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Writer Carolyn Mason and I were lucky enough to travel to Paris, Texas, in early August to work on a story for Tuscaloosa magazine about former University of Alabama football coach Gene Stallings and his family.  Martha Cook, a family friend of the Stallings and director of Tuscaloosa's Rise School, was our escort for the trip. We spent the first evening visiting with Gene's son, John Mark Stallings, who showed us around the funeral home where he works. The next morning, we arrived at the ranch early and had coffee on the porch with Coach Stallings and his wife, Ruth Ann.  We spent the rest of the morning touring the ranch, talking about the drought, cattle and fishing in the lake. We broke for lunch and went to WD's, a local convenience store that also serves lunch. I was introduced to one of the Stallings' favorite snacks as everyone took turns passing around hot sauce to pour over Cheetos. After lunch, we went back to the ranch and finished our tour. I knew we wanted a shot for the cover that would show the Stallings' personality, and that was easy enough to do.  We sat up on the fence that leads into Hike Away Ranch and shot Stallings with the Texas and American flags waving in the distance. The old cliche about never meeting your heroes definitely does not apply to Coach Stallings. I will always be grateful for having had the opportunity to experience the hospitality and warmth of the entire Stallings family. (Tuscaloosa News / Robert Sutton)