.

Not so much so in Australia apparently. At least not according to Ms. Marquand who believes it should be illegal for a woman to be a stay-at-home mom once her children reach school age. She claims it doesn’t help anybody – not husbands, children, bosses, or other women – and they should be forced to go to work like everybody else. Her opinion was based upon a study by the Australian Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development which found stay-at-home moms represent large losses to their economy.

Things really are different here. Stay-at-home moms help the American economy if through nothing more than their frequent use of Amazon.com and eBay. Moms stay in a constant state of shopping for shoes big enough to fit one, jeans long enough to fit another, and birthday presents. They all drive full size SUV’s or minivans. What they spend on fuel to get everybody back and forth on time to ball practice, dance, church, art, the orthodontist, and piano lessons should mean something. Plus there is the fact that almost every single one of them makes plans every summer to go help stimulate Florida’s economy too.

And let us not pretend that this particular faction of society doesn’t like to eat. Have you ever seen a group of these sweet mamas gathered at a Mexican restaurant for girl’s night out? It’s remarkable from appetizers through desert. Not to mention how they have spent more money than any of them care to recall on Happy Meals and Sonic dogs. Grocery store owners just love to see a stay-at-home mom dragging in pushing a buggy and holding a list – especially if she has all of her kids swarming around begging, and fighting, and complaining, and crying. This is why some stay-at-home moms sometimes buy wine, but still, they contribute to the economy.

In her column that has offended all of Australia and most of the free world, Marquand wrote, “Only when the female population is expected to hold down a job and earn money to pay the bills in the same way that men are routinely expected to do will we see things change for the better for wither gender.” She also added, “Feminism is about equality, not freedom of choice.”

I was listening to a group of girls last Tuesday in a writing class. The lesson was personal essays and the exercise to help them focus was a “heart map.” This can be as simple or as creatively elaborate as students wish, but the point is to list the people, experiences, and memories that have shaped their lives. It serves as a visual starting point for the personal essay.

Just like little American women they were quietly talking among themselves, their eyes and colored pencils never leaving their work. One of them asked another what she wanted to do when she grew up. She answered, “Well…I will to go to college and get an education. And you know I like to sing, and I want to do some mission work, but then…I believe I just want to get married and be a stay-at-home mom.” The other girl agreed, “Yeah… me too.”

They are young. They have time to change those plans, before changing them yet again. America was founded on principles that protect our children’s freedom to do just that.

Amanda Walker is a blogger and contributor with AL.com, The Thomasville Times, West Alabama Watchman, and Wilcox Progressive Era. Contact her at walkerworld77@msn.com or athttps://www.facebook.com/AmandaWalker.Columnist

Demopolis In Bloom hosting 2017 Symposium

Demopolis In Bloom will host its 2017 Symposium at the Demopolis Civic Center, beginning at 9 a.m. on Thursday, March 30.

Teresa Johnson of Johnson’s Garden and Cafe in Duncanville will be speaking about Southern Living Shrubs and plants that grown in the Demopolis area. Mike Randall of BWI will be speaking about turf maintenance for the homeowner. Jane Watson will be speaking about and demonstrating how to establish a cut flower garden.

Demopolis In Bloom is sponsored by Collins Communications, George Franks, Mr. and Mrs. Arthur Evans and Barbara Blevins. The symposium is offered at no charge to the public.

In Memoriam: Thomaston loses hidden gem in William Gebhardt

By Bruce Gwin

William Gebhardt.

Many people won’t recognize that name. Some knew his face and never knew exactly who he was or what he did.

Pool table man. Rock-Ola man, or machine man was what some called him. Many would say he was a recluse since he didn’t mingle with the Thomaston locals, or any locals, for that matter.

At age 13, he stopped me as I was walking home from school one day in the one-stoplight town of Thomaston. He said he’d seen me around town doing my odd-jobs…delivering papers, cutting grass, really anything I could find to do to make a dime. He told me he needed some help and of course I was willing since I needed money, being an ambitious teen.

My job would be the real work—unloading and loading Pac-Man machines, moving equipment, assembling new machines—all the stuff he didn’t want to do. We would make rounds to the locations where he had machines in the juke joints of Marengo, Greene, Perry, and Sumter Counties to count coins, refill cigarette machines, fix pool tables, and put the latest 45s on the jukebox…and sometimes, we wouldn’t roll back into Thomaston until 2 a.m.

I soon learned William was not only a shrewd businessman, but an electronics genius. Often, he’d get a call from the Rock-Ola factory technician to find solutions for a problem they couldn’t fix, and William not only knew the problem, but knew exactly how to fix it.

