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Getting to know your neighbor: Yvonne Foster

Name: Yvonne Gist Foster

Hometown: Russellville

Place of employment: The Travel Corner, Smyrna, Ga.

Q: What is the best thing about your job?

A: I am obsessesd with travel so planning and booking trips for clients feeds that obsession. I am happy when I help someone with their trip of a lifetime.

Q: If you weren’t in your current profession, what would be your ideal job and why?

A: Had I known that the occupation of linguist existed when I was growing up in Russellville, I would love to have been a linguist. I really like the study of languages and their histories.

Q: If you could change places with anyone for a day, who would it be and why?

A: It would be fun for a day to see the world with the exuberance, joy, and creative imagination of my two great granddaughters, Zayda and Zaraya.

Q: If you could sit down to dinner with anyone, dead or alive, who would it be and why?

A: I would enjoy having dinner with William Shakespeare, the greatest writer in the English language, to share his wit and intelligence.

Q: What’s the best present you’ve ever received?

A: While I have been the recipient of many gifts, my smart, beautiful, kind, and compassionate daughter, Ginger Long, is my best one.

Q: What is your favorite childhood memory?

A: My brother, Danny Gist, and I used to go for picnics at the piano rock in an old Essex convertible touring car. We didn’t have an ice chest so we used a metal foot tub filled with ice to cool our soft drinks.

Q: What do you think of as your greatest accomplishment in life?

A: Chasing Paul Foster until he caught me 47 years ago!

Q: If you only had one meal left, what would it be?

A: The traditional southern Thanksgiving/Christmas dinner of turkey and dressing and the trimmings would be my choice.

Q: If you won a million dollars, what would be your first purchase?

A: Paying my bills and those of my daughter, granddaughter, and grandson would be first. Then I would build an animal shelter in Russellville.

Q: If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?

A: Having been to almost 80 countries, I still like Germany best because of the many friends I have made there in the last 35 years. I was there last in April and would go again in October except that I don’t want to wear out my welcome.

Q: If you were the President of the United States, what would be the first law that you would enact?

A: I would forgive student loans and provide for universal post secondary education. That would enable our young people to enter the adult world trained and debt free.

Q: If you were in local government, what things would you change in the area?

A: Try to adopt and enforce ordinances to clean up Russellville. Bringing guests into town is embarrassing.

Q: What’s your favorite thing about Franklin County?

A: It’s home! Although I see areas that need improvement, I am very defensive about it when outsiders disparage my home.

Q: What is something interesting about you that most people don’t know?

A: Not much!

To the chagrin of my family, I am pretty much an open book.  But I was arrested once, during the 1970 run-off election for governor of Alabama.  CBS News hired me to supervise a crew of young college women to conduct the first exit poll ever taken in Alabama.

Albert Brewer and George Wallace were the run-off candidates and the election was of national importance because Wallace was a potential presidential candidate. My workers and I were assigned to the six largest polling places in cities across Alabama and my assignment was the fire station on Memorial Parkway in Huntsville.

We arrived about 5 a.m. to measure and set up our tables the legal distance from the polling place.  During the Democrat primary, voters had been pulled out of voting booths and beaten in some polling places in the state.  I had an overly zealous official at my station who accused me of intimidating the voters whom we polled only after they had voted.

So he called Sheriff Jerry Crabtree who sent a patrol car to take me to the county jail; as I was loaded into the back seat of the car, my husband was innocently watching the evening news from Russellville when he saw Missy Ming of the local television station and her camera crew show his wife on the screen.

Upon arriving at the jail, I asked that Attorney General Bill Baxley be called to verify my position. He clarified that I was right and the deputy returned me to the fire station. Unfortunately, no television coverage of my return was shown!

But the interruption caused my results to be disqualified so Roger Mudd was unable to use them to project the outcome on that evening’s national news. Remember there were no cell phones in 1970 and I was unaware that Paul had seen me on the Huntsville news so I didn’t call him to tell him that I wasn’t in jail.