Carolynne B. Scott, a lover of the arts, left us on June 8 at Brookwood Medical Center. The daughter of Walter and Florrie Blackwell was born on 10 February 1937 in Birmingham, Alabama. Carolynne attended Crestwood Elementary and graduated from Woodlawn High School in 1955. While in high school, she was associated with one of the local department stores as a model. This is where she developed a sense of style that she carried throughout her life. Also, during this time, the love of music was nourished by the Birmingham Symphony. Her mother was an accomplished seamstress and made their dresses and gowns for the performances. Carolynne acquired this skill and later made her own pioneer dresses and aprons.
Carolynne holds a 1958 bachelor degree from Howard Collage, now Sanford, with a double major in journalism and French. She wrote articles for and edited the school newspaper. She earned a Master of Art degree in English from the University of Alabama Birmingham in 1977.
Her first job after collage in 1958, was an assistant editor at the Shades Valley Sun. From 1960 to 1964, she worked as the Fashion editor for the Birmingham Post-Herald. In 1964, she worked for the Birmingham News. In her newspaper employment, she learned the use of manual cameras and used this skill to do the photography for her first book.
On April 18, 1964, Carolynne and Karl Scott, a promising local artist, were married. They lived at various places in Birmingham. They were living on Hanover Circle, when a lady reported, that a ghost lived in the basement. So, Carolynne wrote a story about it, which was to be included in her second book of short stories. In the 1970s, they bought and restored a summer house in Saint Clair Springs which was built in 1873. The house was built during Saint Clair’s heyday as a summer resort to people living in the hot nearby cities. They finished the restoration and filled the house with period antique furniture.
Carolynne set up an office in the house and began writing short stories, She also did free-lance work for such things as the Alabama Sesquicentennial, Birmingham Centennial, the South Carolina Luther Sesquicentennial and the Birmingham Diocese Catholic Charities. She edited several new letters, one of them was Southern Veterinarian. While living in Saint Clair Springs, she received a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts for fiction writing. During this time, she wrote some of the short fiction that won her five Hackney Literary Awards.
From Saint Clair Springs, Carolynne began traveling the state of Alabama looking for interesting places, people and natural features. She drove over 33,000 miles writing about and photographing her subjects. She developed and printed the photographs, wrote the copy, did the page layouts and complied them into a manuscript. In 1979, Country Roads: A Journey Through Rustic Alabama, was published by Portals Press. The book went into the third printing. Karl did the art work for the cover, dust jacket and some illustrations in the book. A search on Alibis, an online book store, found signed copies of this book in book stores in California and Maine and several states in between them.
Carolynne’s second book was a collection of her short stories. These stories had won prizes or were printed in such publications as AURA, OCTOBERFEST, FOLIO, COMMENT, OUTERBRIDGE, SHORT STORY INTERNATIONAL, Belle’s Letters and Contemporary Literature in Birmingham. This book, The Green and Burning Alike, was published in 1994. Carolynne was a member of the Alabama Writer’s Conclave. As a winner of Conclave contests, her work appeared in Alalitcon.
While living in Saint Clair Springs, Carolynne became interested in local history. With the help of friends and neighbors, they started or revitalize the St Clair County Historical Society. They did a number of projects to protect, improve access to or publicize local sites. The crowning jewel in their efforts was the restoration of the John Looney house. It was one of two or three known two-story log dogtrot houses. Through donations and grants, they restored the house. John Looney was a soldier that fought at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend. Going back to Tennessee, he passed through the area. He like it and returned to built a house and start a family. The house was originally constructed near a creek, but due to mosquitoes and the possibility of disease, he moved it to the present location. Each year a festival is held in October to raise money for the maintenance of the house and fund other projects. Different vendors come to sell products or demonstrate pioneer skills. These demonstrations include candle making, soap making, blacksmithing, basket weaving, quilting, thread spinning, bee keeping and mountain music. Carolynne was the soap maker.
Teaching was Carolynne’s love. He first teaching job was in 1959 at Hewitt-Trussville High School. She taught journalism, English and speech. Later, she taught freshman English in the evening classes at Jeff State. From 1984 to 1989, she taught fiction writing and journalism at the Alabama School of Fine Arts.
In 1982, Carolynne began teaching two creative writing courses in the University of Alabama Birmingham’s Special Studies program and continued there until the program ended in 2004. She taught a basic course which covered subjects of structure, types of stories and the writer’s voice. Students were encouraged to read their work in class. The second course was a workshop were advanced students read works-in-progress. Carolynne line-edited the work and made critique notes on the printed stories. This course attached an assortment of individuals, doctors, lawyers, accountants, engineers as well as people that enjoyed putting words together to tell a story.
Carolynne’s mother’s health began to falter in 1989. She and her son moved into Florrie’s house in the Crestwood area of Birmingham. This is one example of Carolynne’s care for family, friends and students.
Carolynne began working for the Birmingham District Dental Society in 1989 as Executive Director. She was the only employee, so whatever needed to be done, she did it. The editing and compiling the newsletter was the easy task. Hauling over four hundred envelopes to the post office, was the harder part of the job. She left the Dental Society in 2011 to continue teaching writing.
After the Special Studies program closed, Carolynne started a writer’s group at the Homewood Senior Center. From this group, several books were published, short stories and poems
submitted to contest and an occasional essay presented. When the virus scare shut down the Center, the class was continued on Zoom, thanks to Steve Coleman.
In addition, Carolynne started a Sunday Salon in her home. This group dealt with mainly poetry with some short stories and essays. When the virus scare came this group, disbanded.
At her passing, Carolynne was compiling a book of her short stories and working on a murder mystery set in the competitive world of ballroom dancing.
Carolynne was introduced to ballroom dancing in the mid 1990s at the Fred Astaire Studio in Irondale. She continued taking lessons and achieved the Silver level at the Dr. Dance Studio. She participated in studio exhibitions and some competitions as an amateur. She was a member of the Birmingham Ballroom Dance Association.
Short fiction and novels were Carolynne’s love, but poetry was a life blood to her soul. Her poetry appeared in local publications and in nationally published anthologies. She was regularly in the audience at The Birmingham Library’s Friday night program, “Bards and Brews.”
Not last in her interest was art. Being married to an artist, sharpened her eye for good work. She visited the Birmingham Art Museum, local galleries and individual artist showings. With a limited budget, she did buy pieces she liked.
Carolynne was a private person about certain health issues. One thing she was proud of, but did not share with many people, was being an over twenty year breast cancer survivor.
There are two sides to a person. One is the side that everyone sees. That is where we live, where we work, our friends, our likes and dislikes. The other side is deeper. It is fath. Exercising this faith dictates the external actions everyone sees. At her passing Carolynne was a member of Cathedral Church of the Advent in Birmingham.
She was preceded in death by her parents and her former husband. She is survived by her son, Noel (Elena) and two granddaughters, Brigid and Charlize.
The family would like to thank the doctors, nurses and staff on the fourth floor of Brookwood Medical Center for their care of Carolynne. Also, thank you, to the nurses and staff of Aspire during her stay at there.
Services will be 29 June at 11 a,m, at Cathedral Church of the Advent in Birmingham with Rev, Cana Jay W Gardner officiating and Jefferson Memorial directing. The family will receive friends in Clingman Commons beginning at 10 a.m. Interment of the ashes will follow at Jefferson Memorial Gardens East in Trussville, AL.