Chatterbox: YLL

Youth Leadership Lawrence's Class of 2019-2020. [COURTESY PHOTO]

A hero is defined as a person admired or idealized for courage, outstanding achievements or noble qualities.

My hero is my daddy. Daddy has always been larger than life and run circles around me. He taught me that “can’t never could do nothing,” the value of hard work and to give back as you have been given.

One of my earliest memories is going to the car sale where I stood on his feet and held on to his legs for dear life as he worked the ring. He taught me well and I sold my first car to the mailman at the age of 5. He’s now 86, suffers from macular degeneration and is fighting cancer yet again. It hasn’t slowed him down or affected his attitude much. This week, we went to the car sale. It was a good day.

Monda Beene loved Saturdays with her daddy. They would take the bus to Second Avenue, pay bills, get a Penn hamburger and walk back home because there was’t enough money to get a burger and take the bus home.

Ken Shelton’s dad worked at The Decatur Daily and would carry Ken with him to work on Saturdays to give him a taste of how a newspaper was laid out. Then they would walk the couple of blocks to C.F. Penn Hamburgers for lunch. Mike Gleason’s dad, Bob Gleason, would take him to work with him at WMSL-TV to read the news. Mike would sit with him in the control room and loved being his tag-along buddy.

Steve Turney remembers hunting and fishing with his father. His daughter, Sandra Howlett, remembers going fishing with her daddy a few days before school started each year. As she grew up, he let her drive the truck down the back roads by the river.

Darrin Kerry remembers every spring his daddy would wake him up early and take him fishing for crappie and bluegill before school and then again that evening. Don Stanford also remembers fishing with his dad.

Amy Hudson Pitt’s daddy loved planning gatherings that brought family and friends together. His favorite saying was, “Better have it and not need it than need it and not have it.” Amy said her home is full of “have it and not need its.”

Rebecca Stephenson Thornton’s daddy always grinned from ear to ear. They cooked out every Saturday night. She remembers good steaks and great memories.

Lauren Nelson’s daddy always had the ability to take a bad situation and make the best of it. Anita Charles Crow remembers her daddy, Chubby, always being happy. He was always singing and whistling and took them to McDonald's after church on Sunday night for hamburgers.

Leslie Long loved when her daddy threw her and her sister into the pool during vacations. She loved eating raw oysters together and riding in his red Mustang with the windows down, listening to music. Laurie Lambert Frazier’s daddy would sing everywhere they went. Sometimes he would sing old favorites or make up his own silly tunes.

Cheri Mattox Alexander lost her dad when she was 11. She remembers how much they wanted a puppy. One day, he walked in from work bearing chocolates for her mother, walked back out and came in with the tiniest beagle puppy. She named the beagle Ringo. It was the best day ever, she said.

Melinda McDearmond Fulford remembers the stories her daddy made up about the “old gray fox.” He was a great storyteller and always left them wanting more. Cindy Hoover Tapscott remembers her daddy telling her bedtime stories about when he was a cowboy and fought off bears and bad guys. She believed every single word.

Suzanne Caris was in the third grade and her daddy was home on leave when he took her to the U.S. Space and Rocket Center to see the arrival of the first moon rocks from Apollo 11. Robin Turner Higdon remembers her daddy taking her to the old Carnegie Library to get books.

David Armistead’s dad taught himself how to play the guitar. The depth of talent and lack of formal training always amazed David. He loved to hear his dad play his old Gibson guitar. Jan Roden Byrd remembers each time she wanted to learn a new instrument, her dad made sure she had the best.

Anna Nelson’s favorite memories revolve around sports. Her dad was always eager to throw the football or baseball and play a game of basketball with her. Tecia Bouldin Pickett lost her dad when she was 10, but she remembers that he never once spanked her and showed her unconditional love. Kyla Jo Gray always enjoyed breakfast by the lake with her dad.

Hugh Long loved riding on his dad’s back pretending that he was a giant sea turtle as he swam underwater the length of their pool. Angela Vinson would ride on her daddy’s back as he tried to buck her off like a horse.

Karen Smith Watts remembers moving to Sixth Avenue in 1965. On summer nights the family would go bike riding and her dad, Jimmy, would place her in the front basket of his bike as they rode around the neighborhood.

Sandra Hutchison James loved it when her dad would help her make a dress for her Barbie dolls. Tina Edwards Boyles remembers her daddy singing and playing the guitar.

Nick Hackett remembers trips to Panama City Beach where his dad would lift him up over the big waves so they wouldn’t knock him over. Years later Nick learned that his daddy couldn’t swim. Teresa Howell remembers her dad driving the bus for the band. She wishes she had a nickel for every hamburger and hot dog he grilled for the concession stand.

Linda Third-Owen remembers her daddy taking her to high school football games that he refereed. Nina Holt’s daddy loved to laugh as she did what her mother considered “risky things” like climbing and flipping. Her mother would cringe, but her daddy thought she could do anything.

Frank Roberts loved how his dad would ride horses and motorcycles with him. Yvonne McCord lived on Ninth Avenue next to the old Decatur High School. She loved walking with her dad to see the men’s league ball games at Delano Park.

Morgan Hampton Brook cut her finger years ago on her swing set at their home and needed stitches. Her dad met them at the ER. Morgan was hysterical because of her fear of needles, and he cuddled her and promised that he would never let that happen again. It was almost midnight when they got home, but, after she was tucked in bed, he dismantled the swing set and cleared the debris. He got back up at 4 a.m. to get ready for work. That’s the love of a daddy.

Happy Father’s Day!

Youth Leadership Lawrence celebrates students

A ceremony celebrating the graduation of 26 Lawrence County high school students from the Youth Leadership program took place this month at the Oakville Indian Mounds and Education Center. The program is open to high school sophomores and juniors.

Students honored at the ceremony were Lando Fells of R.A. Hubbard High School; Ashkea Foster and Zakiah Goodlow of East Lawrence High School; Kyle Letson, Grace Ann Johnson, Lillie McGregor, Brayden Flanagan, Elijah McAbee, Zane Harville, Emma Oliver, Gracie Ward, Josie Harville, Bri Bradford and Jillian Fretwell of Hatton High School; and Ben Michael Bennett, James Huang, Anna Clare Hutto, Katie Jett, Allie Martin, Felicia Patel, Rylee Phillips, Kobe Strange, Candace Terry, Adi Proctor, Bella Clair McGregory and Taylor Hood of Lawrence County High School.

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— Freelance columnist Wendy Lang writes Chatterbox. Send news and high resolution photos to

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