Dora Franklin Finley African American Heritage Trail Mobile, Alabama

Eric Finley, host of the DFFAAHT

The Finley African American Heritage Trail in Mobile takes in depth look at the history and contributions of African Americans from the founding of Mobile to the present.  While the trail became the vision of Dora Franklin Finley, it was City Councilman, William Carroll that suggested an African American Tour in Mobile.  Tasking Dora Finley with the challenge, he certainly tapped the right person.  Mrs. Finley worked tirelessly for five years to find the significant places in Mobile of the African American story and heritage.  Today, her legacy lives on in the success of Mobile’s preeminent African American Tour.  With some forty-three historical markers on the tour, it’s best to take some time to investigate them all.

Whether you simply download the Trail brochure and seek out the trail markers on your own or you take the tour in the comfortable air conditioned DFFAAHT van, you will not be disappointed with the stories you will learn while on the trail. There are so many stories on the trial, I have selected just a few:


Slave Market

The John Ragland Slave Market where slaves were auctioned sold off to be owned by whoever bought them.  Many went to other regions of Alabama and children were often separated from parents and sold. 


The Clotilda was the last slave ship to enter the US when in 1860, Timothy Meaher, a local plantation owner made a bet that he could smuggle one hundred slaves into Mobile.  Slavery was legal at that time but an 1807 Act prohibited the importation of slaves. The Union authorities were aware of the ships’ return but to complete his bet, Meaher sent out a paddleboat in order to get the slaves ashore. Captain William Foster then sailed the Clotilda up river and burned it to destroy any evidence of the journey.  The slaves were dispersed throughout the area.  Both Foster and Meaher were arrested in 1861 but the Union authorities soon left and they never put to trial. 


Africatown is where many of the slaves from the Clotilda settled.  Cudjoe Lewis (Kalooza) is the most famous survivor of the Clotilda.  He died in 1935 at the age of ninety-five.  Cudjoe did interviews with author Zora Nell Hurston and Barracoon was written in Cudjoe’s dialect.  The manuscript was maintained at Howard University since it was penned. The manuscript was finally published in 2018.    The Africatown/Plateau Cemetery was established 1876.  A five foot headstone was placed in the cemetery to mark Cudjoe Lewis’ passing.  Many of the descendents of the Clotilda are buried in cemetery.  Recently, a mural of Clotilda was completed opposite the cemetery on the road that leads toward the Cochran-Africatown Suspension Bridge. The bridge was built in the 1990’s to honor Africatown.

Union Missionary Baptist Church

Union Missionary Baptist Church across the street was established by Cudjoe Lewis in 1867.  Sculptor April Livingston created a bust of Lewis which was place front of church in June, 2017.

Stone Street Baptist Church

Stone Street Baptist is oldest Baptist church in Alabama and was established in 1806.  The deed was transferred to African American congregation in 1843.  

Hammerin Hank Aaron

Honoring Mobile’s Baseball Heritage, the trial pays tribute to “Hammerin” Hank Aaron who played baseball at Central High School.  Aaron is one of five African American Mobilians to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, along with Willy  McCovey, Satchel Paige, Ozzie Smith, and Billy Williams.

Notable Mobilians

A mural was painted on N. Claiborne Street at the intersection of Dauphin Street to honor three prominent African American Mobilians:

Dr. Regina Benjamin is a former Vice Admiral in the US Public Service Commissioned Health Corps and served as Surgeon General under President Obama. She is the founder of the Bayou La Batre Rural Health Clinic.

Dr. Lonnie Johnson a graduate of Williamson High, former US Air Force Officer, NASA engineer, and inventor of the hugely successful Super Soaker.  Maj. General J. Gary Cooper a U.S. Marine, the first African American a Marine Corp infantry company, Ambassador to Jamaica and President of Commonwealth Bank.

