Passion Play at Our Lady of the Shoals Catholic Church 2015

Photos by Mary Carton

For The Tuscumbian.

On March 29, 2015 the Hispanic Community present a wonderful and tearful rendition of the Passion of Christ.

A little history, the windows of the church are from the old church that used to stand on 4th St.  The Lustron house the was the rectory now sits abandoned in a field on Woodmont Dr. south of Tuscumbia.  Only around 3500 of them were built.  The Archie Carmichael house on 6th St. circa 1850 for the inside house and 1892 for the Victorian house built around it, served as the Catholic school in the late 1800’s to 1900’s.  In the early part of the 1900’s children from Tuscumbia city schools also attended here for two years.  I’ve yet to find out the reason.

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Roy Webster Willingham, 1914-2002

Roy Webster Willingham, 1914-2002


Juanita Black Rickard

For The Tuscumbian

Roy Webster Willingham

As each month rolls around, I start thinking of all the birthdays that will occur that month of those who are here and those who have gone on. This month started off with my granddaughter Brooke turning 7, my sister Dottie on the 3rd, my Uncle Jep on the 10th and now time for my Uncle Webb, mothers oldest brother. I was thinking the other day that he would be 100 this year but when I looked he would have been 101.

I have a lot of fond memories of him and I will share some. For one thing when I was probably 3, with mother having bed rest and different people staying with us, when daddy would walk to town for anything he would let me go with him riding my tricycle that Uncle Webb gave him the money to buy for me. He was always a generous person to those he loved.

This is a photo of when he was stationed in Panama during the war. During WWII he was also at Omaha Beach. After coming home from service he was one of the Lock Masters at the first Lock going up the river toward the big lock. I don’t know what year it was taken down but it was just on the other side of the railroad bridge when it was in full operation. After that he was a Lock Master at Wilson Dam until it was reworked in the late 50’s, then he went to Wheeler Dam until Wilson was ready again. We used to go and watch him lock barges and boats through the dam when he was working. He told me once he sometimes made visitors mad when they would come and let kids run wild there at the lock. He knew the danger whether they did or not. After he retired he farmed at little and took life easy. About two years before he died I would drive a lady out to clean his house. I have often said I guess I could have done that but ?i enjoyed sitting there talking to him. He told me things about the Willinghams that I had never heard before. I guess being the oldest in the family he would know. Martha would go with me most of the time and her time was spent making pictures of everything from cows to scarecrows to pretty flowers (weeds). I guess I just needed to reminisce a little, and share some things about a special uncle. He had one son, Roy Marvin, who is gone now. Two stepchildren, June Jones, and Bobby Armstrong, who is also gone. But he he has one brother living, Jack, several grandchildren, and several nieces and nephews of which I am the oldest

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Lucy Allison Hughston

By Caroline Mann

For The Tuscumbian

My mother Lucy Allison, from Iowa met my father Harold Hughston from Tuscumbia during World War II in Naples, Italy. She only went to college one year at Iowa Wesleyn but was Homecoming Queen there! She left and went to business school and then went to help her country via the Red Cross.  She was in the American Red Cross for two years and stationed at Airbase Capodochino close by.  He was in the U.S Army as a member of Judge Advocate General’s Corps (JAG). They were married in 1948 and moved back to Tuscumbia.

 My mother was from Iowa but after marrying my father and moving to Tuscumbia, she loved it more than anyplace she had ever lived, she was a true convert.   She studied the history, and loved the people and the area. The route she took getting here is just interesting. There is an old movie: IT STARTED IN NAPLES which I always thought described how they met.  

 Her letters I found after her death are amazing. She was a big journal and photo album keeper.  Some look like a movie. She only went to college one year at Iowa Wesleyn but was Homecoming Queen there! 

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Colbert County Wall of Honor – Our Unsung Heroes

For The Tuscumbian

By Mary Carton

Up a long flight of stairs to the American Legion Colbert County Memorial Post No. 31 on Main Street in Tuscumbia are two walls filled with pictures of Colbert Countians who died in the service of our country.  A few are remembered only by a faded newspaper clipping, still awaiting a photo donation by family.  

Most in the Shoals area are not familiar with the wall unless they visit during the annual Memorial Day Program at the Courthouse.   

Richard Sheridan  graciously met me at the Hall one Saturday morning and we spent a little over two hours taking down each picture and taking a picture of each for this post.

 A post to honor those who died defending our freedom.

click on each picture to enlarge.

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Spring Valley Alabama unknown cemetery

For The Tuscumbian

By Mary Carton

The old church sits west of the Spring Valley Depot slowly decaying.  Offers by volunteers to stabilize the structure have been refused by the two sisters living out of state.  Its backbone and floor joists have cracked.

