Holloway Auction: Celeb items raise funds for search
by JUDY HAISE, Social columnist for the Birmingham News

The "... for Natalee" charity auction was without the usual band and corporate sponsors, although a little pomp would have seemed natural, since Hollywood TV and movie stars Courteney Cox and her husband, David Arquette, asked what they could do to help six weeks ago. They thanked everyone for coming via a video shown at the auction.

Mounds of tiny sandwiches with no crusts and other enticing hors d'oeuvres were scattered about, but there was little grazing Thursday night.

Each of the nearly 500 invited guests wearing a tiny yellow ribbon seemed to have another agenda - to make a donation to the Natalee Holloway Trust Fund and give personal words of encouragement to the family of the Mountain Brook 18-year-old who went missing, May 30, on a graduation trip to Aruba.

Natalee's stepfather, Jug Twitty, of Mountain Brook graciously shook hands with everyone in the main entrance of B&A Warehouse last Thursday night. Natalee's mother, Beth Holloway-Twitty, thinner than many remembered her, received guests inside the main room, stalwartly standing in the same spot for nearly three hours, just hugging and thanking everyone for their support.

Beth was back home in Birmingham for just the second time during the two and a half months she's spent in Aruba searching for her daughter.

Close by was a calming presence, Natalee's aunt Linda Allison from Arkansas. Across the sea of guitars, movie posters and DVDs signed by Hollywood stars was Jug's brother Jar Twitty of Mountain Brook, sharing his stories.

Circulating was Jar's wife, the ubiquitous Marcia Twitty, who along with Sunny Tillman, Betsy Koepsel, Kim Matthews, Heather McWane and a host of friends spent just six weeks - not the usual six months - to plan the fund-raiser.

Even so, more than $110,000 was raised by guests taking home sports memorabilia and fashion and celebrity autographed gifts. There were 34 designer fashions, including a Brian Cook fox boa and Dana Buchman fur jacket.

There were twice as many sports items, including 12 Skybox tickets to the Alabama-Auburn Iron Bowl 2005, four tickets to the Masters, as well as a Boston Red Sox game in Fenway Park, autographed footballs and tennis rackets.

The 94 celebrity-autographed items gathered by Courteney, a Mountain Brook High School graduate, and David, included photos, posters and guitars signed by Sting, Amy Grant and Vince Gill, Clint Black, John Mayer, Alan Jackson, Bob Weir and Brooks and Dunn, Courteney's TV show "Friends" DVDs and tickets to "The View," "Live with Regis and Kelley" and "The Tony Danza" TV shows in New York City.

On top of all that there were some other stunning items, including a hefty John Ager stone cross, Anita Miles' jeweled crosses and gift certificates for a Five Star Plantation quail hunt, wine tasting for 12, portraits and a getaway to Sundance Resort in Utah.

Among the supporters there were many of Natalee's fellow grads from Mountain Brook High School, home from college, wearing yellow "... for Natalee" T-shirts, including Claire Fierman, Madison Whatley and Frances Ellen Byrd. More spotted were parents of grads who went on the trip to Aruba.

Also in the crush were Courteney's mom, Courteney Copeland, Pat Copeland, Elizabeth Branch, Betsy Koepsel, Frances and Miller Gorrie, Francie and Ogden Deaton, Marlene Willings, Holman and Margaret Head, Peggy and Bob Faircloth, Jack Schaeffer, Tim Hennessy, Andrea Carmichael, Ginger and Fletcher Abele, Elizabeth and Bill Wyatt, CeCe and Chris Hughes, Judy Carns, Sara and Wally Nall, Beth Williams, Ellen Gorrie and Jim Walker, Kathy and Matt Whatley, Stephanie and Keith Fierman and Vivian Tucker, who owns Harvest Glen, where Natalee worked part-time, there with Mallie.

"There's no place like home," from Natalee's favorite movie "The Wizard of Oz" was the evening's theme, underscored by Robert Logan's lifesize cutouts of the stars on the warehouse walls.

Beth wore tiny, crystal ruby red slippers pinned to her white blouse and a wishbone necklace like Natalee's and her friends. Beth was home, but not for long. She went back to Aruba and the international media frenzy covering the search Sunday.


If dinosaurs could talk …

"Held hostage for nearly two-hundred years by the enemies of God, several dinosaurs are now free to set the record straight. No more lies. No more false testimony. No more propaganda.

Combining the “magic” of modern technology and the truth of God’s Word, AiG’s Creation Museum has discovered the secret to bringing dinosaurs “back to life.” A sauropod, a T. rex, a dinosaur raptor, a triceratops—these are just a few of the dinosaurs that you’ll meet in the completed museum.

Their “sworn testimony” will astound the world.

The truth-telling begins in the lobby, where guests come face to face with a pair of young T. rex dinosaurs, living alongside Adam’s children.
Dig site
The first room in the Creation Museum will show paleontologists digging up a dinosaur raptor. (Click image to enlarge.)

Animated young T. rexes in the lobby: “Of course we lived at the same time as humans! God made dinosaurs on the same day as Adam. And later we drank from the same waters as Adam’s children.”

In the next room, guests will discover more truths. This time, they hear from a fossilized dinosaur raptor, still half-buried in a dig site.

Dinosaur raptor fossil in a dig site: “I lived about 4,500 years ago. How do I know? Well, fossils don’t come with birth certificates, but we can read an eyewitness account from someone who was there—the Creator Himself. In God’s Word, the History Book of the Universe, we read about a global Flood that buried all the living things on Earth.”

In the next room, guests learn how the “facts” get distorted by museums and school textbooks."

- the script for the Dinosaur room at the Creation Museum, under construction in Northern Kentucky.


Theodore Swann

In the summer of 1928, Theodore Swann had a mansion built for him on Red Mountain in Birmingham, Alabama. He documented the construction on 16mm motion-picture film. My real estate agent had the film transfered to VHS. I was allowed to borrow the VHS and make a transfer to DVD. These screen captures are from that DVD. More can be found on flickr.

Swann house - date
Mrs. Swann holds up a calendar page to record the date: April 18, 1928

Swann house - ridge
OSHA was not represented on site.

Swann house - buttresses
An English vaulted hall was imported and rebuilt below the rear terrace.

Rickwood - vender
They brought the camera with them to opening day at Rickwood Field.

Camp - swimming
And to a summer camp.


Free Maribel

It takes a special kind of place to put an 11-year-old girl on trial for throwing a rock at some boys who were pelting her with water balloons. It takes a special kind of prosecuter to charge her with a felony and open the trial to the public.

Fresno, California is a very special place indeed.




IMG_5298 Hokusai - The Great Wave