The ABC’s of Me
You've heard the jokes. The jokes about marrying your cousin. Living in a trailer park. Being stupid, married to your cousin and living in a trailer park. Well, folks, I laugh along with the rest of them, mostly because it is being made at my expense after I've done something incredibly foolish. Because yes, I did grow up in Alabama. Sylacauga, Alabama. Halfway between Birmingham and Montgomery. Home of the Aggies, and birthplace of Jim Nabors. Population 12,008 (at the time....they were very proud of surpassing 12,000). Fifty nine churches. One liquor store. A movie theater that showed two movies. And one looong street perfect for cruising with your friends on a Friday night. Up the road, past the movie theater, the arcade, the Pizza Hut. Turn left into the new McDonald's parking lot, circle the lot, and cruise back down. Repeat ad nauseum.
We moved there when I was in third grade. I had been born in California and then we moved to Wisconsin. I distinctly remember sitting on the bed in the hotel the night before we left, lifting Valentines from my tin foil covered mailbox and crying about the friends I missed already. Barry Manilow singing, "I Write the Songs" in the background didn't help my somber and ever dramatic mood. I remember leaving in the snow. My dad, at my mother's insistence, jumping a fence so he could pick us some real cotton.
Then there was my first day of school. I wore a dress, because in Wisconsin, that's what you did. I walked in and everyone had on jeans. To add insult to injury, they had a tornado drill and there I was on my knees, hiney in the air, book over my head...IN A DRESS. There were some other surprises that first day-getting in trouble for not saying "ma'am," devotion time after lunch, and not understanding what "carrying," "borrying," and "yonder" meant. And then there was that question--"So who ya for?....huh?...who ya for?...Alabama or Auburn?" Through the year, I learned to say "ma'am" and "sir" and all of the words to hymns and old spirituals. I learned to fear the paddle--corporate punishment was still alive and kicking. I settled in to small town, southern life.
We were there from the middle of my 3rd grade year until the end of 11th grade. Yes, we moved my senior year, but that is a subject for another post. I did most of my growing up there, experienced many "firsts" there, and I have a lot of good memories. Some really disturbing memories--the KKK marching at the end of our Christmas parade, walking to school from a friend's house past a burning cross, a high school garage band playing and singing "Cocaine" at our middle school assembly, and a high school special treat--watching the original "Psycho" on the big screen in the auditorium. But mostly, I have good memories. As I was searching for pictures for this post, I got so nostalgic, I might have shed a tear.
Sylacauga High School
It pretty much looked like this when I was there too. Every morning, all of the students gathered in front of the school until the bell rang. I had my mom drop me off at the corner so I wouldn't be seen riding with....gasp...my mother.
St. Andrew's Episcopal Church
We went every Sunday. My dad was the vestry treasurer, my brother and I were the youth, I was the organist (the very bad organist), and my mom was the Sunday School teacher.
Many many days spent there for swim meets. I was on the swim team, but not a great swimmer (I joined after the unfortunate arrival of adolescence and my hips), but I have such fond memories of swim meets. I didn't like the competition, but I loved the community. (and the tan....even then, I loved me some good tan lines)
Every day, I'd walk here after school with my friends and hang out here for an hour til my mom came and got me. I watched Luke and Laura get married here. Had a screaming match with Sheree Poore in the bathroom over a boy here. Slow danced with Jeff Sanders, the love of my junior high life.
The Giant Hemorrhoid
Actually it's a statue of a meteorite that hit a woman in her home as she was laying on the couch watching TV. She was the first person ever to be hit by a meteor. Pretty impressive.
But my dad thought it looked like a giant hemorrhoid. And well, it sorta stuck.
There is so much more I could write about, but honestly, I wouldn't have gotten around to posting today. As it is, I spent a good three hours googling different things in Sylacauga and having some sweet memories. It was a good childhood and it was a good place to grow up. So don't believe the jokes. I have my master's degree. I am NOT married to my cousin. And I have never lived in a trailer park.
There is hope for Alabamians yet.