A Slave No More

Wallace Turnage was a slave in Mississippi the 1800’s and ran away five times. His owner brought him to the Ragland Slave market.  Wallace would run away for the last time during in 1864, when after being whipped by his owner, he walked away and eventually ended up at a Union encampment on Dauphin Island, a small island off of Mobile.  It was there he told the Union soldiers everything he could about Mobile in return for a job.  He would ultimately relocate to Chicago where he wrote a book about his life, A Slave No More.

These are only a small selection of the stories of African Americans you will learn when on the Finley Heritage Trail.  Seek out this eye opening historical tour when you are in Mobile. 

“You can’t know where you’re going until you know where you’ve been.”

Experience! The Finger Lakes Waterfalls of Ithaca, New York

Experience! The Fingers Lakes Tours provides just that, an immersive touring Experience. In November, I visited Ithaca for the day and oh what a day it was! A magnificent tour of the waterfalls of Ithaca was awe inspiring.


I was amazed to find that Ithaca has multiple waterfalls within the city.  Laura Faulk, owner of Experience was my tour guide.  She introduced me to four waterfalls around the city.  Due to the all the rain in the area, the waterfalls were powerful vistas. 

Cascadilla Falls

Cascadilla Falls

We began our tour at Cascadilla Falls at Cascadilla Park not far from downtown.  Then it was onto the campus of Cornell University where Laura had been a student. You can’t get a better guide than someone who studied at Cornell and lived on the campus. Laura explained the history of Ithaca and Cornell as we drove between the waterfall stops.

Fall Creek Gorge

We parked near the Cornell Suspension bridge and walked across Fall Creek.  At over 138 feet high, it provides a campus thoroughfare for Cornell students.

High above Fall Creek Gorge

Triphammer Falls

We drove through College Town then walked across another bridge above Triphammer Falls and Beebe Lake. The lake is a perfect place for kayaks.

Triphammer Falls

Ithaca Falls

Our final waterfall was the magnificent Ithaca Falls. At one hundred and thirty-five feet it three stories higher than Niagara Falls and standing at the base of it you can experience the power of the water.

Ithaca Falls

I highly recommend Experience! The Finger Lakes Tours if you are in Ithaca. You can experience a number of different types of tours, from wine excursions to area sightseeing.  My day in Ithaca was a fantastic way to have and up close experience of the Ithaca’s waterfalls. 

Powerful Ithaca Falls


Laurel and Hardy Museum, Hollywood History in Harlem Georgia

Laurel and Hardy Muesum

A friend and I were headed back home on I-20 in south Georgia and we happened across the Laurel and Hardy Museum in Harlem.  Oliver Hardy was born in Harlem in 1892 and the town is proud of its native son.  

Stan and Ollie

The Museum pays tribute to the comedy duo of the 1920’s and 1930’s. Staffed by volunteers who are fans of the comedy team’s films, the small museum features unique pieces of Hollywood by gone days.  Stan and Ollie made only 107 films during their careers, but the fan base is strong.  In fact, each October fans descend upon Harlem for a film festival that swell the small town’s population upwards of forty thousand. 

Cinema at Museum

This is well worth a detour of the main road to visit to this piece of Hollywood history.  Be sure to check at the new movie about the two titans of comedy.

Laurel and Hardy

Read more about the Stan and Ollie on the following links:

Making the Good Times Roll, Mobile Mask, Mobile, Alabama

The Mardi Gras season is just around the corner and soon our streets will be filled with revelers celebrating Carnival I had the pleasure of speaking with Steve Joynt, the editor of the Mobile Mask, the foremost magazine for Mobile’s Mardi Gras season about his unique and treasured piece of Mobile’s Carnival Season. 

Though Steve was not born under an azalea bush, he has spent a lot of time in Alabama. First, working for the Birmingham News and then for the Mobile Press Register. He was first introduced to Mardi Gras when he visited New Orleans. It was there he discovered a whole new holiday, one that lasts two and half weeks and isn’t just all about kids.

