Judy grew up in Montevallo and attended school at the university, where her two children would also eventually study. She is photographed in front of her late mother's home on Middle Street, which will soon be for sale.
on growing up in Montevallo
“I’ve lived here since I was about two and a half. My mom grew up here with her sisters- my grandparents owned a business. They had a dry goods store, a clothing store for a while, and then they opened a cleaner’s. For years it was the only cleaner’s in town, so I went to work for my granddaddy when I was about 8. He taught me how to count money back to people and I helped him deliver clothes.
When I grew up was when you didn’t wear a helmet to ride a bike and you didn’t wear kneepads and if you fell off then you’d go to someone’s doorstep and they’d say, ‘Are you alright? Okay, get up.’ We’d go out in the mornings and whoever’s house you were at in the summertime in the afternoon fed you lunch and you didn’t go home until the sun went down and nobody worried about you."
On what makes this town special
“People here care. Even when you don’t know somebody, when there’s a need, people help, and I’ve seen that happen as long as I’ve lived here. My husband… we met at university, and he never graduated. He worked at the physical plant going to school and he decided what he liked to do was working with his hands. He got cancer in 2006- he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, and they told him he had like 3-6 months to live. He lived 21 months. It was an amazing thing to see the town react the way it did. He used to tell me, ‘People are calling me to see if they can cut my grass- I don’t need anybody to cut my grass!’ I said, ‘But you don’t understand. Everyone’s trying to do something for you- maybe that’s all they can do is cut your grass.’ Or they’d volunteer to take you to the doctor if I couldn’t get off work, which I could, but they didn’t know that. Or they’d go out to the house and sit with him when I was working and my daughter had to go to work as well. People would come over and say ‘Can I come over for a coupe hours?', and they’d visit with him a little while.”
On small town life
“I don’t think if you live in a big city that you get to know people as well as you do in a small town- I mean, like REALLY know people. Know what goes on in their lives, and not just speak to them because they’re your neighbor every once in a while. Really know people. There’s some people that don’t want to live in a small town because everybody knows everything, but it doesn’t bother me because I grew up here. I don’t think anything about it. I have a real good friend and her mom lived in Montgomery, so she went to go visit her mom at like 1 o’clock in the morning several hours after her husband passed away. Well, the next day somebody called her and said, ‘Carlene? What in the world were you doing coming into town at 1 o’clock in the morning?’ I probably would have said, ‘well… what were YOU doing up at that hour of the night and how did you see me?’
On what keeps her here
“It has the best of everything the South has. There’s always something to do here. If someone tells you they can’t find something to do, they're not looking. There’s the ArtWalk, they have plays, they have things in the park all the time… you don’t really have to go out of town to do anything else unless you want to. My church keeps me here more than anything- my kids are grown, they live in Birmingham. I am 10 miles out of town… I’m on the lake, and I don’t want to leave. I just think it would be hard to find another place. Maybe part of it is because I’ve been here for a while, and I’m not much for change.”