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Beth Ward

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When shows like Stranger Things need old cars, they turn to Y’allywood Film Cars

Y'allywood Film Cars
Stacy Frasure, Beth Aylward, and Jeana Lopeman run Y’allywood Film Cars, which provides picture cars to films and TV productions.

Photograph by Beth Ward

You may not know her name, but you’ve likely seen Beth Aylward’s face in some of your favorite movies and TV shows. Since 1989, the SAG actress has worked steadily as an extra on series such as Seinfeld, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and Married with Children, and on films such as Wayne’s World.

“I run across my face on TV all the time,” she says. “It makes me laugh.”

These days though, you’re just as likely to catch one of Aylward’s classic cars on screen as you are Aylward herself. Her 1961 Rambler American was featured as a core car in Steven Spielberg’s Catch Me If You Can, and her white 1969 Valiant is a veteran of the Netflix megahit, Stranger Things. In fact, it was the Stranger Things crew that gave the now well-known Plymouth its name.

“I was [on location in East Point]. It was zero o’clock in the morning, and I was sitting in my car off the side of the road. And in the dark hours, I heard [the crew] saying ‘Can you get Howdy to move?’” referring to a bumper sticker on the back of the car.

Howdy can be seen cruising the town square behind Winona Ryder’s character Joyce in the second episode of the first season as she walks into the store to buy a new phone. Fans can catch Howdy again parked on the street near Joyce’s ex-husband’s house in episode four, and throughout the show’s three seasons, in the scenes in downtown Hawkins and in the lot at Hawkins High School. Most often, it’s Aylward, who, at 60 years old is also a precision driver and founder of picture car company Y’allywood Film Cars, behind the wheel.

Y'allywood Film Cars
Y’allywood cars in the Hawkins Middle School parking lot on the set of Stranger Things

Photograph courtesy of Beth Aylward

“The Starcourt Mall scene [from season three] was fun,” says Aylward. “There were like 70 cars on set, and maybe 90 percent were ours. And the actors were wonderful. Millie [Bobbie Brown] is the sweetest thing. And I’d always run across Noah [Schnapp]. They’re the sweetest boys; I just love them. The pool scenes were also super groovy fun.”

The parking lot of Gwinnett Place Mall, a.k.a. Starcourt Mall, was filled with cars during Stranger Things season three filming.

Photograph by Myrydd Wells

Aylward picked up a love of classic cars from her brother. She was working in Los Angeles as a unioned extra for film and television in 2002 when she decided to purchase her first classic picture car: the green 1961 Rambler American convertible.

“The first big thing I got on [with that car] was American Dreams, which was a show about bandstands,” Aylward says. There, she chatted with other car owners and drivers on set, learning about the industry’s need for classic and period-specific cars. At that time in L.A., she says, booking for picture cars almost always went through extras casting companies—folks were booked as “extras with cars” according to Aylward, and union drivers and extras typically received a good rate for the use of their vehicle—anywhere between $200 and $400 per day.

When she moved to Atlanta in 2005, however, it was a different story. The film industry hadn’t fully made its way east yet, and there wasn’t much work to be found. As the industry grew, she made connections with other picture car owners on various productions and learned many were going through extras casting for car calls—and weren’t getting booked for what Aylward considered a fair amount. Their “car bumps” were lower than the union rates Aylward had been used to in L.A. Aylward also said there weren’t generally extra pay bumps given for precision driving—a type of skilled driving that isn’t quite flying through the air or getting into a high-speed collision like a stunt driver, but that does require experience and training.

“People didn’t have a clue out here at all because the industry was still new. Everyone just wanted to be in the movies and were excited to get their cars on [screen],” so they would accept whatever rate was offered, she says.

A few years ago, Aylward booked one of her cars on the AMC drama Halt and Catch Fire, which is set in the 1980s and ’90s. There she met fellow car aficionado, mechanic, and classic car collector Jeana Lopeman. Lopeman was new to the picture car industry and suggested Alyward start a Facebook group where they and others in the industry could connect and share information about their cars, potential car calls (some of the films the cars appeared include American Made, The Frontrunner, and Shaft), and the rates they were getting.

Y'allywood Film Cars
Cars sit outside during Stranger Things filming.

Photograph courtesy of Beth Aylward

And as a result, says Lopeman—whose 1972 Mercury Cougar convertible was used in Stranger Things‘s Starcourt Mall scenes and whose 1989 white Jeep Grand Wagoneer appeared in season two—“we [worked] as a group to better the car rates.” The group members advocated for one another for better car bumps, per diems, and treatment on set—a type of unofficial, makeshift union, organizing together and negotiating better rates for all.

