Look Back ... to the passing of an esteemed legislator, 1997

Nov. 1—Nov. 1, 1947 : The date fell on a Saturday during a 12-year period (1940-52) when The Star didn't publish on that day of the week.

Nov. 1, 1997, in The Star: Funeral services will be Monday, Nov. 3, for Hugh D. Merrill Jr., a former state representative from Anniston who rose to become one of the most influential members of the Alabama House during his 20-year public career. He died Oct 30 at the age of 84. Merrill served in the State House from 1955 to 1978, becoming chairman of the Judiciary Committee and then chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee. Merrill directed much of his legislative effort to improving Jacksonville State University, helping to establish a board of trustees on which he held a seat himself for many years. "Kids" of a certain age might pay tribute to Merrill as the sponsor of a bill in July 1975 that dropped the age of legal adulthood in Alabama from 21 to 19. He was an attorney with the Merrill, Merrill, Mathews & Allen law firm. Survivors include his wife, Martha, and four children, Nancy, Hugh III, David and Paul. Also this date: A consumer-oriented article by Sue Vondracek of The Star explains the hows and whys of buying a cellular telephone. Mark Lucy, a technician for Cellular One in Anniston, explains the phones this way: "Remember the CB craze? Well cellular phones operate something like that, except on a CB you have to send your message on one channel and receive a message on another. On a cellular phone, you can send and receive on the same frequency, just as though you were talking on a regular telephone." Cellular One's basic plan now costs $25 per month for 30 minutes; each extra minute costs 25 cents on weekdays and 15 cents on weekends and at night. BellSouth Mobility is the other analog cellular service provider around here. Prices for a cell phone range from $10 to $600; some phones use digital service, provided in this area by Powertel, which allows them to send short messages or act as a pager, as long as you use it in the right geographic area.