It was in Alabama, back in the dark ol’ days before the internet or mobile phones, that Ol’ Big Jim was introduced to the world. Since that time, I’ve traveled the world over. Well, a good portion of it anyway. Nowadays, for good or ill, it’s where I hang my hat once again.
From time to time people ask me, “What’s special about Alabama?” Now and again I can come up with an answer. More often than not, I become discombobulated as I cast about for an answer.
Of course, I can point them to three of my favorite authors: Harper Lee and Pulitzer Prize winning Rickey Bragg are from Alabama. The third? Me, obviously!
What else can I tell you about the Camellia State?
Space Case: Back in January 1958 a Jupiter C rocket named Juno I sent the first satellite from the US, Explorer 1, into orbit. It was built at Redstone Arsenal up in Huntsville. That rocket was modified into the Mercury-Redstone Launch Vehicle and put Apollo 11 onto the surface of the moon in July 1969! I still remember that day vividly.
Mardi Gras: We’ve just finished Mardi Gras season. That celebration was introduced to the western world in Alabama. Well, sort of… Frenchman Nicholas Langlois inaugurated the celebration in 1703 down in Mobile. Back then Mobile was the capitol of, erm, Louisiana.
Honored Insect: Down in Enterprise there is, by all accounts, the one and only monument in the entire world that honors an insect. Intrigued? Yeah, I thought you might be. The boll weevil, native to Mexico, makes a nest in the boll, or seed capsule, of the cotton plant. By 1909 the pest had found his way to Alabama. Entire cotton crops were lost. Farmers were on the verge of destitution. Well Enterprise, along with the rest of Coffee County, turned their backs on cotton and became the leading producer of peanuts by 1917. So, the town and county were saved by the peanut! But the crop diversification would never have happened had it not been for the lowly boll weevil. The citizens got together and made a monument in 1919. She’s a beaut isn’t she?
Sport: Baseball players Hank Aaron and Willie Mays were Alabama Natives. Boxer Joe Louis came from these parts, too.
Medicine: Luther Leonidas Hill performed the first open heart surgery on this side of the world back in 1902 when he sutured a stab wound in a young boy’s heart, in Montgomery. Today University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) is one of the best-known hospitals in the world. People from all around the globe come to UAB for medical treatment.
WW II: The Hall of History in Bessemer has, on exhibit, Adolf Hitler’s very own German-Groma 1930s typewriter captured by Allied soldiers at his mountain hideaway in Salzburg, Austria.
And, finally, you might think I’m nuts to live in this place. You could be forgiven for thinking that most of us are nuts. But, the reigning nut in this state is the pecan. Heart-healthy pecans add greatly to our cuisine. Consider pecan crusted trout; a truly beautiful dish! And of course pecans go in all sorts of breads, like banana nut bread and zucchini bread. Then there are pralines that were actually sent to us from heaven, and did you think I’d actually forget to add pecan pie to this list? It’s really hard to imagine anything, especially sweet, that can’t be improved by the addition of pecans.
Don’t you just love trivia? So. What sort of trivia might we find about your home area? drop me a line in the comments below and let’s talk about it!
I sure do appreciate you coming by today. Being that you’re out and about on the web anyway, why not pop over to Amazon and get a copy of New Yesterdays for your reading pleasure? Pick up an extra copy or three for the young folk in your life. They’ll thank you for it and Ol’ Big Jim will too! Just click either of those highlighted links and, presto! you’ll be off on a delightful journey!