While working at the old Mobile Press building, Steve always appreciated that you could go see a parade then go back to work. He served as the Assistant City Editor at the Mobile Press and as the Mardi Gras coverage reporter.  As the Mardi Gras reporter, he eventually run out of ideas about the season. The running out of ideas was Steve’s spark of an idea. He began researching the history of the carnival season from the ground up.  He wanted to try and answer all the unanswered questions about our Mardi Gras.  “There are a lot of them.” Steve told me.

2019 Mobile Mask


When Steve went to Mardi Gras in New Orleans, he used the Arthur Hardy guides to steer his adventures. He discovered there was nothing like the Hardy guide for Mobile’s carnival season. He had in mind as a similar guide for Mobile when he began to create the Mobile Mask.  He worked on the magazine at night and soon he had a decision to make, either do it or not.

In September of 2011, Steve took medical leave from the Mobile Press Register. He returned at a time of upheaval at Press Register. He took the buyout offered from the newspaper in 2012.  Then during the 2012 carnival season, he took lots of pictures of the parades for what would be included in the magazines’ debut issue in 2013. “Why I thought one person could put out a magazine, I don’t know. It seemed doable.”  He told me. 


What Steve didn’t know at the beginning of the adventure was how difficult it would be to sell ads for the magazine. He is very grateful for his first customers and that they have continued to be customers through the ensuing years. “I can’t talk people into advertising but I can sell an ad for the magazine.” He decided against coupons in the magazine because “The Mask” is considered a keepsake publication. 

Mr. Mardi Gras
Steve Joynt


The Mask has now become the “go to” guy for everything Mardi Gras, the media now calls Steve to see if parade is going instead of checking with the local police.  The Mask’s Facebook page is very active during the season and it is now become the source of all Mobile Mardi Gras information.  Steve admits he doesn’t know it all but he does dedicate himself to the topic all year long.  He attends all the association meetings in order to get the inside scope on what will be happening for all the parades for the carnival season.  He was there when a new Saraland organization’s members showed up in costume, all so that the organization would get its parading permit.  

Steve’s main objective with The Mask is to “Make it a Happy Place”.  In a twist on his journalist roots, Steve has the organization’s review the articles before their stories are printed in the magazine.  There are no ‘got ya’ stories. He wants people to be pleased with the articles. He wants people to enjoy the article and to “cut them out, put it in a frame and hang it in their den.”

The 2018 Mobile Mask


What’s the biggest difference between New Orleans and Mobile Carnival celebration, “If you want a good seat for a New Orleans parade, it’s pretty much an all day affair.  In Mobile, you can set your watch by the parade and go have dinner afterwards.”  Mobile has more days of parading than New Orleans and Mobile has more mystic societies. New Orleans organizations don’t rent their floats and Mobile does.

An interesting fact is that in Mobile, fire truck drivers do most of the float driving.  There is also only one man in Mobile who pulls the floats in and out of the float barns. This is a highly specialized skill.


“Nobody is in Charge.” Steve told me. Everyone thinks someone oversees but it’s a myth.

This year, over ten thousand copies of The Mask will be printed.  Be sure to get your hands on this unique, Mobile original keepsake. The Mask is here to “enhance people’s fun.” Steve said. It will lead you to understand and enjoy of the Carnival Season when it hits the streets of Mobile.

Be sure to have your copy handy for all the festivities and remember to Laissez Les Bons Temps Rouler (Let the Good Times Roll) on Mardi Gras Day, Tuesday, March 5, 2019!

Three Places Not To Missed in “The coolest small town in America”, Hammondsport, New York

A half day in the the Finger Lakes region is not enough time to dive into the many treasures of the area but you can make touch the surface of its riches.

Glenn H. Curtiss Museum

Curtiss Museum

Located near the heart of Hammondsport, New York, the Curtiss Museum celebrates all things that can be navigated, be it in air, on land or at sea.  Glenn Curtiss began his career by building bicycles and moved on to motorcycles.  He attained early notoriety as the ‘fastest man on earth” in 1907 on a V8 motorcycle. 

