Sunday, February 5th, 2012
I am embarrassed that I momentarily have forgotten my history until I arrive smack in front of Montgomery’s Hank Williams Museum. Hank’s 50 are twanging gently echoes for all to hear as you amble along Commerce Street. I am delighted to be in the heart of country music heaven.
Just a few weeks away, however, the rhythm is different. The bat is more somber but just as memorable. To get there you have to walk through the site of the old Montgomery slave market. I am already uneasy about the history of this place.
The outdoor exhibit further up the road now refreshes so many memories for a time which now seems like so long ago. The photographs of the Freedom Riders arriving at the bus station are there enshrined forever. Nice portraits are flanked by vivid images of the riders after being attacked by a large angry mob. Yet, I sense Rosa Parks would be proud of her Montgomery today. We have come a long way, or have we?
Saturday, February 4th, 2012
The news says the new Secretary of Defense wants a lean military as a long line of Air Force officers and enlisted personnel wait patiently to pay their bill at the restaurant across from Maxwell Air Force Base.
Pilots were a distinctive jump suit. Everyone seems so well groomed and professional. Well, I am the exception of course. Showing perfect decorum none of these fine military persons even mentions my distinctive odor of Desitin.
Friday, February 3rd, 2012
Super Wal-Mart in Brent, Alabama helps me with the sudden cold â€“ a low priced coat, hat and gloves give me sudden warmth. Yet they do not help with the incessant chafing between my legs caused by rubbing of ill fitting under garments.
I ask about the possibility of wine at dinner. “Well there is a good grill to eat at down the road a piece. But none of the restaurants have caught up yet. This counties’ only been wet about a year. No wine sorry. Y’all come back now”
Thursday, February 2nd, 2012
It happens. The sun is bright, the wind calm, the belly full with a quickly consumed grilled cheese sandwich, and then unexpectedly nature calls. Many miles outside of town the service stations have disappeared. There are no road side stores. Open fields prevent a would be improvised rest room user from hiding. What to do?
A convertible sports car pulls up to me. “Are you OK? Need a ride?” the Good Samaritan driver asks. I am tempted, but decline. Then a big tree on the side of the road presents its self. Relieved I continue on my memorable wall.
Wednesday, February 1st, 2012
You know you are marching directly through the heart of the University of Alabama by the crisply clean streets, well manicured gardens, and stately, expensive, mansions along fraternity row. Yet,
It is the Museum dedicated to legendary Alabama football coach Paul “Bear” Bryant which captures my interest. The Bears words inspire. “If you believe in yourself and have dedication and prideâ€¦.and never quit, youâ€™ll be a winner”. “The price of victory is high but so are the rewards”
Leaving Tuscaloosa is depressing. Many blocks at what used to be the western part of the city have been totally demolished, not by machine, but by nature. A few years earlier a massive tornado ripped and roared across this area leaving many dead in its wake. Today the rebuilding continues but ever so slowly.
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Tuesday, January 31st, 2012
It is a suburb of the big town Tuscaloosa really. There is just one main street. It must have been vibrant before the new highway was built. Now struggling small shops, a bank, a post office and a church define the town’s economy. I stop at a diner that has been there for fifty years. Eggs grits and crisp bacon are the main fare. “I’ll have a burger, the man next to me tells the friendly waitress. “I just got off work and don’t like working nights”, he complains. I sip hot coffee and then continue out into the pouring morning rain.
Monday, January 30th, 2012
I regret not bringing gloves or a wool stocking cap. The crisp Alabama morning temperatures hover just above freezing. My little fingers are cold. The sun comes up but the warmth still isn’t sufficient. I am the product of poor preparation. Momentarily, I wish I were back in sunny Miami until I have a vision of my finishing the Dram Walk on the shores of the Gulf in Key West.
Sunday, January 29th, 2012
First you walk p the long narrow hill until you reach the ridge line. Then next to the Methodist church along the old highway you will reach the cemetery. Tired in the afternoon I wander among the tomb stones. A few are very old; one is new with fresh filled earth but still devoid of flowers.
Cemeteries seem to heighten my psychic energy. I will reflect on the headstones through them lies and days ahead. One name stands out, Fred Lucas, deceases April 16, 172 when he was a young man. The inscribed words are simple by clear. It says simply “Vietnam”. I cry and keep walking.
Saturday, January 28th, 2012
The trucks are big; the cars move swiftly and there is no shoulder on this hazardous walking road. I keep moving. But whenever I have an opportunity I scurry to the se of the road enjoying stepping on stones and twigs comfortable that the extra six inches away from the road keeps me safe.
“You ain’t broke down is ya”, someone hollers from a distance. I see the trailer off in the woods surrounded by abandoned cars. The smoke from their warming fire helps direct my gaze toward the two men dressed in overalls. “I’m OK” I respond hoping they are as friendly as they sound. There aren’t many visitors along this old route number 9 and certainly not many lonely walkers.
Friday, January 27th, 2012
The great state of Mississippi, statistics say it is poor economically. But what do numbers know? â€“ it is the folks that define a place. I am seven miles east of Mississippi State and another great university. I wobble on the side roads parallel to the highway enjoying, I think, the morning chill.
The winter has been wicked in the far west so I started part of this stage where I can get in some road miles ever mindful that I must sooner, rather than later, finally finish My Dream Walk in Key West, Florida