Sunrise in middle Tennessee. It was four in the morning. I left my hotel early to get on the road.
I had a long way to go. There was a light dusting of frost on the Smoky Mountains. I could see my breath.
I turned on the radio and found a station playing Hank Williams’ “Alabama Waltz.”
It was a candid recording from a radio show in the 40s. Hank gave an introduction to the tune. He says, “This is a song about my home state.”
I cranked up the volume, since Hank Senior was the soundtrack of my boyhood. Every male in my life idolized Hiram King Williams. For years, as a child, I thought Hank Williams was a Bible character who played guitar.
I found the hidden backroads and headed southward toward my home in Birmingham, Alabama.
If you ask me, the modest two-lane highways that lead through the Yellowhammer State are among the most scenic corridors in the nation.
I’m not saying this because I am biased. I’m saying this because I’ve driven backroads in 42 different American states. Alabama is up there with the best.
The scenes were arresting.
North central Alabama’s swelling Appalachian foothills were blanketed in the palettes of autumn. The whole world was golden and red. The rivers were polished chrome. It was enough to stop your pulse.
I’ve been having a love affair with this state since my youth. I grew up forty-odd miles from the state line. They called our Florida region L.A. “Lower Alabama.”
I had my first Pabst near the Coosa River. I had my first kiss in Saraland. I caught my first crappie in Houston County. I met my wife near Burnt Corn Creek.
There is something unamable about the soul of this state. Whenever I enter its borders, I feel something deep within the pit of my stomach. I can’t explain it in words. My sentences would only cheapen things.
The irony is, Alabama gets a bad name. Maybe the worst name of all. I can’t tell you how many tasteless jokes I’ve heard about Alabama during my travels around the continental U.S.
I recently did an author event in Pennsylvania. A person in the audience asked where I lived. I said Alabama. They laughed and said, “Gosh, that must be horrible.”
And they truly meant it. This cut me.
Oh, sure, I could have told them about the Pinhoti Trail at dawn—a trail that connects with the Appalachian Trail. I could have told this person that when you stand in just the right place on the Pinhoti, you can see God looking at you.
I could have told this person about the feelings you get when you’re riding a skiff on Dog River at sundown.
I could have told them what it feels like to go sailing on a 28-foot sloop near Bear Point.
I could have told them about James Spann.
But I kept my mouth shut.
Another man in the audience said, “Why would anyone in their right mind live in Alabama?”
I just smiled at this person. Because I didn’t have the heart to tell him that Pennsylvania isn’t all that different than the Cotton State. I’ve been to Pennsylvania five times, and I’ve come to this conclusion:
Pennsylvania is just Pittsburgh on one side, Philadelphia on the other, and Alabama in between.
People are people. State borders are manmade concepts. Don’t believe anyone who tells you otherwise. Every state has their problems. One region is no better or worse than the other.
Still, for whatever reason, Alabama remains the butt of every joke. And belive me, I’ve heard them all:
“Did you hear the Alabama governor’s mansion burned down? Almost took out the whole trailer park.”
“What do you call 23 John Deeres parked at a Dairy Queen? Prom night in Tuscaloosa.”
“A stranger walks into a bar and says ‘I have an Alabama joke.’ So the bartender stops him and says, ‘Before you tell your joke, son, I’m six-five, 275 pounds, and I’m from Mobile.
“The stranger answers, ‘Nevermind, I won’t tell the joke.
“‘What’s the matter?’ asks the bartender. ‘Are you chicken?’
“‘No,’ says the stranger. ‘I don’t want to explain the joke three times.’”
I never laugh at these punchlines. Because, you see, Alabama is the place of my rebirth. It’s where I found myself. To me, it’s Zion.
I am nothing. I’ve always been nothing. I grew up humble. I was Florida white trash. I have no credibility. No pedigree. A paltry education. Until one day I met a woman in Escambia County who believed otherwise.
She told me I was somebody. She gave me something I’d never had before. Devotion. Confidence. She helped me learn to fly.
I owe my whole career to that fine woman. I owe my whole life to these small-town folk, to these rivers, and to these autumnal hills.
God bless the people of this fine state. God bless the memory of Hank Senior. And God bless Alabama.
Tom Bowen - October 11, 2022 7:19 am
Thanks, I love Alabama, born in Tuscumbia, I read every column you send.
