Alabama’s story of rising to a territory and then statehood is well worth studying. Many inhabitants achieved and struggled on its land to shape it as we know it today. There were victories, hardships, conflicts and — most important —  perseverance before Alabama achieved its identity.

To reflect back over the state’s last 200 years, guided with facts, see “Making Alabama,” the traveling bicentennial exhibit on view through Aug. 28 at the Public Library of Anniston and Calhoun County.

The exhibit is presented by the Alabama Humanities Foundation in partnership with the Alabama Department of Archives and History and Alabama Bicentennial Commission.

To reflect on Anniston’s heritage, the library’s Ayers Room contains a pictorial history from the Alabama Room that makes it easy to pinpoint notable people of all kinds, as well as the places where they gathered and worked to make an industrial community and later a county seat. Printed information below the photos further tell the story.

Especially interesting is a large photo of the old Carnegie Library (1918-1965), which stood on the present site of the public library at 10th Street and Wilmer Avenue. Its architectural features are easy to see in this close-up view.

There are also portraits of Dr. Jesse L. Wikle and William H. Zinn (for whom Zinn Park is named) — multi-doers in the early town’s leadership — plus more civic leaders who made Anniston a community of unity with many advantages.

Other local programs on the state’s bicentennial include a Cemetery Stroll in Jacksonville on Oct. 21 (rain date Oct. 28), coordinated by the Jacksonville Public Library. The library will also host the Joy Guild’s quilt show in February 2019, featuring vintage quilts, as well as a program in March by Kimberly O’Dell on Calhoun County’s history. The Oxford Public Library will also offer bicentennial programs in 2019.

Macy Harwell, a leader in fashion

An article in the July/August issue of Reader’s Digest by Anniston native Trisha Coburn is a reminder that another individual helped make Anniston a unique town. Her portrait is not in the library exhibit, but Olma Macy Harwell made her mark in the town’s fashion history. She did so not only by founding a fashion school but in launching modeling careers for several Annistonians.

In 1957, Macy, as people knew her, married Anniston attorney Edward W. Harwell (who was later a judge in Oxford) and organized a modeling school the same year. At the time of her death in January 1990, the school’s name had been changed to Macy’s Academy of Arts and Fashion.

In 1979, she was directing between six and 10 fashion shows here a year.

According to articles in the Anniston Star, she taught values beyond modeling techniques. In fact, when asked to name her greatest accomplishment, she answered, “To help young women of all ages to become model women through image awareness, visual poise and self confidence.”

Her interest and pride in the community was evidenced by a fashion show she coordinated for Anniston’s 100th birthday. The public response to the idea was strong. People here unlocked their trunks to find garments worn by their forefathers when the town was new. Her plans to display styles of that time expanded; 50 models participated.

In July 1987, the Anniston Star reported, “The area’s newest runway isn’t at the airport. It is in the building at 20 East Twelfth Street, which houses Macy’s modeling agency. … The runway is not built only for Macy’s students but for a place for women’s clubs to meet and perhaps have a fashion show as part of their program,” the article stated.

Besides serving on the board of the Modeling Association of America International, Macy helped establish four modeling schools besides the one in Anniston. A native of Cullman, she was a graduate of the John Robert Powers School in New York.

People who knew Macy admired her. Wilhelmina, the late famed fashion star who is said to have been the world’s highest paid model, once came to Anniston and said of Macy, “She is a gracious lady to whom no one ever says no.”

On the other hand, the late Christa Fair said, “I’ve never heard Macy say ‘no’ to anyone who needed help.”

Michelle Payne, Macy’s great-granddaughter, was raised by Macy and Macy’s daughter Sue Bonds. “They were good to me. Now I can serve people in the same spirit.” Payne is currently executive director of Sav-A-Life in Calhoun County.

‘Hello, Dolly!’ is CAST’s opening show

Auditions ended last Wednesday for “Hello, Dolly!,” CAST community theater’s opening production for next season, but if you are interested in being involved in the musical, the directors would like to hear from you.

The directors are Scott Whitney and Emily Duncan, the artistic director/choreographer is Carrie Carlton, and the musical director is Greg LaFollette. Production dates are Oct. 11, 12 and 13 at 7:30 p.m. and Oct. 14 at 2:30 p.m. at McClellan Theatre.

A male vocal ensemble is needed, plus stagehands, set builders, set designers and seamstresses. Whitney will welcome calls at 256-239-4204.

The upcoming continues with:

• “Willy Wonka Jr.,” a CASTKids production, Nov. 17-18 at Anniston Performing Arts Center.

 • “Steel Magnolias,” Nov. 29-Dec. 2 at McClellan Theatre.

 • “A Raisin in the Sun,” Feb. 21-24 at McClellan Theatre.

 • “The Lion King Jr.”, a CASTKids production, March 9-10 at Anniston Performing Arts Center.

• “Harvey,” April 11-14 at McClellan Theatre.

• “Mama Mia,” May 9-12 at McClellan Theatre.

For ticket information, visit www.castalabama.com.

Hervey Folsom writes about the local arts scene every Sunday. Contact her at herveyfolsom@yahoo.com.

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