All is FAIR in Woodstock…

We came. We saw. We ate. We got the T-shirt.

I have learned that true love shares their funnel cake, but not their philly steak.

Sometimes all is not fair at the FAIR.

But I learned that years ago.

I did not win the Bibb County Fair Queen. I rocked those blue sequins and shoulders pads if I do say so myself. And I do.

I wanted that crown. Angie wore it home that night. Oh well. Those days are over.

Or so I thought.

The fair is in Woodstock this week.

My mind and memory walked around tonight missing pie contests, 4-H displays and days gone by. Just like my waistline.

Biscuit Pudding too frequently I suppose.

I hope tomorrow on the last night of the FAIR, you will come out. I would love to see this BEEcome a new attraction.

My favorite ride tonight of course. But then again, I am a little biased.

Come see us tomorrow for the last night of the Fair and September 23rd for the Woodstock Music Festival.

Maybe you will leave with some memories and a souvenir cup.

Don’t laugh,


Sometimes you just need to throw the mattress in the floor…

Ten years ago today, I got a phone call that brought me to my knees.

I don’t know if I have “stood up straight” since, but I am trying.

My baby brother Johnny left this world, but not my memory. Not my heart.

He was born on Valentine’s Day. How appropriate. He was the world’s biggest flirt. He embarrassed us with women from the moment he could talk. He was three years old commenting on panty hose at the beauty shop. You would almost think he was put up to it, until years later when you realized it was just Johnny.

At his funeral, a broken hearted girl came up to me and said Johnny was my first love. Three or four people later was the next first love, and the next, and the next, until the tragic moment was almost comical.

His mother-in-law Mary, finally said out loud, “only Johnny Acker could have this many women in a room crying over him”.

It wasn’t just women, it was teenagers and elderly.

When he pulled up to the house, he did not have to knock. The boys ran to me to announce his arrival. “Uncle Johnny’s here!” (Which really meant- Can we go wherever he is going?)

I let them go, even though I winced. You don’t turn down a babysitter when you have a house full of kids. I am sure that I do not want to know what he allowed them to do. But, I can definitely picture dangerous dares and shenanigans. And, lots of “don’t tell your mother”.

He was the type to pull the mattress off of the bed and let you jump from the couch to the mattress. When the boys were grown, they confessed they broke the couch jumping from the loft. (A loft that he framed for me.)

I am sure, Uncle Johnny would have laughed.

I always wanted him to straighten up and be serious. But, I must admit he was a fun partner in crime.

He would help me pull cabinets off the wall and leave. Jeff would come home and shake his head at my remodel demolition work. I took the blame on my own.

We all need that person in our life. He was and always will be a mess. A fun, shocking, silly mess.

I have no doubt he would be roaring with laughter over S-Town. He would say something that would tick me off and then laugh. You could not stay mad at him.

He would call me “Cheryl Suzette Acker Hallman Dailey Dodson”. You have to smile. It is funny.

I am trying to make the bed with a tray. Picture perfect. Maybe I should just throw the mattress in the floor.

Today, more than ever, I realize that memories are so much better than pictures.

I love and miss you baby brother.

So very thankful for 29 years,


Is that an acronym?

When the S-Town podcast came out, I thought Woodstock and our way of life would forever be tarnished.

I, however, love a little tarnish. My single gardenia bloom is in a tarnished tea pitcher right now.

In preparation for the Woodstock Music Festival, we discussed a keepsake.

Trying to find a way to reach people. Recognizing the fact that Bibb County has a suicide rate higher than the national average.

Be glad that I have become friends with precious Jaq Davis in England or you could be going home with a KARL.

Instead you will receive a LARK. The bird that represents a new beginning of a beautiful new day.

The most important thing that we can do as individuals, as a community, a town, a nation and now our world-LOVE.

It conquers. Every obstacle. If anything you say or type is not filled with it, stop. You can change yourself. I know personally. I will never be the same. The outpouring of support has changed my life. I wish the same for each of you.

AWARENESS -Realize the struggles we all face. Be sympathetic. Be observant. Encourage.

REMINDER -Change your way of thinking. Go forward.

KEEPSAKE -Take home a little piece of Woodstock. A song, a souvenir, a smile. A full tummy.

Step into town and leave a little slower than you entered. We live life a little slower, but we like it that way.

We are weeks away and I can’t wait to meet you. If you can’t attend in person, send your heart in a note or tag!

Your friend,


50 Rotenberry Lane

Woodstock, AL 35188

It isn’t a good party, until you break something…

When I was a teenager, we decided to have a party. A no-parents, bright idea gone wrong, just now able to talk about it (30 years later) party.

We decided to make punch in a crystal punch bowl that belonged to my friend Todd’s mom. Bad idea.

We also decided to make that punch on the bar that was next to our tv with our brand new, state of the art VCR.

Todd was a nervous wreck over the punch bowl so we washed it very carefully with hot water. By now, you know where this is going, Don’t You?

Well it went.

When we put that lime sherbet in the punch bowl, it sounded like we had shot it with a gun.

Just the thought of it, makes me scared of Jonette and John L. right now.

Jonette, if you have been looking for that punch bowl for the last 30 years, I am sorry. Todd, if you have not told your mom after all these years, I am even more sorry.

You can get even with me if you want to. Go tell John L. why there was green stuff in a brand new VCR back in 1987.

We sent it back to our neighbor Neil Gardner to clean. (He was our tech support in Frog Level, Alabama. And yes, that is where we lived. Frog Level is a neighborhood, no post office. Back then it was: Rural Route 1, Box 95-B, West Blocton a.k.a. Shaw Town.)

Neil returned it and when Daddy questioned us we had no idea what he was talking about. Green stuff? We looked around at each other and shrugged our shoulders and lied “like dogs”.

Years later, Daddy’s next VCR broke on its own. No party of mine was to blame. I bought him a new one. I did not really explain why. I just said, “I owe it to you”.

Today’s party had its own excitement. We just moved a little slower.

I thought I should move 2 gallons of sweet tea out of the center of the table so I could see Carla when she was talking.

Let’s just say, I should have held the bottom of that container.

Next thing I knew, I was hunting Mrs. Mary Ann something to wear. She was a great sport and rocked my yoga pants the rest of the party.

We decorated tags and laughed.

Mrs. Mary Ann even told me to get the pitcher out of the trash because it was too pretty to throw away.

I am thinking about repurposing it as a planter.

Don’t laugh,


P.S. I am still mailing tags! Message me if you would like one. Peace, love & joy will be mailed your way!

Did somebody say Tea?

I hope you will join us for tea this weekend. I will be serving tea around 12 on Saturday and 2 on Sunday.

We will be decorating tags, eating and laughing. We may cry and we may comfort and then we may go back for seconds.

Come by the house and bring your heart and your scissors and glue.

We will create something beautiful-lasting friendships. And, I am sure the tags will be pretty too!

Michelle at the Tin Roof Restaurant is making us a Chicken Dish and a side salad.

I can’t wait to see my new friends and hopefully make some more.

Just remember, that you have a few friends in Woodstock, why don’t you come meet them!

Love your friend,


Once upon a mullet…

Now that people have started receiving their tags, I have received a few questions.

The tag is for you to decorate. Make it beautiful, funny, sentimental,artsy-completely up to you.

The beauty of this project is what it represents-the common bond we all have.

All ages, all walks of life, and we all get it. I love that.

Be sure to send it back so that it can be on the gate for all to see at the Woodstock Music Festival on September 23rd.

We will have pre-decorated tags at the festival for guests to write on as well.

Do what you do.

I won’t tell you how to do it.

I made that mistake once with a beautician. “Just layer it up”, I said, “but leave the length”.

She did what I said. I went to work and told my best good friend Cynthia to take a picture of my hair.

I will never forget my horror. Billy Ray Cyrus was jealous.

A heart attack and 2 more haircuts followed.

It all turned out okay, and I still laugh about it. I will not tell you how to cut hair and I won’t tell you what to put on your tag. Surprise me.

Don’t laugh,

Cheryl Cyrus Dodson

The night sky has never looked the same…

There will always be people who influence you. I am so very thankful for one young man who absolutely changed my life and my heart.

From the very first night, Jae Young Kim was a blessing. I was asked earlier that day if I had ever considered hosting an exchange student.

We met him later that day and my life changed forever.

There is no doubt that 2012 will always be one of the best years of my life.

I laughed so much the first week my cheeks were sore. Let me just say, Google translate will get you into serious trouble.

But I can not deny the fact that my eyes were worse the week he left. That final airport trip was devastating.

He entered the military this past week to serve his home country of South Korea. I am proud and worried.

When he first arrived, I asked him how he ended up in our little town. He said he asked for country. I can say this. We gave it to him.

I was embarrassed to think about a child from a wealthy and powerful family coming to our home. He reassured me that in his country, a home like ours was “many zeroes”. That gave me a different outlook.

But nothing compared to the first night he arrived. He looked at the stars and said, “I have never seen them until I came to America.”

I initially thought this is going to be a long year. He doesn’t speak “good English”.

It took my breath when he explained that city lights in Seoul and pollution prevented the stars from being seen.

When I looked back at the stars, I saw them for the first time myself. With gratitude. With awe.

We took him to the darkest spot we could find later that week, a hunting club in southern Bibb County. I could not watch the stars, because it was more beautiful to watch him.

I have never failed to look at the night sky without thinking of him. Just like the meaning of his name, “Let there be light”. Jae Young Kim taught me to look for it.

Stay safe young man. Your American mom loves you with all of her heart. If I wish upon a star, it will be to bring you back to me one day.

I love you for real,


45 is the magic number…

I just mailed my 45th tag! It makes me smile because I am 45. With all these stickers and stamps, I wonder if our post office thinks I am having a child’s birthday party.

Well happy mid-life crisis party to Me!

We are going to have a beautiful gate to show everyone at the Woodstock Music Festival.

I love the fact that it represents so many beautiful people. Thank you for your support and your kindness.

Can’t wait to meet you and check the mail. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

I LOVE your friendship and your precious time,


50 Rotenberry Lane

Woodstock, AL 35188

Tag! You’re it!!!

I’d love to see all of you long distance S-Town fans represented at the Woodstock Music Festival!

Our gate will be displayed and decorated. In appreciation, I promise to post pictures and send thank you notes!

Please send me a note, a postcard or if you would like a tag sent to you to decorate and return, please let me know.

I can’t wait to see your thoughts, art, and most of all your love!

Let’s show the world something beautiful!

Thank you for your support, your friendship and your precious kindness!

Peace, love and gratitude from Woodstock, Alabama!

Cheryl Dodson

50 Rotenberry Lane

Woodstock, AL. 35188

Email me your address:

Bee our guest…

I wanted our booths at the Woodstock Music Festival on September 23rd to be interactive. I just love the idea of meeting you and talking to you while you sign a tag and place it on our gate.

Debra Nichols Love worked on our inspiring guest book. She made us a Pinterest board and encouraged me and all of my random text ideas.

Kellye found us a gate like this!Kellye Burt found a gate and Donna Bowling Horn came and is working on our tags.

We are all abuzz in Woodstock!

Is this not beautiful? I did not know Becky, Donna or Carla before the S-Town podcast. I now enjoy their friendship, support and ideas.

I hope you will join us for something beautiful again on August 12th at the Tin Roof Restaurant in Woodstock at 12:00 for lunch and laughter.

I want to have a “I gotta have me some Tea” Tea Party. As always, we can share stories and encouragement.

If you love mischievous silliness, you will enjoy our conversation.

