“Betty” is Betty Carr, an 88-year-old woman who has spent the bulk of her life working to make the City of Anniston a better place. As Grand Marshal of this year’s Christmas parade, Carr has a long resume of city spirit.
“The first 18 years of my life were spent here,” she said. “My mother was from here, and my dad was from a little community called Pushmataha, Ala., down in Choctaw County.”
After attending law school at the University of Alabama, Carr’s father moved to Anniston where he and her mother married and settled down.
“My brother and I were both born and raised here in Anniston,” she said. “I love Anniston very much.”
A 1943 graduate from Anniston High School, Carr’s life has been squarely focused on empowering youth and families through her work as the former director of the YMCA for 20 years. Prior to that, she worked as the director of Camp Grandview in Montgomery, where her father, Anniston circuit judge Robert B. Carr, worked with the State Court of Appeals. After spending two more decades working with children in Talladega and later as a staffer with the Anniston Chamber of Commerce, she is now the first face you see once you enter Classic on Noble on any given day for lunch, as well as the first voice you communicate with over the phone at the Spirit of Anniston, where she also works part-time.
Before she gets ready to kick things off, Carr spoke with The Star about changes she’s seen, changes she hopes to see and Alabama football.
Q: What year did you graduate from the University of Alabama?
A: ’49. And we got beat — Auburn beat us Saturday, fair and square.
Q: You saw the game?
A: What I do, because I can’t see the television that well, I listen to Eli Gold and turn the television volume off. I can see it enough to follow what Eli Gold is saying. I don’t know much about football, but I was a cheerleader in Anniston High School for three years. I’ve said this to many people, “Once a cheerleader, always a cheerleader.” I have to have something or someone to cheer for.
Q: So you’ve been back in Anniston for almost 50 years. What has changed the most about the city?
A: Well, of course, when the mall became so popular, so many of our retail stores here in Anniston moved to the mall. There was not as much business here on Noble Street. Gradually, Wikle’s Drugstore closed. The shops that were here when I was a child and in high school were no longer open.
Q: You’ve worked at Classic on Noble for 13 years. Do you like it?
A: I love it! They are wonderful to me. You could not ask for finer people to work for than Cathy and David Mashburn. I’m truly blessed, let me tell you. And when Angie (Shockley) asked me to be the Grand Marshal for the Christmas parade, it really made me feel tremendously humble. I’m limited to what I can do effectively and what I cannot do. I’m trying with the help of Jesus to concentrate on what I can do rather than feeling sorry for myself for what I cannot do.
Q: What are your hopes for participating in the parade?
A: It’s not about me — it’s about helping the citizens of Anniston and the industry and downtown and McClellan and moving Anniston forward in a positive way. That’s what this is all about as far as I’m concerned — the Christmas parade and all the other things Spirit of Anniston is trying to do, the city council is trying to do … many, many many people are trying to develop taskforces that will make something happen that will help us to get jobs, a better way of life ... and to lift people up instead of tearing people down. That’s what I’d like for it to do.
It just gives a more positive focus to our little city of Anniston, and I just would encourage people to come out and enjoy it, and the children to see Santa Claus, and just encourage those in the parade who are trying to lift Anniston up in a positive way.
IF YOU GO…
WHAT: Anniston’s annual Christmas parade
WHERE: Noble Street in downtown Anniston
WHEN: Monday at 6:30 p.m. (rain date Dec. 12 at 5:30 p.m.)