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(The following article and photos were published in the April 21st issue of The Birmingham News. Used by permission, All Rights Reserved.)

Eccentricity and charm thrive in tiny town of Waverly, where 180 kindred
souls embrace sense of community
Carla Crowder, News staff writer
Bernard Troncale, Birmingham News Photographer

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WAVERLY - Given the choice between the cha-ching of cash registers and the chirping of songbirds, folks here go with the birds. No contest.

Six years ago, Waverly kissed U.S. 280 goodbye when the state re-routed the highway that ran through downtown. Good riddance, residents said, to all those Mack trucks, to the football traffic roaring from Birmingham to Auburn, to outsiders prospecting for their own patches of paradise.

In their stead, Waverly's 180 disparate souls cling to quiet and their own eccentricities. Of nearly 500 incorporated towns and cities in Alabama, this spot straddling the intersections of Lee, Chambers and Tallapoosa counties is firmly in the puniest 10 percent in population. And yet, chef Collin Donnelly serves up dishes like Moroccan-spiced seared yellowfin tuna and creamy cauliflower bisque at the local restaurant, which also offers Italian Moretti beer on tap. Gardener Mace Glasscock grows lemongrass, kiwi fruit and heirloom tomatoes in his plot across from the cemetery, and screen printer Scott Peek designs T-shirts for the likes of reggae artists Burning Spear and Toots and the Maytals.
Course, there's nowhere to buy a Coke Fridge Pack. No chain stores at all. Once a thriving farming community, post-cotton Waverly has reincarnated itself as an oasis of preservation and creativity.

"It's special, and it's different, and it's almost an extinct animal out there that's worth saving," said Carlton "Corky" Nell, a Waverly Planning Commission member and Auburn University art professor.
"There is an appreciation that this is a special place, and that appreciation comes largely from the fact that, unfortunately, other towns have sold out, and they're not special anymore," Nell said. "They've allowed developers to determine what their town is like and how it's arranged and how they live their lives."

Nell is judicious and gentle in his analysis of Waverly's peculiar philosphies.

Lifelong resident Jimmy Graves is not so much. But such is the diversity of Waverly. "The reason people want to move here is the reason we don't want them. They come here because it's like it is, and if they get here it won't be like it is. So we'd just as soon they stay in Auburn," said Graves, 75, an unabashedly crotchety timberman who owns hundreds of surrounding acres.

He has no plans to sell and offers up the fates of two friends who sold off large holdings. "One of them, he sold 850 acres for $8.5 million, and he lived 3 months. The other one signed up to sell his for $7.1 million, and he lived a week," Graves said. "See, selling land's bad. It'll kill you."

Glasscock, a bearded, blue-jeaned 62-year-old, has his own strategy to keep at bay any potential subdividers who may be snooping around. "I'll buy some old cars, put them on blocks, hang some old dead snakes on the trees, and let chickens run loose in the yard," he said. "And they'll go on by."

Freedom of the spirit
Glasscock personifies the amalgamation of characters in Waverly. An ex-Marine who served in Vietnam, he knits together a living by selling homegrown produce to local markets, playing blues guitar and working with wood. Waverly won over