Posts Tagged ‘Alabama’

 

Am I Blue?

00.0.Box.cLinda Burton posting from Arkadelphia, Arkansas – When is the best time to put a jigsaw puzzle together? A rainy day seemed right, when Brother was visiting during Thanksgiving week. I pulled out the State Flags and Capitols box I’d been saving for just such a day and dumped all one thousand pieces onto the card table. Brother raised an eyebrow and shook his head. I let tiny puzzle pieces filter through my fingers, trying to think of a working plan. 00.27.Puzzle Pieces“What strategy should I use?” I asked. “Colors,” was his reply. Now, generally speaking, that is good jigsaw strategy. But when the picture is 50 state flags, well that’s when you discover that most state flags are blue. In fact, only four state flags don’t have at least a touch of blue in them – Alabama, California, Maryland, and New Mexico.

The puzzle pieces sat in a pile for several days, as I half-heartedly tried to sort blue from blue from blue. After brother left, I raked everything back into the box and headed for my sewing basket. Being heavily dependent on Excel spreadsheets to help me organize almost everything in life, I grabbed a spool of thread and the scissors and with a little Scotch tape turned the 02.Puzzle. Stringscard table into Columns and Rows. Then I put Post-Its into each section marking which state fit where. Aha! I dug into those thousand pieces again looking for words. “Mon” went into the Montana section, “sas” into the Arkansas slot; I was on a roll! How many flags have outspread eagle wings? Just two – Iowa and North Dakota. Plop plop. The palm tree went to Hawaii; the horses to Pennsylvania, the bison belonged to Wyoming. The challenge began to be fun, and (with magnifying glass in hand) I began to notice the details within the flags. I didn’t expect to have a learning experience, but that is exactly what happened. In my two-year Journey to 50 states, I didn’t pay much attention to the state flags. But suddenly I realized that flags are the story-telling devices of the state. And I love a good story! » read more

 
 
 

Pioneers and Pilgrimages

30.Figures (2)Linda Burton posting from Arkadelphia, Arkansas – I bought two figures at Hobby Lobby a few months back. One is a dark-skinned woman with plaited hair, her black braids draped over her shoulders atop a fringed shawl; the other a fair-skinned woman with slightly reddish hair, cut shoulder length, the hood of her shawl softly framing her face. Native American? Scotch-Irish? Wearing finely tanned animal skins and finely stitched linen? Both are carrying baskets filled with food – pumpkins, squash, apples, grapes. Both are beautiful, and serene. “The spirit of Thanksgiving,” I thought when I spotted them. “My heritage, and just right for the November dining table.” I added gourds from the grocery; odd-shaped greens and yellows; plus several round ones tinged with orange. Brother was coming for most of Thanksgiving week; coming to this place we’d found together by an accident of fate. Have I told you this before? The Journal? The Search? The Arkansas tragedy?

It’s a story of our country really; our own personal connection to thousands of stories of the great westward migration, stories of pioneers, of courage, and change. Ours centers on a little girl named Martha Jane, who rolled through Clark County, Arkansas in November 1849 at the tender age of four. What an adventure! » read more

 
 
 

My Absolutely Positively Last Stop

19 Linda Last StopLinda Burton posting from Tuscaloosa, Alabama – “This is it. This is really truly it. You have to get my picture one last time by the Scion,” I said to brother Craig. “Right here in the same spot as when I left 659 days ago.” I was feeling other-worldly at the moment, unreal, like I was Hillary at the top of Everest, or Amundsen at the South Pole. Or my friend Howard Cottrell, when he finally reached the last county in the United States. It took him 16 years to get to all 3,100 counties; it took Sherpas and sled dogs and some serious cold-weather gear to get to those extreme parts of the world. All I had to do was drive, and load and unload the car and the cats every two weeks. And re-establish a home and a workplace fifty times. I traveled 31,710 miles in all, according to my quick calculations last night. And I never varied from the course, I stuck with the plan. Where are the drum rolls, and the marching bands? Craig is 19 Craig car maplaconic. No mushy-gushy stuff, no congratulations or wow-you-did-it praise. But he did take the camera and ask what angle I wanted. And he cooked spaghetti for me today (it’s our Christmas tradition – red spaghetti sauce and green salad). And he stored all my furniture and clothes in his basement for two years, and kept things safe. And last year he drove to New Orleans to spend Christmas with me there. So, yeah, he’s a primo brother, wouldn’t you say? I did my pose. And had him stand by the car too, laconically pointing to Alabama on the map. The Journey Across America is officially over. » read more

 
 
 

