Sweet Home Alabama

image by Dave Lundgren on Unsplash
My husband grew up in Florida and I grew up in Mississippi. We met in Georgia when we were both “early middle-aged,” and shortly thereafter, we retired and moved to Alabama. We are often asked why the heck we moved to Alabama–and the word Alabama is usually prefaced by adjectives such as “backwoods” or “God-forsaken” or “redneck.”
We moved to Alabama because we wanted to retire near good friends who live nearby. Additionally, Alabama has almost non-existent property tax, and retirees don’t pay state income tax on pensions or Social Security.
Alabama is good to the veterans of the military as well, and we moved to a town with a beautiful state veterans’ home. When my husband was in uniform, he said that he was unable to buy his own cup of coffee anywhere in the state because a patriotic Alabamian always bought it for him.
We also chose Alabama because my husband had an airplane (had being the operative word), and we wanted to find a place that had a good small airport with fuel. We were looking for a generally conservative state where Christianity was still the primary religion (86% of adult Alabamians are Christian). And we found all of these things, and more, in Sweet Home Alabama.Alexander Shunnarah billboard meme, public domain
But we also found a lot of unexpected bonuses. Only in Alabama can you find 47 poorly-punctuated billboards for attorney Alexander Shunarrah—in a one-mile stretch on the interstate. Call me Alabama [sic].
Alabama is the only state whose official drink is an alcoholic beverage (Conecuh Ridge Alabama Fine Whiskey), originally distilled by legendary moonshiner Clyde Mayes.
No other state has attorney Mike Slocumb, the Alabama Hammer, and a true wordsmith in his TV ads: “Pain, suffering, medical bills…all just frawgs on a lilypad in a lake of pain….
SEC Football is alive and well in Alabama. When we first moved here, my damnYankee husband wanted to know when the Securities and Exchange Commission got into the football business. While we are not wedded to either “Roll Tide!” or “War Eagle!” I would be remiss if I failed to point out that Alabama’s team has won 30 SEC championships and claims eighteen national football championships.
Fort Payne, Alabama, is the home of the Grammy-winning group Alabama (all of its members are from the state), and Lynard Skynard memorialized the state in “Sweet Home Alabama,” although none of the members of the Lynard Skynard band were from sweet home Alabama.

Forrest Gump was from Alabama.

The official song of Alabama is “Alabama,” lyrics and music by Julia Tutwiler and Edna Gockel Gussen, respectively. According to this author, however, the unofficial and much prettier state song is “Stars Fell on Alabama” (by Mitchell Parish and Frank Perkins), performed here by another son of Alabama named Jimmy Buffett.
(Jimmy Buffett was actually born in Pascagoula, Mississippi, but he spent his childhood in Mobile. When I write an article about Pascagoula, I will shamelessly claim that Buffett is a native Mississippian.)

Alabamians are often the butt of jokes, and we don’t care. We laugh at our own Alabama jokes.

What’s the only good thing to come out of Alabama? Interstate 20.
Did you hear that the Alabama governor’s mansion burned down?          Yep. Pert near took out the whole trailer park.
What do you call 23 John Deere tractors at a Dairy Queen?                   Prom Night at Auburn (or Prom Night at Alabama, depending on your SEC allegiance)
But Alabamians always get the last laugh. When a visitor to our lovely state saw a boy being attacked by a dog, he grabbed the dog and throttled it with his bare hands. A reporter saw the event and told the visitor that the next day’s headline would be “Brave Local Man Saves Child by Killing Vicious Animal.” The visitor then admitted to the reporter that he was actually from out of town. In that case, the reporter told him, the headline would be “Alabama Man Saves Child by Killing Dog.” The out-of-towner then confessed that he was actually from the state of New York. The next day, the headline read, “Yankee Kills Family Pet.”
book cover from Wikipedia
As mind-numbingly delightful as these facts are, for me, as a former English teacher, the most important Alabama fact is that one of the most wonderful books ever written, To Kill a Mockingbird, was penned by Cotton State native, Harper Lee.

Boom! And that, ladies and gentlemen, was the sound of the mike dropping.

(Roll Tide.)


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