Picture 2You can’t see Russia from here, but Sarah Palin no doubt could glimpse the 2012 South Carolina Primary in the long lines greeting her book tour stops in Birmingham, Roanoke and Fort Bragg.  She even got face time with His Southern Holiness Billy Graham, legendary adviser to presidents.

In Alabama, fans began lining up Sunday to get wristbands for her Monday appearance and had packed the Colonial Brookwood Village Mall at Homewood in suburban Birmingham by the time she arrived. Frances Mann, who drove over from Columbus, Miss., told the Birmingham News she respects Palin’s values and her spunk against the “bad media.”

Earlier Monday, in North Carolina, an estimated 1,500 people lined up at a PX store at Fort Bragg to get her book and a brief chat with Palin, who had been asked by the Army not to make a speech.  She didn’t.  In Virginia, more than 500 people camped out at a Roanoke mall Saturday night so as not to miss her Sunday autographing.  Palin stopped by to gab with the campers as soon as she got into town Saturday night.  On Sunday, an estimated 1,750 fans showed up to meet her, some wearing “Tea Party” protest buttons and some wearing “Palin 2012” T-shirts.

They’re out there: Hooded klansmen showed up on the University of Mississippi campus before Saturday’s Ole Miss-LSU game to protest the university chancellor’s decision to bar the school band from playing “From Dixie with Love”– a medley of “Dixie” and “Battle Hymn of the Republic” that usually ended with some fans shouting “The South shall rise again.”  The 11 KKK representatives were shouted down by about 100 Ole Miss students, faculty and alumni and left under police escort hours before the game.

Harrah’s Cherokee Casino going wet: The casino in Cherokee, N.C., has begun serving mixed drinks at its two restaurants and coffee shop and through hotel room service.  The casino had been dry but began serving beer and wine a month ago, then added mixed drinks, after attendance took a dive.  The casino is waiting for permission to start selling drinks to players on the floor, a much more lucrative business.

bildeFlu victims’ best friend: The Tennessee State Guard added something new to the nation’s rash of training sessions on how to handle a flu pandemic:  Dogs.  “We don’t want people not coming in because they have pets, and if they do, we need to care for them in a humane and judicious way,” Lee Trevor, a registered nurse at Summit Medical Center in Nashville, told The Tennessean. Many of the trainees acting as patients brought their dogs to the weekend drill.  Dr. William Dutton, the Guard’s medical commander, said that in the event of a real emergency, cats will be welcome too — even birds.

But what if the book is really bad? The Knox County, Tenn., library system has  banned guns.  Larry Frank, director of the library system, moved to post no-guns signs at branch libraries after a man came into the Fountain City library with a “visibly holstered handgun,” which, Frank said,”did make members of my staff and other library patrons uncomfortable.”  Tennessee recently enacted laws allowing guns in most public places, including bars, but government entities can still ban weapons.

Remembering Elk No, 21: The Great Smoky Mountains National Park has set up a memorial fund for a bull elk, known affectionately as Elk No. 21, allegedly killed by a poacher.  The money will go toward supporting and protecting elk in the Smokies.  A suspect has been questioned in the poaching.

LEO_NAMATH_DOG_71703cDew Droplets: In Charlotte, Salvation Army holiday bell ringers are taking credit cards. The Red Kettle drive also will have a new online component nationally … Police in Augusta, Ga., say a large plastic candy cane was used to break into motorcycle dealership .. In Palm Beach, Fla., Joe Namath’s dog Leo is under house arrest for life after biting three people.

Check out our News and Opinion Feeds for a lot more Southern happenings.

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Ron Taylor

Ron Taylor

Ron Taylor was born and raised in Georgia and worked more than 40 years at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution as a reporter and editor and as an online producer for ajc.com and AccessAtlanta. He served for a time as the newspaper's regional editor, overseeing coverage of the South. He is co-author, with Dr. Leonard Ray Teel, of Into the Newsroom:  An Introduction to Journalism and has conducted workshops in the Middle East on feature writing.