Hornswoggled in Birmingham

18 PlaqueLinda Burton posting from Birmingham, Alabama – “Finish your lunch so you can open your present,” Emily said. “I know you’ve got to get on your way.” I took a last sip of Cracker Barrel tea and suggested that we go outside for the opening; it was a brilliant sunny day, and I wanted to make sure the cats were okay in the car. They were. “This is NOT a Christmas present,” Emily promised, as I mumbled about not having a present for her. “Just OPEN.” Have you ever gotten a gift that surprised you to your toes, and pleased you beyond measure, and humbled you too, at the thoughtfulness of the giver? Yeah, I got that today. It was a silver and walnut plaque, beautifully engraved, with a full-color picture of the decked-out Scion, and these words:

CONGRATULATIONS     Linda L. Burton    Given in admiration and recognition of your dedication to your Journey Across America to all 50 states.    March 1, 2012 – November 29, 2013    Making Capital Cities USA available to students, teachers, historians, researchers, and the general public.    Your timeless efforts will enrich all who take advantage of your vast knowledge gained in this great undertaking.    From Emily Taylor

18 Emily Presenting PlaqueEmily Taylor is my cousin and has been one of my most loyal followers throughout the Journey. She has read and commented on every post, and swears on oath she enjoys them. We’re both descended from William Irwin Jr, our ancestor who died in Arkansas in 1849 as he attempted a move from Alabama to Texas with his family. William Irwin Jr, the reason I have chosen to settle in Arkansas myself, hoping to learn more of what happened to the Irwins way back then. My great-grandmother Mary Susan (b 1866) and Emily’s grandmother Leavonia Augusta (b 1869) were sisters, and granddaughters of William. Emily is named after their younger sister Emily Letitia (b 1883) and grew up knowing more about the family’s history than I did; it was genealogy research that brought us together in recent years. Now she is more than a twice-removed cousin to me; more than a friend; even though she has many sisters of her own, we feel, well, sort of like sisters too. » read more

 
 
 

Wherever You Go

07 all by car

My Southeast Family in Tampa.
Jason, Linda, Jeffrey, Kaitlyn, Mike, Brenda
plus Justin from the U of Florida, bottom right.

 Linda Burton posting from Raleigh, North Carolina – “Wherever you go, there you are.” That pithy quote came from Col Potter on an episode of MASH as the gang dealt with the intricacies of living in Korea in the middle of a war. You’re still you, he was saying, whatever your circumstances and surroundings may be. And the way you deal with life travels with you, wherever you go. I’ve given that theory a run for its money during this last year as the Journey Across America has taken me to twenty-five capital cities to live and to learn – yes, believe it or not, the Journey is now 50% complete! It’s been a whup-ass grand experience so far, exploring this country called the United States; discovering what holds us together and spotting those things that sometimes keep us apart. The good thing I’ve found is that we have more in common than we don’t, no matter the variety of choices we make from 07 Justin carstate to state. If our roots go back to Europe or Africa or Asia or either of the Americas, we, in time, adapt to what we find, wherever we may go. But along the way we put our spin on things; hey, that’s the spice of life, and I’m finding that the USA is one big spicy meatball; tasty, and so appealing to the senses, the spirit, and the mind! As I finish up my last day in Raleigh, I’ll bring you up to date. And pass along  “thumbs up” from my Southeast family. » read more

 
 
 

Story Telling Time

23 staircaseLinda Burton posting from Montgomery, Alabama – The prettiest thing in the Alabama state capitol is the spiral staircase. At least, that’s my opinion; I had to stop the minute I entered the door and look up, in wonder. It is stunning, and mysterious. And then I noticed there are two; a pair of cantilevered spiral staircases graces the entrance hall, curving upwards for three stories in simple elegance, one of the building’s finest architectural features. This capitol was in use by 1851; the story goes the staircases were built by Horace King, a slave who was freed in 1846. Horace was 23 staircase downknown in Alabama, and surrounding states, for his talent as a bridge builder; because of this the Alabama legislature passed a special law exempting him from the state’s manumission laws, which required freed slaves to leave the state within a year of gaining their freedom. So Horace stayed, and after the Civil War he got into politics; serving two terms in the Alabama House of Representatives, in the building he helped design and build. The Alabama capitol is full of stories, as is true of any building of this many years. Two 23 hall to stairof the most famous are its use during the Civil War, as it briefly served as capitol of the Confederate States before that seat of government moved to Richmond; and its use as a destination point during the Civil Rights movement in the 1960’s. Today I was looking for stories; I’d heard about the murals so I headed for the second floor; I knew that much of the history of Alabama was displayed beneath the dome. Another story behind that; artist Roderick MacKenzie lived in an Alabama orphanage for a time. A freed slave and an orphan, two men whose creativity became part of the Alabama story. » read more

 
 
 

Hey, Good Lookin’

