“The Devil’s beating his wife,” my daddy would’ve said, observing such a scene.

Entering Conecuh County. That’s what the little green sign reads, off Highway 31. I’m going north, passing through a small sliver of the county. I love Alabama.

A few weeks ago, I was driving to Birmingham, I listened to an audio book. The narrator spoke with an accent like a New Jersey paperboy. He pronounced Conecuh as “Koh-NEE-koo.”

That hurt.

Now entering Butler County. Wingard’s Produce Stand. B&H Cafe. Dollar General. There’s the McKenzie water tower.

And, God said, “Let there be kudzu.” I love kudzu. I planted some in my backyard in hopes that one day it would swallow my house. Everything looks better swallowed in kudzu.

Georgiana is eight miles away. I love it, too. I’ve visited the Hank Williams boyhood home in Georgiana too many times.

Anyone who knows me knows I love Hank. It goes back to childhood.

My father’s workbench. A radio. Hank, blaring from a small speaker while he changed the oil.

My favorite part of the Hank museum tour is the underside of the house. Miss Margaret says Hank used to practice his guitar there.

“It was cool down there,” says Miss Margaret. “He’d sit on an old car bench-seat to avoid the heat.”

Miss Margaret. I love her, too. She is old. Half her face is paralyzed. Her accent sounds like a Camellia garden on the Fourth of July. I wish she would adopt me.

Georgiana also has Kendall’s Barbecue joint. “Love” is a weak word for Kendall’s. I WOULD tell you more about this place, but someone wrote me an ugly letter last week, saying:

“You talk about Alabama barbecue TOO MUCH! I’m from Texas originally… I KNOW good barbecue, Alabama barbecue SUCKS, man!”

I understand Texas is beautiful this time of year. I’ll bet they’d throw a nice party if you went back.

I’m passing the Greenville and Pine Apple exit. Greenville is a town like Mayberry. I love it. Pine Apple is the size of a master closet. I love it.

It’s raining, but the sun is still out. I really love that. Behind the sunshower, I can see blue skies and clouds. I roll down the window to take in the smell.

“The Devil’s beating his wife,” my daddy would’ve said, observing such a scene.

Childhood-me would’ve looked at the sky and asked what he meant. He’d give an explanation that would lead into a ghost story. I loved his ghost stories.

I have a friend who grew up in New York. He had never heard the expression before. He asked why sunshowers were called that. I told him the rain was supposedly tears from the Devil’s wife.

“Wait,” reasoned my friend. “I thought the Devil lived in Hell, not in the sky.”

Good point. Maybe the Devil is originally from Texas.

Anyway, people talk a lot about things they hate. I don’t care for it. It makes me feel tired. I’d rather think about summer rains, Miss Margaret, county tractors, bush-hogging the shoulders of the highways, and crickets.

Or hugs from a child on the last day of Vacation Bible School. Three-legged dogs. Truck-stops. Welcome mats. Conecuh Quick Freeze sausage. Long drives. Daddy, changing his oil—listening to a radio.

I love this—whatever this is. Writing to you. I’ve been doing it for a long time now. And even though I don’t know which state you call home, I know a few things:

I know that I’m glad we met. I know that Alabama is beautiful.

And I know that this barbecue will blow your cotton-picking mind.

50 comments

  1. Ginger Smith - October 12, 2019 5:54 am

    I learned that when it was lightning and the sun was shining, the Devil was beating his wife. My granddaddy told me once. In Conecuh County, Alabama.

    Reply
  2. Lita - October 12, 2019 6:01 am

    I love this.

    Reply
  3. Cathi Russell - October 12, 2019 6:01 am

    Kendall’s BBQ will blow your mind. Another good BBQ place is the Top Hat in Blount County. If you haven’t tried it you’ll need to visit your mama because it’s so good you’ll wanna slap her. 😉

    Reply
  4. Sherry Laney Jolley - October 12, 2019 7:38 am

    What I love is reading your stories. They make me smile
    Sincerely,
    Born and bred an Alabama girl

    Reply
  5. Steve - October 12, 2019 9:51 am

    Your stories paint a picture – actually it’s more like a movie. I can “see” each character and each place. Thanks for taking me along this little journey with you.

