Tears and Laughter: There is something about a small town Christmas parade 

The Thomasville Christmas parade was this week. We went. We almost always do. It’s tradition. We will go and stand in the middle of a closed-off Wilson Avenue with people we will recognize and know but haven’t seen in years.  

Together we will wait for the heavily adorned floats and firetrucks. Trinkets and beads and candy will rain down around us. We will feel the drums from the approaching marching bands. It all moves quickly forward, yet I like many, drift back in time. 

The sidewalks are very familiar to me in downtown Thomasville. They serve as a portal to what used to be. Part of the parade route was the way I walked every afternoon when I was in elementary school. I would walk downtown to where my dad’s truck would be parked at the old city hall on Wilson Avenue. He would get off from work with the city at 3:30. 

Every day there would be several of us walking together when we left the school, but before we made it to the bank at the corner of Alabama Avenue, everyone would have scattered, turning off on the streets they lived on. 

Sometimes, if I had saved enough break money, I would stop by Spink’s Drugstore and buy pretzels. Other times I would walk on down to the Dollar General and speak to Ms. Kat, the manager. It was still on West Front Street back then, diagonally across from Zeke’s Service Station. 

I used to love being downtown during Christmastime, especially on cloudy days. I’m sure it was just the colorful lights and the reflecting tinsel, but I always thought the spirit seemed especially bright when it was cloudy. I still tend to feel that way. 

For a game, we would try and avoid the cracks in the sidewalks. Over time, the repetition committed to memory the cracks, the streets, the houses, buildings, and storefronts. We knew the shortcuts, which buildings to cut behind to come out where we needed to be.  

The Christmas Parade used to be on a Thursday afternoon, shortly after school was out. That day, was the only day the sidewalks would be brimming with people. Everybody’s mama would be there, some of them trying to keep the little brothers and sisters we never saw while we were in school out of the street. 

Several dads would be helping drive the floats and keep everything and everyone moving forward in an orderly fashion. Grandparents would be there too, including my own from both sides of the family.  

I can’t remember when the parade moved from Thursday afternoon to Saturday before evolving into an evening event that includes a downtown stroll. It has been a nice change. It allows for more mingling…and shopping at downtown businesses. 

But every year, when we all line up shoulder-to-shoulder on Wilson Avenue waiting, it’s just like they are there again. At moments, their energy feels as strong as the beat of the drums in the band. 

I guess that is why most all small towns have a Christmas parade. They allow for memories and feelings and festive walks back down the sidewalks of time.

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

Sweet Water falls to Thomasville (photos)

Sweet Water lost 42-25 at Thomasville Friday in the 73rd all-time meeting between the two programs.

(Photos by Johnny Autery)

Sweet Water wide receiver Will Huckabee with a first quarter catch against the Tigers.

Sweet Water wide receiver Will Huckabee with a first quarter catch against the Tigers.

R.J. Rodgers scores Bulldogs’ first touchdown.

R.J. Rodgers scores Bulldogs’ first touchdown.

Bulldogs Jah’ Darius McIntosh (55) and Jonah Smith (9) bring down a Tiger running back

Bulldogs Jah’ Darius McIntosh (55) and Jonah Smith (9) bring down a Tiger running back


Tears and Laughter: Facts, opinions, and OSHA violations 

Anyone who was planning to write an article about Golden Dragon Copper prior to last week should not be deterred by my column, “Is Golden Dragon Copper tarnished?” Maybe, if enough unbiased articles are written, some interesting common themes will emerge.

I had no idea anybody was planning to write anything, but even if I had known it wouldn’t have changed a word I wrote. In a case such as that, don’t call me. Especially on a Saturday night. Just out write me. Where I am wrong, right me. But remember a column is not a hard news article or a feature story, and it is almost impossible for me to write my own opinion wrong.

There have already been several articles written in the recent past covering different issues such as the communication problems and the clash of cultures at Golden Dragon. Maybe a fresh batch of articles would show the problems have been solved and everything running remarkably well.

But what initiated my column last week was the release of the penalties handed down by OSHA due to 14 safety violations. I knew it would be plastered all over the front page of the Wilcox Progressive Era along with other newspapers and news outlets statewide. The violations included unguarded machine parts, no safety rails, no fire extinguishers, exposing workers to electric shock, and for not training employees on an emergency plan of action or first aid.

