Keeping a tiny village

Marie Fancher’s miniature Christmas village has a room all its own — and it’s a room full, too.

When Marie explained how she collected so many pieces, she said, “They just keep coming and they just keep bringing them.”

She’s talking about her friends and family members who have added to her village over the years.

The collection has at least one of everything you might find in a winter village; houses, stores, churches, schools, a fire station and a police station, among others.

Marie started her collection more than 20 years ago with a few pieces she found at The Mole Hole.

She was so enamored with it that friends began looking for unusual things to add. Soon her village grew to more than 1,000 pieces.

In our recent visit, she pointed out her favorites and remembered exactly who gave them to her.

Especially precious were the small churches she had searched for that honored some of her special friends.

She also showed us the little Baptist Church that looks just like the one in West Blocton that she and her sister, Elizabeth Kendrick, belonged to as children.

Our village-keeper came to Montevallo in 1945. Her husband, Tom, opened a repair shop on Main Street. Marie would keep shop while he made repair calls.

“I got tired of just sitting in that shop,” she said. “So, I rented a little space next door and opened a gift shop. That grew and grew until I had ladies’ and babies’ clothing, linens, and more gifts.”

Although she is more than 92, Marie is still lively.

“I’m grateful to the Lord that I am still here and able to get around,” she said. “I’ve enjoyed every minute I’ve lived in this town and I love everything about it.”

One gets the feeling that Marie’s Christmas village symbolizes this love for her town as well as for the holiday, friends and family.

Catherine Legg can be reached at clegg2@bellsouth.net.