“I have a union state of mind in me,” says Aylward. “I come with a union mentality, telling people, ‘Your car is valuable. Your car is worthy, and you are worthy.”

Y'allywood Film Cars
Jeana Lopeman with her 1972 Mercury Cougar

Photograph by Beth Ward

In February, Y’allywood Film Cars graduated from a Facebook group to an official LLC. With the help of Lopeman and fellow car collector and expert Stacy Frasure, the female-owned and operated company is beginning to directly connect film and television crews to the classic cars they need for their productions—without extras casting serving as the middleman. Productions can contact the company via a form on their website, and Aylward begins the process of matching the project to the right car and driver from the group. While the company is just Aylward, Frasure and Lopeman, the Y’allywood Film Cars group has nearly 200 members, some of whom, individually, have up to 25 cars.

“We strive to meet a production’s vision for a project,” says Lopeman, who handles the social media and online marketing for the company. Y’allywood can provide a television show or film with everything from decade-specific classic cars to military vehicles, junk cars to beautifully restored vintage fire trucks, vintage campers and rescue vehicles. They also have access to boats, planes, and motorcycles.

“I loved the idea of a picture car company that put the drivers, owners, and their cars first, not profits,” says Frasure, who grew up working on classic cars with her dad and grandfather. Frasure worked on film sets as an extra and production assistant before committing herself to picture cars. She helps Alyward book cars for productions and works on set with the cars’ drivers. She also recruits new cars and drivers to the group, and like Lopeman, works as an on-set car mechanic. Aylward claims Frasure as her personal mechanic but is quick to sing Lopeman’s praises as bona-fide engine expert, too. (“That girl can rip a car apart from head to toe,” she says of Lopeman. “She can pull it apart and put it back together.”)

Y'allywood Film Cars
A 1964 Dodge Dart GT, fitted with a camera rig for production

Photograph courtesy of Stacy Frasure

Y'allywood Film Cars“It is a field mostly dominated by men,” Lopeman says. “During car shows, I surprise men when I talk shop with them and know a thing or two about what’s under the hood—or when I go to the parts store, or into old car yards for parts. All those places are mostly men’s domain.”

Lopeman sees Y’allywood Film Cars as a bit of antidote to that, “a change,” she says, “a foot in the door with a step forward for women.”

Alyward sees it as a way to advocate for film car owners and drivers, and an avenue she can use to begin changing the way the picture car industry operates as a whole.

“I want it to change so that extras casting is no longer in charge of these cars,” she says. “That the people who are driving these cars, putting all this work into these cars, and loving these cars are making the living that they deserve to be making off of it.”

“And,” she says, “I want us to be able to go in with pride as females, showing that we can do the same thing that [men] can do.”

Frasure agrees.

“Being a female-run company may make some productions dismiss us at first,” says Frasure, “but we’re here to prove that we can and will do the job. We aren’t going anywhere.”

My Style: Allie Bashuk, cofounder of Dream Warriors Foundation

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Allie Bashuk
Bashuk found her favorite Carhartt Work In Progress overalls in Paris.

Photograph by Ben Rollins

Artist and community organizer Allie Bashuk is a woman on a mission, and she’s cultivated a quirky, comfortable style that allows her to move and get things done. Whether Bashuk is working to empower women and nonbinary individuals through her nonprofit, Dream Warriors Foundation; producing large-scale event installations (like the MailChimp Pride float) as codirector of Brutal Studio; or bringing the city’s artists together as a director at the Goat Farm Arts Center, this creative powerhouse is helping foster culture and community in Atlanta.

Hails from
Marietta

Neighborhood
Grant Park. I love the farmers market, the trees, the park and porches, and the proximity to I-20.

Beauty secret
I try to wash my hair as little as possible, once per week at the most.

Favorite outfit
A pair of overalls from a Carhartt Work In Progress store in Paris. They look good with just about everything in my closet.

Currently craving
Everything that comes from my Freewheel Farm CSA

Dining out
Staplehouse. The food is true art, and I love their hybrid, nonprofit model.

Drink of choice
Aperol spritz

Find me at
Muchacho/Golden Eagle, Chrome Yellow Trading Co., and Carroll Street Café

Reading
The Body is Not an Apology by Sonya Renee Taylor

In queue
The Cultured Podcast with Michelle Khouri

Workout
Exhale Spa and Tough Love Yoga. And I walk my dog in Grant Park every day.

Can’t leave home without
Lauren’s All Purpose Salve, Dr. Bronner’s lip balm, a notebook, heart-shaped rose quartz, and several iPhone chargers

Go-to shops
Young Blood, Value Village, Criminal Records, Paris on Ponce, Steven Alan, Citizen Supply, Modern Mystic, Fig & Flower Natural Beauty, Coco + Mischa, ATL Craft

Event I won’t miss
Anything put on by the creative agency Dashboard

Allie BashukFave shades?
These by Steven Alan. “They look amazing with everything, and they were a steal! On sale for $20!”

