Fact and fiction

On Aug. 9, area author Glenda Yarbrough and broadcast journalist Brad Golson packed Second Read Books in downtown Decatur to discuss their recently released “What Happened to Mary Fay Hunter?” They pointed out the novel is based on a true story that happened in Decatur in 1967 and, while most names in the book are real, several have been changed for legal purposes or to protect the families of the accused.

Golson spends his spare time researching cold cases and is the administrator for the Facebook page “The Morgan County Three: Hunter, Acker, and Drake.” This page is devoted to researching three cold cases in the Decatur area from 1967 to 1970. He spent over two years researching the Hunter case and, with the assistance of retired lead investigator Bob Hancock, who has recently passed away, he believes he has solved the murder.

While Golson was in charge of the facts, Yarbrough added flair to make the characters come alive. Yarbrough writes mysteries that are often based on true stories in the South. When she and Golson teamed up, she was writing “Killed 1928” and not as eager to begin as he was. The more they talked, the more intrigued she became and “Killed 1928” went on the backburner.

The event brought quite the turnout with owner Melinda Jones pulling out all the stops for her guests. Those attending included Jo Anne Makemson Lindley, who came from Hoover because of her investigative nature. She is a member of the Facebook page and wanted to hear what Golson had to say. Frances Rowe came from her home in Massey for much of the same reason. Kelsey Monk had made a list of characters and was able to piece together the “real” names of those in the book. Elesia Reinhardt, whose mother was a key character in Yarbrough’s book “Back to Midnight,” also attended. Kaye Clemons remembers Hunter well. She took piano lessons from her when she was at Decatur Junior High School and was contacted by the FBI years after the murder to see if she might have information that could help solve the cold case.

Golson and Yarbrough will be at Warehouse Coffee on Main Street in Hartselle on Sept. 5 to sign books and to answer questions.

Catch of a lifetime

While at St. Simons Island last week, Tommy and Holly Backe, Mandy Backe and Winston Clements went deep sea fishing. Winston got a bite and went into full-throttle mode to reel it in. It took an hour and a half, but he had caught a 160-pound tarpon that measured in at 75 inches. It was the catch of a lifetime for all of them.

On the same day, Lukas Howlett went fishing with the Cub Scouts at the Duck River and was elated to show off his catch to his parents, Kevin and Sandra. Perhaps the Duck River is just a steppingstone for things to come.

Community picnic

The Huntsville chapter of BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir held a community picnic and sports event at Wilson Morgan Park on Aug. 3. Over 250 people attended the free event, which was open to the public. The annual fun-filled day featured Indian food, volleyball, tennis, cricket and other activities. Based on Hindu principles, BAPS is a worldwide spiritual and humanitarian organization dedicated to community service, peace and harmony. baps.org/huntsville.

Back to school

One thing that makes the school year go so much easier is to ensure that parents, educators and students are all on the same page. As a former classroom teacher, I always told parents that 30 minutes of reading each night was paramount to student success. And if you want your children to read, they need to see you reading, as well.

Madelyn Mayhall started second grade at Eastwood Elementary last week. She thinks her new teacher is amazing because she promised the class no homework for the first two weeks.

Rona Blevins is a counselor at Danville Neel Elementary. Her advice to parents and teachers is to make sure you have a plan, but be willing to wing it every moment of every day.

Patty Laughlin teaches adaptive physical education for Decatur City Schools. She said that everyone must celebrate change and new challenges. Use your past experiences to make this year great.

Pam Estes has been a Morgan County bus driver for over 24 years. Her goal is to ensure that everyone works together. She encourages parents to talk to their children about safety issues and the importance of good behavior on the bus. Students need to talk to their bus driver if they have a problem.

Margaret Ann Pirtle is the marketing education teacher and work-based learning coordinator for Hartselle High and is the mother of second grader Hillary Pirtle. Her best advice to everyone is to remain calm. That pretty much says it all.

— Freelance columnist Wendy Lang writes Chatterbox. Send news and high resolution photos to chatterbox35603@gmail.com.

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