Tom Bowen, Atlanta
Ed (Bear) - October 11, 2022 7:44 am
Behind every good man, there’s a good woman. Behind every woman is a man in a kid’s brain.
PMc - October 11, 2022 8:06 am
You are as” Alabama Strong” as the rest of us from Al….because you get it. There is no where else in the world I would want to live. I don’t get worked up about the jokes because those people telling them are clueless!
Peace and Love from Birmingham 🇺🇸🙏
Tara Holt - October 11, 2022 8:20 am
I am from Hayden a little town about 30 miles north of Birmingham. Thank you for giving others a positive view of our state in your writing. We do have some of the most scenic backroads and the closest access to the sugar white sandy beaches of Florida. Ive never lived anywhere but here my entire life. We have it all and some of the nicest people that you could ever meet. Most every Alabamian I know love Alabama because we do have the best of both worlds.from the mountains to the beaches. I look forward to seeing you again at the public library this Thursday. .
Maria Mullins - October 11, 2022 8:21 am
As an Alabamian I loved your monologue!! Thank you for your beautiful writing! If you get a chance check out Noccalula as well, the scenery of the falls is breathtaking and the legend haunting.It would be so neat to have a conversation with you over a glass of sweet tea and some bread fresh from the oven with butter and honey slathered on it. Carry on dear Mr. Sean. You are doing Gods work.
Lucetia Jones - October 11, 2022 9:10 am
Tears to my Alabama eyes, Sean. Yes, God Bless Alabama. Lucretia
Leigh Amiot - October 11, 2022 9:23 am
Georgia catches it as well—trailer parks, missing teeth, marrying a relative—stereotypes which always reveal assumption and ignorance.
My husband and I have taken up RV camping since our children are long grown, and we follow Robert Morales (Traveling Robert) on YouTube, a Cuban-American who travels all over the country highlighting natural beauty, state and national parks, local attractions and restaurants, lovely architecture, all done with professional quality videos and drone footage. I enjoy seeing places I may not get to visit in person.
It doesn’t make sense to put down one state in trying to promote another, because as you say, the geopolitical boundaries are manmade concepts. Some of us just have a bad habit which needs to be broken, putting down another person or place in an attempt to feel superior.
Lander - October 11, 2022 9:24 am
Yeah, a good friend of mine grew up oil field trash in Nee Mexico, dropped out of high school, was able to talk his way into college without ever getting a GED, graduated from college, went off to seminary, came back to New Mexico, and served the church till late in his career. And then he got called by a church to Birmingham. He fell in love with the place and the people. Still never quite got used to all that green stuff growing everywhere – trees, and grass, and flowers, and gardens, stuff so thick and green you almost couldn’t see where you were going. When it was time to retire, it was back to New Mexico. But he loved every part of being in Alabama. Amazing things happened there with some truly amazing people.
Melanie - October 11, 2022 9:35 am
Debbie - October 11, 2022 10:06 am
I love Alabama. To me, there is no place on earth as beautiful. 🥰
Debbie - October 11, 2022 10:40 am
I no longer live in Alabama, but, it always will be my home.
Homesick in Arkansas 😔
Jo - October 12, 2022 2:14 pm
Alabama will always be Home Sweet Home! Homesick in Missouri.
Leigh Amiot - October 11, 2022 10:15 am
Lander, I think where we grow up often imprints on us. I’ve been out west a number of times and seen majestic sights, but prefer the lush foliage and moisture in the air of southern Georgia. That said, the prettiest roses I’ve ever seen are grown in Colorado; they flourish in that arid climate, huge bushes with countless blooms, make mine look plum pitiful.
johnallenberry - October 17, 2022 3:43 am
It’s fine country. I spent a year in Douglas teaching at SGSC, and loved every minute of my time there.
