Monthly Archives: October 2019

Downton Abbey – Southern Style


Photography by Sally Kolar

Local fans of the British TV show celebrated the long-awaited movie premiere with aplomb.

Devoted followers of “Downton Abbey,” a British historical drama that ran on PBS from 2010 to 2015, eagerly awaited the September opening of the movie of the same name. These avid fans included a group of about 50 local ladies that saw the premiere together with reserved seating at Riverwatch Cinemas.

Making an event of the premiere, they dressed in period clothing for a pre-movie champagne brunch at Rosemary Inn Bed & Breakfast in North Augusta before heading to the theater.

Susan Salisbury of Evans organized the party for members of the Augusta Area Newcomers Club movie group and personal friends.

“I wanted everyone to have a happy day, go see a movie that we all like together, and then discuss it afterward,” she said.

Authentic Ambiance
A devoted “Downton Abbey” fan, Susan has visited Highclere Castle, the English estate where the “Downton Abbey” series and movie were filmed and, in real life, is the home of the Eighth Earl and Countess of Carnarvon.

The TV drama depicted the Crawley family, wealthy owners of a large estate in the English countryside in the early 20th century, and their servants. The film is set in 1927, slightly more than a year after the series finale takes place, and it features a royal visit to Downton Abbey by King George V and Queen Mary.

And stepping into Rosemary Inn was like touring the movie set – or Downton Abbey itself.

“This is the perfect house for a festive celebration like this,” said Diana Combs, who owns Rosemary Inn with her husband, Kelly. “A lot of people equate it with ‘Downton Abbey.’ They say it is the Downton Abbey of the South.”

The ladies wandered through the bed and breakfast, where “Downton Abbey” books and CDs, as well as a Life magazine with some of the show’s characters on the cover, were displayed. Period music played in the background on a player piano.

Evans resident Thelma Gilchrist, looking divine in a black dress, black shawl, elegant fingerless black gloves and black feathered flapper headpiece, snapped photos of the guestrooms on her cell phone. She says she recognized one of the bedrooms from a reality TV show.

In addition to dressing for the part, the women brought homemade dishes for the luncheon. Some of the recipes came from the cookbook, Downton Abbey Cooks.

Countertops in the dining hall were blanketed with silver trays of cucumber, pimento cheese and egg salad sandwiches; steak rollups; potato salad; spinach salads; a strawberry congealed salad and a fruit tray with pineapple, grapes and strawberries.

A sideboard was topped with desserts such as Queen Mary’s favorite birthday cake, tiramisu chocolate strawberry trifle, blueberry scones, lemon tarts, petit fours, brownies and lemon thumbprint cookies dusted with powdered sugar.

Prizes were awarded for Most Authentic Dish, Most Beautiful Dish, Best Presentation and Best Costume. The winners received scented soaps.

Lynn Pawlak of Evans won the prize for Most Authentic Dish with her Queen Mary’s cake, a génoise with chocolate frosting, from a recipe that has been in the royal family for generations. Susan LaFrance of Martinez won the Most Beautiful Dish award for the tiramisu, and Martinez resident Betty Sneed won the Best Presentation prize for the pineapple fruit tray.

Dressed to Impress
Martinez resident Fran Weber, one of two winners of the Best Costume contest along with Phyllis Harvey of Martinez, ordered her blush-colored, fringed dress from Amazon. She accented it with a strand of long pearls and a matching headpiece.

“We feel like we’re playing dress up. We feel like we’re part of an era,” said Fran. “I’m going to start binge-watching the show again.”

Phyllis wore a gold-sequined chemise with maroon jewels. “I got the dress a long time ago at a consignment store in Santa Barbara when I was looking for a costume,” she said.

A devoted “Downton Abbey” fan, Phyllis, who splits her time between Martinez and Santa Barbara, was attending a Newcomers event for the first time.

“I thought the party was amazing. I couldn’t believe how well they put it together. I look forward to more outings with the Newcomers,” she says. “The facility was beautiful. It was so fun to go through the house and look at the antiques. I love that era.”

Evans resident Lottie Gilchrist, who had been binge-watching the show for the past couple of months, found a dress in her closet for the occasion.

“I already had this dress. I look like the dowager, but that’s OK. It’s a good excuse to get dressed up,” she says.

Pat Rickerman of Martinez wore a black dress with fringe and long white gloves.

“The gloves are my daughter’s gloves from Social, and I made the dress for her for AP history class when she was in high school,” said Pat, who bought the dress at Goodwill and added the fringe. “The headband is actually a necklace, and the hose are $5 from Target.”