I want to have a good time and make sure we are ready for the Woodstock Music Festival. I just know you are going to love It!

Our entrance, booths, decorating and souvenirs have been the subject of my thoughts. It is wonderful to get to meet people who are so eager to help. We are looking forward to meeting you!

Please send me a postcard if you are long distance and I will display my friends from afar proudly.

I just know Love is in the mail!


50 Rotenberry Lane

Woodstock, AL 35188

Therapeutic Planning…

If you love to talk, blurt out bright ideas and dream up a good time, I would love to meet you.

We are going to have a party/therapy session Sunday, July 30th at 2:00, at my house. I am excited because Crystal is making a cheese ball.

If you want to come by the house, we can talk about lots of different things in the same conversation. (Mainly because I have trouble staying focused.)

Between the Woodstock Music Festival on September 23rd and the Forget Me Not Wildflower Trail and S-Town and a grandbaby, conversation and life are good.

Come to Woodstock and I promise you will laugh a little, and I just bet you will end up with a new friend or two.

Starting with me,


Still accepting seeds,postcards and chocolate with great appreciation at:

50 Rotenberry Lane

Woodstock, AL 35188

Welcome to Woodstock Music Festival 2017!

I am so very thankful for the wonderful people that I have met recently.  I tend to get a little excited and I worry that I will overwhelm them sometimes.

The back of the door begins!

I am helping with 4 vendors at the Woodstock Music Festival and I am very excited.

  1. Bibb County Pet Welfare
  2. Prizm Photography
  3. Suicide Prevention and Outreach
  4. Forget Me Not Wildflower Trail
Jaq Davis sent this rare beauty!

Our brainstorm meeting today was beautiful and exciting.  I think we found a crossroad where Woodstock and S-Town fans will both be thrilled.

Live Music, Great Food, and Vendors will support our Senior Nutrition and Activity Center/Homebound Meal Program and Woodstock Dixie Youth.

We are going to have an interactive guest book.  I want everyone to leave your Mark!

I also never like to leave anyone out.  If time or distance keeps you from being able to attend, I would love for you to send a postcard.

Just like the wildflowers, I will be glad to check the mail!  I will display for all to see!

We marked the map and would love to share it with you!

Please come see us and/or participate.  I love to read your messages of encouragement and would love for the Woodstock Music Festival attendees to see them.

So come see us in person or if you choose to mail a postcard, I will be forever grateful.

Thank you, thank you, thank You!

Cheryl Dodson

50 Rotenberry Lane

Woodstock, AL  35188


I always knew you two would start a cult…

My labor of love and letters combined

When I, along with all of you, started the Forget Me Not Wildflower Trail, my mind was spinning in circles.

I finally feel like I have some direction and it is a wonderful feeling.  My beloved project represents so many beautiful people-those we lost and those that loved them.

The destinations for my thank you notes are wonderful because they lead back to all of you.

Today, I am mailing a few thank you notes.
I am always amazed with the wide range of emotions and connections and addresses.  It is so beautiful.

I searched for something special and I believe I have found it.  I am requesting all recipients to keep their contents secret at this time.

If you will join us, I will send your note to you.  I enjoy group participation so much. And, I just know that our common ground will continue to grow and accomplish a great outcome.

I cannot end without laughing.  Mr. Arlet Moore is my loyal friend Crystal’s Dad. Crystal’s daughter Karlyn calls him “Choo Choo”.  Ironically, he currently drives the Choo Choo at the Riverchase Galleria 3 days a week.

Now that I have introduced him, I want to say that I just love him.  Growing up and to this day, he always knows how to make us laugh.

Everybody loves a Choo Choo!

We were so proud of our thank you notes Crystal designed and his reply was noted above, “I always knew you two would start a cult.”

For clarity, Choo Choo, it is called a Hive.

Don’t laugh and try a little honey,

All Aboard!!!!

The humble B’s (Cheryl and Crystal and Kellye and Reagen and YOU!!!)

Buckle up and Rock on!

The Woodstock Music Festival has had so much interest that we have outgrown our original plan to host it at the Woodstock Town Hall.  We are still “on track” for our our original date for Saturday, September 23rd, 2017.

Holiday Beach Raceway has helped by offering their location.   I believe this is going to be a Win-Win for everyone involved. 

Ladies and Gentlemen start your engines!

Their facilities are already equipped for a crowd and a good time.  

Food and Fun all day long are planned.  So Peace, Love, and Rock-n-Roll are coming to you live from Woodstock, Alabama!
I will keep you posted.  Hope to see you there,


Roll Call…

My collection and obsessions…

If you are interested in being an “humble B”, please let me know.

Call me old school, but I admit that I have a fondness for snail mail.  I work over 50 hours a week and I have honestly loved checking the mail recently.  Your handwritten encouragement has really been wonderful. 

But, I also appreciate the convenience of email.  So, feel free to send your contact information in whatever way that works best for you.

Either way, I would greatly appreciate it.  This is strictly for me to have a way to contact you personally, no other purpose.

I also want to stress that there are no membership exclusions.  I personally struggle with anxiety and depression.  If I can reach out to you and comfort you in any way, that is my ultimate goal. 

I never want this to be considered anything more than a very large support group.  The common emotions and connections from the S-Town podcast have really made me want to raise awareness for suicide prevention and cyberbullying.

Feel free to share your thoughts, I enjoy talking about the positive impact we can achieve.  Any ideas for more group participation projects would be greatly appreciated. 

On a local level, I wanted to see how many people would be interested in a luncheon at the Tin Roof Restaurant on Saturday, August 12th, at noon.  I need some type of RSVP for that so Michelle can be prepared.  I was thinking we could have a nice lunch and enjoy each other’s company.  I also love to promote and support our local businesses.  We can move to my house afterwards.  

I thought it would be a great way for us to talk and share ideas prior to the Woodstock Music Festival on September 23rd.  I want to reserve a booth and 
I want to promote The Forget Me Not Wildflower Trail.  But, I also want to see what else we can do for local causes.  I have met some wonderful people and I want this to continue. 

Thank you so much for your support and interest.  Come see us if at all possible and if you are unable to travel, please send me a note or an email. 

Your friend,


50 Rotenberry Lane 

Woodstock, AL  35188 

Something has happened…

Rob in Australia sent me this encouragement.

I am writing to report that the seed packets have been opened.  There are 30 packets of various combinations and I can not stop crying. 

I do not share this for any other reason except that today is Independence Day in America.  I love my country and my home, but this one has made me so proud of my fellow man.

I have never related or even dreamed of the encouragement and kindness and unity of my fellow humble B’s worldwide.

It all comes down to our hearts and minds.  There is a beautiful place that lies within us all.

His beautiful heart and sense of humor…

As the Forget Me Not Wildflower Trail begins, I hope there will be a beautiful difference around here and within all of you.  And I hope a yellow jacket does not get me.



A not so secret society…

What do you stand for?  I have questioned myself so much recently.  Especially in moments of adversity when I honestly have wanted to sit back down, or worse, hide in the dark.

In those depressing times, it has been kindness that has made me continue.  I cannot begin to thank those of you who have taken the time to send emails and private messages.  You have no idea how much that encouragement was needed and appreciated.

And now that we are receiving the seeds for the Forget Me Not Wildflower Trail, I have wanted to thank each of you personally.

My wonderful friend, Crystal is designing a postcard so that we can send a handwritten thank you for your efforts.

My precious friend Kellye, has offered to host a brainstorm session where we can continue to promote kindness.  (And, I want to add a biscuit pudding tutorial.)

In our efforts to name the wildflower project, Reagen wanted to include a “B” in the name.  She loved the fact that John said his friends called him John B.  But, the Forget Me Not Wildflower Trail was just too perfect a name for him and suicide awareness.

So, we will include that “B” in the thank you instead. 

A note from the humble B’s…

 I also wanted to invite you to become members of a “not-so-secret society”.

Crystal gets the credit for naming this one-

I am honored to welcome you to the 

“humble B’s”

If you would like to be an “humble B”, it is my responsibility to inform you that congratulations are in order!  

Your application has been approved.  Your membership fee is kindness.  

Please join us today in our efforts to “B” kind to those who are a little different or simply:

  • B.eautiful
  • E.ccentric 
  • E.ncouragement 

    If you are local, hopefully we can meet and brainstorm by the end of July.  I also have a few local causes that I want us to support. But, I may have another bright idea any minute.

    If you are distant, please send your ideas in to promote all that is good.  Who knows what else we can only dream and accomplish together.   I believe John B. McLemore’s S-Town and my beloved Woodstock will be one and the same again. We both loved a good project!

    Thank you kindly from the humblest B,

    The Forget Me Not Wildflower Trail…

    I work so much better with a project.  Lately, I have been feeling like I had no direction.   I wanted to do something beautiful and lasting to bring attention to suicide prevention and awareness. 

    I also wanted something John B. McLemore and S-Town fans could participate in regardless of geography and at a minimal cost.

    I am extremely thrilled that it was even named by one on Twitter. Thank you Jennifer Jones, I love that name. The Forget Me Not Wildflower Trail will symbolize beauty and friendship and so much more.

    Unfortunately, suicide is not an isolated incident.  It is a tragic epidemic.

    If you would like to participate,  please send your seed packets to:

    Cheryl Dodson 

    50 Rotenberry Lane 

    Woodstock, AL  35188

    As a side note, Reagen wants to do an art project with her world map and the seed packets.  Feel free to send notes or packets in memory of someone you love.  We will spread the seeds and the love!

    Thank you so very much.  I want this to be a beautiful memorial for years to come.  Please share and send to anyone who would like to participate. 

    With much love and gratitude, 


    Beautiful memories and flowers…

    All this talk of time.  Time is a funny thing. Clocks, sundials, signs.  When I was growing up, we had a sign that hung in the bathroom.  It said something like the length of a minute depended on which side of the bathroom door you were on.  Pretty true, especially in a one bathroom house with five plus kids.  

    My mind goes so much faster these days.  I wish I had its energy.  I would love to be able to accomplish just a smidgen of my bright ideas.  But then again, that could be dangerous. 

    Here is my latest challenge to myself and to all John B. McLemore and S-Town fans:

    If you will mail a packet of flower seeds to me I will scatter them.  My 40 year partner in crime, Mrs. Crystal Moore Phipps, has promised to assist.  Reagen will supervise as always.

    I also promise to document this project.  I would love to receive them from all over the world.  My goal is to create a trail from Exit 97 past his former driveway and on to the Cahaba River. 

    I stole the idea from Mrs. Lady Bird Johnson and thought it would make a fitting tribute.  I love her quote, “Where flowers bloom, so does hope.”

    I used to love to drive down the interstate and see flowers blooming.  I would love to see it around my home.

    Please mail your seeds:

    Cheryl Dodson

    50 Rotenberry Lane

    Woodstock, AL  35188

    Thanks for EVERYTHING and scatter some around your home.

    Don’t laugh,


    Oh how I love Grumpy Old Men…

    Only recently have I realized that I am equipped with a magnet.  It has worked my entire life and blessed me beyond measure.  It attracts grumpy old men.

    Overall wearing, just came in from work kinda dirty, coal miner eyeliner, and more type men have always been so very good to me.  And not to mention, kind.

    That man your family says, “Now, don’t let him hurt your feelings.”  Send him my way.  We will get along just fine.  Just leave us be.

    I wanted to write individual stories on them and hopefully on a later date, I will.

    But, Father’s Day cannot go by without me mentioning my favorites.

