Shirley and Willie’s House

Visiting Shirley and Willie’s house is an event in itself, because it is situated high in the mountains of Huntsville. The ascent begins as soon as one exits Memorial Parkway, rising higher and higher, leaving businesses and houses behind. Even though I had made the “journey” many times, anticipation filled the air. This trip was different. Shirley and Willie’s house would have special guests that would highlight Christmas and New Year! Just thinking about it made me “tingle” with excitement!

The Guests at Shirley and Willie’s House

Motown Songwriter gets a star on the "Hollywood Walk of Fame."
Left to Right: Shirley, Shirley and Eddie

Among the guests at Shirley and Willie’s house were Cousin Shirley and friend Eddie. Cousin Shirley was an actress, singer and beauty queen years ago. Today, she is an entertainment businesswoman. Eddie is not just “plain ol’ Eddie,” he is Motown Songwriter Eddie Holland! The image above gives a clue. . . revealing Eddie Holland standing in front of his star on the “Hollywood Walk of Fame.” The star salutes Eddie Holland, Lamont Dozier and Brian Holland. What an honor! The songwriting talent of Eddie Holland made “hits” of numerous Motown songs. Artists like Stevie Wonder, Diana Ross and the Supremes, Smokey Robinson and The Miracles, Marvin Gaye, Martha Reeves and the Vandellas and The Four Tops, achieved success because of words from the music and minds of Holland-Dozier-Holland.

Marian Nichols Smothers and Michael Bryant

Marian Smothers, sister of TV star Nichelle Nichols.

If reconnecting with Eddie Holland (whom I had met several years prior) was not “off the charts,” Marian Nichols Smothers and Michael Bryant sat across from me at Shirley and Willie’s Christmas Day Dinner! Marian is a lady of grace, soft-spoken and seemingly, one who does not consume energy discussing “non-sensical” things. I enjoyed listening to her stories…but the stories of Michael were truly enlightening, thought provoking, funny and heart-warming! Marian Smothers is the sister of TV Actress Nichelle Nichols . . . it was a day to remember!

Nichelle Nichols was born in Illinois as the third of six children.

At age 12, she began the study of dance at the Chicago Ballet Academy, which proved to be pivotal in her entry into the entertainment world.

She sang at the Playboy Club, played the role of Carmen in Carmen Jones in Chicago, and appeared in the New York production of Porgy and Bess.

Nichols was the first black woman featured in a major role in a major television series. Of course, in 1968, we all remember her as kissing Star Trek’s Captain James T. Kirk (William Shatner) as the first interracial kiss on TV.

Nichelle Nichols passed away July 30, 2022.

The Ledges on New Year Eve

The Ledges:  An exclusive gold club in Huntsville, Alabama.

The mammoth building above is the “The Ledges Golf Club.” It’s a private club that lends itself to golf lovers and players. Elegantly, it sits on top of a mountain, surrounded by multi-million-dollar homes and a well-tailored and manicured golf course. Because Shirley and Willie are members, Cousin Shirley, Eddie and I were “sure winners” for getting in. The atmosphere was engaging, and the food had a “best chef” appearance and preparation, but the taste did not match the “look.” Conversely, the fried catfish at Cracker Barrels the day before, fed my taste buds more satisfactorily. As the images reveal, “The Ledges” is a stop to make when visiting Huntsville!

In spite of The Ledges’ charming and attractive ambiance, one special item was missing: music! The three-hour stay would have been perfect with “Chatty Cathy conversations” the first two (2) hours, but a Motown or Smooth Jazz trio, quartet or band the last hour. Why didn’t they know that? After all, it was New Year Eve! Nevertheless, I would trade nothing for the conversation, stories and picture-taking with Eddie, Willie and the two Shirleys.

A Shirley and Willie’s House Wrap-Up

To bring my visit at Shirley and Willie’s house to closure, the video below ties up the loose ends.