She also is a big fan of “Downton Abbey.” “I love the show and the everyday drama of the characters and the upstairs, downstairs part of it,” said Pat, referring to lives of the aristocratic characters and their household servants who work at the estate.

Teresa McVeigh of Augusta never had seen the TV show, but that didn’t stop her from enjoying the festivities.

“I’m an Anglophile. I lived in England for a year,” she said. “I might have to go back and watch the show now.”

Carole Steffes of Evans didn’t know much about “Downton Abbey” either, but she certainly dressed the part. Her 1920s outfit included antique Black Jet mourning jewelry that had belonged to her great-aunt Kate, who was her grandmother’s sister.

Regardless of their familiarity with the show, the ladies enjoyed stepping back in time for a special occasion.

“This gives us an opportunity to channel our own ancestors,” said Susan. “You can tell it makes people so happy. We need these positive moments in our lives. It came from the heart. It makes me happy, but obviously, I’m not alone.”

By Sarah James

Turkey Breast Stuffed with Cranberry, Apricot and Pistachio

  • 1 3/4 tablespoons butter
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 small onions, finely chopped
  • 2/3 cup dried cranberries, chopped
  • 1/2 cup dried apricots, chopped
  • 1/2 cup unsalted pistachio kernels, chopped
  • 2-3 tablespoons garlic paste
  • 2 cups breadcrumbs
  • 2 eggs, lightly whisked
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Butter, for greasing
  • 1 (6-7 pound) turkey breast, butterflied

Melt butter and oil in a large non-stick frying pan. Stir in onion, cranberries, apricots, pistachio and garlic and cook until onion has softened; set aside about 5 minutes to cool. Place mixture in a bowl and stir in breadcrumbs, whisked eggs and salt and pepper.

Grease a sheet of aluminum foil and place 5-6 pieces of string across it to tie breast together later; set aside. Open butterflied breast and wrap in plastic wrap. Pound out (or roll with a rolling pin) to flatten to about 1/2-inch thick. Trim sides if needed. Place on strings and foil and season with salt and pepper. Press stuffing along the middle of the joint. Lift up the sides at one end, tucking in the short end and then tie the string firmly to keep the stuffing in place. Repeat with remaining strings and then wrap tightly in the foil. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Place on a rack in a roasting pan and roast 20 minutes per pound, plus an additional 10 minutes at the end, until juices run clear when a skewer is inserted into the middle. Remove foil for the last 10 minutes of cooking.

Place turkey breast on a carving board, cover loosely with foil and let rest 10 minutes before slicing. Makes 6-8 servings.



Rick’s Paint & Body

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Company Name:  Rick’s Paint & Body
Year Established: 1976
Owner: Rusty Campbell
Address: 251 Bobby Jones  Expressway
Phone: 706.868.9904
Specialties: Collision repair, paint-less dent removal and dent repair, auto body painting, auto glass replacement and 24-hour towing service. Free estimates.

On a Mission


After founding a nonprofit organization to help vulnerable populations, a local veteran changed his own life by changing the lives of others.

Rock bottom is a holy place. And U.S. Army veteran Don Cummings, who retired in 2012, has been there.

During his 23-year military career, he served in Special Operations for 11 years. He was deployed to Afghanistan six times and to Iraq three times, and he traveled the world with General David Petraeus as his community Noncommissioned Officer for 15 months.

Two events in 2003, however, had a lasting, profound effect on the Hephzibah resident.

As part of the 3rd Ranger Battalion, Cummings was one of about 120 soldiers who took Haditha Dam that spring and defended it from Iraqi forces for 72 hours. For the first two days, the battalion endured nonstop mortar and artillery fire. At one point, a tank leveled its turret and aimed directly at Cummings.

“That started making me rethink life in general,” he says. “When you’re in combat, it’s not so much about the big picture. It’s about just living the next five minutes.”

Then, when he was deployed to Thailand in the fall, one of his men suffered serious injuries. Cummings had to call the soldier’s mother to tell her that her son might not survive. “She said it was all my fault. I was supposed to protect him,” Cummings says.

The soldier lived and received a medical discharge. Nevertheless, between those two incidents, Cummings says, “It put me in a really bad place. Everything in my life fell apart.”

Serving The Disadvantaged
Cummings went through PTSD, a divorce and a battle with alcohol, which left him feeling suicidal and depressed.

