Tri-City Ledger -

By Earline Smith Crews
Guest Columnist 

Hollywood can be found in Alabama


February 8, 2018

Out of pure curosity we went to look for Alabama.

"My Homes In Alabama", "Mountain Music" , "Christmas In Dixie" and every song they had ever sang to us..

That Alabama, at Ft. Payne Alabama.

We found their museum and the bus out front. "And That's Close Enough To Perfect For Me".

No, we'er not young enough to push our way to the front of the stage, but we do turn up the volume when the CD clicks in.

"Oh Play Me Some Mountain Music".Lawdhammercy, I have had to pull off the road to settle my legs after that one.

We drove the rim of Little River Canyon and on to Mentone for lunch on a shack porch. The building smelled sour and dank. The burgers and fries were too good to notice much else.

We looked at the road atlas and decided we should go visit Scottsboro the next day. We both had read about the Scottsboro Boys and the troubles that trial had caused the place back in 1931. We wanted to see the courthouse for some reason.

That morning we drove to a parking spot on the courthouse square, parked and got out to walk and look. The old courthouse was impressive as are all Old Alabama courthouses in red clay brick.

A big white gazebo for public sitting sat empty and inviting.There in the nine o'clock shade of a big oak tree, a gathering of bench sitting old retired boys wearing faded Duckheads and all manner of gimmie caps, and JohnDeere caps and caps with that red "A" announcing their team loyalty talking loud and laughing louder.

One wore a "Proud To Be American--Dammit" cap. I could see he was the lone wolf by his nervous twitch demeanor. Outsiders always have a plan for a fast getaway showing about themselves. His showed, but the desire to hear the lying and guffawing was too strong to resist. He twitched and laughed through tobacco browned snag teeth.

I could see he was younger than the retirees, but life had come down hard and worn on his face and frame. The look of a loner.

He was dressed in a Paul Bunyon red checkered flannel shirt, top buttoned at his skinny neck. His sleeves slacked to the tips of his cigarette holding fingers. He wore blue Dickies and cement finisher rubber boots. He laughed and throat harked at every word spoken by the tall tales bench warmers.

We walked the courthouse square, discussed the Scottsboro Boy's trial and what may have happened here on this square back in 1931.

In my minds eye, I could see the horses and wagons hitched between a few cars and trucks. I could see the men and women standing knotted and fighting the urge to not believe what those nine young black men had been accused of doing to white girls, but the times required them to join the crowds of haters. Rape on a train of two white girls was just too much to resist in 1931 in the South and especially in Alabama. Fear of what others might think of you could change the way one fit into the community. Easier to follow the leader so to speak.

I come back to reality as we walked pass the benchers, one asking in a deep voice, "Where y'all from"?

Rapt attention was paid to us.

"Barnett Crossroads, Alabama".

"Down tords Mobile ain't it"?

" Yesser"!

"Then y'all up here looking?"

"Yes, we just thought we'd look around up here".

"Y'all retired or retarded?"

"Haw, haw, haw, haaaaaw.'

The interrogation gets down to wheather or not we like Sand Mountain tomatoes.

"Heck yes, who doesn't like Sand Mountain tomatoes?"

"Hold on, I'll gi'ye a few, just off the vine this morning before the dew burned off".

"Lordy, I need some fresh Sunbeam and a smearing of Dukes".

"HAW, HAW, HAW, HAW, .gal you know it."

"You ever been to a snake handling church, we got 'em round here. You won't believe it til you see it."

"No, and I don't want to see snakes being handled"

"That's the Lord doing bidness or the devil, I ain't asking".

We talk and they talk louder. We give them everything but our social security numbers. One said he would invite us to dinner, but his cook/wife died or disappeared.

"Haw, haw, haw, haw."

I felt something Gothic in his humor.

This is all between some risque inside jokes of their own.

They shoulder bump each other while replacing a chaw of Redman, all except one that knocks out his pipe.

He was called the Honorable Judge Hawkins.

I never found out if he was a real life judge or if that was because of his opinions on EVERYTHING.

Those Scottsboro boys lied like they believed their own stuff.

I lied right back and they ate it up.

Husband won't lie, but he will smile and wait.

Nothing more fun than killing time with liers when everybody knows its lies.

We laughed and answered with the better part of that morning until the heat index decided our leaving.

Just as we were starting to walk away with handshakes and thank you's for the Sand Mountains, the lone wolf walks away while telling his audiance that he thought he would go to Hollywood.

I jerked to full on attention and asked,

“ Hollywood California, is he a movie star"?

The whole crowd roars and in unison answers while pointing north.

"Hollywood just up yonder ways."


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