1911 Indian Motorcycle





Curtiss Jenny

Curtiss was one of the pioneers in aviation, who developed the sea plane as well as many other aircraft designs. The museum also houses a restoration shop which is in the process of the restoration of a 1940’s P-40 that was recovered in Gainesville, Florida in the 1980’s.


The breath of items housed in the museum will leave you amazed.  You will find items displayed from Curtiss’s family residences, civil war weapons, bicycles and motorcycles designed by Curtiss and others.  Planes, cars and boats fill every nook and cranny of the space.  

Early flying boat





You need to take time here to digest the impressive contribution that Curtiss made to aviation.   

Cradle of Aviation





Finger Lakes Boating Museum

Finger Lakes Boating Museum

A short drive from the Curtiss museum, housed in the former Taylor winery, is the Finger Lakes Boating Museum.  

Sleek boats of the Lake

Dedicated to the Finger Lakes boating culture, the museum walks you through boating on the lakes from canoes and paddle wheelers to sleek hand crafted antique boats.  



Founded in 1996, the museum was founded to preserve the boating heritage of the regions.


Domaine LeSeurre winery

Domaine LeSeurre Winery

This charming French inspired winery overlooks Keuka Lake.  I turned into the parking area, thinking I would just get a quick photograph of Keuka Lake but I ended up staying for a full tasting.  Jennifer, my tasting hostess, told me the story of Sebastian and Celine LeSeurre. The two French trained winemakers who settled in the Finger Lakes to unite their French heritage to Finger Lakes wine region.  The oval tasting table looks out onto the Keuka Lake and can host a large amount of guests.  The LeSeurres’ brought the land in 2012 and opened the tasting room in October of 2013.  The winery is in the progress of adding on two larger spaces to expand their tasting experience.  

Selection of LeSuerre Wines

LeSeurre offered twelve wines for tasting as well as a recommended paired tasting.  The cost of a selection of five tastings is five dollars and a well enjoyed five dollars, it is.  I tried a host of the wines; from Chardonnays (both Oaked and Unoaked), Dry and Semi Dry Resilsings, Gewurztaminer and Cabernet Franc. The crisp and clean flavor Unoaked Chardonnay was so enjoyable, I brought a bottle.  

LaSuerre Cav Franc

Chatting with the other guests and exchanging stories of our travels to the winery was a treat. This first class winery was an unexpected encounter during my brief adventure in Hammondsport.

The Finger Lakes is a lovely region of New York State. I cannot wait to return and discover more of the gems that surround its many lakes.   

Five Not to Missed Museums in Rochester, New York

Visiting Rochester, New York in early November was as treat for a week-long visit to the Finger Lakes region. Rochester’s history offered much to do and see.  While I was only able to scratch the surface during my short visit, I had the pleasure of visiting five exciting and inspiring area museums.


Eastman House

The Eastman Museum is located in the residence built by George Eastman in early 1900’s. The museum which opened in 1949, houses the Eastman collection of some twenty-six thousand items, the Technicolor film archive and exhibit areas;


the David Levinthal exhibit on his career and in the contemporary exhibit area and Gale Albert Halaban’s “Out My Window” is a unique look at neighbors. During the Holiday season, the Eastman sponsors organizations and individuals to create the Sweet Creations Gingerbread displays which are auctioned to raise funds for the museum. One gingerbread house was created by David Levinthal’s wife, Kate Sullivan honoring Mr. Rogers Neighborhood. The thirty-five thousand square foot Eastman residence is a National Historic Landmark and houses the only residential pipe organ in the world.  And interesting fact, Eastman enlarged the residence by nine feet to achieve better acoustics for the organ.

Eastman Organ

This is impressive teaching museum serves its community and preserves photographic history.


Susan B. Anthony Home

The National Susan B. Anthony Museum & House is located in the home that Anthony occupied during her lifetime. Ms. Anthony began her work for women’s rights with the temperance movement. She was the mover and shaker in Rochester for both the temperance movement and most notably for the suffragette movement that would ultimately win women the right to vote.