He started to turn his life around in October 2010 when someone invited him to church. He enrolled in Bible seminary and got involved in mission work, which led him to found Sons of Consolation Ministries.

The all-volunteer ministry, which earned 501(c)3 status two years ago, supports the area’s most vulnerable populations including the elderly, inmates, the disabled and children in poverty.

The name of the organization comes from the New Testament figure, Barnabas, a selfless man whose name means “the son of consolation.”

“I have traveled all over the world and seen poverty,” says Cummings, senior pastor and chairman of Sons of Consolation. “I know what it’s like to hurt. I know what it’s like to think nobody cares or understands.”

The ministry relies on the help of about 12 volunteers, including veterans George Wardy, who serves as associate pastor and vice chairman, and Cummings’ wife, Maria.

Martinez resident Craig Stone serves as president and CEO. He manages day-to-day operations and coordinates efforts with corporate sponsors, third-party sponsors and volunteers.

Cummings and Stone met through their work with Kairos Prison Ministry International. “Don told me his vision,” says Stone. “I believed in what he was telling me, and I still do.”

The volunteers visit residents and holds weekly church services at two local assisted living facilities, Amara Health Care & Rehab and Windermere Health and Rehabilitation Center. The nonprofit also gives birthday and Christmas presents to the residents and visits them when they’re hospitalized.

In addition, Sons of Consolation has continued its work with Kairos. Volunteers visit inmates at Richmond County Detention Center and Augusta State Medical Prison, where twice a year they also hold four-day Kairos programs to introduce inmates to Christianity or encourage their spiritual growth.

“The whole idea of Kairos is to build a Christian community inside the prison,” says Stone. “Some of the men have gone through a complete transformation. For the men that go through the program and stay in the program, the recidivism rate drops by about 50 percent.”

Expanding Its Ministries
Through meeting elderly or incarcerated individuals with disabilities, the volunteers discovered another critical need. Many disabled people in the United States need a power wheelchair that they cannot afford, and the disabled in developing countries lack access to basic care. As a result, Sons of Consolation created a wheelchair repair and reassembly workshop.

“After we take them apart, clean them up and repair them, we ship the ‘newsed’ wheelchairs to South America,” Stone says. “The end product looks and functions like a brand new piece of equipment. We recycle the parts that we don’t use.”

Focusing on children in Bolivia and the elderly in Uruguay, they ship wheelchairs to South America twice a year through a partnership with Fridla, or Friends of the Disabled Latin America. The organization donates some refurbished wheelchairs locally as well.

Reaching out to children in poverty is the ministry’s newest program. This fall Sons of Consolation gave more than 100 backpacks, which were filled with school supplies, to four churches to distribute to children in their congregations.

“We don’t donate to individuals,” says Cummings. “We go through a third-party organization such as a church or a nursing home.”

The ministry, which operates in a facility off of Gordon Highway, would like to build its volunteer base.

“People can volunteer one morning a week, or provide financial support,” says Stone. “We will bring church mission boards and civic boards through the building to show them what we do. We steward our money very well.”

Volunteer opportunities range from visiting assisted living homes and refurbishing wheelchairs to baking cookies and filling backpacks.

“People can participate any way they would like. We would like for them to come see what we’re doing, and then they can tell me how they would like to help,” says Cummings. “Our goal in all of our programs is to reinforce a sense of community.”

Serving those who feel forgotten and alone certainly changed his outlook.

“Your choice in life is to sit and dwell on your own problems, or meet the needs of others,” Cummings says. “The more you’re focused on others, the smaller your own problems seem.”

For more information, visit or email

By Betsy Gilliland

Ruth’s Family Restaurant

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Company Name:  Ruth’s Family Restaurant
Year Established:  1965
Owners:  Pete & Dee Garland
Address:  3843 Washington Road
                   Martinez, GA
Phone:  (706) 863-5616
Website:  Follow Ruth’s Family Restaurant on Facebook
Specialties:  Southern home cooking like grandma would make. Breakfast served all day and daily lunch specials.
Open:  Mon – Sat 6 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. and Sunday 7 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.

L&J Roofing & Home Improvement

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Company Name: L&J Roofing & Home Improvement
Year Established: 1972
Owner: Grace Gilpin, CEO
Address: 4345 Columbia Road #D
Phone: 706.738.7663
Specialties: Residential & commercial roofing • Roof, ventilation, door, window repairs & replacement • Flooring, deck, vinyl siding installation • Gutter installation, repairs & cleanout
• Maintenance programs • Free estimates