Sunday, March 19, 2006

A Treasure Lost [CCR]

Someone told me something yesterday that has me really worried. They told me I had lost something that is very special to me. I have kept it with me since I was a young boy and it has been my constant reminder of home. It has been with me from the Boston Harbor to the San Diego coastline. It even traveled with me overseas. So now I am checking to make sure I haven’t actually lost it. It was the one definitive possession of my Alabama heritage.

Most people I meet find that I am proud to be from Colbert County. I take my portable disk drive of pictures with me wherever I go. I share photos from home and talk about the many adventures I had growing up. I have scanned many of my pictures and I am now seeking the best method for scanning my slides so I have a digital copy of my other vast collection of home.

As I show the pictures the discussion turns to the many fishing trips on the Tennessee or Bear Creek. People are amazed to see the pictures I have taken on the Riverton Rose Trail of the river and creek banks. Most cannot believe what they see. I show them pictures of Wilson Dam, the locks, and boats that slowly but surely push their cargo up and down the big river. We then turn to history and talk about the importance of the river and our area in almost every phase of our country’s development. In my travels I meet Civil War buffs who do know our area and enjoy hearing what I have learned from my Mother’s book research. For example, almost every political leader throughout history knew whoever controls the Tennessee controls the South.

A lot of people are really interested in our musical heritage and many know the important roll Muscle Shoals plays in the history of modern music. They walk into my office to hear me playing Sweet Home Alabama and see my computer wallpaper of Wilson Dam. Then I must spend time discussing our musical legacy and explaining our best kept secret, the Swampers. I then pull out the pictures of the old city limit signs declaring Muscle Shoals the “Hit Recording Capital of the World.” I tell them how we celebrate W. C. Handy and others who put us in the middle of entertainment history.

Others often hear where I am from and we talk about Helen Keller and how she brought the world’s attention to one girl who overcame disabilities to change the world. They know of the play, but now they want to see and touch the history. So I pull out the pictures and show how my home has kept her story alive.

But more important to me are the people. The people from my home are proud. We enjoy the hot summer sun and a cold glass of “sweetened” tea. Picking blackberries or hunting ginseng are traditions few people understand. And most people just don’t seem to realize that when we are fixin’ to get something done we are ready to start our assignment.

Now you see I am proud of my heritage and I do love my home. So to say I have lost the one piece of home I have carried with me everywhere over all the years I have traveled deeply disturbs me. My treasure was passed to me by my family and I have tried to hone it and keep it sharp for the moment. And now that I still haven’t found my way to move back home I must find my treasure if it is truly lost. I understand that living up here near the Great Lakes may make it difficult to find but I think they are mistaken. I think it is still there. And if it is truly missing I will find it again for I am going back home some day. This person said I had lost part of my true North Alabama pure bred home grown Southern accent. I truly pray they are wrong.