    This is the way I remember John.

    Everyone is familiar with John B. McLemore.  I could get him fussing over anything.  I could leave my dryer on and he would let me know that if I understood how it worked, I would never do that.

    When the outlet smoked last month, his advice haunted me.  I don’t know how I would ever gotten our laundry done when all of the kids were growing up without running it when we left the house.  But, then I think back and remember the laundry being done back then was about as often as a solar eclipse.  (That analogy would make John laugh and correct me.  That makes me smile.)

    George Watts- Computers or Cars or just about anything-he was your go to guy.

    We lost him around Thanksgiving last year.  My job required me to call him with vehicle repair estimates.  When I called him with the bad news he would never say hello Cheryl.  He would say, “Ah, it is the Grim Reaper.”  I have never laughed more or missed being called the Death Angel.

    Glen Hancock, my good-best friend Tera’ s grandfather.

      I needed the extra money and thought I would be cleaning her Aunt Tina’s.  My interview ended up with me meeting my sweet buddy who did not want to know if I could vacuum.  He tickled himself when he said, “What I want to know is do you make good cornbread?”  Every house cleaning visit started with a pan of cornbread and ended with a cup of coffee.  As I sit here describing him through my tears, he would question why he was still around.  He missed his wife terribly and he was tired.  I would love to walk through that door one more time and hear, “Hey Gal!”  These busy days, you take for granted someone who is excited to see you.  His existence served a purpose with his family, but it also served a big one with me.

    Arvell Kornegay would attempt anything. 

     The Town of Woodstock and Tannehill State Park owe that man an immeasurable  debt of gratitude.  There was a joke at the town hall of what his overalls weighed fully equipped.  We even played a game of requesting items from those pockets.  All the regular items were there, like a pocket knife or flashlight.  But, he could also pull out a band aid or a Wal-Mart sack, and that would make me hysterical.  If you called the town hall, he would check the mail or put up a street sign.  But, he wasn’t scared to clean up a dearly departed dog in the road or chase an escaped piglet.

    Don’t laugh, the pig was mine.  Have a wonderful Father’s Day!


    The Tin Foil Gardenias…

    Today is the big day!  I will be hosting The Yard Sale Extravaganza along with my precious friend Crystal!  

    But ironically, this is also the 25th Anniversary of Steel Magnolias.  I have always loved the movie and its characters. I feel like I know these women.  They are so similar to the women who raised me.  I want to be more like them.  I am far from it, but I so admire strength acquired in adversity.  

    The back story is even more important to me.  I read an article that it was written in response to the death of his sister.

    He noticed how the women coped with death so differently from the men.  In the midst of their grief, conversations were interrupted by whether or not some dish needed more salt. 

    My laughter and joy tomorrow does not disrespect or diminish my loss of John B. McLemore. 

    I am not Steel, I have the resilience of tin foil.  I crumple, but I manage to smooth myself out and be able to be used again.

    And although, I would love to be an elegant Magnolia, I consider myself a Gardenia.  In one way, if you prune me correctly, I can blossom even more.  And, if you brush by easy, there is a beautiful fragrance.  I planted one by my front door for that exact reason. 

    Unfortunately, that gardenia resides in the former location of the camellia.  It was overgrown when I bought the house and I cut it down.  I wish I would have just cut it back now. 

    John B. McLemore and Mrs. Mary Grace both let me have it over that camellia. They told me it was one of the largest around in a way that I knew they had discussed this privately before confronting me.

    It is funny now, I am thinking about planting one this month in memory.

    But back to tomorrow, Mrs. Nanette just brought me five dozen sugar cookies and said, “keep writing!”  I am forever grateful for the encouragement.  I have not seen her much recently but she just thanked me for allowing her to bring something.  I am honored to know her and be her friend. 

    Shea went to the grocery store and picked up lemons and creamer. Jomamie has made her famous banana pudding. Kellye has bestowed me with countless thrift store treasures including her own bathtub rug because she knew it would look good in front of my tub.  And it does, if I do say so myself.  

    And I do.

    I also say we run errands, we borrow, we cook.

    And, we comfort.  (Sometimes with sugar and flour.)  We have a pound cake,tomato pie and biscuits coming in the morning.  

    But, behind the scenes, my bright ideas always run me and my support group into last minute deadlines.

    In these perilous times, you have to call in the cavalry and by that I mean Glen Smith.  He is my Aunt Genevieve’s son.

    And tonight, we hung a chandelier!

    And by we, I mean him.  I promised him a steak dinner and I didn’t even give him a bologna sandwich. 

    I always think when I have company over that people are going to inspect my home.  I know they are not.  I guess it just comes down to a reason or deadline to get things done.

    The coffee and creamer will be ready bright and early in Woodstock, or if you prefer, S-Town.

    These are the best of us and I am so excited!  Mrs. Lela and Jomamie are going to come over along with several of my friends.  So, please come see us at 50 Rotenberry Lane and hang out and laugh, laugh, laugh!  

    If you buy something, I hope you bring change or a check.  In all this hoopla, I forgot to go by the bank and get change.

    Don’t laugh,

    Open house and open mouths…

    I just wanted to extend the invitation again to those of you who can possibly attend our yard sale this Saturday beginning at 7am.

    You will be amazed at how hard I have worked on the inside of my house for a yard sale.  I am bruised and sore, not to mention “the incident”.

    I decorated my buffet beautifully, lit the candles, and took a picture of my handiwork.   It was just off center “a tad”.  I evened it up and the next thing I knew…

    Well, let me just say in my lifetime, you can not make this stuff up.  The next thing I was doing was “hollering” to Jeff that, “I have caught the lamp shade on fire!”

    It is alright, I was able to unscrew the top off and throw it in the yard before he got to me off of the couch.  (If I had known that, I would not have called him, believe me.) I got one of those shaking my head looks and it did not help the fact that Reagen actually got up and stood behind him copying.  Especially knowing that I normally have to call her 3 times to make her get up normally.

    So come see my house, I insist!  We do not visit enough these days and I want some company!

    Past yard sales that I have attended with my Aunt Genevieve were spent browsing for bargains and figuring out how we were or who you were “kinned to”.

    I will not disappoint you Saturday.  I would love to talk with you regarding my beloved Woodstock, which I am realistic and know that it may be your S-Town.  You can come see my cart and other John B. McLemore things.

    We have lots of bargains and good food.  I have invited a porch full of people to hang out.  So please come.

    I will try to remember for you and not catch the house on fire in the process.

     I am sore from moving furniture and I want to be sore from laughing!  Take the road trip to nowhere and come see a bunch of nobodies.

    Don’t laugh,


    Yard sales & tall tales…

    When I was growing up, there was a Saturday morning ritual of driving around town to yard sales. 

    If I was given $5, I had to restrain myself from spending it all at the first one.  People held them on the first weekend of the month when people “got their checks” or on Tannehill trade day weekend in hopes of higher traffic.

    Next weekend, on Saturday, the 17th of June, 2017, you are cordially invited to attend the yard sale of Cheryl Acker Dodson & Crystal Moore Phipps from 7am until to be determined by Alabama heat and humidity.

    It will be held at my home which is located at 50 Rotenberry Lane, Woodstock AL, 35188.  Dress is casual and so is the conversation, not to mention the prices.

    I have recently redecorated with the finest thrift store furnishings and I would love to give you the Grand Tour and a cup of a coffee.  I have begged Shea Acker for a tomato pie and I may make some lemonade for later in the day.  Who knows what I may add to the menu or guest list by next Saturday. 

    If you are up for a little drive, hospitality and a good deal, head my way.  

    Crystal is my childhood friend and knows all of my secrets.  (Please don’t ask her for any because she loves to tell them almost as much as me.)  A lifetime of laughter and memories is held between the two of us.

    I love the opportunity to have an excuse to talk and meet new people and send you home with a gently used lamp and a good story.  I am sure you can understand that John B. McLemore and S-Town have made for good conversation around here lately. 

    Crystal and I have taken him to Tuscaloosa and welcomed him in more than one of my homes over the last twenty years. 

    One unrelated story he would have appreciated was the summer that we appointed ourselves caretakers of the Smith Hill dearly departed cats and dogs.  We buried them and stood over them and grieved, whether we knew them or not.  It is a precious childhood memory of love and loss.  So you may call me names like self-righteous, but just so you know- I have preached a few cat funerals.

    Don’t laugh! (and come see us), I have been comforted by the kindness of many of you and would love to return the favor,


    Road trip to nowhere…

    If you have ever longed to come to our little town, I would love to be your tour guide.  I know there are those who are unable to travel so I will try to explain.  I may try to add pictures and a map soon. Bear with me, but I keep hearing people talking about visitors asking for directions.

    First of all, our town is a Sunday drive town.  What I mean by that is when I was growing up on Sunday it was exciting to ride around.  Daddy would put gas in the car and we just looked out the windows.  I would wear comfortable clothes just like you were going on a trail walk.

    Then I recommend that you roll your windows down, put your sunglasses on, kick your feet up (if you are riding shotgun) and ease your way around our backroads.  They are bumpy and narrow in the curves.  For entertainment, you can also throw your hand up casually at cars and blow your horn at people in yards.  (Lots of us in cars and yards will wave back and then guess about who you are.)  Whatever direction you come from, I suggest a circular route to take it all in.

    For most, I would assume you would come in from Exit 97, West Blocton/Centreville off of I-20/59, we are located between Tuscaloosa and Birmingham.  It is no secret, I love to eat.  I love our local places.  We don’t have many choices, but when I take a road trip this is what I love to know.

    Immediately to your right is La Tortilla.  If you like to sit down and eat, it is your first choice of two restaurants.  I  like the dip they serve along with your chips and salsa.  I also like the Fajita Bowl.  Jeff and I split it.

    Next small building is Julia’s Florist.  If they knew what was on my flower card years ago, I bet I was the talk of the town.  Or at least the talk of a few beauty shops.

    Your dilemma at this point is whether to turn left into Greenpond or go straight into Woodstock.  I will take you straight.

    Coming up on the right is the charred remains of Ken’s package store.  Be reverent, please remove your hat, and put your hand over your heart.  The demise  was recent and many locals are still grieving.

    Fireworks and alcohol sales next door to each other-I must admit are a true classic combination.  If you are inclined to indulge in both, turn around and head back to UAB West in Bessemer, our closest emergency room.

    Your next point of interest is Promiseland BBQ.  You stand and order at one window and pick up at the other.  My former boss took a BBQ road trip and said it was one of his favorites.  My last order was the Ribs, probably for some holiday.  I find it cheaper to eat out most of the time than to buy every thing I need to cook on those occasions.  At least that is what I tell myself.

    Keep looking right and you will see Holiday Beach Raceway.  You may hear it, if you come on a Thursday or Saturday night.  Or it might be a good way to end the evening, if you like to watch drag strip racing.  They have great concession stand food.

    At this point you could go straight towards Vance.  You would be able to see KyKenKee lumber yard on the left.  Rahsheen, Jacob, and Colby-my boys have all worked there.

    If it is breakfast time, the Chevron gas station on your right makes a great egg and cheese sandwich.  I order mine with mayo,salt and pepper, cut in half please.  Jacob and I love them.

    If you want to picnic, Foodland has deli choices of pre-made sandwiches.  If you like to make your own, I like their pimento cheese made with pepper jack, but that is just me.  They also have tuna, chicken, and an assortment of potato salads.  (I buy the baked potato salad.)

