Friday, August 24, 2007

Experience The Shoals [CCR]

This past weekend I attended a festival in Ohio with mostly food and a little music. I have never seen so many things that you could get “deep fat fried.” Pickles, cookies, store bought snack cakes, and just about anything bad for you before you fry it. While pondering that terrible thought I happened upon a music stage where I was flabbergasted. Someone was singing worst transition of “Sweet Home Alabama” I had ever heard, slinging the words around as if they were mere adjectives to solely enhance the botched guitar. You shouldn’t sing the song if you don’t know the feeling. But how could they know the feeling if they didn’t experience it?

My most recent distraction from my laborious programming has been researching more history about our home. I happened upon some fishing pictures taken near Wilson Dam around 1940. Other research found the antique photographs of construction on the Muscle Shoals Canal. Many times our home has been the focus of national attention. In fact if you look deep enough many people such as Andrew Jackson and Henry Ford saw our little corner of Alabama as the real crossroads of the South.

In 1931 Herbert Hoover vetoed the Muscle Shoals Bill, a bill that would have created the Tennessee Valley Authority two years earlier than its actual charter in May, 1933. Progress would not be denied its opportunity in our area rich with resources. Today few people remember how much effort went into providing this boost to our area. But we do remember the traffic jams on the TVA reservation and the plumes of smoke and sound of industry emanating from the numerous buildings that once populated the campus.

As a child I can remember the busy streets around all the industry that followed the abundant resources made available through this expansion. Who can forget industries in our area like Union Carbide, Ford Motor Company, and the many others who came to take advantage of the opportunity? Reynolds built their first aluminum manufacturing here and it continues today under the watch of Wise Aluminum. I still remember the green buses carrying the shifts of labor to the aluminum plant that supplied the world with this great alloy. We were also the foundation of fertilizer development for the world.

And with all this bustling activity we grew into the “hit recording capital of the world.” Most people don’t realize the vast array of artists who found triumph in our studios. Sound from The Shoals shaped the world and still influence popular music today, including Country, Rock, Pop, and Gospel.

Today we drive along the old reservation road and notice the remnants of manufacturing that do not give justice to the missing expanse of industry. The roads that once carried men and freight to build our infrastructure now make pristine walking trails that overlook the lake formed from their efforts. It is quiet now. The song birds and other wildlife have mostly reclaimed their domain.

Progress for our home cannot be denied. Recently we heard of additional expansion in the community of Barton. I can only imagine the excitement as the community grows again. It probably has more anticipation within its populace than came with the building of the Mountain Mills. Once again the world notices our home and the rich resources of people who understand how to help industry grow.

So now I look at the stage once again. If only this singer knew the strength in one corner of the State of Alabama. His enthusiasm would actually bring him the true feeling of home and he could truly sing of “Sweet Home Alabama.”