Friday, November 17, 2017

"Pioneer" Fairhope Entrepreneur Passes Away

Fairhope, Alabama

Bessie Montgomery 1921 - 2017

Elizabeth "Bessie" Klump Montgomery passed away last month at the age of 96; founder of the 'Town and Country' clothing stores and the area now known as the 'French Quarter' in downtown Fairhope; she sold the current 'Page and Palette' building to the Wolff family in 1968, according to mayor Wilson.

According to her obituary, she was born on a small farm in Point Clear in 1921 and began her career in business at a local "five and dime" store; after graduating from Fairhope High in 1939, she started a  clothing store that would become the 'Town and Country' shop.

She was Baldwin County's Harvest Queen in 1937 and May Queen in 38; and director of the Chamber of  Commerce from 2003 - 05.

In 1994, she created the Fairhope French Quarter (click) as an "inexpensive location to start new businesses" and "as a place to relax and converse together, reminiscent of the city's founding days."

A celebration of her life is scheduled to be held there next April.

Hurricane Nate Now Declared A Disaster

Fairhope, Alabama


Now that the President has declared Baldwin County a disaster area, bids are being solicited for repairs to the five piers damaged during hurricane Nate last month.

Public Works Director Richard Johnson told the Times federal inspectors had already seen the damage and all of the paperwork was in place for reimbursement: one contractor is being sought for all damage (but several are expected to submit bids).

FEMA will reimburse 75% of the repair cost; no time frame was mentioned.


City employees already have already made various repairs to other less-extensively damaged facilities long the waterfront (railings, stairs, sidewalks, etc.), including replenishing sand on Magnolia Beach, by using excess sand that had been washed up elsewhere.

Magnolia Beach

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Another Derelict House To Be Demolished

Fairhope, Alabama

255 George Street


According to a building department official, this run-down house located behind tall shrubs is next to be condemned and demolished by the city: a lien will be put on the property to pay for demolition.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Famous Fairhope Artist Talks Art/Philosophy

Fairhope, Alabama

Weekly museum Tea-talk


During the weekly 'Tea For Two' at the Museum of History, world-renowned Fairhope artist Fred Nall Hollis talked about growing up in Alabama and experiences honing his skills as a young artist in Paris.

He said he was born at midnight in Troy in 1948 on Murphy Street, "a street known for its madness disease" -- which he was pleased to have contracted and put to good use later; but moved away with his family to "the big city" of Birmingham 11 years later, and then again to Arab, Alabama.

Always regarded as the family artist, he "cut his way out of the womb with a drawing pencil" according to his  mother; his banker-father warned of professional artists "starving to death" and encouraged following in his own footsteps instead, which he did for a time while studying art at the University of Alabama.

He acknowledged he "drank a bit" too much during college, then was an "open book" after graduating and thought about teaching art for a while: painting was his "passion" but he did not realize what an "obsession" until he moved to France.

Besides having six astrological signs, Hollis said he learned later he had a multicultural heritage with three bloodlines (American Indian, English and African) running through his veins; and by using meditation and hypnosis techniques he was able to connect into his past "genetic memory" to find out about these past lifetimes and better-understand who he is today.

Hollis: "Its amazing what we all have inside us ... so much energy ... a joy to know you have all these different cultures inside."


"Being the artist, the outsider, came naturally,  but learning the passion, the work ethic, came in Paris leading the free bohemian lifestyle people read about,"  Hollis said.

He said he had to get a friend to translate when he applied to enroll at the 'Ecole des Beaux Arts' (School of Fine Arts) in Paris in 1971: "I got down on my knees and begged to be let in ... else I would have to go back to Alabama ... to take over a chain of banks."

"Luckily they let me in ... one of two A+'s out of two thousand applicants"-- but his first professor classified him "an etcher not a painter."

He said he learned art history by jogging over to the Louvre and traveling to other art museums in Europe; and two "girlfriends" (in true bohemian fashion) taught him a lot about Middle Eastern culture which became a great influence later on.

Greek and Roman mythology also became influences for his work as well: "What is a human being ... how does he fit in his skin ... in the Bible Belt."

Hollis said when some people first recognized him as a artist while sketching by the Seine River, he "felt like a famous football player in Alabama!"


When a French count asked if he would like to meet Picasso or the surrealist Dali, Hollis replied, "you can keep Picasso," so he took one of his best etchings and "trembled like a leaf" while waiting to meet him.