Karri Misky - October 11, 2022 10:46 am
I’m sure 90% of the people that make those snide remarks and jokes have never stepped foot in Alabama, let alone took time to meet and talk with the fine people there. Real people, people with roots and history.
ddlowery - October 11, 2022 10:51 am
Yes, grew up in Huntsville, AL and have heard all the jokes and maybe worse seen all the “looks” from people who think poor soul. I spent 35 years with the Dept of Defense and worked in 39 states and 6 foreign countries. Have seen a lot of wealth and a lot of poor places. If I mentioned I was from Huntsville, AL folks always said where is that? Well, I replied, you know the Apollo, Mercury, Juptior NASA programs and the Saturn Rockets that got them there. All of those engineering concepts and space systems were designed by engineers in Huntsville. We used to say that you could not swing a cat without hitting ten engineers. Today, Huntsville is the home of NASA, Army Aviation Missile Command, Army Strategic Missile Command, Missile Defense Agency probably about 400 defense contractors and other numerous Dept of Defense agencies as well as new manufacturing plants. I now live in South Central Tennessee where a ton of people are moving to escape the US West coast and the upper North East. They are finally getting the message. Thanks Sean.
Richard Cotton - October 11, 2022 10:56 am
The finest people in the world live in Stanley Community, AL (9 miles south of Andalusia on Hwy 55). I was blessed to live there for the first 22 years of my life.
Marsha Hamby Savage - October 11, 2022 11:03 am
Wonderful post. I love all of you posts and I share them often to Facebook so others can also. This is a duzzy! I know, because I was born and raised in Georgia and I love my state for the same reasons you love yours. We may get a bad rap, but other people just don’t know how lucky we are.
Jamie Harvill - October 11, 2022 11:05 am
As a California transplant due to the allure of a beautiful Mobile girl 40 years ago (still married and
wildly in love), I can also say, “Alabama is the place of my rebirth.” Thanks for the reminder this morning.
Dee - October 11, 2022 11:06 am
And the stars fell on Alabama when Sean writes about it. God bless you.
Valerie - October 11, 2022 11:14 am
Sweet home Alabama!
Jean Sherrill - October 11, 2022 11:14 am
I love Alabama and you!!
Dolores - October 11, 2022 11:16 am
West Virginia gets a bad rap too, the jokes endless. I’ve always lived in Virginia not far from the WV border, even closer to the border as a child. We played ball in the meadow and would sometimes nearly hit the ‘ball clear to WV’. That close, the sign to declare the border could be read from our front porch.
My Mom and her people were West Virginians, many of her distant relatives still live there. All her closest relatives now sleep under its soil. It’s also where my Dad was employed for all his years. We’re connected, many of us, lest we forget we were once all one state.
The folks there take the jokes good naturally because they share a conspiratorial secret, same as yours. WV is a splendidly gorgeous state with a lower cost of living and an abundance of kind neighbors. They keep this information on the down low to keep the citified riff-raff out.
He who laughs last laughs best.
Wild and wonderful, yes indeed.
Amy - October 11, 2022 11:23 am
Loved your descriptions. Love the South. Married an Alabama boy.❤️
Brenda - October 11, 2022 11:40 am
Excellent article. I landed in Panama City Beach, Florida with my Auburn Tiger husband but was born and grew up in Auburn, Alabama. Very proud of my heritage. Alabama folks have a little slower speech but a big heart.
Becky in Birmingham - October 11, 2022 11:42 am
You bring to mind what my Massachusets friends told me: Pennsylvanie is the “Alabama of the North”. They said the two states are the same: the people, the scenery, even the politics. I leave my Alabama home occasionally to visit friends and family, but I have never stayed away for more than a week. When I fly home from anywhere, when I see the green earth below me, I know I will be home soon.
Suzanne Stephens - October 11, 2022 11:46 am
And all God’s people said AMEN!
Joy Jacobs - October 11, 2022 11:52 am
I’ve been to all 50 states and we have a few states that aren’t too scenic (I’ll not mention names) but Alabama isn’t one of them. Alabama is beautiful. IMO
Nancy Shields - October 11, 2022 11:58 am
Thank you from Tuscaloosa.
Anne Arthur - October 11, 2022 12:01 pm
And that’s how Alabama is now on my bucket list. I want to see it all, especially the back roads and the beauty it has to offer.
Maria Mullins - October 12, 2022 4:37 am
Anne you can subscribe to the Facebook posts ‘Alabama the beautiful’ for some lovely places to visit! Welcome 😊
Sancee - October 11, 2022 12:04 pm
You are far from “nothing”. Anyone who can brighten my day, touch my heart, and bring sweet tears of joy to my eyes with the stroke of a pen is anything but “nothing”. You are actually quite “something” – someone very special. Thank you for sharing your gifts each and every day.