    Reply
  6. Jennifer Bennett - October 12, 2019 11:50 am

    I’m glad you write about barbecue a lot. I love barbecue too. In fact, I ate some just yesterday and am already looking forward to the next time I eat it. I also love to read about all the things you love to write about because I love a lot of the same things. You are my favorite writer, and I hope to run into you at a barbecue joint one day.

    Reply
  7. GaryD - October 12, 2019 12:32 pm

    Those Texans use beef. It ain’t real bar bq unless you use pork. And I love Hank’s music. And Alabama. And even kudzu.

    Reply
  8. Keloth Anne - October 12, 2019 12:38 pm

    And you know, Alabama loves YOU♥️♥️♥️

    Reply
  9. Joe Patterson - October 12, 2019 12:58 pm

    Thanks

    Reply
  10. Ruth Ann Eadens - October 12, 2019 1:31 pm

    BBQ here, BBQ there, and BBQ everywhere! Don’t we live in a great country? I recommend a stop in Owensboro Ky. They even have a annual BBQ festival . It’s good. Can’t say I have a favorite., But Moonlight BBQ should not be missed.

    Reply
  11. Becky - October 12, 2019 1:39 pm

    We would love to have you and Jamie join us in a Sumter county Alabama in April May or June for our bbqs! You would love it. Second Thursday of those months. I’ll remind you and reinvite y’all. Nothing better! And I loved this blog post!

    Reply
  12. Jackie - October 12, 2019 1:45 pm

    I’ve eaten BBQ in a lot of places. Some was better than others but I don’t recall any that wasn’t good. I eat beef and chicken but pork is my favorite.

    Reply
  13. Hedrick Craig - October 12, 2019 2:05 pm

    There is no bad barbecue(which is a noun, not a verb), only good and better.

    Reply
  14. Tommy Harris - October 12, 2019 2:07 pm

    Texas BBQ is made with BEEF and not pork. The all time champ is SconyersBBQ in Augusta, GA. If your travels ever go that way, DO NOT GO PAST GO, DO NOT COLLECT $ 200 . Go directly to Sconyers. You will be glad you did!

    T. Harris

    Reply
  15. Marge - October 12, 2019 2:28 pm

    “Other states we folks live in?”…Minnesota ( where it is snowing a titch this morning! (That means just a wee bit)! Apple trees heavy with fruit, skies so blue you can’t stop staring at them, sugar maple trees bursting with colors rich in red and gold, folks who still smile and wave as you walk/drive by ( MN Nice is what they call this).

    Sure would love me some real bbq!

    Reply
  16. Jim Porter - October 12, 2019 2:58 pm

    Love the nice way you invited the Texan to go back home! I’d have probably said “Don’t let the door hit ya where the Good Lord split ya!”😏

    Reply
  17. Linda Moon - October 12, 2019 3:14 pm

    I love Alabama…born and raised here, and it’s still my home. I don’t love kudzu, though. If your circumstances become very dire, I MIGHT consider adopting you if Miss Margaret won’t. There are lots of nice things and people I love. I like to think about what makes me happy, like baby ducks, old pick-up trucks. And I love you, too. I think I’d add your daddy’s ghost stories to this list if I had heard any of them. Bob Sykes BBQ down in Bessemer, Alabama still blows my mind! I never picked any cotton, therefore I don’t possess a “cotton-picking” mind… but lots of folks in this large family do!!

    Reply
  18. Edna B. - October 12, 2019 3:43 pm

    I’ve never been to Alabama, but it sure sounds heavenly. BTW, we have good BBQ here in MA too. You have a wonderful day, hugs, Edna B.

    Reply
  19. Jeanne Butler - October 12, 2019 3:52 pm

    Not a fan of BBQ unless my daughter-in-law makes it with her special sauce. It is awesome. I’m in New Castle, Delaware. Wish you would visit us sometime

    Reply
  20. Christy Taylor - October 12, 2019 4:20 pm

    God Bless Alabama and God Bless You! Roll Tide! ❤️

    Reply
  21. Chasity Davis Ritter. - October 12, 2019 5:09 pm

    It’s a beautiful crisp day in Oklahoma. Our Fall actually showed up a little this week. I was thinking about you as we played our last game of the season for Dream League baseball today. That’s a baseball league for special needs kids. The younger ones play first then the older ones. 2-3 innings depending. My daughter is in her 4th year of it I think now and she loves it. The fans come The kids that newer would have gotten picked for a team get to play and it’s a wonderful time. Thanks for letting me share this with you. Enjoy your barbecue!! Keep writing about all the things you love!