Susan B. Anthony Gravesite

Anthony had a good friend and fellow activist in Frederick Douglas.  Together they worked to achieve the 14th amendment. Although Anthony thought the Amendment needed to include women, Douglas knew it was important to do one thing at a time.  She was arrested in Rochester in 1872 after registering to vote and then voting in the Presidential election. She was tried, found guilty and fined.  Her fine remains unpaid today.  Without the struggle of Susan B. Anthony on behalf of women, we would not have the rights we have today. Her story is inspiring and timely today as women around the world continue to fight for their rights.


Strong Museum quote by Emerson

Strong Museum of Play is Rochester’s #1 attraction. I wasn’t sure what to expect at the “museum of play”. What I discovered was toys of all shapes and sizes. The Strong owns and cares for the world’s most comprehensive collection of toys: from Mr. Potato Head to the latest x-box game were represented. The museum was founded by Margaret Woodbury Strong in 1968. Mrs. Strong was an avid collector of all things.

Margaret Strong

The mission of the Strong is “to explore play and the ways in which it encourages learning, creativity, and discovery and illuminates cultural history”. The Strong continued its preservation collection in 2002 with the acquisition of the National Toy Hall of Fame and the Toy Industry Association’s Toy Industry Hall of Fame.  Quotes adorn the hallways of the Strong:  “Play is our brain’s favorite way of learning.” Diane Ackerman, American Author.  The Strong is a natural attraction for children but adults will enjoy it has well, if only to rediscover their own childhood favorite toys and what it is to ‘play’.


Underground Railroad

At the Rochester Museum and Science Center, I was treated to a personal tour of a portion of the exhibit area by two long-time docents, Diane and Marie. These ladies know the history of the Underground Railroad and its importance in the Absolutist movement. During school visits they educate the children about empathy and the risks taken by those who used the railroad as well as the roll of the Absolutists to the cause. Other exhibits included the Native Peoples of the Americas and Expedition Earth which featured early mammals of the region.


The Museum and Science Center also hosts the Strasenburgh Planetarium.


Rochester Memorial Art Museum

Rochester’s Memorial Art Museum, located just around the corner from the Rochester Museum and Science Center, currently holds in its collection, some twelve thousand works.  The current exhibit of Monet’s Waterloo Bridge is a blockbuster hit. This was a particular exhibit I was excited to see.

Waterloo Bridge

Fabric of Survival

I was also struck by the story of The Fabric of Survival which features the embroidered fabric collages of Ester Nisenthal Krintz, who was twelve when the Nazis entered her Polish village. Through the collages her art is an eyewitness to both tragedy and healing.

The Memorial Art Museum collection offers its visitors pieces from Ancient Greece, Italy, Asia, as well as artworks from the 17th through 20th centuries. The massive Grand Italian Baroque Organ that dominates one wall of the second floor exhibit hall.

Italian Organ

I thoroughly enjoyed viewing the pieces at the Memorial Art Museum.  It offered a quiet place to reflect on my travels throughout Rochester.

Duringy my visit to Rochester, I stayed at the Holiday Inn Downtown. The hotel is situated not far from High Falls and the Genoese River. A fine establishment that is well located for visitor and business travelers alike. Walking around the downtown area one morning, I found the impressive Rochester City Hall and one of the statutes of Frederick Douglas near the hotel.  Rochester was easy to navigate and its newly renovated airport was pleasure to fly into even on a midnight flight.

My lunch at Jines Restaurant was a treat. Family run since 1971, it has a large menu and top notch service. The line of customers waiting to get in was my first indication that the community truly enjoys the restaurant as much as did I.

I dined at Pane Vino on my final night in Rochester. The restaurant was a brief walk over the Genoese River on a brisk night.  The Italian restaurant was crowded with patrons who were attending a nearby concert.  Finding a seat at the bar, I treated myself to a plate of pasta and a glass of wine after a long day of driving and wrapping up my tour of the area. It was a welcomed delicious end to my delightful Rochester visit.