"The seas parted (of people) and there he was, with his big moustache, he looked at my drawing, passed it over his shoulder and said: Come to visit me in Paris ... good day!"

That one minute interview led to twice-weekly visits for three years in a Paris hotel suite, "siting at his feet like the good disciple, sketching him for 15 second poses." (Dali: "You will learn to work quickly.")

Dali always introduced Hollis to the many famous people passing through as an "actor in the movie Clockwork Orange" -- but hoping one day he would become disciplined enough to "use his talent to become an artist."

Dali "let you breathe his air," Hollis said, and taught him "what it means to be an artist ... to think out of the box, without rules" -- and that the production of an artist is paramount: "nothing else is left."

Hollis: "There are a lot of poets but very few poems ... a lot of artists but very few paintings ... respect and use your God-given talent ... if your paintings lie ... you become just a decorator."

Hollis said he subsequently worked for 35 years, 7 days a week, getting up at 3 or 4 AM -- until the disease of "old" set in; he credited much of his early success to help from friends and family, many who purchased his work.


When an audience member asked how he came to Fairhope, Hollis said he was divorced about ten years ago and "she got the French property."

Also, since his parents are deceased and he has family here (cousins), he wanted to be around them; he reiterated how "Alabama is in my blood ... never felt at home in France."

Hollis said he could afford to live "anywhere in the world" but "fell in love" with Fairhope: "I love the Bay ... some say its a mud hole ... but I love the mud hole ... my  feet sinking in it ... the smells ... pine straw, mowed lawns, salt water, even the armadillos smashed in the streets ... all of this."

"The rotten barn's wood to me is as beautiful as buildings in Venice ... a patina ... its my soul."

He said he still maintains another studio and residence in Italy.


* In answering a question about the origins of "true originality" -- he said he had studied past masters but advises his students to travel as well to places like India, to become open-minded and get a real education: "Birth, death, everything ... you see right there on the streets."

* He said he had never written much (only doodles), but is now writing a novel called 'Forty-three Chapters' based upon people he has known; but "doesn't want it published until after I am dead."

* He said that because of a medical condition that causes his hands to shake, he is having to "paint larger ... precision is in the vision now."

* When asked why his constant-companion 'Biscuit' was not with him that day, he replied he thought dogs were not allowed at the museum (they are); pets are an important substitute for those who do not have children, he added.

(Biscuit arrived shortly after.)

'Biscuit' arrives

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Highway 181 Traffic Congestion Worsening

Fairhope, Alabama

Hwy181/ Fairhope Avenue


The opening of the new roundabout on parallel CR 13 should help, but some east-side residents have been bringing traffic congestion concerns on Highway 181 to the city council's attention.
Hwy 104/181

Rodney Kilgore called the congestion at the HWY 104 intersection "unbelievable,"  and suggested lengthening the green light timing and doing a traffic study there.

Council president Burrell suggested contacting the county and state about it, since that intersection is their responsibility.


According to an Eastern Shore MPO spokesperson, the widening of Hwy 181 north of 104 to four lanes will begin early next year with utility re-location, but is expected to take up to two years to complete.

The highway south of there is to be widened as well at some point in the future when funding becomes available.

Several new subdivisions are underway or being planned for that area (including the 208 lot 'Verandas' at Higbee Road and 150+ lot 'Fairhope Falls' on Fish River); the '3 Circle' Church is expanding and a "luxury" RV park (44 unit Grande Point Motorcoach Resort) is under construction now as well.

The city of Daphne recently approved over 900 new lots north of Hwy 104 along Hwy 181, to be completed in phases over the years (Jubilee Farms at Austin Road - click).

Since most of the area is outside of city limits in the un-zoned county, substantial commercial development is expected at the 104 intersection, possibly more 'big-box' stores.

Fairhope Falls

'3 Circle Church' expansion coming

Luxury RV park on 104

Fairhope Falls at Fish River bridge

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Big Fairhope Sewage Overflow Caused By 'Rags'

Fairhope, Alabama


15K gallons of raw sewage spilled from a manhole and lift station into a ditch on Lowry Drive in the White Grove neighborhood this morning -- caused by a "large amount of rags" being flushed down a toilet clogging the pump, according to the report submitted to ADEM.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Fairhope's 2017 Veterans Day Parade

Fairhope, Alabama

The parade was held a week early this year at the request of its organizers.