Archive for February, 2014

Play based on award-winning YA novel A Yellow Watermelon to premiere

Thursday, February 20th, 2014 by Lisa Harrison

A Yellow Watermelon by Ted Dunagan

The town of Coffeeville, Alabama, and the Grove Hill Arts Council are joining forces on a project to restore the old Coffeeville School for community use. In so doing, they will recognize one of the school’s most famous students, Ted M. Dunagan.

Ted Dunagan is the author of three award-winning young adult novels set in that area during the late 1940s, published by NewSouth Books. A stage play based on his first novel, A Yellow Watermelon, premieres Friday, March 7 at 11am and Saturday, March 8 at 7pm at the old Coffeeville high school auditorium.

“A Yellow Watermelon: A Play in Two Acts” has been written by Cathi Gunter, a local playwright. The idea for the project was inspired by the play based on the Harper Lee classic, To Kill a Mockingbird, presented annually in the nearby town of Monroeville, Alabama. Sponsors of the project include Town of Coffeeville, Grove Hill Arts Council, Arts Council of Thomasville, and Lewis Pest Control.

The first performance of “A Yellow Watermelon” will be attended by Clarke County middle schoolers, who will also compete in an essay contest about the novel on which the play is based. Author Ted Dunagan will participate in a Q&A session after the morning performance and present the writing awards.

A second performance of the play will be staged for the general public on Saturday evening, March 8, at 7pm. All are welcome.

Prior to the Saturday performance, at 5pm, the town of Coffeeville will host a reception honoring Mr. Dunagan.

The Clarke County Democrat featured news of the play on its front page recently (click image for larger view).

The Clarke County Democrat features Ted Dunagan's A Yellow Watermelon on its front page

Mr. Dunagan has been an annual presenter at Wilson Hall Middle School in Grove Hill for the past five years, following the study of his books by the eighth grade. His novels include A Yellow Watermelon (2008), Secret of the Satilfa (2010), and Trouble on the Tombigbee (2011). A fourth, The Salvation of Miss Lucretia, is due out from NewSouth Books in March. About the play and activities planned, he says, “This is going to be an extraordinary event, made possible by a group of wonderful and resourceful people, taking place in a very special part of the world.”

A Yellow Watermelon tells the story of two boys, one white and one black; Ted and Poudlum are autobiographical. Their friendship, the adventures they share, and the way in which they deal with racial issues in the rural South of the 1940s have resonated with people of all ages. The book won for the author the Georgia Author of the Year Award. It was also recognized on the inaugural 25 Books Young Georgians Should Read list.

For tickets or information about the play, contact Cathi Gunter (, Janee Parden (, or the town of Coffeeville at 251-276-3266. Tickets are $15.

A Yellow Watermelon and Ted Dunagan’s other novels are available from NewSouth Books, Amazon, or your favorite bookstore.

Montgomery Advertiser, WTLS 1300 cover Forever Blue by Coach Bill Moseley

Wednesday, February 5th, 2014 by Savannah Szabo

Forever Blue by Bill Moseley“As a kid, on the local streets of Montgomery, on unpaved streets and fields nearby, every vacant lot we’d find — we’d make a football field out of it,” Bill Moseley told radio station 1300 WTLS Tallahassee about the beginnings of his love for playing and coaching football. Known for his leadership and motivational abilities on and off the field, Moseley’s book Forever Blue: The Memoirs of a Lanier High School and University of Kentucky Coach chronicles the 91-year-old’s rise from his high school playing days in Depression-era Montgomery, to serving in the U.S. Army Air Forces, to coaching at The University of Kentucky, and back again to his hometown roots coaching at his alma mater.

Moseley himself trained under Paul “Bear” Bryant, and worked with players including Bart Starr and Jim Wilson. If those he’s coached and mentored along the way are a testament to the life of a man, Moseley has accomplished quite a feat; instilled with the true Southern values of family, hard work, and love of country and football, Moseley’s life is surely worth reading about. The Montgomery Advertiser, Tallassee Times, and 1300 WTLS Tallahassee are all talking about Forever Blue, just as the Moseley’s players continue to talk about their “coach” 60 years later.

“Many of Moseley’s former players attributed their success in their lives and careers to the traits instilled in them by their coach,” observed the Montgomery Advertiser‘s Tim Gayle in a recent article on Forever Blue. Gayle joined Moseley at the bimonthly lunch he still has with some of his players. At the lunch, one of those former players, Richard Fulmer, told Gayle, “There are a lot of great athletes here right now that think the world of him. He coached us like he was our daddy. We played for Lanier, but we also played for Coach Moseley.”

Moseley and his son, Willie, who co-authored Forever Blue, also spoke with Michael Butler of 1300 WTLS in Tallahassee. Willie said he appreciated that the book contains “a lot of good family stuff.” “And that’s what kind of started the thing,” he continued. “My mother gave him a cassette recorder and wanted him to dictate his memoirs, and he never got around to it.”

“The gratifying thing,” Willie added, “is that six decades later, these kids still call him ‘Coach.'”

Butler also wrote about his conversation with Moseley for the Tallahassee Times. Butler spotlighted a conversation Moseley had with Bear Bryant when Moseley called to ask about re-joining the University of Kentucky team after Moseley’s stint in the Air Force. Moseley recalled, “[Bryant] said, ‘Get your butt home, get out, then get back up here as soon as you can, because we’ve got work to do.'” Moseley would go on to play two more years of college ball at UK and then collaborated with Bryant as a student coach. This account is just one of many that bear witness to Coach Bill Moseley’s ability to pursue his goals and lead by example not only on the field, but also from the the sidelines and at home.

Read more about Bill Moseley and Forever Blue from the Montgomery Advertiser, or listen to the 1300 WTLS interview online.

Forever Blue: The Memoirs of a Lanier High School and University of Kentucky Coach is available from NewSouth Books, Amazon, or your favorite bookstore.