As long as we can recount the good memories, we can count the blessings.

Growing up in The Model City in the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s is a source of so many fond remembrances for Bill Acker that he can surely testify that both he and the town have been blessed.

Acker, who will speak at the Calhoun County Historical Society meeting on Sept. 12, will tell of his adventures and the advantages he experienced while living in Anniston during his childhood and adolescence.

The meeting is in Ayers Auditorium in the Public Library of Anniston-Calhoun County. Refreshments will be served at 5 p.m., and Acker’s talk will begin at 5:20 p.m.

“In any treatment of Anniston’s history and culture, it should be said that there is huge pride and sustained satisfaction in what we gained from growing up here,” he wrote in summarizing his talk.

“The largest evidence is the gathering of the large numbers of alumni at the Anniston High School ‘Grand Reunions’ held bi-annually. Also, over 2,700 people regularly participate on the Facebook page of ‘Anniston, 1940-1970 Nostalgia.’”

Acker was educated first at Ethel Andrews’ Kindergarten, then Woodstock School, then  Johnston Junior High School. He is a graduate of The McCallie School in Chattanooga, Tenn., and Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn. He did post-graduate work at the University of Alabama and London Business School in London, England, where he was enrolled in international business studies.

His talk on Sept. 12 will look back on restaurants, stores (especially Wikle Drugs), grocery stores, bakeries, churches, schools, dance studios, movie theaters, the Anniston Star  paper route and Friday-night dances at Zinn Park.      

Planning for ‘Nutcracker’ up and running

Magical moments and music by masters can be counted on each December when the Knox Concert Series’ presents “The Nutcracker.”

This year, the production by The Alabama Ballet not only promises to be spectacular as usual, but it will result in treasured memories for those who see it. For the local young dancers who perform in it, the memories will be unforgettable.

Since it is a many-faceted project, Knox volunteers are already on their toes. They met last week to ensure that every aspect will be covered for the public performance Dec. 3 and the school performances Nov. 30 and Dec. 1.

This includes ticket sales, bake sale, Mother Ginger’s Boutique and lobby decorating, the Sugar Plum Magic Moment, Christmas parade participation, artist hospitality, mailbox decorations (a fundraiser for the event) and much more.

The Knox presentation of Tchaikovsky’s “The Nutcracker” in Anniston is in its 36th year. That’s time enough for audience members to cultivate some traditions around seeing the ballet at the Anniston Performing Arts Center.

Ticket chairperson Pam McKenzie talks to people who buy tickets each year, and she sees certain patterns in patrons’ seating preferences.

“The father-daughter outings are really special,” she said. “In some cases, three generations — the grandmother, mother and daughter — come together.

“It’s also a fun time for mothers and daughters who really get dressed up, it’s a big occasion for them. The fathers buy flowers at the lobby’s Flower Shoppe for their daughters who have been on stage, and that’s a nice touch to the event.

“In general, people say that the ballet marks the start of their holidays.”

The icing on the cake for McKenzie is watching the children who see “The Nutcracker.” During certain scenes, they are on the edges of their seats, she said. “There’s that twinkle that comes into their eyes. They are amazed.”

Some audience members like to add to their wooden nutcracker collections from the nutcrackers offered at the boutique, or they are interested in souvenirs such as Christmas ornaments and music boxes.

Homemade treats made by Knox volunteers are offered at the bake sale.

The Sugar Plum experience — a meet and greet with the professional dancers — is thrilling as snowflakes fall on stage. Every child with tickets for this added feature is photographed with a dancer and goes home with a gift.  

If there is a song title I would pick to describe the entire event, it would be “Memories are Made of This,” recorded in 1955 by Dean Martin.

Hervey Folsom writes about the local arts scene every Sunday. Contact her at