Cheryl Clark - October 11, 2022 12:04 pm
Sean, everything you said is true. But look at what you didn’t address. We earned the reputation we have. Makes me sad.
Sandra Pritchett - October 11, 2022 12:08 pm
Fossil - October 11, 2022 12:11 pm
I thank God for making Alabama my birthplace, my home.
Sean, thank you for sharing so beautifully about our Alabama.
Peggy hartley - October 11, 2022 12:14 pm
You so capture the best parts of whatever you write about. Hank Williams. Oh my yes. I watched The Voice last night. There were two young men who were pure Old country. Gives me hope.
Denise - October 11, 2022 12:19 pm
A sweet (and true) tribute to Sweet Home Alabama.
Sue - October 11, 2022 12:20 pm
I’m from Alabama and I love my state. It’s fine with me that others don’t know any better. It just keeps it from getting overcrowded here. By the way, I live in Saraland now.
Linda Lewis - October 11, 2022 12:21 pm
Yes, God bless Alabama! My hubby and I have lived in Phenix City for 33 years. It feels like heaven to me. It is peaceful and quiet. Thank you.
AlaRedClayGirl - October 11, 2022 12:22 pm
Thank you for this lovely tribute to Alabama. I’m so glad you officially made this state your home.
Carol - October 11, 2022 12:25 pm
Each day I look forward to these essays. Thank you. Writing something–anything–daily is tremendously challenging, and yet you do. And this one, this sonnet to Alabama, causes a person to make a deep sigh upon finishing. Bravo.
Lana - October 11, 2022 12:27 pm
Thank you. I’ve live in Alabama all my life, actually 5th generation. Crazy the secret seems to be out about our state. So many moving here to Baldwin County so not everyone thinks we are backwoods. Maybe we need to let them think all the crazy stuff, it is getting crowded here.
Scott - October 11, 2022 12:28 pm
Only thing left out was a mention of Colonel Dixie Hamburgers in Sarsland and Tices Ice Cream in Prichard.
sjhl7 - October 11, 2022 12:52 pm
Thank you Sean! I was born and I will die in Alabama. I have traveled to 48 of the 50 states. (I hope to visit North Dakota and Vermont before I leave this earth.) There is no place I would rather live. Thank you for your kind words about the beautiful state I love!
Cynthia Russell - October 11, 2022 12:52 pm
Thank You Sean!! As a Mobilian I know where you speak from.. Love Your Columns.. wanted to see you in Fairhope for your book signing.. just can’t get over there this time.. Sincerely An Alabama Girl livin’ in this Louisiana world & missing it every moment.. You give me my love of Alabama every morning.. Thank You !! Cynthia Russell
Pubert - October 11, 2022 12:53 pm
Just goes to prove the old adage “Ignorance is bliss!” Don’t knick it til you try it.
NeverJustMary - October 11, 2022 1:10 pm
Your lovely tribute to Alabama rings absolutely true to this West Tennessee gal living in Pittsburgh. (Love make us do crazy things.) Almost weekly, I run into the kind of misunderstandings (a tamer name for it than I usually term it) about the south, and I’m not always as gracious as you were with those in your PA audience. Often I find they lack the blessing of a sense of place that seems natural and ingrained in most of us southerners. And I understand the breathlessness you feel when you cross the border into Alabama. I’m not naive about my native state’s egregious past and it’s current shortsightedness, but I have the same sense of wonder and pride when I drive into Tennessee! Thanks for all you give us and for all you are.
Lynn B - October 11, 2022 1:12 pm
Left Florida to go to school in Alabama. (War Eagle!) Also met the Lord there in God’s country! We’ve raised our kids spending blissful days at our place on Lake Martin. God bless that beautiful state that has changed our family for generations. 🧡
Toni - October 11, 2022 1:15 pm
As a West Virginian I have experienced the same my entire life. It used to bother me a great deal and I would defend my home state with great enthusiasm. Then I decided I don’t want people like that to actually come to WV to test my claims because they might realize how right I am and want to move here! 😬
So I let people make fun of my state and my people while I keep my slice of Almost Heaven to myself. 💙💛💙💛💙
Tara Robinett - October 11, 2022 1:18 pm
I think Mississippi gets the bottom rung on the ladder of states. I really enjoy your words.
