On Sunday, people from all over drove to Selma to celebrate Kathryn Tucker Windham‘s 90th birthday. We really wanted to go, but after spending so much time in the car on Saturday, I wanted Shug to have all day to just play around the house.
Our friend Al Benn wrote about the party for the Montgomery Advertiser. Here are small portions:
Windham arrived in a golf cart and took her seat high above the huge crowd just as a Dixieland band strutted down the middle of the street to the library, playing “When The Saints Go Marching In.”
The guest of honor even got a parade permit and, when the library portion of the celebration ended, the crowd marched across a busy, but blocked-off intersection to the Selma-Dallas County Performing Arts Center. That’s where her birthday cake waited to be cut.
Mayor James Perkins Jr. held up a proclamation naming Sunday “Kathryn Tucker Windham Day” in Selma and then took his place in the crowd, holding a little plastic comb with wax paper around it — soon to serve as a makeshift musical instrument. That’s the way Windham wanted to celebrate her special birthday — a fun time for all on a day in which she became an official nonagenarian.
Comb playing may be a lost art, but her friends quickly took to it and joined her in their own renditions of “Amazing Grace,” “I’ll Fly Away,” “You Are My Sunshine” and many other selections.
Inside, her friends were treated to Moon Pies, grape soda and water as they pushed toward the table to get a piece of her birthday cake. Among those celebrating was author and political observer Wayne Flynt, who is familiar with the glare of spotlights. He described Windham as a woman who is unique in Alabama.
“Some people are important to intellectuals, journalists or politicians, but Kathryn Tucker Windham is probably the only person I know in Alabama who is important to everybody,” he said.