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Street Talk

All Along The Water Tower

There it was way up in the air, a horned forehead with Mr. Spock ears, an Eddie Munster haircut, wearing devil head in red. Looking down over the town of Fyffe, Alabama, the image painted mural size on a downtown water tower with “FYFFE AL RED DEVILS.” 

I thought I’m glad they’re red and not blue. Seems being a red devil is pretty common, according to my Wiki source, there are 31 Red Devil mascot high schools across the USA, two in Alabama alone. A lot less Blue Devils out there, though I guess the biggest is Duke University. 

I was not doing devil research on Easter weekend, but I did drive across north Alabama twice, mainly by two lane roads. I was driving a shineless, quarter-century old Chevy truck – it’s an incognito camouflaged way of looking around in these small towns – just stopping and looking at towns, tiny art hamlets like Mentone, small towns like Fyffe and Arab, slightly larger ones like Hamilton and Guntersville. 

There were slighter larger ones still, but still small like Cullman and Scottsboro. And bigger places but not really so big like Florence, Decatur, and Huntsville.  I’m a firm believer that no two people are alike, nor are any two towns the same, and certainly no two states are the same. But Mississippi and Alabama are similar, no doubt about that. They even look like mirror images on a map. So in a weird way traveling across Alabama was familiar and strange at the same time. Like saying to yourself, this is what I look like. Only it is not me, but could be. 

Which means we can learn from Alabama and they can learn from us. Pretty sure neither state would admit to that. But we as individuals can learn from both the good and not so good in each other. So it’s good to look around not just in the nearby counties, but also in the nearby states.  See if we can learn what to do and not to do and maybe, get a heads up on the future for our work in the present via past and near past experiences.

I saw a lot of empty commercial buildings, saw many that looked like lively places, a whole slew of light pole banners fluttering in the wind, new and old sidewalks, older homes still lovely and many in abject ruin. It is really easy to see who cares and who doesn’t, who has kept the local flame going and who has let it fizzle out. 

I can’t say I came back with any profound realizations, only that I should see more of nearby states, more two-lane roads and more forgotten places. And seeing them makes me realize we are so much more similar than different, that we all might have our own devils, saints, and sinners, but we are not alone.

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