    But I would turn left and laugh at the Little Caesar’s pizza hut.  Right off the highway behind it is Boozer Downs’ office in a little white house.  He is the attorney that John said he could talk to intelligently.

    Next is the Woodstock Town Hall.  If you feel the need, stretch your legs on the walking track or snap a selfie by the Historic Marker.

    Take a right out of the parking lot and cross the bridge.  Get in the turn lane and turn left.  Your immediate right is the former home of Woodstock Garden Center. My neighbor Anne said she came home one day and Mr. John B. McLemore himself was watering her azaleas.  I guess he sat on the porch at the Woodstock Garden Center and thought she had procrastinated long enough.

    Next door is yours truly.  Days like today, my front door is open so I can hear the windchimes and the birds.  My coffee is on and I have my Southern Pecan creamer, my personal favorite.  Crystal and I are having a yard sale Saturday after next (June 17th).  Stop by and talk.  I will show you the door.

    And across the road is Sweet Mrs. Lela.  Our street is graced by her presence and so is my yard.  She is generous with her desserts and her 4 o’clock’s.

    Rotenberry Lane ends at Coldwater Road.  Take a left and before the bridge take a right at the Coldwater Lodge.  Trackside BBQ is on the left.  Jeff and Aler will feed you kindly.  Their marriage combined 2 of my favorite families.  The George’s and the Cook’s.  The Brisket is wonderful.  I also recommend the  peanut butter pie or if it is hot, try a milkshake.

    At the 4 way stop is our old post office. Alongside is the Kinard’s old house, I have robbed his bushes before for Ladies Day and brought him back a dessert plate.  Mr. Albert was a town hall regular, proud Mason, and ran the North Bibb rescue squad.  He also sold many variations of Day Lilies, a hometown favorite that landscape the town hall now.

    If you cross the tracks and stay straight you go into Greenpond, you can see the cemetery.  Lots of visitors recently, any donations would be greatly appreciated.  I have seen them working on it myself at visits and it is hard and hot and repetitive.

    If you continue out the cemetery road, it ends at the old Green Pond library.  John’s Bellingrath Book has a library card from there inside.   There is no return date stamp, hopefully it was bought at a book sale.  Mr. Hubbard has many stories I am sure.  He is a true well spoken gentleman himself and a published author.

    Take a left out of the library and you come to the 4-way stop.

    If you hang a right, it goes to Tannehill State Park.  Walk alongside the Grist Mill, ride the train, or take your shoes off and wade in the bubbling springs.  They have excellent walking trails and camping or cabin rentals.  Reagen has requested a cabin rental for her last two birthdays.  Jomamie has always obliged so we stay 2 or 3 days in it for Spring Break.  We like the Nail Cabin.  If you come on the 3rd Saturday, you can visit the craft cabins and trade days.  It is a large outdoor flea market.

    But, Eastern Valley Road is a pretty Sunday drive road regardless.  Our exchange student JaeYoung, always loved to watch for horse pastures.  On trade day weekends, Eastern Valley has all the yard sales your “pocketbook” can stand.  Sharman Martin lives off of the road and has written two books herself, one about Noah Galloway.

    Greenpond Grocery on your left is owned by Jackie Cline.  He played football at Alabama for Bear Bryant and later for the Miami Dolphins.  If you eat in the deli, order the hamburger steak plate.  Jeff likes their ranch dressing with his fries.

    If you go straight, Mrs. Judy has a great breakfast at the little store on the right.  K3 lumber is on the left and it takes you straight back to Hwy. 11, but I would go left back to Old Woodstock Road.

    Turn left and you will see the South Forty sign on the fork.  John’s old driveway is where you see the gate on the left. His property is isolated and you cannot see his house from the road.

    While you are here, I would continue all the way down to the end of Woodstock Road.  You will be leaving Woodstock, but I don’t think you should come down here without seeing the Cahaba.  In May, we have the lilies.  But, I love nature year round.

    You can enjoy searching and/or finding the bridge graffiti or if you are up for it, I would tube at Limestone Park.  It is a local relaxing favorite.  I have not been in years, but I used to love it.  I still see pictures of people having a great time.  They load you up with an inner tube, drop you off and you float downstream.  It is our own natural lazy river.

    You could spend the night at Brierfield Park.  I have camped there with my kids years ago.  They liked it because it has a pool.

    I am always hungry after I swim, so I would head back through West Blocton.

    Right before you come into town, take a right and walk around the Coke Ovens.

    Bring your camera!  (It is a really cool picture background, I tortured Colby and Molly to pose there for prom pictures.)

    This little town is our sister city and has a Main Street.  Unfortunately, the business section only exists in my memory. I would personally love to see them turned into apartments or something, but most are vacant.

    The Tiger Hut is there though and I always order a butterscotch milkshake.

    When I say always, I mean 30 plus years.  (Now you order from Mrs. Cindy, but I have also ordered from Mrs. Carolyn (her mom), and the previous owners.)  I remember getting them after school when I was lucky enough to have extra money.  You will not regret your purchase.

    On your way back, the Tin Roof restaurant has great steaks on Friday and Saturday nights.

    The salad bar is also good and the menu is a “meat and three” type.  Michelle, Carol, and Kayley always take good care of us.  (We held the town hall Christmas party there.)

    These are just my suggestions.  I have no endorsements.  I just saw a few disappointed S-Town road trips and I wanted to give you a few options.

    If you like nature and riding around, you will enjoy.  You also will know where and what to eat.

    Hope this helps and if you get lost, don’t blame me.

    Don’t laugh,



    Happy birthday to me!

    In honor of my 45th birthday, I thought I would impress you with my baking skills.

    My first “made from scratch” cake!

    I got this idea in my head my senior year of high school that I would never see my friends again.  I just knew I would move to L.A. and be a successful MTV VJ.  Or maybe, I would be a doctor.  I was definitely going to famous, rich, and far, far away.  

    After all, Hee Haw had been cancelled and I could no longer dream of growing up and laying on that porch.  The closest I came to being a Hee Haw honey was the time I got arrested.  (No lie-I was wearing a pair of Daisy Dukes and barefoot.  Roy Clark and Buck Owens would have approved of my attire.)

    I will save that one for later.

    Anyways, I made my friends a birthday cake and I am pretty sure this one was for Charlene Wallace.  If I remember correctly, we were at the library desk when we cut it and someone let out a, “Eeeww!”

    That beautiful moist chocolate cake had some yellow object in it.  Had I cooked a bug?  How gross and how embarrassed was I.

    There is always a person that has to poke it in every crowd.  I was cringing. 

    The repeated pokes revealed a round of laughter.  I swear I used a mixer.  I mean I promise I used one.  

    Despite the mixer, I hard boiled three lovely egg yolks inside that cake.  I will never forget it.

    Once the mystery was solved, we proceeded to eat it.  

    Lesson learned -I never fail to poke and/or whisk my eggs with a fork now.  

    And, for the record- believe it or not, I make an awesome pound cake.  I will caution you to slice at your own risk.  But again, that is yet another story. 

    My awesome cake today! Thank you Kellye and Reagen.

    Don’t laugh, 


    Blood is thicker than water? 

    If you don’t know me, my life is unusual I guess.  

    I can’t stand to see a situation and not try to do something.  I came to pick up Reagen from the babysitter when she was a year old.

    Mrs. Rita came highly recommended by my good friend Tinia Mize.  She said she loved to pick up her kids and Mrs. Rita would be in the floor playing with them.  She had a young teenage daughter named Tina.

    For some reason, they needed a place to stay that night and that turned into the next six months or so.  Mrs. Rita soon became “Other Momma” to Reagen.  I think at one time she kept 6 kids and my grandmother.

    She also kept the house, the laundry and had dinner on the table.  She had a simple kindness and a sweet disposition.  She spent all of her earnings at Dollar General back on Reagen it seemed.  Reagen had a present for every day on the calendar. 

    She would ring your phone off the hook, but you could not fail to laugh at her updates.  “I won the dance contest at the Senior Center, hun!”  Later years, it was always a question of when was I bringing Reagen to see her.  

    I have been told my whole life how quickly life goes by.  There are certain moments when that is very apparent.  One is when I got a call from my sweet Tina to tell me she was gone. 

    There are no words. 

    Tina had lost her dad at age 5.  Life can be cruel.  My only thoughts were to ask if I could be a grandmother and Jeff would be Paw Paw.   I will never be able to repay what she has done for my family, but I have become GiGi.  (Douglas’ first idea was Princess Bubble Gum.)

    My fridge has popsicles and juices again.  I have banana puffs and sippy cups in the cabinet.  And, more importantly I have a little boy in the swing and Reagen has a little girl on her hip.

    My sweet boy Douglas

    Jeff accused the boys of drinking his moonshine years ago.  He had been given a jar from a friend and it started to disappear.  Teenage boys were the obvious suspects.  They swore they were innocent.

    Jeff then thought it was Mrs. Rita.  I thought he was crazy and I went to her, “Mrs. Rita, Jeff thinks you drank his moonshine!”

    “Well hun, I had a cough.”

    They say blood is thicker than water, but I have found that love is thicker than both. Six kids and my grandmother probably did require a little moonshine, cough cough!

    Other momma and Us-family forever

    Don’t laugh, 


    Even though the moment passed me by…

    I thought some of you might appreciate my CD’s.  I also thought you might like to see his handwriting. 

    Unfortunately, I have been unable to find the one where he rapped for me.  You would have loved it.

    I want to show this because it really bears on my heart.  Thank you for your kind words and support and private messages. 

    I cried last night over a Twitter post.

    Reagen was excited to see this, thank you!
    PG 13 makes me laugh

    Everyone has really been nice to me.  I wish I could have changed things. 

    Jeff is working on some projects with the Town of Woodstock as far as a music event.  I am very excited. 

    Reagen wants me to set up a tent and talk.  Hopefully, I will be able to meet some of you.  

    Don’t laugh,


    I suffer from OCFMD

    Reagen said I have been recommended for Sunday reading.  My alarm want off at 6am like it does every Sunday. 

    I wanted to write and tell all of you something spectacular. 

    Instead I have been moving furniture for 2 1/2 hours.  I suffer from Obsessive Compulsive Furniture Moving Disorder, if there is such a thing.

    Growing up, the kids fussed (and probably cussed when I wasn’t in earshot) when they heard their name and, “Come hear, hurry!”

    I have avoided asking for help to avoid hearing their whining.  I also do not like the battle of explaining where I am going with it and why, only to end up cornered or on the verge of a hernia or back surgery.

    When we had the Woodstock Garden Center, my grandmother used to warn me that I was going to pay for moving all that concrete.  I am very fortunate that I have no issues because I have definitely put myself to the test.  Jeff got the hernia. 

    Jeff and I fought last night when we moved the couch.  He is telling me to turn the couch at a 45 degree angle to get it through the door.  Reagen thinks I am crazy because I yell back, “I know that, but apparently the secret of my strength was located in my gallbladder.  And when it left me, so did my ability to move furniture without assistance.”  (Viewer discretion is advised on what I actually said, but that is what I meant.)

    Jeff laughed.  I got mad because he actually admitted that he liked the couch better where I put it.  I had suggested moving it two hours before and he held out on getting up until I had moved every cushion, but the one he was sitting on.

    Of all the things I have discovered lately, it is now kinda a running joke.  Stewart, one of my coworkers, said, “Cheryl, there are these other things you are going to learn about, they are called-Memes.”

    I already know about them Stewart.  

     Colby sends them to me.  Not funny Colby.   Well kinda.

