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.
Oregon only has 36; 67 is a lot… that’s an interesting idea, visiting them all. it would be fun to do it on a bike!
The western states appear to have fewer, larger counties — Socorro County in NM is 6,700 square feat; Dallas County AL not even a thousand. It’s something I started playing with earlier in the year, but with so much going on my research and exploration have been sidetracked!
I love the idea of this book, although I’m not that interested in sentimental stories. I love stories about everyday people. And since I lived in Mobile years ago, Alabama has a special place in my heart.
Now the folktale book is right up my alley. I’m going to look that one up.
Fair warning, it’s EXTREMELY short. I read it at the library while I was sorting a box of odd things in the closet. (A copy of the book was in said box!)
How fun to hear that you once lived in Mobile! I’ve spent amazingly little time there — I keep meaning to spend a weekend just exploring its downtown, but it’s not yet happened.
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