OSHA, as the saying goes, is not a small town in Wisconsin. It is an agency of the United States Department of Labor and stands for Occupational Safety and Health Act. They exist to assist companies in reducing workplace illnesses, injuries, and death.

Because of the stiff fines, businesses get a little anxious about OSHA and are sometimes of the belief they go to extremes. But, even with that, if OSHA comes in it is kind of a big deal. It doesn’t reflect well on the overall management of a company, because here in America we tend to put employee safety first.

Disgruntled employees may sometimes call OSHA. I guess that is the point. That is why OSHA posters are required by law to be posted on bulletin boards in virtually all workplaces. And if safety codes are up-to-date, there should be no worries.

I assume most of our local leaders, along with anyone planning to write an article about Golden Dragon, also want safe work environments for area employees. What kind of reality are we living in when a foreign owned company – that has only been in operation here just over two years and already racked-up 14 safety violations – isn’t questioned by those who enticed them here? Even if some aren’t huge violations, why defend them? Isn’t it important that they are corrected and not repeated? Is not a violation a violation?

Seriously, anyone in a position to do so should write the stories. Paint it bright if that is the truth. Tell everyone the gloriously positive aspects. Explain how the 14 safety violations aren’t a big deal and are simply the result of a handful of unhappy employees with loud voices.

I think both Clarke and Wilcox Counties would appreciate knowing the violations have been corrected. And I do fully agree it is important Golden Dragon Copper survives and thrives. Unemployment rates are too high in both places, and there are already enough carcasses of dead businesses in Camden and Thomasville. Sunny South doesn’t need one.

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.

Tears and Laughter: The fine divide between learning and living

I was a student in the Thomasville City School System from the time Mama enrolled me into Mrs. Agee’s kindergarten class in 1977 until I was 16. It was the end of the first six weeks of my eleventh grade year. I left Thomasville on a Friday afternoon and by 7:30 I was at a Chilton County High School football game.

For me at the time it was a bit like arriving in a foreign land. Their blue and orange colors never did seem to fit me like maroon and grey had, just like Chilton County never felt too much like home…mainly I guess because I wouldn’t let it. I thought the year and a half I had left before graduating would not be time enough to compare with Thomasville’s lasting impression, but in the end, I was wrong.

Chilton County was a county school with a larger student body than Thomasville. There was a more relaxed attitude toward practically all aspects of behavior. You could come as you were to Chilton County, as opposed to who you thought you were expected to be.

Even with all of that freedom, I never remember any of us standing forlorn out in the hallway uncertain of which restroom we should enter, and this was during the hair band era.

Besides, back then, if any of us had been troubled about it, Mr. Miller, our stern history teacher, who claimed to know military secrets and more, would have been happy to help steer us toward logic.

There was this one girl’s room where a lot of smoking went on, but the faculty was fully aware. The principal would sometimes stand outside the door singing, “Smoke, smoke, smoke that cigarette,” because breaks only lasted ten minutes, but the average guy would have been terrified to go in there. Chilton County redneck young women did not play that way in 1988. They had their own brand of protection and justice that had served them well for generations.

It was a different time though. Boys still kept hunting rifles in the gun rack attached to the back glass of their trucks out in the school parking lot. Few of them bothered to lock their doors. Mr. Miller’s classroom overlooked the parking lot. That was our security.

We graduated, finally, on a Friday night. It was May 24, 1990. It was also my eighteenth birthday. We wore the blue robes.

They held us in classrooms before it was time for the ceremony to start. There were 232 of us, and they separated us, the boys from the girls, and no students were unaccounted for or confused in this divide. Alphabetically, the girl in front of me was sick – nerves, she hoped – and the girl behind me was crying. She wished for just one more year. Between them, I was just ready for it to be over. Ready for whatever was next.

And so is life it seems. We are either so nervous we can’t enjoy it, wishing it would last a little longer, or rushing to get it over with so we can see what’s next. I guess the goal is to live each moment fully as it happens, accepting every experience prepares us for our next purpose.  Sometimes even with careful planning, it may feel like you are wearing some other team’s colors, but keep playing anyway. Winning, often, has a lot to do with how well you deal with change and adversity.

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.

Demopolis football hosts Thomasville, Kemper County Friday

20151009 DHS vs Central-Tuscaloosa-0089The Demopolis High School football team caps off its spring practice Friday night with a jamboree against Thomasville and Kemper County (Miss.).

