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.”
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.