    I guess he has earned the right.  For Colby is my child who got up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom and face planted an entertainment center.  (I moved it after he went to sleep.  No big deal.)

    Man up Colby, I love you.  Now come fix my dryer. 

    Don’t laugh, 


    Scars are souvenirs you never lose…

    I am very sentimental.  When the kids were growing up, I did not enjoy my stuff I collected.  But, the rubbermaid tubs have been opened recently.  

    Now that I have a guest room, it is full of things I love.

    I bought Mrs. Helen Hartley’s home interior board at a yard sale and I cover it with things I love.  Letters, cards, etc.

    Mrs. Helen was my daddy’s neighbor.  She would come over to his porch and talk.  When she had not been to the beauty shop, Daddy would say, “Who combed your hair Mrs. Helen, J.W.?”  (J.W. was her husband.)  She would laugh and make excuses and pat her hair.  

    I can imagine that board pinned with gold butterflies.  I bet it was carried to many homes around town.

    These are a few of my favorite things

    There is an empty cornmeal bag from Arvell Kornegay.  I can picture him working the mill at Tannehill or better yet, driving the train.  I kept it in the freezer for years.  I finally figured I better make dressing, but I couldn’t throw the bag away.

    A pin from my journalism class.

    A letter from my mom when I was in college.  Aunt Genevieve, Aunt Mamie,etc.,etc.

    And John.

    My Goo Goo Doll CD’s.  My custom ones with his handwriting.  His things.

    When this podcast came out.  It was very painful to hear his voice.  Episode 2 was absolutely devastating for me.  I sat in my bed and cried and cried.

    And, I don’t cry. 

    Everyone was talking.  I could not finish it.

    Friends encouraged me to finish it.  I am glad I did.

    I have been told that it was a compliment to be featured in the end.  Brian told me his favorite part was my door.

    I have been in John’s house with John.  Sitting and staring up at a row of Furbies. The bookshelves were full. Remembering is good for me.  Except for his casual mention of his “letter”.

    I felt this end would come.  I never dreamed of all this.  

    Do I wish I had went to his house? Yes.

    Did I say, “No John, you sued me.”


    That is what I said to the podcast listeners trying to explain why I did not go.  Apparently, I  was misunderstood. 

    I never saw the court documents either.  John and I sat on a bench and worked it out.

    We talked on the phone.  We talked in the store.  The police chief called me and told me the news.  

    I did not go to the funeral.  I have been to his grave.

    Our relationship did not end.  As long as I am alive it never will.

    Screenshot of Name Lyrics

    Right now, he would fuss about the Goo Goo Dolls and say he would never listen to them again.  I listen to them over and over.

    His final letter was beautiful.  I had those flower talks with him.  On the table, there are 2 Bellingrath books-his and mine.  That was our common ground, our love of flowers.  I can tell the difference between them because his has a library card. 

    He probably stole it.  I probably laughed.

    Don’t try this at home, 


    Thank you to the Editor…

    The past couple of weeks have been challenging for me.  Technology is something I let advance without any concern. 

    I am a person who does not watch tv. People have laughed about me not knowing about this podcast.   And now I have a blog and an Instagram and a Twitter.  

    My 13 year old Reagen is my editor, IT department, and sounding board.   She says that for all the nice talk I have for other people, I am not very nice to her at times.

    She is suggesting I start a YouTube channel.   I can hardly work my phone as it is now.

    I honestly have enjoyed being able to share additional information with you.  It is pretty amazing to get to tell others about the people I love.

    Reagen can’t remember John, except in the repetitive memory kinda way.  She has seen her baby book and all of my keepsakes.  She has heard bits and pieces of his voice.

    But to her, she says, he is Peter Pan.  He kinda was.

    “Aww mom, it is the boy who owned the box.”

    So I will try to be Wendy.  I think I spent alot of time telling Peter, “you come down from there.”  But once he was gone, you think maybe I should have enjoyed watching him fly.  

    There were days that I did, we went to a military memorial park in Tuscaloosa and he climbed all over everything just like a kid would do.  Things I am pretty sure he was not supposed to, so it was pretty funny.  My friend Crystal is still looking for the pictures from that day.

    But, it was Reagen who saw his box for what it was.  I was excited when I saw John.  Reagen saw “keep out”.

    A little boys treasure chest

    That is my dilemma.  What do I share?  What do I hold onto?  How do I explain things without hurting anyone?

    I don’t want to glorify bad behavior and I don’t want to betray trust.  I think overall, fans are forgiving of John.  And me.

    I will continue to share the best with you. There are a few more people I would love to introduce to you.  I think you will enjoy them like I do and it just might explain a few things.

    If you wonder why there is any lack of clarity, these are real people.  Reagen has to face middle school peers who can be less forgiving.  So I have chosen to remain silent in anything negative, to protect my own feelings, but more importantly hers.

    The adults granted interviews. We never imagined the spotlight we would be putting ourselves in.  (And more importantly, those younger family members who are more vulnerable and subject to intense cyberbullying.)

    Meet the Editor, Reagen is one tough cookie

    So please remember there are innocent bystanders and I have to protect my editor. For she is only 13, has done an excellent job, and she works for free. 

    Don’t laugh, 


    My nail polish back story…

    How funny is this!  Who knew?

    I went for a manicure and pedicure a few weeks ago.  There was only one choice…

    I have laughed over this.  My friends have called and said, “Oh my gosh, I know this story!”

    I will never forget those flowers.  I have looked for the card because I usually save everything.  I had a heart attack when I opened the card and read, “You so good, my legs so tired” on May 17, 2001.

    The reason I remember so vividly, it was the day I married Wade.

    I remember telling John, “I can’t believe you sent me flowers with that on the card.” (They were delivered to the Woodstock Town Hall.)  And his reply, “I didn’t know you were getting married.”

    Poor John, his timing was terrible. 

    We were the best of friends.  I loved that they compare him to Boo Radley, because that made me Scout.  And, To Kill A Mockingbird has always been my favorite book.

    He was definitely a Boo Radley in every sense.  He had local stories about his strange behavior and most of it was true.

    He loved to fuss and gossip.  He also loved to shock and vandalize.  Some people he absolutely terrorized.  I had to watch what I told him.  I learned quickly that he wanted to make me laugh even at the expense of someone else.  

    He didn’t sleep at night much, so he would come in sideways around noon going about 90 miles an hour wanting to tell me about his latest obsession.  Sometimes it meant that I fussed about things he should not have done.  Sometimes he listened. 

    I would try to listen or tune him out or put him to work. He had usually  made his local rounds and informed me of what he knew.  

    I was very upset when the podcast came out.  The name alone gave me a heart attack.  I honestly was worried about me.  

    It later changed to him.  It was very hard to hear his voice again.  Those rants still own me.  I can’t help it.  They are so John.

    When Kellye took me over to the house, she let me pick what I wanted because I knew him.  Lots of people have given the Burt’s a hard time, but I know they have provided for Mary Grace and been very considerate of me.

    My favorite things

    His model house, Bellingrath Book, treasure chest, bottles, and clock are mine.  To me, they are worth more than any gold you could dig for.

    I remember a version of him that was not so angry.  And, that is the one I choose to dwell on.  The same one who laughed over 80’s music, collected furbies, and ranted nail polish names.

    So thanks in advance for the shout out on National Nail Polish Day, it really makes me smile. 

    Don’t laugh, 


    Happy birthday brother!

    Swimming at the Blue Hole

    For one week every year, I am one year older than my brother Jason.  The other 51 weeks, I am two.  We are the two oldest of the six of us.

    I don’t remember many shared birthdays other than our Smurf party years ago.  The rest of the time, we got our own cake.

    Just like on Thanksgiving at Granny Acker’s, Jason Lewis got chocolate pie and Cheryl Suzette got lemon icebox.   We had it made.

    We disagreed and fought on many things, but our love of home was always common ground.  We could not wait to get back to Blocton, whether it be for the weekend or in later years, for good.

    It was always a treat when Granny took us to Davie’s.  You got chocolate covered peanuts and I got chocolate covered raisins.  I remember wandering through the McCall’s sewing patterns and Granny having to call me back to checkout.

    Our teen years were spent as far apart as we could get from each other, except for our love of hanging out and swimming.

    When you went in the Navy,  I have never been more proud or worried.  I  still have all of your letters.  I named my son Jacob after you because I wanted him to be called Jake, just like you.

    My favorite veteran – My brother

    Over the years, I am thankful more and more for you.  I hope you have a great birthday and I love you.

    I am still jealous of the fact that you got to sleep with Granny, she wouldn’t let me in her bed “cause I kicked too much”.

    Don’t laugh,


    Sweet Melissa

    Granny James’ yard years ago

    We lost Greg Allman this weekend.  I was privileged to see him in Montgomery with our good friends Bill and Lee. 

    And, out of the blue, I was contacted by my sweet cousin Melissa today.  She lives in Colorado and saw my blog.  We stayed on the phone through Facebook messenger.   (Very scary view for her I am sure, Reagen said I hold the phone way too close to my face.)  She requested a story about her dad.

    My Uncle Tommy.  Gone way too soon. Tender hearted.  Loving.  A total fun mess.  There is no way I could describe him in a way that would do him justice.  But, out of love, I will try.

    What do I miss most?  Without a doubt, hands down -His laugh. His chuckle.  His way of filling the room with sunshine.  His grandson Andrew has it, and I think that is awesome. 

    What can I tell you that you don’t know?  I am 9 years older, so I was privileged enough to be able to put my child in his arms.  I wish you could have seen his sweet tenderness.  I  know you were so young, and I only tell you in hopes of you knowing that he would have done even more with your own children.

    His effort-I know you would have loved to see him hold a baby and give advice.  He brought me a sack of baby food and pulled out the jars to individually tell me which ones were the favorites of each of you.   That always stuck in my mind that he fed you and took care of you and more importantly,  he remembered. He paid attention. Something I have always struggled with as a mother.

    His joy-We were poor, but we did not feel it.  He babysat us a lot.  We played games and had challenges.  We strained our guts to hold our feet off the floor for 3 minutes trying to win the lottery promise that he would give us $20. There was no hope for me.  Johnny turned beet red and got the closest.

    We made easy bake oven cakes, mine was lumpy.  He let me eat his.

    I tried to stump him with a word he could not define.  I chose “contours”.  I saw it on the back of eye shadow instructions and I just knew a man would not know the definition of the word.  I lost.  Again.

    I remember going to his house and laughing at Yosemite Sam stomping and shouting, “Ooh, I get more free beer this away”.  I did not know he said things like that.  Once again, I did not pay attention. 

    But, not really.  I have always thought about life as the road straight in front of you.  I later saw something about-what is around the curve, that you can’t see. Maybe that is what this is.

    An opportunity to share memories of beautiful people that time and distance would ordinarily separate.  

    So to All of his children-Your dad would be so proud.  He was kind and understanding.  He was rare. And rare beautiful blooms do not last long,  but that doesn’t make them any less beautiful.   It just makes them more precious. 

    I think about how sweet all of you were when we lost mother and you lost him 20 years ago.  I love you and on behalf of my sweet, sweet uncle, he does too.  He would have paid attention.  I know this.  I witnessed it personally.

    And if there’s any comfort-it is within all of us, each one of us has the ability to let out that deep heartfelt chuckle. And laugh, laugh, laugh.

    So in honor of Greg Allman, I dedicate “Sweet Melissa” to you and “I’m no Angel” to me (and Granny).

