Monday, January 28, 2013

Sweet Seniors

Eastside Baptist Church in Winfield, Alabama hosts a lunch for seniors once a month.  While I was home visiting, my Aunt Judy invited mom and me to attend the January luncheon.  Uncle Don, is a deacon here, and I'm sure they knew I'd enjoy some new photo opportunities.

As a child, I used to go to this church when I visited in the summertime. Back then, it was called Goodwater Baptist Church.  It was a tiny little building with no air conditioning, and a preacher whose loud sermons lasted much too long for a seven year-old's growling stomach.  Women wearing hats fanned themselves with paper fans that advertised local businesses, and men tugged at their collars, trying to loosen their ties. Afterwards,we drove hurriedly down winding country roads to my grandparents' house for a meal of fried chicken, biscuits, fresh vegetables, and homemade pound cake. I think I could smell it from miles away. Funny how some memories always stay with a person.

The weekday luncheon was held in a bright, spacious meeting room, and it was well-attended with people who enjoyed chatting with one another, catching up on all the news, while enjoying an excellent meal. Thanks for the invite; I'm happy to have met some new friends!

Sunday, January 27, 2013

The Pastime Theater

The Pastime Theater is a fixture in Winfield, Alabama; you can't drive through town without seeing it.  My mother remembers going there to see a Shirley Temple movie in the late 1930's when she was seven or eight years old. Although the movie had no sound, she says she was fascinated watching the images flicker across the screen.
During my last trip to Winfield, Mary Hyche, Chairman of the Pastime's Board of Directors, offered to give me a tour...and what an impressive tour it was!  I couldn't believe I'd never been inside the theater  Built in 1937, it had many good years before closing permanently in the 1980's.  Restoration of the theater began in 2001, and it now is the crown jewel of Winfield.  Owned by the city, the Pastime hosts concerts and plays.

Look closely and you'll see where "x" marks the spot!
The dressing rooms and areas designated for the performers are spacious and comfortable.

Here's an original film reel from the golden days!

 Mary knows every fact and feature of the theater, and it's easy to tell that she's one of its biggest fans.

The theater was segregated for many years.  Rather than hide that fact, when it was restored, a small area in the top corner of the balcony was kept as it was back then...a part of Winfield's history that, thankfully, is now long gone.
There is a supper club area which also acts as a gallery for some impressive local art and memorabilia.   I told Mary that it needs some photographs displayed, too!

The supper club area also can be used for special events such as showers.  It was booked while I was there, and I didn't have time to stop by and take photographs afterwards.  Take my word, though, it's a very nice venue. Winfield is lucky to have the Pastime back up and running...there's always something going on there. Thanks for the tour, Mary.  I'll be back!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Backpacks and Beyond

Last year, I became aware of a small group of people in my hometown of Winfield, Alabama who were doing some very good things to help children in need.  Backpacks and Beyond was started by Genny Jenkins, Rose Carothers, and Lisa Porter.  The organization provides a small bag of food each Friday for children to take home with them, children who otherwise might not have enough to eat over the weekend.

I recently visited Winfield, and on my list of things to do was to meet Genny and learn more about this organization. Genny and her husband, Jerry, were loading a truck up with food at the Community Center when I caught up with them.

Gracious and more than willing to talk about the organization, Genny told me that a friend of hers had originally started a similar organization (Backyard Blessings) in a nearby town.  She contacted Genny, and said she thought there might be a need for such a thing in Winfield,  Genny remembers to this day that she said, "Surely, not."  Unfortunately, a bit of research determined that there were kids in the area who needed food.  Genny talked with school principals and passed out applications, which would be screened by school counselors.  Turns out, last year 75 children participated...and this year, they deliver to between 95 and 100 children each week.

The bags of food are modest, but identical, and are labeled with the name of the child and the school.  Backpacks and Beyond delivers to schools in Winfield, Brilliant, and Guin, Alabama.  Lisa Porter shops once a month, and then bags and labels the food for each child. The Winfield Community Center lets the group store their stockpiled food in a small pantry on their premises.
Many of us take the simple things for granted, and it's hard for me to think about hungry children.  If you'd like to send a check to help, Backpacks and Beyond has a facebook page, or you can reply to this post, and I will send you their contact information.  Just a small group of people, in a small southern town, looking to do some good for our children.  Thanks for reading.