This article appears in our September 2018 issue.

At Georgia’s Arrendale State Prison, women inmates forge a bond by keeping bees

Arrendale State Prison Beekeeping

In the predawn hours of a chilly Tuesday morning, master beekeeper Julia Mahood drives north up I-985 toward Alto. She’s headed to teach a class at Lee Arrendale State Prison, a high-security facility that houses more than 1,500 women—including 55 serving life sentences.

At check-in, Mahood surrenders her cell phone and driver’s license. As she’s escorted to the prison’s vocational school, each of the imposing steel doors she walks through gets manually bolted shut behind her. Navigating a series of narrow hallways where guards stand watch, she finally reaches a heavy metal door with a sign taped to the doorway that reads: “Beekeeping is the New Black.”

Mahood’s is the first female class in a statewide inmate beekeeping program that began in 2012, when an inmate and former beekeeper at Smith State Prison requested to teach a beekeeping class for his fellow inmates.

Though this would mean prisoners convicted of violent crimes would have access to live insects, smokers, lighters, and sharp, metal hive tools, the Georgia Department of Corrections approved his request. The DOC then helped solicit donated supplies from Brushy Mountain Bee Farm. With more support from the Georgia Beekeepers Association and the University of Georgia Master Beekeeping Program, the operation blossomed into a multifacility program.

Beekeeping at Arrendale State Prison

Mahood, a master beekeeper who works as a graphic artist and lives near Chastain Park, heard about the program at a GBA meeting and volunteered to help if it ever expanded to a women’s facility. She taught her first class at Arrendale in March 2016. Now entering its third year, the facility’s beekeeping program is 25 women strong—five from the original class, 10 from last year, and 10 new students, who are being taught by class veterans (the goal, Mahood says, is to make the class as self-sustaining as possible).

Five women in Mahood’s current class have passed their initial certified beekeeper exams and are now working toward taking their journeyman certification test, the next step toward becoming a master beekeeper. They’ll be the first group in Georgia prisons, male or female, to do so.

As part of Mahood’s class, the Arrendale beekeepers have learned everything from the scientific nomenclature of honeybees to the various pests that can threaten the hives—all without access to the internet. They’ve formed a honeybee club, which publishes a monthly newsletter called the Nectar Collector on a 20-year-old monstrosity of a desktop computer. And in 2016, the honey they collected from their hives placed second in a special category of the Georgia Beekeepers Association honey contest.

Arrendale State Prison Beekeeping
Participants in the program, who were not allowed to be photographed, have learned everything from scientific nomenclature to how to thwart pests.

Photograph by Kelly Kline

Should any of these students become eligible for release, they could potentially use their experience and skills to find work and community on the outside, a challenge for many released inmates.

Tending the bees also provides the women with an opportunity to go outside, collaborate with each other, and learn something new. It’s an antidote, Mahood says, to the monotony of day-to-day life behind bars.

“They all love the beekeeping,” she says. “And most of the time, I feel like I’m just with some people teaching a beekeeping class—once you get blind to the razor wire and stuff.” Teaching the inmates and seeing their progress has also been a transformative experience for Mahood. “When they’re in my class,” she says, “they aren’t criminals. They’re beekeepers.”

Arrendale State Prison Beekeeping
Julia Mahood learned about the program at a beekeeper association meeting and volunteered to teach at Arrendale.

Photograph by Kelly Kline

When Mahood arrives at the classroom, the students zip netted beekeeper’s hoods and jackets over their beige jumpsuits and head out into the fog-soaked early morning. Surrounded by building-high razor wire fences with barbs the size of a palm, they trek through a field to the wooden hive boxes, which they’ve painted bright pinks, yellows, and blues. Tucked inside are pallets of golden combs, glowing and covered in honeybees. There’s a small circular garden of wildflowers planted nearby.

As the class works together to light the smoker and cluster the humming, buzzing bees, their knowledge and dedication become apparent. “Bees insulate their hives with propolis,” says one inmate, pointing to the comb’s waxy walls. “It’s also a powerful antiviral.” “They’re clustering in the center of the hives to keep warm,” says another.

The women are as comfortable with the insects as most people are with kittens and puppies and just as nurturing. They sense what mood the bees are in—whether they’re angry, scared, or happy. A third inmate, a member of that first class, notes that bees work together as a community, in perfect harmony, for the good of the queen and the colony. They don’t have ego, she says. Every bee has a job, every bee matters.