    Don’t laugh, 

    Your “favorite cousin” Cheryl 

    I’m not really a blogger…

    One crazy story started it all…

    This is me and I have never been so overwhelmed.  But, in a good way.  I have had 11,000 plus views in the 10 or more days that I have been doing this.

    I have paid the expense and it is my own thing.  Simply Cheryl.  

    (No paid endorsements, unless Lean Cuisine or ULTA is interested.  HELLO!!!)

    Next week, I will be 45.  I have always felt like a calamity.  I knew my intentions, but I usually end up way off track.  Somehow it works.

    The support I have received has been amazing.  I have reconnected with childhood friends, got messages from relatives, and made new friends in the process. 

    I loved this:

    National Nail Polish Day-I love it!

    I would love to tell you I know where I am going with this.

    But. I. Don’t. Know. 

    Story of my life.

    I have had requests for stories and reminisced with family and friends for new ones. Some stories bear scars on my skin, others on my heart.

    One thing I am trying the hardest to do is show you the best of us.  No hidden agenda.  No greed.  No problem. 

    We can look anywhere for the wrong in life.  I myself can look in the mirror or my past and find enough of that.

    If you choose to hang in here, put on your rose colored glasses, grab the handle and I will stomp the gas.

    I have no bucket list, when you have lived like me, you don’t need one. 

    Don’t laugh, 


    The reason I can’t have matches…

    There’s the front of the house and then…

    You know those “no burn” laws?  And those thoughts of, “Somewhere, some idiot…”

    Well, don’t look at me.

    I blame it all on Mrs. Lillie Mae Seagle.  Go to the top of Smith Hill, around the bend and look left.  There sat a little light green house with a beautiful green yard.  I was jealous of that green grass and I decided to copy her secret.  Nobody told me one match and a windy day made for terrible timing except Daddy, and that was after it was all over. 

    You can imagine with my history how many, “I told you so’s”, I have gotten over the years.  I would love to tell you that I am smarter with age, but I believe that to be wishful thinking on my part.

    I think I get into less trouble now a days strictly due to the fact that I am a little more tired to carry out my bright ideas.  I  still have them, I just do not get out of the bed to carry them out.  My family is very thankful for that I am sure.

    They are threatening to start their own blog and tell their version of my stories, so I will try to stay honest and prevent the “Cheryl Tales” from ever being published. 

    About 10 years ago, Jeff says he was coming in tired from work and intended to lay down.  He got out of his truck and saw smoke and walked around the house thankfully or this would be a completely different story. 

    The shock of “Cheryl, What Are You Doing?”, booming from Jeff was outweighed by my relief.  I knew I was in trouble, but at that point I did not care, I have never been so glad to see Jeff Dodson come home in my entire life.

    I promise it was one match.  I was out in the backyard and you would have thought I put gas on it.  “Whooof”, I still cringe at the memory of the sound. 

    My smug bright idea went to “Oh crap, where is the hose?” in 3 seconds flat.  

    No hose, no phone, no husband.  Just me and a know it all 3 year old, saying “This was a baaad idea.”  I probably should be ashamed of myself but I turned all my panic in her direction with my, “Get on the patio now!”  

    I kinda go blank after that.  I  remember the heat and the fact of all the things you think you will do.  Well, in my case I did none of them.  I remember looking ahead at the direction of the fire and thinking that I have burnt down the neighborhood. 

    When we got it out, I wore the shame face over the next few days when people came to look and point.

    The kids don’t let me live it down, especially my smart alec 3 year old who surveyed the damage and chimed in, “When DHR sees this, they ain’t gonna let us have no kids.”

    Shut up Reagen. 

    I know.  Bad mom.  But it is bad when they are right and you gave birth to them.  Just saying. 

    On the bright side, the grass was pretty that year.  Mrs.  Lillie Mae would have been proud and she would have laughed.  She had a great sense of humor. 

    Especially when she saw the pretty green grass and the back of our house. 

    I don’t think it looked that bad…

    Don’t laugh, 


    My therapist is a beautician…

    Once a month, I have to get my beauty shop fix.  I am in great hands with Rhonda, Misty, Sheila, Sam, Alma, and Linda.  That is not even counting all the ladies who have appointments.  I always feel welcome.  I work 60 hours a week and was having a hard time finding someone to take care of me.

    My precious sister-in-law Shea told me about the Tannehill Salon.  It is located off of Exit 100 and is located in a cute little building.  I love that every station has its own color of antiques. We may not be the Steel Magnolia’s, but Dolly herself would be proud because we are funny, if I do say so myself. 

    When I lost my mom, Jan (she is my sister-in-law Shea’s mother) was sitting in Rhonda’s chair and told me back in school she remembered my mother’s beautiful smile.  Nothing is more healing than to have a new memory of someone you have lost. 

    But, the majority of the time we are laughing to the point of hysteria.  I tell Rhonda to pose for a picture in front of the shop and this is what I get.

    Rhonda cannot behave and Misty laughs at us both

    All jokes aside, there is a healing power in their job.  I believe the therapy lies in the power of company, and touch, and laughter, and fussing.

    I get to vent and know that I have the confidence of friends.  It lets me know that I am not alone, and we all have our share of life’s daily troubles.  It also is wonderful knowing you can share the worst side of you and they love you anyway.

    Rhonda was supposed to take a picture, but instead took a video.  I am sharing because it shows exactly what I am talking about.  This is me-no make-up, jogging pants (minus the jogging, plus the jiggling), laughing and trying to explain about the purpose of my blog.  When I start leaving, my cares have gone and so have my roots!

    Don’t laugh,


    This love of the Lily…

    The beautiful and rare Cahaba River Lily 

    I have grown up on the Cahaba River.  We camped while Daddy checked his trotlines. We swam and played and explored all summer.  Then when winter came along, we made campfires and rode in the back of pickup trucks up and down the banks.

    It was mischievous to skip school and head over there to swim.  We were stupid, the Principal Mr. Morris Moody, was not.  Only one way into town and there he sat at the end of Main Street on our way back. 

    I took Jacob over as a baby and patted the water, “Cahaba River, Cahaba River”.  Later that night, he proudly splashed back at me from the tub, “haba ribber momma, haba ribber”.  Close son, close.

    The river becomes popular this time of year.  We now hold festivals, crown queens and host guided tours.  Everyone heads to take pictures of our rare and beautiful Lily.  Old folks say, “You should have seen it when I was young!”

    And, this love of the river has carried on for at least the 5 generations of my Acker family that I know.   Last year, Jacob proposed there and I gained a beautiful daughter. 

    He recently paid “big money” for an ancestry DNA test, the results were shocking to him, but no surprise to me.  All these years, he thought blood flowed through his veins. 

    I knew it was the Cahaba. 

    Don’t laugh, 


    Dr. Granny’s Spa & Casino

    I know that there are tons of people who spend lots of money on weekend retreats or spa vacations.  I dream of them myself with the idea of me and my sister getting massages and facials and living the “the good life”.  I however, can not afford the good life.

    I do remember when it was free though.  It usually meant that you were spending the night with Papa and Granny.  I could sit at the kitchen table and ask for anything I wanted.  That usually meant chocolate pudding baby food even though I was probably 10.  Sometimes I could have a coke out of the bottom drawer that was in a glass bottle, but you had to time that request just right, Granny didn’t give them out as freely.

    But maraschino cherries were just about an automatic yes.  The excitement was real when she agreed to get out the glass jar and feed me 2 or if I was lucky 3.  I ate them like a bird in a nest being fed by its mom.  (Or is it dad?)  Anyway…

    I then had some ailment that could usually be cured with pepto bismol.   I cannot decide if I liked the taste or the attention, probably a little of both.

    The healing power of attention

    After my belly was full, it was bathtime. I would stay in the tub until my fingers wrinkled and then holler for her to come get me out.  She came quickly with a luxurious green towel and dried me off.

    I was then “doctored” with mercurochrome, bismal violet, and campho phenique from head to toe.  I was not satisfied until every scratch, scrape and a few freckles were red or purple.

    Modern day medicine can not compare

    I got to put on vanity fair pajamas and sleep until she called me for breakfast.  By that time Papa, otherwise known around here as “Big Ack” was already in the kitchen waiting in his chair at the table.

    The only gamble I took back then was if I laid there until Granny called my twice. After that Big Ack stepped in and I knew better than to get between him and breakfast.

    Don’t laugh,


    The recipe

    My dad is famous for his combination cooking.   The same dish will change depending on what day it is.  Day 1 is your normal dish.  Day 2 may add a can of corn and Day 3 a pack of noodles.

    Never the same dish twice.  Ever.

    But, somehow it works.

    Much like my family portraits over the years.  The 90’s include Brandy, Lauren, Jessi, Colby, and Jacob. Later years add Lea, Reagen, Rahsheen and JaeYoung Kim.  Was it hard?  Yes. Try feeding 4 teenage boys.

    I won’t begin to talk about their laundry. Wait.  Yes I will.  Mount Dodson could never be climbed.  It caused lots of division.  Little things like laundry seem to have a way of doing that.

    Just like words.

    And feelings.

    And the two combined can cause danger.

    It is hard to know if anything you say can help a situation.  As a mother, you can only hope and worry and pray.

    Even when you feel like no one is listening.

    But more importantly, when they are.

    I am a firm believer in raising children. When people ask, Jeff and I will explain our kids like-mine, yours, ours and theirs. I know you can not do it alone, because we have had lots of help.

    I also know there are times that I regret my actions.  Remorse is a good thing though. Especially when it changes your behavior for good.

    Please remember if I have ever acted in a way that is regretful, I am truly sorry.

    I was raised to be honest and tell the truth regardless of the consequences.  I was also told sometimes “your word is all you got”.  Sometimes it felt like it was.

    But it is not.  You see that is what depression does to you.  The highs are less high and the lows only become lower.  You avoid everything you need and spiral downhill until it conquers you and makes you fear and dread the future.  You end up isolated with a helpless feeling of no way out.  

    We all know this.

    All 41 million of us, who have related to a very depressed man who was my friend. We analyze this podcast and we all agree on one thing.  We all want to change what happened.  But, we can not.  

    We then lash out and blame, because we can hide behind our phones.  I have lost someone before and I know that anger can be part of healing.

    So I am asking you to challenge yourself. Because what we really must do is change ourselves. Not that you can change anything about John, but so you can make a difference before there is another John lost in your town and your life.   

    Dig deep with in yourself, not for solving the mystery of the gold.  Look for the kindness and love and honesty and all the pure goodness that we all possessed as children.  And pass it on until it becomes a habit.

    I want to thank everyone of you in advance for every action and every effort.

    41 million can make a difference.  

    I just know it.

    I will start with me.  I hope you will follow. 

    There is nothing to laugh about when it comes to suicide.


    If you are having feelings of depression, on behalf of everyone that loves you, please, please, PLEASE contact:
    National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

    Available 24 hours everyday

    If you are not having these feelings, hold a door, smile, be patient and kind.  Look up from your phone and relate to someone. And delete that negative text from your phone when you have the urge to be mean, but more importantly delete it from your mind.  Spread the love to yourself!  

    My hope for the future – My children

    Let’s Go Crazy…

    I have always loved to make people laugh.  I think it makes me feel mischievous and a little rebellious.

    I have certain people I want to make laugh.  I search for them because I have one of my latest adventures and I can not wait to tell them.  I literally will interrupt you, even though I know better, because I am so excited and simply cannot wait to tell you my funny story.  Some of my friends have labelled them as my “Shirley” stories.

    When I was in high school, we made speeches to campaign for office.  I loved getting up in front of the school and on this particular election day, I was going to do a parody of Prince.