“Both teams are well coached, which I think is good for us. Both teams are athletic. Kemper County has got those Central-Tuscaloosa type athletes. We need to see that, see the speed of it,” Demopolis coach Stacy Luker said. “Both teams are physical and have been successful over the years. I just thought it was two quality teams that we were able to get to come in here.”

The event starts at 6 p.m. with Demopolis taking on Kemper County. Each team’s junior varsity squads will get to run 12 offensive plays before the varsity groups take the field. From there, squads will play two 12-minute quarters with a regular running clock. There will be no live kicking and punts will be marked off 35 yards but will not go inside the 15-yard line. Teams will have the option of kicking extra points and field goals. Each drive after a score will start on the 35-yard line.

The second segment of the evening pits Kemper County against Thomasville with the JV squads each getting their obligatory 12 offensive snaps before the varsity takes the field.

The final half will be Demopolis against Thomasville, a traditional rivalry that does not appear on the Tigers’ schedule this fall. The JV squads will start before the varsity teams take the field.

“Not so much the scoreboard, We’re looking to put people into game situations, see who can help us and that’s the main thing,” Luker said of his primary focus going into the exhibition date. “We’ll play a lot of people like we always do and try to get as many evaluated as we can.”

The event takes place at Demopolis High School. Admission is set at $5.

Tears and Laughter: Marengo memories, and mothers…

I was born in the Thomasville Hospital in 1972. Once they wrapped me up and finished the paperwork, we went home to Clayhill in Marengo County. It wasn’t until I was older that we moved just south of Thomasville to the community of Sandflat.

While we were in Clayhill, we lived snuggled between my grandmother’s house and the garden. Just down the road, past Mrs. Ezell’s house and around the curve a ways was where Fannie lived. I have written about Fannie many times. She was my caretaker during the day while my mother worked until I was old enough to go to school. I asked Mama one time how long we had known Fannie. She looked thoughtful, like I had asked her where God came from. She finally shrugged her shoulders and said, “Forever.”

Fannie still drew water three times a day from a well with a bucket tied to a pulley. I liked to get to her house early enough go with her early in the morning. I was fascinated by the way the bucket would disappear, only to emerge again full of clean, clear water. It was like a baptism.

She was afraid of the well though. I was only tall enough to see over into it if I stood on a milk crate. She told me never to go near it without her, and I obeyed. Horror stories of past well accidents in the area still haunted her, and she passed that along to me.

My time with Fannie did not prepare me in any meaningful way for the world I would enter into at Thomasville Elementary, but it did give me an appreciation for the spirit of Marengo County. Those years hold more meaning as time ticks along. She lived in a way people of that area had lived for generations, relying heavily on the land, and often on one another.

Since the new Dave’s Market opened in Thomaston, I have enjoyed shopping there. I like the memories the drive alone rehashes.

Last week, I pulled into a parking place at the same time a young woman pulled into the space opposite of me. It wasn’t until I opened my car door that I even noticed her, and it wasn’t so much her I noticed as it was the wailing baby secured safely in an infant carrier I noticed. She was gently placing him in a grocery cart.

“Big Brother,” according to his shirt, had been placed in the toddler seat portion of the grocery cart and their determined mother made her way from the parking lot into the store.

She apologized to everyone on every aisle. She had different cans, boxes, and a bag of potatoes tucked around the carrier. Big Brother was hugging a package of cookies, and the baby was still wailing. Several of us offered to help her. She explained that it was her first trip to the grocery store by herself with them. The baby was only a month old. Big Brother was weighing in at 15 months. “I’ve just got to figure it out,” she said.

She reminded me of myself years ago when Miranda and Melissa were little and I had no choice but to figure out.

I assured her she would, that she would soon be a pro at it. I thought about telling her how in what will seem like no time they will have children of their own, and how prepared she will feel to be a grandmother. But I didn’t tell her that part. I didn’t tell her the best is yet to come…she had enough she was dealing with, and besides, time will too quickly tell her on its own.

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.

Marengo Panther basketball teams finish 2015 slate

The Marengo High School basketball teams finished off its 2015 slate of games with four outings in seven days dating back to Friday, Dec. 11. The challenging stretch culminated Thursday with a pair of varsity losses at home against Thomasville.

