Former switchboard operator works at church

Sandy Phillips working at First Baptist Church in Piedmont.

Sherry Kughn

Sandy Phillips of is a member of a sorority that no longer exists. She worked as a telephone operator in Oregon, Ill., for a number of years. She remembers sitting and facing a switchboard that held 12 sets of cords. She had to know which cord went where so she wouldn’t unplug someone. Operators used one cord to answer the phone with and other to dial out. She used the eraser end of her pencil to dial numbers on a rotary device.

That’s not all of the duties she had to perform in what is now an antique mode of communicating.

“We had cards we had to fill out and stamp for each call,” she said.

After she moved back to Alabama, she worked for Delta Com in Oxford. None of what she’d learned in Ohio applied there because everything had been updated. She actually liked being a switchboard operator better because it was more personal.

She worked in wiring and tubing at Honda in Lincoln for seven and a half years. For the past five years she’s been a ministry assistant at First Baptist Church of Piedmont.

Sandy attended Bible College in Oregon, Ill., and went to special seminars every chance she had.. Her Christian  home life as a child and attending that Bible college helped lead her to her current, and favorite, job at First Baptist.

Her job there involves the telephone. She helps answer it and answers questions or directs the caller to the person he wants to speak with.

She assists church members and other staff members when necessary. She prints lessons, runs copies and publishes the bulletin that comes out each week. She’s also in charge of the ministry page that lists those who need prayer. At the Wednesday night service, those in attendance sign letters and cards for those on the list. A network visitation group sends out cards and visits persons Sandy has put on the list. She also keeps track of various records.

“I’m very proud to be a member of such a loving and caring church,” she said. “The people here are genuine and they care. I’ve been very blessed.”

Sandy was born in Anniston, where her parents lived at the time. When she was 8, they moved to Dayton, Ohio. They moved back to Alabama, to Alexandria, in 1970. She divorced a few years later. In 1981, she and her children followed them.

Her late parents are Charles and Eloise (Brown) Brooks. She has four brothers. Rev. Gerald Brooks lives in Alexandria, Glen Brooks lives in Gadsden, Rev. David Brooks lives in Weaver and Buck Brooks lives in Piedmont.

Sandy has three children. Her daughter, Chandra New Luker and her husband, Gary, live in Piedmont. Their daughter, Ellie, graduated from Auburn University and Wallace State, where she received her physical therapy assistant degree. She works at nursing homes in Centre and Gadsden as well as Piedmont Healthcare Center. Chandra’s step children are Derek, Alexa Jenkins, whose husband is Blake, and Tori.

Hope New lives in Piedmont. She has a son, Layton, a junior at Piedmont High. Sandy’s youngest child, Amber Harden and her husband, Rod, live in Hokes Bluff.

Sandy is a member of the Mary Sunday school class at First Baptist. She is secretary of the church board that works with the Piedmont Benevolence Center. She spends her spare time reading faith-based books.

“We have some good books in our church library,” she said. “We have a very good church librarian, Joyce Coble, who keeps it well stocked.”

Sandy said she likes to cook, but since her children are grown, she doesn’t cook as much or as often. Her mother wasn’t well when she was growing up, so it was Sandy’s responsibility to help with the cooking.

She shares some of her favorite dishes she likes to prepare for her family and her church family.

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6 lg. potatoes

2 cans chicken broth

1 can cream of celery soup

1 can cream of onion soup

8 oz. sour cream

8 oz. half and half

8 oz. Pepper Jack cheese

1 stick butter

  Cover potatoes with chicken broth. Cook until tender.

Add celery and onion soups, sour cream and half and half. Mix well and add cheese and butter. Season to taste and simmer until cheese melts.


1 c. buttermilk

1 (14.5 oz.) can cream style corn

½ c. Crisco oil

2 eggs, beaten

Chopped jalapeno peppers, hot or milk

1 ½ c. self-rising corn meal

1c. grated cheddar cheese

  Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Mix corn, buttermilk, oil, eggs and jalapenos (amount to taste). Add corn meal to above mixture. Add cheese. Pour mixture into greased skillet or muffin tins. Cook for 25-30 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.



3 cans apple pie filling

Cinnamon to taste

1 box butter recipe cake mix

2 sticks butter

Sugar to sprinkle on top

  Spread pie filling in a 13x9x2 inch pan.

   Sprinkle with cinnamon and dry cake mix on top of apples. Cut up butter all across dry cake.

   Sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar on top. Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes or until brown and bubbly. Serve hot with ice cream.


½ c. Parmesan cheese

¼ c. butter, softened

3 T. mayonnaise

2 T. fresh lemon juice

¼ t. dried basil

¼ t. black pepper

1/8 t. onion powder

1/8 t. celery salt

2 lbs. Tilapia fillets

   Preheat your oven broiler. Grease a broiling pan or line pan with aluminum foil. In a small bowl mix together the parmesan, butter, mayonnaise and lemon juice.

Season with basil, pepper, onion powder and celery salt.

Mix well and set aside. Arrange fillets in a pan. Broil 2-4 minutes Flip over and broil for a few more minutes. Remove fillets and cover with parmesan mixture. Broil until brown and bubbly.


1 can white corn drained

1 can yellow corn, drained

1 can black beans, drained

1 can kidney beans, drained

1 lg. tomato, chopped

1 purple onion, diced

1 bell pepper, diced

1 bottle Zesty Italian dressing

   Mix white corn, yellow corn, black beans and kidney beans. Add tomato, onion and bell pepper. Add enough Italian dressing to mx and taste. Chill and serve with crackers.


2 (8 oz.) cream cheese

¼ c. chopped green pepper

Chopped pecans

2 T. minced onion

1 sm. can crushed pineapple, well drained

   Mix cream cheese, pepper, onion and pineapple. Form into a ball and roll in chopped nuts. Chill.