Hendricks-Patton-RANCL Furniture & Appliance has been open for business in Athens since 1945. One thing the business has that many places do not carry is a supply of snow sleds.
After all, owner Bucky Patton said, Limestone County gets a decent snow once every couple of years or so. This time around, he ordered 40 sleds. He said they would either sell, or they would sit at the store until next winter.
But sell they did, along with every portable heater in stock.
Patton said thanks to all of the winter weather that hit Limestone County this week, he is down to just two sleds left. And while residents were out Thursday playing in the snow, some with sleds purchased at his store, Patton and his family were celebrating his 80th birthday.
His five children decided to procure 80 photos taken throughout Patton's life and place them in the storefront windows for passersby to see. The photos ranged from when Patton was a year old through today, and the window art included items made with the help of his 13 grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.
Patton's family also got 80 balloons, made 80 cupcakes and had a celebration at the store.
Little did they know that several inches of snow would coat Athens and limit the number of people that could make it to Patton's celebration.
“They had all this planned before it snowed,” he said. “My family was here, but no one else was.”
While few managed to celebrate in person, it was a different story on social media. His family asked people that know him to send a message or comment, and Patton said he ended up with more than 600 responses.
Patton said he got messages from friends and family, and even old girlfriends. He also got several from Scouts, who knew him from his days as a troop leader. He is also a former member of the City Council and Athens City Schools Board of Education, as well as president of the local Rotary Club chapter.
“I have done a lot of things in my life, and so have my children,” Patton said. “The highlight might be my daughter-in-law, Beth Patton, being named superintendent of Athens City Schools.”
Despite turning 80, Patton said he has been in perfect health all his life. He walks every morning, and he plays tennis two or three times a week.
In fact, his birthday present from his family was a plane ticket to Colorado Springs, Colorado, so he can go visit one of his grandsons and play him in tennis.
“I can't tell any difference (in turning 80),” he said. “I still do the same things I always have. You can't tell by looking at me I'm 80. I've been lucky all my life.”
As far as the snow on his birthday, Patton said he enjoyed getting out in it.