Retirement doesn’t seem to be in Gail Mallett Blankenship’s vocabulary.  In 2013, she retired from the Alabama State Department of Education after 25 years with the department and having held several positions from accountant, payroll supervisor and finally human resource manager.

Gail married Harold Blankenship, band director at Stanhope Elmore High School, in 1992, she took on another role “Ms. B” (band mom) to the numerous band students over the course of the next 20 years. She accommodated her husband to most football games, band contests, parades, emergency rooms and anything else band related that her husband’s bands pursued.  In addition, she and Harold assisted in raising their three granddaughters. Upon her retirement from the State of Alabama, she and Harold made a decision to move to Piedmont from Prattville.

During the move, she was notified that she had been selected for a position with the State of Georgia at the Georgia School for the Deaf in Cave Spring as their human resources representative. After some thought, she decided that maybe retirement wasn’t for her and accepted the offer.

Gail said she loves her job there, although it’s hectic at times handling all the personnel and payroll, hiring teachers and any disciplinary issues, but this past year she decided she wanted to “actually retire.” Now she said she remains on call and works on the days needed.

“I’m what they call an hourly employee now,” she said. “If they need me, I go in to assist the new human resource representative.”

During her employment with the State of Alabama she earned a bachelor’s in business administration/accounting degree and a Master’s in human resources from Troy University in Montgomery. For someone who didn’t like going to school in the first (Ms. Emerson) and second grades (Ms. Davis), she said she thought her elementary teachers would be happy if they are still living

Gail was born in Spring Garden and graduated from Spring Garden High School. She is the daughter of the late Edna Walker and Jack W. Mallett and granddaughter of the late Essie and Dewey Holcomb. She and Harold celebrated their 24th wedding anniversary. They were married Dec. 19, 1992. Gail brought a son, Jason Kelly, into their marriage.

Jason lives in Spring Garden and works in the maintenance department at Piedmont Healthcare Center. He and Kelli Robinson have plans to marry next month. Gail and Harold have three granddaughters. Heather Allen lives in Montgomery. Alexandria “Lexi” Kelly, a senior at Piedmont High works after school at Saveaway. She will attend Jacksonville State University in the fall. Savanna Kelly is in the ninth grade at Spring Garden. Last year they were blessed with an addition of a great-grandson, Bruce Buchner Allen. He is now 16 months old and very active. He lives in Montgomery but they visit him as much as they can.

As a child, Gail had her eye on a rock house on Main Street. As an adult, she’d drive blocks out of the way, just to pass it. The original owners were the Deberrys, who were educators in the Piedmont area. The rock house is actually known as the Deberry house, even though it’s had several owners through the years.

“I’ve always been fascinated with the house,” Gail said. “I just love the uniqueness of it. I can remember trick or treating on this very same street and at this house.”

Gail said she loves the house and renovating it. Their renovations are ongoing.

“We’ve gone just about as far as we can go,” she said. “We haven’t torn down walls or anything like that but we have made great improvements. People stop and talk to us about what we’ve done. At Halloween, I can’t count the number of trick or treaters we’ve had. My husband is a big kid at heart. He loves to decorate for certain holidays and he loves Halloween and Christmas.”

Harold works in education in Georgia, which means his days are long and he doesn’t get to do much renovating during the week. Most of their work is done on the weekends.

“We’ve definitely given the house new life,” she said.

Gail likes to read and work in her yard.

“Not gardening, but flowers and plants,” she said.

She also enjoys time with her grandchildren and great grandson. She likes to visit antique stores, thrift stores and auctions to search for hidden and “cheap” treasures. She’s recently set up her own booth at a local antique store.

“I just have to do something to keep me busy,” she said.

(Contact Margaret at pollya922@gmail.com)

RECIPES

SWEDISH MEATBALLS

1 bottle of chili sauce            

½ cup cornflakes crumbs    

2 beaten eggs        

Juice of 1 lemon            

1 small grated onion        

2 lbs. ground beef

1 - 6-oz jar grape jelly (3/4 cup)                 

1 garlic clove, minced        

Pinch of salt and pepper

Prepare sauce by combing chili sauce, lemon juice and grape jelly. While the sauce is simmering, prepare the meatballs by combining cornflakes crumbs, onion, garlic, eggs, salt, pepper and ground beef. Form meat into walnut size balls and drop into sauce. Cook on low for 1 hour. Place meatballs and sauce into a chafing dish and have toothpicks ready for guests to use. Yield: 65 meatballs

CHERRY CHEESE PIE

1 (9 inch) graham cracker crumb crust or baked pastry shell

1 (8-oz.) package cream cheese, softened

1 (14-oz.) can Eagle Brand Sweetened Condensed Milk (Note: NOT evaporated milk)

1/3 cup ReaLemon Lemon Juice from Concentrate

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 (21-oz.) can cherry pie filling, chilled

In large mixer bowl, beat cheese until fluffy. Gradually beat in sweetened condensed milk until smooth. Hand stir in ReaLemon and vanilla. Pour into prepared crust. Chill 3 hours or until set (I normally allow 1-2 days to ensure cream cheese is firm). Top with desired amount of pie filling before serving. Refrigerate leftovers.

EVELYN’S PINEAPPLE CASSEROLE

1 cup sugar                    

6 tablespoons all-purpose flour        

2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese        

2 (20-oz) cans pineapple chunks, drained and 6 tablespoons pineapple juice reserved

1 cup Ritz cracker crumbs

8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, melted, plus extra for greasing pan

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease (with butter) a medium-size casserole dish or pan. In a large bowl, stir together the flour and sugar. Gradually stir in the cheddar cheese. Add the drained pineapple chunks, and stir until well combined. Pour this mixture into the casserole dish. In a medium bowl, combine the cracker crumbs, melted butter, and reserved pineapple juice. Stir (recommended rubber spatula) until well blended. Spread this crumb mixture on top of pineapple mixture. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until golden brown.