My grateful thanks to both Rachel Pulvino and Chelsea Metzger at for arranging such an in depth and wonderful tour of the area. There is so much to discover in Rochester.  I hope that I can return to and enjoy more of its rich history.

Four Not to be Missed Museums in Cooperstown, New York

In early November, I had the pleasure of visiting Cooperstown, New York during a week-long driving tour. From the pleasant vistas of the fall colors, the comfortable accommodations and the informative museums of the area, Cooperstown is a HIT.  These four museums in and around Cooperstown are not to be missed when visiting the area!


Hyde Hall

Hyde Hall is a 19th century residence outside of Cooperstown designed by architect Phillip Hooker. The residence was built between 1817 and 1834 by George Clarke. It was designated a National Historic Site in 1986.  The magnificent house is perched high on hill overlooking Otsego Lake.  If you stand on the lakefront in Cooperstown, you can just make out the shape of a sleeping lion on the hill, Hyde Hall.  The drive up the long drive to the house is reminiscent of the drive to Highclere Castle of Downton Abbey fame.

Hyde Hall Dining Room

In fact, the entire house brings image of Downton Abby to mind.  When you enter the formal dining room with its extraordinarily ornate vapor light chandeliers and massive painting of ‘Jenny’ that towers above the table, you think the family will enter the room and sit down to dinner.


The property was acquired by New York State in 1963 and since 1988, great care has been taken with the restoration of the property by the Friends of Hyde Hall, the organization charged with the care and restoration of massive house.  Due to the excellent records kept over the life of the property by the Clarke family, there is plentiful documentation regarding the building and purchasing for the residence. Much of the furniture, most of which was made in New York State, is original to house.  The house now is part of the Glimmerglass State Park which is a short drive outside of Cooperstown.


Farmer’s Muesum

The Farmer’s Museum was founded in 1943. This turned out to be one of the most interesting stops during my week-long tour the Finger Lakes region. The museum was closed but one employee, a nice young man, Patrick, was generous and gave me a brief tour of this captivating village and life in 19th Century America. All the buildings in this living museum were relocated to the museum space in the 1950’s from a radius of one hundred miles of Cooperstown. The museum features a hand carved carousal.


It was carved by one thousand volunteer carvers and it is truly a work of art. We visited the Blacksmith’s shop, the print shop, the pharmacy and the tavern.  This was one of the most unique teaching museums I have visited and it is well worth the trip.

Typeface in the Printshop






Fenimore Art Museum is located just across the street from the Farmer’s Museum, provided me with a nice retreat from the snow and cold. I thoroughly enjoyed the exhibits at the Fenimore from the Letters from Alexander Hamilton’s Final Act, the works of David Levinthal, Puzzles of the Brain, the Coopers of Cooperstown and the Native American art.  It proved to be a pleasant, quiet refuge in the middle of a hectic day.

Hamilton’s Final Act






James Fenimore Cooper






Baseball Hall of Fame

The National Basehall Hall of Fame lies at the heart of Cooperstown. Baseball may not be my favorite sport but I certainly appreciate our National pastime, especially as it relates to my hometown. Mobile, Alabama has made an enormous contribution to baseball throughout the years. I was pleasantly surprised when I discovered a large exhibit about Mobile native, Hank Aaron at the Hall of Fame.  Mobile has produced five Baseball Hall of Famers; Hank Aaron, Willie McCovey, Satchel Paige, Ozzie Smith and Billy Williams. That is more Hall of Famer’s than any other city than New York and Los Angeles.  The Hall of Fame provides visitors with an in depth look at the game and its players from its beginnings to the most recent World Series game.

Diamond Dreams

Exhibits range from the All American Girls Professional Baseball League, the African American pioneers in baseball and Viva Baseball about the Latin American baseball players to the record breaking moments in the game’s history.  All the artifacts and memorabilia throughout the museum have been donated by fans of the game and are truly amazing.