The Panther girls lost 44-42 to Thomasville as Alton James finished with 18 points. J’Mya Hall had 15 points, 13 rebounds, four steals and three assists in the defeat. Lisa Sturdivant, Tiyana Blanks, and Mariangela Morris each scored nine points to lead Thomasville. The loss drops the Marengo ladies to 2-6 on the season.

In varsity boys action, Thomasville thumped Marengo 55-37 to knock MHS to 3-6 on the season. Cordarius Pritchett had 14 points and six rebounds while Michael Kennedy had 14 points and seven rebounds on the night. Ryan Calhoun and Rashad Mosely each scored 11 to lead Thomasville.

The Marengo JV opened the night with a loss, falling 54-43 to the Thomasville B-Team. Dominique Harris had 14 points and five rebounds while Keshawn Fountain scored 12 points. Braye Washington led Thomasville with 17 points.

The Marengo varsity squads each suffered a loss Tuesday in Gilbertown when they took on Southern Choctaw. The Lady Panthers fell 54-20 in a contest that saw Iesha Bouler finished with 12 points, 13 rebound and five steals. Jameya Johnson paced the Indians with 14 points while Katelyn Kinsey had 10.

Southern Choctaw went on to down the varsity boys 61-55. Cordarius Pritchett topped the scoring for Marengo with 19 points, eight steals and five rebounds. Michael Kennedy added 15 points and eight rebounds. Thomas McGrew headed up the Indian scoring with 15 points.

The JV Panthers did pick up a win in Gilbertown, knocking off the Indian B-Team 42-36. Dominique Harris led Marengo with 19 points and seven rebounds while Jadacus Williams scored 17 to lead Southern Choctaw.

The Panthers dropped a pair of boys tilts Monday when they traveled to Grove Hill to face Clarke County. The junior varsity Panthers fell 40-25 to the Clarke County B-Team. Keshawn Fountain had eight points to lead Marengo in that contest.

In the varsity contest, Clarke County thrashed MHS 85-43. Michael Kennedy scored 11 points to go along with five rebounds and three steals in that game. Manuel Davis had 15 points to lead Clarke County.

The Panthers opened area play at home Dec. 11 with a varsity split against A.L. Johnson. The Lady Panthers fell 47-38 in a contest that saw Alton James score 17 points and grab 10 rebounds while J’Mya Hall finished with 12 points, eight rebounds, six assists and five steals.

Akayla McGhee led ALJ with 15 points. Jameia Jones had 10 points while Tiffany Barber finished with 10.

In the varsity boys game, Marengo downed the A.L. Johnson squad 56-34. Michael Kennedy contributed 18 points, 11 rebounds, five steals and four assists in the contest. Cordarius Pritchett added 17 points with five rebounds and four assists. Desmond Mair led ALJ with 10 points.

The JV Panthers opened that night with a 40-31 win. Keshawn Fountain had 11 points for the MHS JV boys while DeAndre Croom had seven to lead the Eagles.

The Marengo teams are set to play again Thursday, Jan. 7 when they host Demopolis.

Thomasville third graders get library cards


Mrs. Dawn Heartsill from the Thomasville Public Library visited TES recently and read to Mrs. Tracey Amos’s 3rd grade class. She also presented the students with their own public library card. The partnership between TES and TPL will allow students to check-out AR books even when they are not at school.

Thomasville High WBL program announces Intern of the Week

Ryan and Coach Anderson

The Worked Based Learning Program at Thomasville High School is pleased to announce that Ryan Calhoun, right, has been selected as the “Intern of the Week”. Pictured with Ryan is Clint Anderson, who teaches P.E. at Thomasville Elementary School. We appreciate this wonderful opportunity that Ryan is able to be a part of. He is great with the children and is an asset to TES.


Ryan Calhoun - TES P.E. Intern

Thomasville WBL program announces Employee of the Week

Raven McConnell and Melissa Jenks
The Worked Based Learning Program at Thomasville High School is pleased to announce that Raven McConnell, right, has been selected as the “Employee of the Week”. Pictured with Raven is Melissa Jenks of Brooks Chevrolet. We would like to express our appreciation to Brooks Chevrolet for being a supporter of our program. They are the “Employers of the Week”. A special thanks to Harry Brooks and Paula Mashburn for giving Raven this great on-the-job learning experience.
Raven McConnell-Brooks Chevrolet