 The cornerstone says Kirks Chapel CME Church,  rebuilt AD 1942, I or L Kennedy Pastor,  R W Woodard and another name buried in the soil.   A look in one of the windows is one of a church ready for Sunday service.  The pews and pulpit and books?  What records are inside the little crumbling church?  The building is much older, but how old?  My Great Grandfather Louis Gusmus taught there.  He died in 1932.

 Behind the church neglected and overgrown is a little cemetery.  If I was a snake, this would be an ideal place for me, especially under one of the broken slabs.    As Tom McKnight and I walk carefully around, a light rain starts falling.  He says the spirits are happy we are here.  I later find out that the last time Tom visited, he was attacked by swarms of yellow jackets. 

 The name of the cemetery is not yet known nor is the name of the church when it was first built.  Hopefully those reading this can provide some insight into our quest.   Photos taken August 2013.

EDITORS NOTE 1-12-2014.  The cemetery is listed as Kirk’s Chapel on the old county maps and as Spring Valley Station Cemetery on Find a Grave.     It is not yet known when the church was built nor the name of the church at that time.


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A Sunday in our little town

    By: Jim Smith

For The Tuscumbian     

               Today I was thinking about times past and thought I would try and write a little about them.

            I am sure that some of you are old enough to remember what Sunday was like in Tuscumbia and small towns all over the south.

            You typically got up a little later on Sunday but it was a very important day. First thing was that Mama fixed Breakfast as usual but seemed to kind of hurry you along.

            You knew that at 9:00, you had better be dressed, hair combed, shoes shined, and if you were past age 6; that you had your bible or new testament close by. You also had your dime or quarter in your possession for the collection plate. No later then 9:10, you had to leave for church. Sunday Scholl started at 9:45 and it was exactly 8 blocks to the church. 4 parking spaces from the end, right next to the same person you had parked next to for 5 years; the same every Sunday Morning.

            You went in the side door, spoke to Mr. Carmicheal, Mr. Schmidt, and the several other men standing in the hall. You went down the hall, looked in the room to see the usual faces. You put your bible down and talked with the other kids until time for class to start. After Sunday School class was over you had about 8 minutes before you had to go into sanctuary for service.

            After service; you went home and had dinner. Now here is a strange thing about the south. On any given day; the noon meal was called dinner; except for working people who got a (lunch break). They had lunch at work but if they went home; they had dinner. Did I lose you on that? Anyway after dinner it seemed like many Sundays were the same. Play a little, read, (yes, read) comics or maybe a real book.

            Some Sunday afternoons we would ride to Iuka to visit my Grandmother and Granddad.  That was always a good time.

            You notice there is no mention of shopping or going to the mall. On Sunday; there were no stores open. I can remember when they built the open air style service station across from Southland. It had no interior and everything was outside. Their oil, and everything else was outside. They were open 24 hours. (un heard of back then. They probably the only thing open except for McDaniel’s curb market in Tuscumbia. They did a big Sunday afternoon business.

            In time everything started staying open on Sunday but at first; there were a lot of people who did not think stores should be open on Sunday.

            One other thing that kids had to occupy their time was the radio. On Sunday afternoon, you could listen to “The Shadow”, and some of the other well-known broadcasts. Gang-Busters, The Fat-Man, Inner-Sanctum, and of course; “THE LONE RANGER”. Over the years, the time slot just after school got busy with the likes of Tom Mix, Sky King, Tennessee Ned, and others that became movies and some even came on TV. The ladies had Stella Dallas and Lorenzo Jones. Jack Benny, Burns and Allen, Lum and Abner were also favorites.  Every night you Had Gabriel Heater with his good news tonight program. You also had Walter Winchell; who always started off with Hello America and all the ships at sea. Some of the ads on the radio stayed around for years: you wonder where the yellow went, when you brush your teeth with Pepsodent was one. Duz does all was another.

            I am not sure if I am still on the same page but when I get started on old times and old things I lose track of my own thoughts. It is sad for me to think that kids today don’t have the chance we had to grow up and enjoy the simple things like we did.

            How many of your grandkids know who Black Beauty was? Do any of them know who Moby Dick was? Do any of them really know about Lassie come home and not the TV lassie? Most of them probably have never seen or heard the real Winnie-The Pooh stories. OK, I have quit writing and started meddling so I will quit for now.

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George Ricks Cemetery

George Ricks was brought to this country in 1846 from Liberia to Jamestown, Virginia.  He was sold as a slave to Abraham Ricks.  He became the first Black land owner in North Alabama by planting cotton on Saturday evenings and picking it by the moon light.  Of the 53 acres he purchased, he gave three acres as a cemetery near The Oakes east of Tuscumbia to bury former Black slaves of the community.

Unique to the cemetery are the handmade headstones of concrete. Names and date of birth and death were carved into the wet concrete. A few graves still don’t have headstones, and the name tags long gone.  A couple of children’s graves from 2008 are marked with half of  a concrete block.

Several of the older headstones the person buried does not have a date of birth, only date of death.

Photography by Mary Carton

grave of George Ricks

grave of George Ricks

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