Babe Ruth’s Uniform

From Babe Ruth’s Yankee uniform to Hank Aaron’s bat and glove, the artifacts help in telling the story of our National Pastime.  The Hall of Fame itself is a meaningful tribute to the men and women who play and have played this game as a testament to their hard work and talent.  Mariano Rivera is eligible in 2019 and Derek Jeter is eligible for induction in 2020.  I am sure the ceremonies on July 21, 2019 and July 26, 2020 will be record breakers for Cooperstown.



Inn At Coopertown

I had the pleasure of staying at the Inn at Cooperstown during my visit to Otsego County. This charming and comfortable B&B is located on Chestnut Street.  I arrived a bit later than intended and the Inn’s location made it easy to dash out to grab a bite of dinner on Cooperstown’s main street.  Breakfast at the Inn was delicious and effortlessly presented to the guests .  My room was nicely appointed with a comfortable king bed, large television and cozy bath.  B&B’s are a big draw in the Cooperstown area and I would recommend the Inn at Cooperstown when visiting. Parking was also provided directly behind the Inn.

My grateful thanks to Cassandra Harrington and Jacqueline White at in arranging such an in depth and wonderful visit to Otsego County.  There is so much to enjoy and discover in Cooperstown and Otsego County!  I hope that I can return to enjoy more of its rich history.

Rene Culler, Glass Artist, Mobile, Alabama

Rene Culler

Professional glass artist Rene Culler relocated to Mobile from Cleveland, Ohio in 2010 to lead the glass program at the University of South Alabama. Rene received her Master’s in Fine Arts from Kent State, is a Fulbright Senior Research Scholar.  While at the University of South Alabama, she was voted one of the 50 top researchers in past 50 years for her knowledge of Kiln work for research conducted when she was a Fulbright Scholar in Korea.

Kiln worked glass with new compatible colors is a fairly new art form.  Rene also taught at the Cleveland Institute of Art, New York, Korea, Turkey and Venice.  She recently opened her studio here in Mobile where she teaches classes in kiln worked glass.

I became aware of Rene’s artistry in 2017 when she presented “The Delta” at the Mobile Museum of Art.  Comprised multiple styles of glass, the piece took her a year to create.  She remembers flying into Mobile and was fascinated by the colors and shapes of Delta from the plane window and she knew she wanted to recreate it in glass.



The Studio

In her studio in Mobile, which is housed in a former engineering office, she recently designed and built a large Kiln, a fire brick lined chamber used for heating the glass to temperatures of fifteen hundred degrees.  She is a woman of many talents, which includes welding.  She learned the trade while in school. It was expensive to buy a kiln  so the students learned to build the tools needed to work the glass.  She also has a sandblaster, for blasting glass as well several smaller kilns which are lined with fire brick.  Her wall of Frit, or colored glass, in the studio is not only functional but attractive. She explained that, “Kiln glass work can be done on your own, but blowing glass, you need help to do.”


With blowing glass, she explained, “Your body can only put up with so much.  There’s a rush when working, you want the opportunity to create something.”  I asked her how did decided what to charge for a piece. “You can’t charge what it’s worth. Two hours and thirty years,”  She laughed.

Blown Glass

Magic Square

She is very interested in pattern tile and created a magic square which is based squares she has seen in Istanbul.  The squares are based on the phases of the moon. In the 1400’s astronomer’s assigned numbers to the stars, if you add the numbers on the diagonal, you get the same number. She said,   “We can’t survive without numbers. The future is all about numbers.”


She told me about Dale Chihuly, perhaps one of the most recognized names in the glass world, when he had received a grant to teach people how to blow glass in 1971. With the assistance of sixteen students the group built shelters and a glass blowing furnace at an old tree farm in Washington State. When there was no money to do a second year, Chihuly found a sponsor who owned the tree farm in order to continue the program.  This is now the Pilchuck Glass School, which is one of the world’s top schools for glass artists.


Rene has created many installations for hospitals and libraries across the county. She has been told that people “Like her work because they see different things in it.”  She has pieces in both of the Cleveland’s teaching hospitals.  One San Diego hospital told her not use too much red in the installation, they wanted calm colors because the color and shape affects each individuals emotions.