    Reply
  22. George - October 12, 2019 6:34 pm

    Now I’m sure Alabama has nice barbecue but let’s not disparage Texas style. Not until you take a trip on best barbecue trail around the Texas hill country, Beef, pork, or turkey, Texas does it all, and it does it all great.

    Reply
  23. Ruth - October 12, 2019 6:44 pm

    Born in Alabama and lived here all my life and love it! I had a friend at Auburn, named Edna Bell, from Pineapple. What an accent. She and her roommate were in the dining hall talking about peeking into their Christmas presents in our room. We assured them that they would not do that. They left before we did and when we went to our room we started studying. After about half an hour I went to my closet to get something and there they sat. What a surprise. They had gone to our room and were almost caught in the act looking at our presents so they hid in my closet. We laughed until we almost cried. It is still funny today.

    Reply
  24. Ann - October 12, 2019 8:07 pm

    Your writing is so visual… thank you… I’m not southern but love every story you share… then again, maybe I am, ..southern, Michigan but live in Florida.. I guess it’s the best of both worlds to have grown up in and now live in ( sorry about the prepositions)

    Reply
  25. Jan - October 12, 2019 9:15 pm

    Thanks for that nice little day trip. I love Alabama too.

    Reply
  26. Harriet - October 13, 2019 12:00 am

    Your writing is so simple. I mean that as a huge compliment. Every word you pick is purposeful. Amazing.

    Reply
  27. Linda J Payton - October 13, 2019 1:18 am

    I was raised in AL but moved to TX after my husband died so I could be near my sons in TX. You try to go where your grands are. AL BBQ is great, personally favor Dreamland BBQ. Only found one that may rival AL BBQ. That is SALT LICK BBQ in DRIPPING SPRINGS, TX., just outside Austin in the hill country. They serve beef ribs and they are cooked real slow over mesquite grown locally. If you are ever in TX, look them up you won’t regret it.

    Reply
  28. Dawn A Bratcher - October 13, 2019 4:40 am

    I agree…Alabama is wonderful with the richness of our good southern cooking, warm summer nights, sweet smelling flowers most of the year long, laid back way of life, and beautiful sugary sand beaches! I am a native Mobilian and this is home. 🙂

    Reply
  29. Mississippi Girl - October 13, 2019 6:15 am

    I’m a Mississippi girl, but I love Alabama too! I’ve traveled through every town you mentioned, including multiple trips to Pineapple. Loved their Front Porch tours. Keep sharing your great stories.

    Reply
  30. Jennie - October 13, 2019 9:37 am

    When I drive through Conecuh on 65, I always roll my window down… in hopes that the wind is blowing in just the right direction for a whiff of Conecuh sausage!

    Reply
  31. Mara Russell - October 13, 2019 1:39 pm

    You know what I love, Sean? I love that so many people love reading your blog just as much as I do!

    Reply
  32. Donna - October 13, 2019 3:11 pm

    Every. Single. Image. In this post is part of my childhood. Sean, you capture my memories of spending every summer and most holidays with my mamas family in Brewton. Even though I officially am from Marietta, GA, my heart and souls are in Alabama. Thank you for pointing out the details and reminding me.

    Reply
  33. Shelton A. - October 13, 2019 7:19 pm

    I love small towns and BBQ, too.

    Reply
  34. Jerry Lane - October 14, 2019 1:17 pm

    I grew up with Green’s Pit BBQ in Andalusia and never had as good BBQ from anywhere else. Lived in Texas since ’73 except for 12 wonderful years in Niceville, Fl. I still miss God’s country in south Alabama though. Texas BBQ is good. Bama BBQ is really awesome!

    Reply
  35. lfry1220 - October 14, 2019 2:14 pm

    I’m from Texas . . . and I love you and your writing! “Manners” made me laugh for a full minute at least – which doesn’t sound very long, but a belly laugh for that long is awesome. Made my day!

    Reply
  36. Mitzi Privette - October 14, 2019 9:30 pm

    If you are near upper East Tennessee, gotta go to Bluff City and eat Ridgewood BBQ. It’s legendary even though the place is just a wide spot in the road. All the NASCAR drivers use to go there when racing at Bristol. The locals know it’s a gem.