    I can still remember, “Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to get through this thing called an election.” And so on, until I had my own version of the opening of, “Let’s go crazy”.

    Teachers whispered that I was making fun of a preacher.  I think I remember having to explain myself to those that had never heard the song.

    But, one side of the gym was howling laughing.   I was so proud of myself.   I walked over to a friend and said with a smile, “You thought I was funny, didn’t you?”

    She was still laughing as she said, “No girl, your sweater was in your crack.”

    My pride turned to humiliation of course.   It now makes me laugh at myself. Regardless, it is funny, unless it is you and you are 14.

    It has also made for a good mom story when the kids came home and were embarrassed about something.  I could “one up” them with my “don’t feel bad, I did it in front of the whole school” story.

    My kids don’t want a mom story, they want sympathy.  I wanted a laugh and boy did I get one.  Even until this day!

    Don’t laugh, 


    This is how we roll…

    Courtesy of My Sweet Friend Crystal Moore Phipps

    Mrs. Brittany Bivins, from CBS Channel 42 News (WIAT), asked Jeff about interviewing me last week.  He said she was a sweet girl and Jeff has always had good instincts on people.  He sent her my number and we agreed on last Wednesday evening.

    I called her back later and said, “Don’t eat before you come over”.  I wanted her to eat “supper” with us at the interview.  We placed our best to offer on the table for sweet Brittney.

    Taste of Woodstock Menu:

    Trackside BBQ, Jeff and Aler George

    • Boston butt and BBQ sauce
    • Potato salad
    • Peanut butter pie

    Mrs. Lela Rotenberry, “Aunt Lela”

    • Strawberry cake
    • Coconut dessert

    Mrs. Billie Dailey,  “Joe Mammie”

    • Banana Pudding

    Mrs. Kellye Burt

    • Biscuit Pudding

    And of course,

    • Fresh Fruit
    • Hawaiian Rolls
    • Sweet Tea

    We were ready.  I wanted her to see our hometown best.  I think she did.  We pride ourselves on hospitality and you cannot leave without a hug and a to-go plate.  (And, without needing a nap from the sugar high.)

    Don’t Laugh,


    P.S.  Recipes and Interview will be coming soon!  Happy Mother’s Day!

    It takes a Gentleman…

    Jeff said he remembered seeing me for the first time around 25 years ago.  He stole my heart when he said he thought I was Aunt Deborah’s daughter, because she is our small town beauty queen who had what I always thought of as Hollywood looks.  But, that is another story.  I will get to it later.

    Back to Jeff-

    He was fighting and winning “Toughman” competitions.  They are local amateur boxing events you won by process of elimination.  I attended because my cousin Buddy was the “Road Warrior”.  How appropriate; Jeff was the “Gentleman”.  And he is.

    His reputation precedes him.  People expect him to be violent or angry.  That is me.  But I am trying to do better.

    Fast forward 10 plus years; our boys became friends and we ended up dating.  We dated for three months and got married.  Jeff is my third husband and I am his third wife.  We joke and say now that he had to catch me between husbands.  We also say we have been married 25 years, just not to each other.

    I have went to counseling and tried to figure out why I was 30 years old and divorced twice.  One thing they told me was important was common family values.  I can now agree.

    Jeff and I will be married 14 years this August.  We have been through a lot.  I am the one that usually gets us “in a mess” and Jeff is the one who supports me through it.

    His voice is strong and most people recognize it because for years he was the voice of the West Blocton Tigers, our local high school.  “TOUCHDOWN TIGERS!!!” lies in most of our hometown Friday night memories.

    Our favorite boxing story involves Colby.  Local boxing events around here also entertain with food, drawings and kiddie give a ways which involve throwing stuffed animals into the crowd.

    Jeff wins his boxing match and can’t wait for the proud father-son moment.  Colby is clueless and proceeds to announce, “See my bear, Dad”.  Jeff said that always gave him perspective.  Fortunately, we also have the picture to prove it.

    Jeff and I have found out our kids did not care about our accomplishments.  All of that effort was overshadowed by a dollar store teddy bear.

    Don’t laugh,


    “See my bear Dad”

    Sweet Mrs. Lela

    The Love Thy Neighbor Project
    Mrs. Lela and Reagen and her famous cake

    Mrs. Lela Rotenberry is our neighbor.  She is 91 years young.  She lives across the road from us and has welcomed us to the neighborhood “from day one” as we say around here. 

    Cakes and desserts have come across the street one way from her house to ours for close to 15 years now.  I  would love to say we have returned the hospitality, but that would be a lie.  We only return the empty dishes while trying not to seem to eager for a refill.

    We have sent Colby over at 8 years old to fix her cable, because he has always been our family’s tech support.  In the past, I have apologized for the boys playing in her yard “all the while” she is telling me she enjoyed watching them play.

     Jeff has went to help her when she found a snake in her garage.  A few years ago, she would have shot it herself.  It is funny to hear her “how I killed the snake” story.  I try to walk over and carry flowers to her on special occasions.  (No snake killing for me unless we have exercised all other options.)

    Reagen, however, went for the interview. At 8 years old, she wanted to be a journalist.   And at 44 apparently, I am following in my daughter’s footsteps. 

    I will let her take it from here:

    Out of the mouth of Babes

    Mrs. Lela never ceases to amaze me with how much spunk she has.  Her sense of humor is as young as any of us and you can’t get much past her.

    I love to sit on her back porch and hear stories about “buck dancing” and box lunch auctions.  If it’s late, a train will go by and whistle and drown out the crickets chirping for a minute.

    And if you’re really lucky, the mosquitoes won’t bite and you can hear about the time she was going to take the rescue squad training.  I have the utmost respect for Mrs. Lela, so that will remain “off the record”.

    I didn’t think she would even know about the podcast.  I was trying to explain it to her and she informed me that she had already listened to it on a recent road trip to Branson, Missouri. 

    She has watched people stop and take pictures of the former Woodstock Garden Center.  And, she has even given directions to a couple to the cemetery.  They were impressed that she knew John “since he was a boy”.  She was the mail lady for years and knows everybody.

    I called to ask her to make a strawberry cake for the news reporter.  She said she was sick.  Later that evening, she still sent over the cake AND her coconut dessert. She is my hero.  No excuses, there is no quit in her.

    I would be lying if I didn’t tell you how comical I thought it was to picture Mrs. Lela with a set of headphones on listening to John B. rant.  I know it was wrong, but I asked her, “Did you learn any new cuss words?”

    She was smart enough not to reply.

    Don’t laugh,


    The pot of gold on Rotenberry Lane

    Louise please

    I spoke to Maya today.   I have always heard there are two sides to every story.  I now think there are no longer sides, but dots.  And maybe, just maybe, I can do my best to connect them.

    You have bragging rights around here if Mrs. Hicks sews for you.  She is a highly talented seamstress.  I was always told she made my first beauty walk dress in a way you talk about designer  clothing.  That must be why I can still remember the details of a dress I wore only once almost 40 years ago.

    You can keep your New York fashion week gown, I have worn Irene. It had a raised dot on the pale pink fabric and it was precious.  A dream come true dress for me.

    Maya and I went to high school together.  She was beautiful, intelligent and cool.  Some things never change.

    We talked about this podcast and life and perspectives and John B.  She reminded me of his love for eating leftovers.  I smiled.  Yes he did love leftovers.  No waste for him.

    The worry in her voice made me sad.  I have worried and lost sleep and cried since this story aired.  There is a difference when your worry is about your children and their future.

    My Granny Wese (Louise couldn’t be pronounced by my brother Jason) was friends with Mrs. Irene.  Granny told me Maya was named after her. So was my daughter.

    Reagen Jolie was the name Jeff and I agreed upon.  At the hospital, Granny begged me to name that baby after her.  Mother told me not to.  Mother said she had enough people named after her.  For my grandmother, Ollie Louise, had named her daughter, my mother, Jacquelyn Louise.  Uncle Tommy named my cousin Melissa Louise.  So Reagen Jolie Louise was named and the common tie with our families carried on.

    I kinda agree with mom.  Three namesakes is enough.  Granny got four. She was known for excess.

    In all fairness to John B., when I put up the for sale sign to my property, I got sued by Granny too.  Truth is stranger than fiction, because Kendall bought my property.  He now owns the former Woodstock Garden Center.

    Life is hard and funny.  Reagen gets mad when we call her Louise.  It is an underlying way of saying, you are acting bad.

    Stop it Louise, is not funny to her.  Aunt Genevieve used to tell her we left Louise under the yum yum tree in Clanton to make her feel better.

    I have been contacted by people from different parts of the country who relate to us.  Maya pointed out that if you take us out of it and step back from the story, you can understand.

    But, can you understand the need for 4 namesakes?  Only my Granny.  Maya told me Louise was also an Aunt on her father’s side.  Funny, that is also what we tell Reagen.

    Speaking of names, in light of recent events (S-Town), Louise is the last name we have worried about.

    Don’t laugh,


    Small town, high fashion 

    Tomato Sandwiches

    My beautiful Mother

    I remember going to the Tiger Hut, our local burger joint, and thinking my mother was crazy when she asked Mrs. Carolyn Lemley to make her a tomato sandwich.

    Throughout the years, I thought mother was crazy alot.  My anger I blamed on her.  She would laugh and say I had a better “go to hell” look than Scarlett O’Hara.  That only made me madder.

    This weekend will be my first Mother’s Day without her.  I have thought of her so much and I hope that I am reacting in a way that would make her proud.   She was always my biggest fan.

    The funny thing about mom’s order is I now love tomato sandwiches.  But, you have to eat them properly in my book.

    Tomato Sandwich Etiquette:

    • Fresh road side stand, bragging rights, home grown (or neighbor gifted) in season tomatoes
    • Fresh Sunbeam old fashioned bread because the slices are thicker
    • Bama Mayonnaise
    • Salt and pepper

    And, most importantly, if someone is nice enough to “fix” your plate, say thank you and mean it.

    I have said mother was crazy and I take after her more every day.  I can say that.  But you can’t.

    Don’t laugh,


    P.S.  Thank you mom for your kindness and unselfishness.  Believe it or not, I am not so angry anymore.  And thank you for reminding me that when someone is talking about you, they are giving someone else a break.

    My dining room and my favorite sandwich

    My first thought was…

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    The Doggy Mansion, Thanks Koli!

    A Facebook post was my first attempt at telling my side of the story.  There were some very positive ideas and it made me want to share more of our way of life.  Here is what I posted:

    I love Woodstock.  I love to look out my kitchen window and remember birthday parties.  My brother Johnny ended one early with his bright idea to throw fireworks in the kiddie pool.  I can still see him doing the limbo with the kids while I fussed and washed dishes.  I remember apologizing while parents grabbed their kids and got the hell out of my yard.  I wish I had went outside and played a little more now.

    When Johnny passed away in 2007, I called and told John B. I would not be making a payment because of funeral expenses that ended up being paid for by the Burt family. He was brokenhearted.  He loved my brother.  EVERYBODY did.

    Every business sent flowers.  We grieved together.  This whole town.  I remember the rustle of clothing at his funeral service and turning around at the church and being amazed at how many people were behind us.  It felt like the whole town was standing at the cemetery.

    I guess what I am trying to say is when the worst shows up, so does the best.  I wish with all of my heart, I could have saved John B.

    I would have loved to have seen the maze with him as my tour guide.  I know without a doubt, that was what he wanted to show me.  That and the 10 dogs of mine he was raising.