Art for Sale

She has travelled throughout the world and did her Fulbright scholar work in 2012 in Korea. “Art is a big deal there.” She blew a lot of glass while in Korea and was able to show her work in Seoul. “I really enjoy learning about other cultures, Learning about the philosophy behind what they do.”  While there her husband began to learn and read Korean, which was not an easy task.


Rene is also an accomplished author with “Glass Art from the Kiln” and the forthcoming “Imagery in Glass.”

What does the artist love about glass?  “It’s a great experience, magical stuff.  To take something from the earth is opaque and make it transparent.”  Transforming glass is just “Another idea of a common material that is taken for granted.” She said.



Seek out Rene’s work or experience one of her workshops at her studio at 2468 Commercial Park Drive, Mobile Al 36606.  On December 1, 2018, Rene will host a Holiday Open Studio and Sale event from 11-4.

Max Morey, Man behind the Crescent Theater, Mobile, Alabama


Crescent Theater in Downtown Mobile


On November 1, 2018, the Crescent celebrated its 10 year anniversary with a party for the Crescent supporters with a showing of Bottle Shock. This was the first movie that debuted for the reopening of the theater on October 31, 2008.  I recently spoke with Max Morey about the history of the theater and what lies ahead for this popular downtown Mobile movie venue.


Max Morey



Max, who is originally from Atlantic City, New Jersey, was working in the casino business in Biloxi when he came to the Mobile for a college basketball game and was immediately drawn to the City .  He soon relocated here and began working with business partner, John Switzer, developing residential properties in downtown Mobile. When the City approached them with the idea of reopening a downtown movie theater, they jumped into the project, researching the buildings’ history at the University of South Alabama archives, so they could be true to the Crescent’s past.


The original Crescent Theater opened in 1885 as a vaudeville theater then was updated in 1912 to show silent films. In 1937, the name was changed to the Century Theater which closed in the 1970’s.  In 2008, after a renovation, the Crescent Theater reopened its doors to its Mobile patrons.

“We call it an art house,” Max told me as we discussed the films coming soon to the Crescent. “There’s no plan. I try and get what I can.”  He selects films he likes and knows the patrons will like them too. “I’m trying to get happy films.”  Though at times working with the film studios can prove to be a challenge.

“A single-screen theater is a recipe for disaster.” Max said.   “It can’t be a successful business in and of itself, it needs community support and the community has rallied around the Crescent.”  Max explained.  When the theater faced closure a few years ago, he told the city of the situation.  He is very thankful for the individuals that got together and had a fundraiser to keep the theater open. He said he didn’t see that coming. “The Crescent Film Society is very important to the theater and keeping it going.”

Max says there is always dip in ticket sales in both the summer and the fall when the weather is good and everyone wants to be outside.  But the Crescent’s ticket sales have shown a gradual increase in these past 10 years.  In fact, he has as many new customers as he does regulars.


Community engagement is important to Max and the Crescent. Charles Morgan, of Chuck’s Fish sought out Max to tell him that the Crescent was the reason he was building restaurants in Mobile.  “Every progressive city in America has a single screen theater in its heart.”  Charles told him.

Max also lavished praise on the Mobile Downtown Alliance, “I’m the President of their fan club. They work quietly behind the scenes for every positive thing we have. Without them, we’d be back in the 1970’s.  Nobody has given them an award, the city ought to.”

Crescent Theater

You can find Max at the Crescent daily, interacting with local business people that stop by to check on his stock of beer and wine for his customers or local patrons in search of a good afternoon movie and a brief chat.  Max is enjoying life. “I’d rather have people’s friendship than money in my pocket.” He told me.



Come downtown to the Crescent and see a movie in this unique part of Mobile’s movie past and future. You are sure to enjoy a fine film and good conversation.


The upcoming films for the Crescent are: Green Book, The Return of Mary Poppins and Mary, Queen of Scots.  Get those tickets now!