September 24, 2007
ONE OF 25,000 BOUND FOR 'BAMA
I arrived in Winfield just in time for the annual MULE DAY festivities that draws a crowd of 25,000 people from all over the South. I've never witnessed a traffic jam in my hometown before. This is a big event for families to come to town and enjoy a day together, something akin to The Taste of Chicago but without the booze. Yep, not only is Winfield dry but the entire Marion county area .
I had forgotten how friendly people are. When you pass them on the street the men nod and the women smile and say hello. In restaurants complete strangers at the next table will start a conversation with you.
And the young'uns are so well behaved. " Mind your manners " is a constant remark if they get out of hand .
Stopping by a local cafe to grab some home made Southern cooking I asked for iced tea. Do y'all want Sweet tea or unsweetened ? It was then that I realized that I was truly home.
And yes, there's a church on almost every corner of town, thus the well-deserved nickname, "the bible belt. " And I heard the lord brought up frequently in conversations at the festival. Sitting under a tent having lunch the senior citizens were saying how they'd asked the lord for something and he had never let them down and how blessed they were .
I heard a band strike up the song, Sweet Home Alabama, and I drew closer to see who was singing the lyrics so well. A beautiful young girl singing her heart out, an American Idol wannabe. It brought back memories of how we were all encouraged to sing at an early age, beginning, just like Elvis, singing hymns in church. On the way from Birmingham to Winfield I saw an exit sign that read : Tupelo, birthplace of Elvis. Music is such an integral part of Southern culture.
In a few hours I'll be on my way to the reunion of the Winfield High School Class of 1962. I am excited to see my classmates after forty-five years.