News from the Tennessee Valley Living Today
SUNDAY, JULY 3, 2005

Wendy N. McDougal

Pennie Wood is grand champion of tomato pie contest

Happy Fourth of July!

What a festive time of year this always is, as we are at the heart (and heat!) of the summer. Whether it's about flags, freedom, fireworks or just good, clean fun, it is always worth chatting about the independence of our great nation. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the countless men and women who commit their lives on a daily basis to defend this land and to stand strong in defense of our freedoms. The job is not easy, I can only imagine. Yet, the sacrifice never goes unnoticed. Your sincere commitment to our armed forces is not without a sweet sense of pride and admiration, as we watch the price you pay each day. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for all you have done and will continue to do. It is because of you that we are able to embark on this weekend and have one grand birthday party.

Happy Birthday America!

Now let's see what the "chatter" around town is for today . . .

Tomato pie, anyone?

The announcement is in, and the winner is . . . Pennie Wood.

On June 23, Willis Gray Gallery brought together fine art and, of all things, tomato pie for its second anniversary celebration. Chefs from all around brought their best attempt at a pie with the final choice in the hands of numerous taste buds. After much tasting and comparing, Wood came out on top, with her delicious combination of tomato, vidalia onion, bacon, mayo and cheeses. Would you ever guess that the winning prize was a tomato painting?

In addition to the award-winning pie, there were many other recipes worth mentioning. Arabelle Wilder brought a basil and olive oil-based delicacy, while Claudia Lake's secret ingredient was crabmeat. Beth Twente went all out with three pies, one with broccoli and one that was appropriately called "Mississippi Mud" because of the mouthwatering blend of ingredients. Other chefs for the night included Carol Bolding, Alison Burnthall, Cathy Pearson, Kathy Hunt, Elizabeth Chandler, Joy Cartron, Andrea Murphree, Shawn Haynes, Lisa Terry, Rebecca Bibb and Kathy Gray.

Scott Willis said it was a great event with a great turn out. All I can say is "yummy!" Can't wait until the next bake-off.

Book of the year

Bettye Cramer Cannizzo, author and longtime Decatur resident, earned top honors from the Alabama State Poetry Society. Her book, "The Wind Remembers," was named Book of the Year for 2004.

Judging the contest was Dana Wildsmith, a widely published author who teaches creative writing workshops throughout the United States. She had this to say about Cannizzo's book, "This collection works in every way that a book-length collection of poems needs to work. It states its purpose as serving both a way of preserving the impressions of a trip to Scotland, as well as enticing others to make the same trip. The poems propose to serve as a travelogue, and they succeed in their attempt."

Some of the poem titles in Cannizzo's collection are "Dunkeld House," "William Wallace," "The Cemetery at Melrose Abbey," "The Umbrella," "Clematis Cottage," "Choir Practice," and "Scotland, My Scotland."

According to an excerpt from "The Muse Messenger," the Alabama State Poetry Society newsletter, "A stated theme which is followed throughout, a moving beyond the factual to poetic commentary, and a sound ending, these are the elements of a prize-winning book of poetry."

She also recently won fourth place and an honorable mention in a national poetry contest sponsored by the New Hampshire Poetry Society.

What talent we have right here in Decatur!

Beta Sigma Phi

Members of the Alpha Alpha Decatur Chapter of Beta Sigma Phi recently attended the Alabama State Convention. Those traveling to Gadsden for the weekend were Pat and Ernie Tarpley, Gloria and Wayne Cobb, Marsha and Jay Jones, Maxine Jones, Bess and Dean Stark, and Jan and Mike Shubert.

This year's theme was "Coming to America," which kicked off with a parade of costumes representing the vast backgrounds and heritages of the many sisters. Alpha Alpha won first place in this category with costumes from Scotland, Ireland, Armenia, Germany and England.

A highlight of the weekend was the red carpet treatment at a Broadway musical review. Nominee for a "special lady in a leading role" was Pat Tarpley, Alpha Alpha's woman of the year and president.

More treats were in store at a Sunday morning breakfast when ladies arrived wearing Audrey Hepburn attire or their favorite military outfit complete with accessories. Miss Alabama 2004, Shannon Camper, was the special guest.

Other "academy awards" presented to Alpha Alpha during the weekend included third place for the Christmas Santa Shop party service project at Sunbridge Nursing Home, third place for chapter scrapbook content, third place for the scrapbook cover, and first place for the chapter yearbook cover.

Way to go! It sounds like a fun time was had by all, and the sisters made it back home safe and sound. They will relax now but will look forward to next year's convention in Mobile.


Sigma Nu fraternity will have a new house in its future on the the University fo Alabama in Huntsville campus, but so will several other Greek organizations. These houses are being built thanks to the generosity of two businessmen whose donations will make the construction possible. To qualify, each fraternity and sorority then had to raise $55,000 by a May 15 deadline. The two sororities, Kappa Delta and Delta Zeta, were actually the first two to raise their money, followed by Alpha Tau Omega, Delta Chi and Sigma Nu. Each of the chapters have active members from both Austin and Decatur High who have had extensive involvement in this corporate drive effort.

Julie Manley, Austin High School graduate, is a Kappa Delta member and serves as its house liaison. According to Becky Turner, UAH Kappa Delta advisor, "This has really been exciting for all of the chapters because we never thought we would get a house like this in a million years, much less a house like the ones they are going to build for us. Frank Franz, university president, and the rest of the UAH administration have worked tirelessly with the Greek organizations to make sure it is a win-win situation for us all."

Best wishes to each of these Greek organizations as they settle into their new homes. We look forward to hearing from each of them in the future.

Have a beautiful holiday weekend, and be safe. Following the weekend, share your favorite gatherings and photos with the chatterbox column. It's been great "chattin" with ya!

I would love to hear about your events, programs, family reunions or anything else you may want to share with the community.

Family reunions, graduation parties, summer stories . . . all are great Chatterbox items. Mail your "Chatterbox" news to Wendy McDougal at 2001 Katie Drive S.W., Decatur, AL 35603, or e-mail to

Wendy N. McDougal Wendy N. McDougal
DAILY Staff Writer

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