Where I come from
There’s an old farm boy out turning up dirt
Where I come from
There’s a preacher man in a cowboy shirt
Where I come from….
….That old man right there in the rocking chair
At the courthouse square I’ll tell you now
He could buy your fancy car with hundred dollar bills
Don’t let those faded overalls fool ya
He made his million without one day of schoolin’
……Where I come from
That little white church is gonna have a crowd
Yeah, I’m pretty damn proud of where I come from.
I’ve never really been a big Montgomery Gentry fan, but when I read over a few of the first entries in the March Madness Blog Challenge, this song ran through my mind for some reason. When I looked up the full lyric spread, I realized just how much this song describes the little town where I grew up.
I live in a small, north Alabama town. We are central to Florence, Cullman, Hartselle, Decatur, and Rogersville and Madison. It is a good thing we are within 20-45 minutes of all of the prior cities, because Wal-Mart Supercenter, Tractor Supply and Foodland are the only major retailers in the area. Oh wait, and the Dollar General! It was 2013 when a 24-hour gym finally came to our town! Moving on up. Ha! Honestly though, I love it that way. I graduated in a class of 118, which was the largest graduating class in my county out of 7 high schools. I graduated with mostly everyone that I had started Kindergarten with. Poor Lawrence County does not have many “popular” claims to fame, but there are quite a few that people tend to forget about.
To start, there is a National Forest in Lawrence County – Bankhead National Forest.
I love to go hiking and trail riding in Bankhead. (We call it “the mountains.”) You can take the Sipsey trail head for hiking and bikes. There are numerous waterfalls and trails that follow the Sipsey River. There are also many trail heads for horseback riding. In 2012, Man of the House took me to Bankhead for a day of hiking. He passed the Sipsey trailhead and randomly parked on the side of the road. We got out, walked to the opposite side of the road and I joked wondering if he was taking me off into the random part of the forest to leave me there. Ha! He promised that once we were off the road, we would be able to hear a waterfall and he was right!
Pine Torch Church in Bankhead National Forest. It is considered to be the oldest standing structure in Bankhead National Forest.
Lawrence County, Alabama is also the birthplace and host of Jesse Owen’s early childhood years. We have a Jesse Owens Memorial Park. (Which is down the road from the Oakville Indian Mounds and Museum which can be looked at here: http://www.oakvilleindianmounds.com/)
Please also take time to read about the historic home of General Joe Wheeler. He was a General during the Civil War and served again during the Spanish-American War. His home is located in Hillsboro, Alabama, in Lawrence County. http://www.wheelerplantation.org/
And one of our more recent claims to fame would be the one and only,
You can probably reference him to such movies as:
upcoming movie Fast & Furious 7 (released 2015), upcoming series NCIS: New Orleans, 42, Promised Land, Seven Days in Utopia, Legion, The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, Jarhead, Friday Night Lights, Killer Diller, Cold Mountain, All the Pretty Horses, The X Files, Flash,Sling Blade, American Gothic, and originally The War.
Lawrence County is the kind of small town where people worked at the paper mill their entire lives. Until now. September 11, 2013, International Paper announced that it would be closing the paper mill in Courtland, Alabama that had been in operation since the 1970s. The International Paper Mill site in Courtland, AL was one of the largest paper mill sites in North America. 1,100 jobs and millions of dollars in taxes and revenue would be leaving the county. I heard stories of grown men crying where they stood in the plant as they were told the news. I heard too many of my friends fathers say, “I’m in my fifties and I’ve worked one place my entire life. I’m not close enough to retirement. Who will hire me now?” I’ve watched the stories in the local papers as one family after another is moving and transferring or taking jobs with companies out of state. Mothers and mainly fathers moving into apartments in strange cities just to have work to pay the bills back home in our little town. I cried the day I saw a picture in the paper of an older gentleman, holding some papers in his hand and dressed in country Sunday dress at its finest. The picture was a feature from a local job fair that International Paper held to assist the workers and the man from the picture was quoted saying, “I haven’t been for an interview since I was 19 years old. I don’t know what to expect.”
Everything I heard seemed eerily similar to the stories my grandfather told from the 60s and 70s about people leaving North Alabama in droves for Texas and Michigan just to find work. One amazing thing from it all was I watched as a community banded together through a hardship. They took care of one another, they cried with one another, and they supported one another during their new endeavors. That is one reason I am proud to be from “my town.” It might not seem like much, but if you hang around our neck of the woods for a little while, you’ll learn that we may all have our strong differences but that your neighbor will be one of your greatest supporters and defenders when the time comes.
More children have probably grown up with chicken houses in their back yard and never thought twice about it than many other areas. Many people are into some type of farming whether it simply be personal, commercial, or a combination of both. The highways and roads are usually lined with pastures and fields and the beautiful scenery of the great foothills of the Appalachian Mountains.
It is a small southern town and I could not be more proud to be from a place with so much heritage.