He was raised in Orrville by his grandparents and quit school in the 10th grade to become the local TV repairman as a teen.

Rumor has it that he accidentally set his grandparents’ porch on fire while making fireworks.

He told me his teacher sent him home early one day because he wasn’t paying attention in class. When she asked him why, he told her he already knew everything she was lecturing on—and truthfully, as we all learned, he probably did.

William was a walking encyclopedia, had a photographic memory, and still managed to stay current on modern technology till his death.

While he was a relatively unknown law-abiding citizen of Thomason, Gebhardt’s expert knowledge and keen mind will be missed by all those who were fortunate enough to know him.

Photo of the Day

Brewster has the Big Money—and he is keeping it safe by opening a new account and depositing his big check with Robertson Banking Company. Brewster is shown here opening a new account with Wanda Fuqua at the downtown branch of RBC. (WAW | Contributed)

WAMHC to offer Adult Mental Health First Aid Training

The West Alabama Mental Health Center (WAMHC) in Demopolis is offering an adult mental health first aid training course on Monday, March 27 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The course, similar to a first aid course, specifically offers mental health first aid training so individuals are more prepared to help those experiencing a mental health emergency before they can get professional help and support.

The course will be held at the West Alabama Mental Health Center located at 1215 South Walnut Avenue in Demopolis. Registration ends March 24.

Mental health issues, such as depression, anxiety, impulse control, and misuse of alcohol and other drugs are common in the United States. In fact, more than one in four American adults will have a mental health problem in a year. The National Council on Community Behavioral Healthcare has begun working with communities throughout the nation, including WAMHC, to implement mental health first aid to arm the public with skills to help individuals who are developing a mental health issue or experiencing a mental health crisis. The clinical and qualitative evidence behind the program demonstrates that it helps the public better identify, understand, and respond to signs of mental illness, thus improving outcomes for individuals experiencing these illnesses.

WAMHC is a regional mental health center located in the Black Belt area of West Alabama, serving Choctaw, Greene, Hale, Marengo, and Sumter Counties. WAMHC is a comprehensive community mental health center providing services to people with mental illness, intellectual disabilities, substance abuse, and children with serious emotional disorders. The prevention program helps at-risk and other students stay off drugs and in school. The agency also works with many community agencies to bridge the gap between services.

For more information on Mental Health First Aid, visit www.thenationalcouncil.org.

To register, contact Carolyn Morrison at (334) 289-2410.


Reid wins SSAC women’s golfer honor

Faulkner University freshman and Demopolis High School alum Anna Reid has earned Southern States Athletic Conference Women’s Golfer of the Week honors after her performance in the Heritage Hills Collegiate tournament the league announced this afternoon.

Reid shaved seven strokes off her total between rounds over the weekend in Sheperdsville, Kentucky, to claim the individual medal and help anchor Faulkner’s team victory.

Reid shot a 77 on Friday afternoon before posting a tournament low two-under-par 70 over the final 18 holes.

The tournament win was the first of Reid’s young career and this is the first weekly honor for both her and the women’s program this year.

Faulkner will next enter the Martin Methodist Spring Invitational at the Saddle Creek Golf Course in Lewisburg, Tenn., on April 3.

Photo of the Day

The American Rebel Semi-Pro Football Team met for its second annual renunion on March 18 at Ezell’s Fish Camp in Lavaca. Former players present were: from left, (front) Winkie Slade, Roger Etheridge, Larry Knight, Larry Etheridge, Kenneth Stockman, Randy Knight; (back) Harold Agee, Jerry Vick, Leon Harper, Brooks Etheridge, Merrill Carlisle, Randall Hill. (Photo by Raycelia McIntyre)

Photo of the Day

The Alabama Power Plant in Greene County is supporting Rooster Day by being a Rooster Booster. Pictured with Brewster left to right are: Riley Wells, Eric Phillips, Kelly Whigham, Kim Pope, Danny Dobbs, Timmy Etheridge, Marie Wilson, Keith Morrow, Shatorya Eaton, Shenita Conwell, Mark Newburn, Elaine Fetzer. (WAW | Contributed)

Tears and Laughter: Remembering Lewis Grizzard

If Lewis Grizzard had lived, he would be 70. But he didn’t. He died from complications after his fourth heart surgery at Emory Hospital in Atlanta on March 20, 1994. The next day newspapers kept printing, but I don’t know that they have ever been quite the same.