22 poster from chrisLinda Burton posting from Montgomery, Alabama – When Hank Williams moved to Montgomery in 1937 at the age of 14, Chris Katechis’ restaurant had already been open for twenty years. I’m sitting in Chris’ Place today, eating two of his famous hotdogs, beside a wall decorated in musical notes. I came in because I’d read that Hank Williams used to sit in Chris’ and write songs, and sure enough, I spotted a large poster of Hank as I came in the front door. “Do the musical notes have anything to do with Hank’s songwriting?” I asked my server, as she brought homemade onion rings stacked up cute like a tree. She went away to find out. The lady in the booth across the aisle had advised me on my order. “I worked here myself, back in the 60’s,” she told me, admitting she had no idea what was in the famous secret sauce Chris ladled over his hotdogs. “That’s why it’s called a secret,” she grinned. My server came back to tell me the musical notes on the wall were a part of the original décor, “just because Mr Chris liked 22 server in chrismusic,” she said. Enter Gus, a third generation Katechis, who sat down in my booth and told me a little more about the restaurant, and Hank. “There was a jukebox in here, and Hank always sat in the back booth. Sometimes he’d write, and always he drank. When he’d drunk a little too much, he’d start womanizing. And when he got a little too boisterous, my grandfather would help him out the door. But Hank was a good guy.” “What songs did he write in here?” I asked, but no one had the answer to that. “Maybe Hey, Good Lookin’, whatcha got cookin’?” Gus gave me his card and invited me to come back as often as I could. » read more

 
 
 

Standing On The Promises

19 Linda on starLinda Burton posting from Montgomery, Alabama – I stood on the star today. That’s the star the Sophie Bibb Chapter of the Daughters of the Confederacy placed on the spot where Jefferson Davis (1808-1889) stood when he was inaugurated President of the Confederate States of America on February 18, 1861. With one hand on the majestic white columns of the Alabama state capitol, I gazed down the marble steps it took me a while to climb; I looked further down the slope that’s still affectionately known as Goat Hill, because it once was pastureland for Andrew Dexter’s goats; I scanned the blocks on the street we know today as Dexter Avenue. Stand on that spot and you are standing in the pages of a history book. A block away the steeple rises above the modest red-brick church where Martin Luther King Jr (1929-1968) was pastor from 1954 to 1960. It’s now known as the 19 starDexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church; the Montgomery bus boycott was organized here December 2, 1955. A few blocks more down Dexter Avenue is the Court Square Fountain, where Rosa Parks (1913-2005) boarded a city bus and refused to give up her seat to a white man, an act of civil disobedience at the time; a history-making choice. I’m in a history book all right, but civil war and civil rights are not the whole of it. There’s more. » read more

 
 
 

To Leave A Legacy

17 three geeseLinda Burton posting from Montgomery, Alabama – The Spanish moss hanging in the trees is a southern give-away. Otherwise, you’d think you were wandering the fields near an English village, complete with geese on the pond and cobblestone paths and, of course, a Shakespearian theater. But you’re really in the Wynton M Blount Cultural Park in Montgomery, Alabama, location of the Alabama Shakespeare Festival (ASF), the sixth largest Shakespeare festival in the world. Bringing in more than 300,000 visitors from all 50 states and over 60 countries every year, the performing arts complex in the park has been a part of the Montgomery scene since 1985, thanks to the generosity of a certain Mr and Mrs Blount. What a gift! The park itself is 250 acres of landscaped paths and ponds, trees and open space; there’s a wooden bridge with 17 shakespeare buildinga stone structure atop, perfect for a sit as you watch the ducks swimming below. Montgomery’s Museum of Fine Arts is on one side of the park; meandering roads take you to the Shakespearian edge on the other side. Thatched-roof restrooms? An English garden? You’ve reached the Carolyn Blount Theater, which houses the 750-seat Festival Stage; there is a 225-seat Octagon Theater too. You’ll find Shakespeare here, and more. » read more

 
 
 

In The Land Of Cotton

15 florida farm cLinda Burton posting from Montgomery, Alabama – It started as I was leaving Florida. Farmland, I mean. Just north of Gainesville I spotted cattle grazing; their green pastures half hidden behind oak trees hanging thick with moss; the soft morning fog creating pastoral scenes worthy of an art collector’s wall. You might think of Florida as the citrus state, but what I saw coming north on I-75 was cattle, and billboard ads for western wear. I crossed the Suwanee River; notes painted on its sign set the tune off in my head. Nothing touristy here, just homefolks, working their land. I’m headed for Alabama today, and Montgomery, but there’s a stop I want to make 15 gps cotton streetalong the way. It has to do with farming, and with change. West on I-10, traffic thins and pine trees thicken; then I turn north again. Off the freeway driving slows; there’s farmland everywhere; I find myself on Cotton Street. And yes, a cotton field is to my left. The stop I want to make? The Boll Weevil Monument in Enterprise, Alabama, the only monument to an agricultural pest anywhere in the world. » read more