Judy - October 11, 2022 1:20 pm
Thank you Sean. You always make my day
Emily - October 11, 2022 1:25 pm
Please don’t let the secret out about Alabama. I don’t want to loose the peace that I have every morning to Californians and other folks moving into suburban hoa’s (in the middle of nowhere)and making more demands of the country. I am already dealing with one hoa that believes my bees half a mile away are a “danger to our child”. Yes, I’m a northerner but I was born in the corn fields of Indiana and now live the cotton fields of Alabama. I want those cotton fields to be there while my son grows up. So he can see open sky, the stars at night and hunt deer with his dad. I wouldn’t mind the politics of bama changing but the influx of people with “ideals” I hope they go elsewhere
David Britnell - October 11, 2022 1:31 pm
I always thought Arkansas was the butt of all the jokes, like did you marry your cousin, or do you go to your family reunions to find a date? Yet like Alabama we have some of the most beautiful countryside you ever saw. Like you, I don’t laugh at the jokes any longer, I am very proud of my heritage. Love to you and your beautiful wife and all your family.
Sybil Johnson - October 11, 2022 1:32 pm
I love Alabama too and love your stories. I wouldn’t say anything in response to those ignorant jokes either and if we are lucky those people will never come here. I have traveled across this country and there is no place as special as Alabama. What a fine secret …. I wouldn’t mind if we kept it that way.
Gordon - October 11, 2022 1:34 pm
Alabama native here. Thank you for your wonderful words concerning our great state of Alabama. And welcome! So glad you and Jaime are here. Hank Williams was my Dad’s favorite country singer and saw him perform several times.
Diane McGinnis - October 11, 2022 1:44 pm
Greatest tribute ever to our beloved state. And I live in Rock Run, AL, in Cherokee County, northeast AL Rock Run, which was once the booming iron ore town of the future. Ore ran out, and almost became a ghost town. Thank goodness! We are home to the not famous, but wonderful ‘RockRun Christmas Parade’, full of tractors, old cars, razors, horses. Come see us on the Saturday before Christmas. But don’t expect to receive celebrity status, except from a few Facebook regulars. A make believe mayor is Always Grand Marshall!😂
April - October 11, 2022 1:46 pm
I’m from Oklahoma which, in my opinion, also gets a bad rap. It’s not flat at all where we live and buffalo aren’t roaming our hills that we call mountains. Just today, I was trying to get out of the Family Dollar with my 3 12 packs of pop (fall break is coming up and we’re headed to deer camp…hence the splurge on carbonated health problems) and a case of water. Two kind people, the kind that the world looks down on stopped what they were doing to help. The lady had a marijuana tattoo on her arm, cow girl boots with leggings, and a pink spaghetti strap tank top at 8am. The man had a scruffy beard and didn’t say much. The pink lady called me “bad ass” for getting two 12 packs in my hands at once…a certain compliment. The man just smiled and said “here ya go.” These are the best kinds of people and these are the “in between”ers…between the cities and overlooked. Thank you, Sean, for noticing the beauty in the little things.
Lu - October 11, 2022 1:49 pm
Yep. Sweet Home Alabama. Let’s keep it secret. ❤️
Tom - October 11, 2022 1:53 pm
Please don’t tell folks how beautiful the state and people are. They’ll move here and bring their liberal politics with them. They don’t like where they live but come here and vote to make things like where they moved from. Let’s keep it “ Sweet Home Alabama”!!
Daisy - October 11, 2022 2:01 pm
My Atlanta neighbor’s joke knowing I grew up B’ham: You know the best thing out of Alabama? What? I 20. I still miss Alabama, but get over frequently.
LAMAR Martin - October 11, 2022 2:26 pm
And War Eagle!!!!!! 🦅🦅
Debbie G. - October 11, 2022 2:32 pm
The stars fell on Alabama. Shine on.
Judy - October 11, 2022 2:33 pm
And God bless West Virginia. I can tell you a few stories that I have heard about West Virginia that makes “almost heaven” look like the slums. Some people are not too smart.
Hayden Powers - October 11, 2022 2:34 pm
Thank you Sean for so eloquently putting into words what every Alabamian feels about our home.
