Christmas Tales collects various human interest stories around the State of Alabama that have a Christmas connection — though perhaps human interest isn’t the right word, seeing as many of these stories involve animals! The stories were collected by a journalist, Kelly Kazek, who traveled throughout the state who talk to those who remember certain figures and events. As one might expect from an Alabama collection, authors like Harper Lee, Truman Capote, and Fannie Flagg make appearances; but so do more unexpected celebs like Glenn Miller, and these are far outnumbered by the far more humble subjects. These include Walt Kagle, a rural weatherman who made preternaturally accurate predictions; a dog named Fred who became the town mascot, complete with a newspaper column; a ‘local’ reindeer that made a splash on the big screen when it starred in Prance; and numerous others. The stories are all on the sweet, sentimental side, often featuring the kindness of strangers towards one another. It made for cozy, light Christmas reading and gave me a few leads to pursue in a project I’m planning, to find and visit a point of interest in every one of Alabama’s 67 counties.
In a similar vein but far shorter was Kathryn Tucker Windham’s Count Those Buzzards, a small collection of folk superstitions. The title comes from a belief that one could tell one’s fortune by the number of buzzards flying around, in a he-loves-me-he-loves-me-not sort of fashion. I’ve never heard of the majority of these, and was amused by many of the beliefs, wondering where on earth they could have com from. Windham includes blank pages at the end of the collection for writing down other superstitions. I read this largely because Windham is a Selma luminary, very fondly remembered nearly ten years after her death. She was a journalist, photographer, keeper and teller of stories.