    It was my lab that got killed by a car and he bottlefed them.  I never dreamed he would keep all 10.  Only John B. lol-he had my brother Johnny build them a doggy mansion.

    Keith Majors said my brother Johnny could do a great John B.  impression and I bet he could.  I am so very thankful for my memories.  I have the cart he pulled my children in.

    If we can learn anything, let’s be a little kinder to those who are a little different.

    John B. and Mary Grace are listed in Reagen’s baby book as sending me a baby shower gift.

    I am driving myself and Todd Jones crazy looking for the clock he fixed me.  As I look, I see my chandelier that Kellye Burt gave me and my friend Lee Vandergriff Headrick installed.  Me and power tools are a whole other story.

    Crystal Moore Phipps hangs onto my fingernail polish and my heartstrings.  Jeff Dodson says some people take in stray dogs and I take in stray people.

    I think I always thought I helped John B., listening to the podcast, I realized 20 years ago this divorced single mom was one of his projects too.  I remember mentioning I love the Goo Goo Dolls.  He brought me every CD.  He made me CD’s.  One was interrupted with his own rap song.

    I hope everyone touched by this story, will go and plant a sky pencil holly or something rare, he loved the unusual of course.

    All of my boys -Colby Dodson, Jacob Acker and Rahsheen Dickson have worked at KyKenKee.

    My home may be S-Town but I love it and so did John B.  He truly just loved to fuss and to gossip.  All Southerners do.

    When you have a choice, do the limbo!

    There’s more to the Door

    My living room

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    I have been thankful that this door was in the spotlight.  It has always meant so much to me.

    There are so many things it represents to me.  It was originally the laundry door and now it goes to a bedroom.  The fact that I always felt like I could take it with me made me feel better about it, even though I do not plan to go anywhere.

    This is the longest I have ever been in one place.  We moved and moved and moved.  My mom was divorced and I honestly think we moved every time the rent was due.  No fault of hers, life is hard.  I understand that now more than ever.

    I do not hang onto things.  I do not like clutter.  Unless it has meaning.  Then, I cannot let go.  The door has grown up with Reagen.  We have lived in this house since she was born.

    It has children, parents, and grandparents.  And the hope of tomorrow, because this year it debuts grandchildren.  I have foster parented and I am excited now to foster grandparent.  We also have a grandbaby on the way with our oldest coming in July.

    Another and more important aspect of the door is that it has more than one absence.  John B. is gone.  But car accidents also claimed Insanely Mischievous Drew, and Funny Sweet Caitlyn has been injured permanently.  It teaches me to take nothing for granted.

    I hope to continue this tradition of adding names even if I have to start on the back.  It has become my prized possession.

    And when my grandkids come over, I hope I have patience.  I was in too big of a hurry with my own kids and it has went by just like they say-way too fast. And, if I am lucky enough to get down in the floor and play, I hope someone is there to help me get back up.

    Don’t laugh,


    Indecent exposure 

    I have searched my brain for words that will unite us.  I think everyone has experienced these same common feelings that John voiced of regret and anguish, so this podcast echoes and relates to all of the fans worldwide.

    However, there are extremists in any situation and they take it upon themselves to send hate mail and make phone calls to you at all hours.  This has happened.

    So I will try to inform you and entertain you, so that we can relate on common ground, in a positive way.

    I completely understand that you want more of this story.  I hate for a good book to end myself.  Here’s a little insight from someone on the inside.

    For the record, I have been known to show my behind.  On one such occasion, 30 plus years ago, I was getting ready for a beauty walk.

    My Aunt Pat and Mrs. Jo Gray Burt were doing the honors.  No such occasion can begin without a bubble bath.  I admit I loved the attention.  I posed for pictures in a tub full of bubbles laying flat on my belly.  I didn’t know that there was a circle missing in the bubbles that clearly showed my behind.  They laughed and made a little girl feel not only special, but beautiful.

    I have no doubt that I was then dusted with Estee Lauder Private Collection.  I was also cautioned to be real careful because Aunt Pat was allowing me to wear real diamond earrings.

    Mrs. Burt, to this day, will tell me she is going to find those pictures and give them to me.  I am not so sure I want them to be found.  Except for the fact, that they are a wonderful memory.

    I always felt sorry for myself in moments where my mother was absent.  I cannot believe that I was surrounded by so much love that I could not see it.  It makes me feel ashamed and not to mention, ungrateful.

    It pains me to know that Mrs. Burt has been upset over this podcast.   I think when you are 80 plus years old, life should be joyful.  You see, she named KyKenKee, herself.  Not after the organization it has been associated with, but for her three young boys at the time.  Her pride and joy-Kyle, Kendall, and Keefe.

    I know how much thought and love you put into naming your children.  Anyone that has ever named a child, knows this. The K names carried on through the next generation and if I am counting correctly, there are 9 grandchildren as well.  Maybe K12 would sound better to some.
    But, back then it was the days of Big Valley and Bonanza.  She combined the names of her boys in a likely fashion and KyKenKee was born.  A simple home place and a small business.

    But John loved to shock you.  Associations and ramblings have made him infamous around here and abroad.  He was also quick to apologize and even hang his head. I know this personally.  I was on the receiving end of some of his shock myself.  I still loved him.

    That’s how we are around here.  We fuss and fight and run you down.  We forgive and bake casseroles.  We may not like you, but we love your momma and your grandmother.  We wonder out loud how you turned out like you did because we know you were “raised right”.

    If John were here, I would hug him and tell him to apologize to Mrs. Burt.  And he would have.

    Don’t hate me for explaining.  I am only trying to return the simple kindness of a Southern lady that I truly admire and want to be more like one day.

    I was also welcomed at another home that you podcast listeners are more familiar with and that was the home of Mrs. Mary Grace McLemore.  When I arrived,  you would have thought I was the Queen of England.  I now think her guests were rare, because she was so excited and proper.

    Ironically, Mrs. Burt and Mrs. Mary Grace sat in the same doctor’s office recently.  Mrs. Mary Grace mistook one of the Burt men for his Uncle, which is understandable with her dementia.  Of all the memories that she has lost, it saddens me to know that she doesn’t forget that John Brooks, as she called him, is gone.  She softens the word suicide and substitutes it with, “You know he helped himself along”.  She doesn’t know of the podcast.

    From what I have heard, the purchase of the land has helped to provide for the personal care of Mrs. Mary Grace and rather than a nursing home, she is being cared for by a beautiful lady that I would have hand picked myself.  It is wonderful to know that in her final years, she will be cared for and more importantly, loved.

    If you take nothing from this podcast, take this to the bank.  I have found the gold.  It lies within my memories.  I prefer to remember Mrs. Jo Gray Burt laughing by a bathtub instead of struggling with aging as we all do.  I remember that spit-fire Mrs. Mary Grace with the hospitality of royalty who did not struggle to remember.

    Thank you ladies for your kindness to me and to each other.  There is no family feud.  We take care of our own with great pride around here.

    I am forever indebted and owe you many thanks

    from the little girl,

    the young lady,


    Don’t laugh,

    The First Lady of S-Town

    Famous last words

    I was the Town Clerk for the Town of Woodstock from 1997-2005.  When Jeff mentioned an interest in running for Mayor last year, I told him that he had no idea of what he was getting into. 

    Well,  neither did I, apparently.  He took office in November 2016 and I came home to interview with Brian Reed in December.  I really didn’t know what a podcast was.  I do now.

    I had worked 11 hours that day and then came home and talked 3 or 4 more.  After Brian left the house, I still remember my famous last words, “What’s it matter, nobody is going to listen anyway”.

    Jeff predicted later that night that he was the Mayor of S-Town and I was the star.  I absolutely panicked when I saw the preview this March.  I did not know what I had participated in. 

    It took me a week to get through it, my heart was so heavy.  My life was described beautifully, others I love, were not edited so kindly.  Guilt and remorse still linger.  I wish I would have said more, I have a problem with wanting to fix things. 

    Thirty days later, this is my way of coping.  Maybe it is a mid-life crisis, maybe menopause, but I am betting on just plain crazy.  You know it runs in the family. 

    Don’t laugh, 


    The beauty of Dodsonville 

    We bought this house 15 years ago from Reta and Charlie Lawrence; long before they were known as “the cousins”.  It was Reta’s grandmother’s old home, better known around here then as “The Reynold’s Place”.

    We counted the other night and at least 13 people have lived with us at different times other than our own children.  Jeff says some people take in stray dogs,but I take in stray people.  I would not have it any other way. I love to laugh and I love company.  Life doesn’t seem to have enough of either these days.

    I also love my flowers and my neighbors.  I especially love mid-spring when my pink dogwood blooms.  I look forward to rounding the corner on my way home and seeing it show off to the neighborhood.  Mrs. Lela Rotenberry  (for obvious reasons, our street is her namesake -and no, it is not rotten berry, it is pronounced like row) will drive by slowly, roll down her window and compliment it.

    My older children have posed for many pictures in front of it and in it.  It has been decorated with Easter eggs and rolled with toilet paper numerous times around football season.  I am betting it now being the Mayor’s house and a new teenager in residence will highly increase the likelihood of that happening again in the future.

    Recently, Reagen has made it our “To Kill A Mockingbird” tree and we fill it with Boo Radley treasures.  My nephew Aaron loves to dig them out.  We love to look for refills of happy meal toys and dollar store trinkets.

    But, we cannot fail to mention the time Jacob climbed in it and got his shoe stuck. He still says he called me over and over.  Talk about a bad mom moment, he fell asleep and then fell out.  Dust your butt off son, you lived.

    Don’t laugh,


    Spring on 50 Rotenberry Lane
    Friday night snow in the Fall

    Retail Therapy

    E-bay memories


    Long before a podcast, there was a broken clock at my house in need of a repairman.   I remember being told that Mrs. Mary Grace’s son, John Brooks, worked on them. I remember mentioning it to him when we finally met around 20 years ago.

    I can’t remember where I even got it from or more importantly where it went.  Your memory is a peculiar thing.

    What I remember is the broken glass on the face and the broken fence.  John fixed it and our friendship began.  I cannot remember if he even charged me, for some reason I am thinking  $40.  I bought one on E-bay this week to try and ease my obsessive efforts to locate it.

    The fence on mine could not be mended.  Go figure.  He also cautioned me not to plug it in or I would probably burn my house down.  His advice was in a long rant about 1940’s wiring.

    I didn’t listen as usual, because I love to watch her swing.  There’s a running joke around here, that I am not allowed to have matches.  Only John knows about the wiring.

    Don’t laugh,


    This is me

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    Special thanks to Koli Nichols Photography 

    I love children, flowers, and conversation.   I don’t watch tv and I don’t iron.  I am tender hearted and hard headed.

    I believe in marriage, foster children, and adoption.  Despite that fact, I have failed at all of them.  I do not regret anything I have attempted and, of course, there are things that I would do differently.

    Thirty days ago I didn’t know much about a podcast.  Things have changed.  I obviously don’t know much about a blog either, but I have a precious baby girl who is loyal to her mother.

    I love being Southern, at least in the mindset of all that is good.  Relationships are the best and it all began with my Aunt Genevieve.  She lovingly called me by my middle name of Suzette my entire life.  She was my dad’s baby sister.  She spoke her own language-Genevievian.  It was tons of small phrases followed with laughter.  I try to speak it with my close friends whenever possible.

    A funny story was always preceded by “Don’t laugh, Suzette”, and I knew that I was about to.  I would love to share the best of us with you as well.

    Don’t laugh,