The metaphor isn’t lost on Mahood.

This article appears in our July 2018 issue.

Brandon Smith wants to sell you a fresh Georgia peach

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Georgia Peach Truck
Brandon Smith found slinging peaches more exciting than a life working in personal finance.

Photograph by Jack Deese

The line at Brandon Smith’s booth is one of the longest at the Freedom Farmers Market on a typical muggy Saturday morning in May. Customers flock to his table, ready to exchange a few bucks for large sacks full of fat Georgia-grown peaches from Dickey Farms—the oldest continually-operating packing house in the state.

Come mid to late July though, Georgia’s iconic state fruit is going to be much harder to come by, thanks to a cataclysmic season that, according to Smith, cost the state nearly 80% of its peach yield.

And he would know. While a graduate student at Georgia State University, Smith started bagging peaches on Saturdays to earn a little pocket change and quickly realized he much preferred that to a future of corporate number crunching.

“I did an MBA in finance at Georgia State, and thought I’d be a financial analyst the rest of my life,” Smith says, “But I had a lot more fun slinging peaches at the farmers market.”

Smith now works as the local market manager for Dickey Farms, and during a normal peach season you can find him at farmers markets all around the state behind the booth for Dickey. Last year Smith also launched a separate venture, the Georgia Peach Truck, with a goal of bringing cases of Georgia’s most famous fruit to neighborhoods all along the East Coast.

“The [initial] goal was just to get it started,” Smith says. “As long as I didn’t go completely bankrupt, I wasn’t too worried about the financial side of it. It was mainly just getting a network built and operating it for a summer.”

Georgia Peach Truck
Brandon Smith sets up his Georgia peach stand.

Photograph by Jack Deese

Smith took the truck on a six-week trip and worked his way from Georgia up through Virginia and Washington DC, then into small communities in Maryland, Connecticut, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts. Customers flocked to the truck, no doubt buying into the same nostalgia that leads people above the Mason-Dixon line to believe that down here, Saturdays are spent sipping sweet tea on the front porch while fresh cobbler cools on a window sill.

“That’s one of the things that made it work,” says Smith. “It’d be like bringing [fresh] Maine lobster down to Georgia. There’s a novelty to it, a uniqueness that makes it iconic. That’s the draw.”

That, and the peaches just taste better.

“Peaches that go through a commercial supply chain typically pass through two or three hands before they ever even get on the grocery store shelf,” says Smith. “They stay in the supply chain in refrigeration too long. They’re going from a farm to a third-party distributor and then to a distribution facility for the actual retailer.”

Peaches also need to be warm to mature and ripen, says Smith, and the longer refrigeration times required by commercial distribution saps peaches of their color, juice and flavor.

Smith’s peaches, on the other hand, go from Dickey Farms straight to his truck and are on the ground in New York or Connecticut two or three days later.

“Folks [up north] would never be able to get these peaches the way we’re delivering them unless they went directly to the farms,” he says.

Georgia Peach Truck
Peaches from Dickey Farms

Photograph by Jack Deese

But anyone who visits a Georgia farm this summer will find themselves out of luck and face to face with acres of barren peach trees, as Smith and the rest of the local peach industry are having to contend with the one of the most challenging peach seasons in state history.

“During the winter, peach trees need a certain number chill hours to produce healthy fruit during the summer,” Smith says. “The trees go dormant. They literally go to sleep. And if they don’t get enough sleep hours below around 45 degrees, they wake up cranky. It causes them to produce fruit that is more prone to defects and disease. Or in an extreme year, it won’t produce much of a crop at all.”

And that’s exactly what’s happened this year. Winter’s warmer temperatures, coupled with a late freeze, nearly decimated the peach yield. Combined with the blow the state’s blueberry crop also took, local farmers are facing a near $300 million loss. Dickey Farms alone saw a 75 percent drop in peach production compared to last year—roughly two million pounds of peaches gone.

“Basically after July 4, we’re not going to have much in the way of locally-grown peaches,” says Smith. The peaches perched on produce shelves likely won’t be Georgia’s own, and could have been shipped from as far as California to get to local area grocers. Smith has halted the Georgia Peach Truck road trip for the rest of the year.

Despite the challenges, Smith and others in the peach industry remain optimistic for next year’s harvest. And Smith still remains true to the same vision he had back in college, when he made plans to swap the calculator for a peach crate: “to sell a whole lotta peaches.”

There are only a few weeks left to stock up fresh local peaches. If you want to grab some of Smith’s Dickey Farms peaches, they’ll be at the following farmers markets this week:

Tuesday, July 11

Wednesday, July 12

Thursday, July 13

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