    Reply
  37. M. J. Clinton - October 14, 2019 9:48 pm

    I’m from Texas by way of Madison and Arab, Alabama (Thomas’ Barbecue in Madison is amazing with its vinegary sauce), just different from Texas and Tennessee barbecue. I went to college in East Tennessee (Maryville) and lived for 17 years in Tullahoma after growing up in Pennsylvania. Barbecue is food from the gods in all its many forms even if it isn’t especially healthy..

    Reply
  38. Sandra Brigham - October 14, 2019 11:16 pm

    My sister introduced us to your page. I love your “southern ramblings” and can relate to many of them. Keep them coming. BTW, Memphis has the best BBQ! 😄

    Reply
  39. Norman Purdue - October 15, 2019 1:35 pm

    Amen brother! Alabama has it all! Mountains, lakes, rivers, wildlife, great bbq, fried green tomatoes, championship football, lush golf courses , race ways, strong men and beautiful women just to mention a few…😊👍

    Reply
  40. Debra Loftin - October 25, 2019 3:10 pm

    I’m sure Alabama BBQ is delicious,but you must try North Carolina BBQ !! It’s heavenly !! In particular, Kinston,NC, King’s BBQ, appropriately named.
    Love your writing, Debra

    Reply
  41. Purplenannyo@yahoo.com - November 6, 2019 6:27 am

    Everybody knows the devil is beating his wife when the sun shines while it’s raining. My Mama told me so I grew up knowing it. Alabama has my heart. I too love it. We had to move to Georgia when Brookley Field shut down but I’m lucky that my Georgia Boy loves my home state as much as I do. He brought me home when he retired. You know you & Jamie need to come to Silverhill soon. We’d love to see y’all again.

    Reply
  42. Alesia Richburg - November 6, 2019 12:40 pm

    Amen BAMA! My home town and I love the life here! So many amazing wonderful things here. I’d list them but I believe we’d be here for way to long. The list would be right up there like Kudzu. Thanks for sharing I follow you everyday. Y’all come back now ya hear.

    Reply
  43. Martha - November 6, 2019 2:26 pm

    “Good point. Maybe the Devil is originally from Texas.” Laugh……., I thought your statement would fairly make me laught til I cried. I once loved a three legged bird dog named, Tripod (wonderful loving heart). AND …….. Little Pigs BBQ in Anderson, SC (family owned for many many years) is the bomb diggity and if you can eat a whole plate with the overflowing trimmings, you are a P I G, oink oink.

    I absolutely love when it rains with sunshine and blue skies. Reminds me that God is an all inclusive, equal opportunity guy and he LOVES variety.

    By the way, I always heard it was because the devil is beating his wife, “behind the door”

    Reply
  44. MNB - November 6, 2019 2:40 pm

    I bet I know that Edna Bell. Couldn’t be too many from there.

    Reply
  45. lynnfromga - November 6, 2019 2:55 pm

    Your writing is something that I look forward to every morning. It’s a great way to start my day. Speaking of kudzu, if you haven’t already, you should read Katie and the Kudzu King, a children’s book written by a friend of mine, Stephen Scott. It’s about a young girl from New Jersey who visits her country cousins in Georgia. Steve is from Fairhope, AL .

    Reply
  46. Carolyn Molyneux - November 6, 2019 3:18 pm

    My granny always said that kind of rain storm was the Devil beating his wjfe, so it must be true. I’ve left this state a couple of times but it seems like I always come back. And it’s good to be back.

    Reply
  47. Julie Jackson Cotten - November 6, 2019 3:45 pm

    You have a beautiful way of hitting the nail square on the head. Thank you again.

    Reply
  48. Ruth - November 6, 2019 8:25 pm

    I bet you do!

    Reply
  49. Jerry - November 6, 2019 9:28 pm

    I’m from eastern North Carolina. We have a distinctive and delicious bbq pork there, too. I’ve had bbq in a lot of places, and I like them all. There aren’t many choices in the Idaho small town where I currently live. Thanks to you and commenters who have shared bbq experiences not to be missed. I’ll keep adding to my bucket list.

    Reply
  50. Nancy - November 7, 2019 7:55 pm

    Forty-four years in CA and I still call Alabama home. North Alabama specifically and I have to go to Big Bob Gibson’s in Decatur. I was there a couple of weeks ago. I have to have catfish and hushpuppies too!

    Reply

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