It was said that he had wanted somebody – “preferably Willie Nelson” – to sing “Precious Memories” at his funeral. His ashes are buried by his mother’s grave in Moreland, Georgia where he grew up. The Washington Post wrote, “He compared every woman to his mother, who spoiled him rotten.” He wrote about her with reverence, but also wrote with moving adoration about his father, a highly decorated veteran of World War II and the Korean War. He was open about his dad’s struggles with alcohol after returning from service, and also about his own fear of never measuring up to him, no matter what he ever achieved in his own right.

He had early success in the newspaper business. During his first year at his beloved University of Georgia, he was a feature writer for the Newnan Times-Herald. By 1975 he had become an assistant city editor at The Atlanta Journal. It was a position he would quickly leave, and was then named executive sports editor of the Chicago Sun-Times. But he loathed Chicago. Being homesick for the south, he returned in 1977, taking a job as a sports columnist with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. In early 1978, his thrice-weekly column was moved to the news section.

By the time of his early death at 47, he was planning his 21st book. He also gained fame through his stand-up speaking engagements, but most people knew him through his column that ran in over 450 papers. He became a voice of the South, writing about what he knew and loved – Southern ways, Southern women, Georgia football, barbecue, home-grown tomatoes, and the kind of corned beef that comes in a can. He would often lend his platform to victims of crimes or causes he supported. His work was frequently laced with warm humor and nostalgia for a way and time we drift back to in our minds, but a place to which few would return.

He would take aim at Yankees, politicians, his three ex-wives, television evangelists, and Georgia Tech, but seldom was he mean-spirited. Supporters felt some of his more controversial topics – such as homophobia and feminism – were his way of starting conversations most conservative-minded people weren’t comfortable with having yet. He served as a divide between the old south and the new, seldom responding to even the harshest of his critics, including the late, great Southern author, Pat Conroy, who once said, “Grizzard represented mostly what was wrong with the South.” It was an opinion not shared by many.

Today marks 23 years since he left. A few months back all of the little writers in the state, along with all the big ones, and famous ones, with their editors, publishers, competitors, and colleagues gathered at the Bryant Conference Center in Tuscaloosa for the Alabama Writers Hall of Fame gala. As everyone took their seats prior to the ceremony starting, the conversation at our table turned to how much everyone still misses Lewis Grizzard. So much so, that for a moment we fell silent. Having been such a UGA fan, he would have probably gotten a kick out of being a topic of conversation at The University of Alabama that particular night. Then again, he was a man of the South. He knew how we like to keep our best here with us and never let them go.

Amanda Walker is a columnist with The West Alabama Watchman, Al.com, The Thomasville Times, and The Wilcox Progressive Era. For more information, visit her on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/AmandaWalker.Columnist.

ALEA expands hours at nine driver license offices; local offices affected

MONTGOMERY—The Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA) is expanding hours of operation at nine of its Driver License Examining Offices in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Transportation to better serve Alabama and make services more convenient for citizens who live in outlying areas.

“Beginning Monday, March 20, our Driver License Division will offer 26 additional days each month of service to our citizens,” Secretary of Law Enforcement Stan Stabler said.

The nine offices are in Bibb, Bullock, Butler, Greene, Hale, Lowndes, Macon, Perry and Wilcox counties. Depending on size of town or city and demand, office hours vary from one day each week to three days each month.

  • Centreville (Bibb): 8 a.m.-noon and 12:30 p.m.-2:30 p.m. the first and third Thursday
  • Union Springs (Bullock): 9 a.m.-noon and 1-4 p.m. each Thursday
  • Greenville (Butler): 8 a.m.-noon and 1-4:30 p.m. each Monday
  • Eutaw (Greene): 8 a.m.-noon and 12:30-2:30 p.m. each Tuesday
  • Greensboro (Hale): 8 a.m.-noon and 12:30-2:30 p.m. each Thursday
  • Hayneville (Lowndes): 8 a.m.-noon and 12:30-4:30 p.m. each Wednesday
  • Tuskegee (Macon): 9 a.m.-noon and 1-4 p.m. each Tuesday and Wednesday
  • Marion (Perry): 8 a.m.-noon and 12:30-2:30 p.m. each Tuesday
  • Camden (Wilcox): 8 a.m.-noon and 12:30-2:30 p.m. the first, second and third Tuesday

ALEA makes every effort to meet the needs of the state’s citizens. In October 2015, the agency reduced operating hours in 31 outlying Driver License Offices because of limited funding. ALEA adjusted operations in November 2016 and expanded services in seven locations, including Troy, Livingston, Rockford and Butler.

For additional information, a complete list of ALEA’s Driver License Examining Offices and a list of online options, visit www.alrenewal.com.  The agency’s website also includes a Citizens Feedback form, a quick and simple way to share your thoughts on ALEA’s many online services.