Sharman Corey - October 11, 2022 2:37 pm
We are HONORED to have you here in Birmingham, Alabama, Sean!
Stacey Wallace - October 11, 2022 2:38 pm
Sweet Home Alabama is a wonderful place to live. I hope those Yankees never find out the truth. Love to you, Jamie, and Marigold.
Diane Mark - October 11, 2022 2:41 pm
Thanks for loving ALABAMA as much as this girl from Brewton does🥰
Wyndee Townley - October 11, 2022 2:43 pm
I have often thought that Alabama is misunderstood. Not to say we don’t have our share of crazy or strange, but every other state has the same. We just love and embrace our crazy and strange. I have lived most all my life here, from the Northern Foothills, to the Southern shore. And I love all of it. No where else I would rather be. If being in Alabama means that other people see me as strange, I’m good with that. I’ll take this version of strange over their normal any day. Thanks Sean for bringing to words the feelings of our hearts.
Pat D - October 11, 2022 2:46 pm
Whoa….Sean this is pure GOLD….born and raised in Montgomery and I’m always proud to tell anyone….lived in Florida for 57 years but Alabama will always be home…
Rhonda - October 11, 2022 2:57 pm
I’m an Alabama woman. I have always been glad they thought ill of us so maybe they won’t come here…..suits me fine. A surgeon I worked with years ago( I’m a nurse) came from Chicago. He said “Alabama is the best kept secret in the nation”. And he has spent the rest of his life here.
DT - October 11, 2022 3:01 pm
Amen Sean. I forget, is Philadelphia the murder capital of the USA or the carjacking capital? Keep it real and welcome home. Roll Tide
Michael A. Craig - October 11, 2022 3:16 pm
Sean, I’m born and raised in Texas. My only exposure to Alabama was the summer of 1961 as a college student in which I was at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa. It was incredibly beautiful, as were its people. I have been in love with your state since, and the Crimson Tide is simply the best football team in the U.S. However, as much as I like Texas, I think we outdo you in tasteless jokes about this state.
Peggy M. Windham - October 11, 2022 3:20 pm
I’m originally from Mississippi, talk about jokes! My home state seems to be the butt of them all. Even when I moved to Alabama in 1985, I’d hear joke’s from Alabama people about Mississippi. I happen to love both states very much. I’ve lived in Alabama now more years than my home state but I’m very proud and blessed to have lived in both. They are both God’s Country to me! 🙏💜
Pat - October 11, 2022 3:23 pm
Proud to be from Alabama! Also proud to live in a small town! And we do know all about football in Alabama…..Roll Tide!
Betty Green - October 11, 2022 3:35 pm
God bless you. I live in Milton, Fl now but I’m from Birmingham (Chalkville) Alabama. I have relatives in Trussville. I love Alabama❤️
Beth Reinert - October 11, 2022 3:38 pm
Sweet home Alabama.
Patricia Gibson - October 11, 2022 3:43 pm
Mississippi gets its share of bad reps but I think the people that said that about your home state were very rude. I have lots of friends in Alabama. Great state!
Lee Henderson - October 11, 2022 3:47 pm
Sean, I have one more for you. My home office was in Ohio…when Bama played Notre Dame several years ago for the national championship I got calls and emails stating it was “The Golden Domers against the Mobile Homers”…..if I remember correctly we kicked the snot out of them.
Beverly Schaffer - October 11, 2022 4:06 pm
Amen!! I hate to tell you but the word, the true word about Alabama is getting out. I live in Baldwin County and we are overwhelmed with new people moving here from all the country.
Paul Alge - October 11, 2022 4:08 pm
I feel the same way Sean. I live in middle Tn now and it’s great. But it’s not Alabama. I too was born in the Florida panhandle but it’s really just an extension of Alabama. I when I come home for a visit as soon as I cross the state line and see that rocket ship rest area I put on Jason Isbells song Alabama Pines and I get this unexplainable feeling in my gut I’m home
Bob - October 11, 2022 4:26 pm
Good stuff! I grew up in PA (everyone from there always say PA cause Pennsylvania is too many syllables.) Been in Pelham AL almost a year now….Moved from IL. There its beans and corn, corn and beans. And well dog gone it, this place grows on me every day. Especially from the top of Oak Mountain. But the top of a good ol PA mountain is a pretty good view too… There aren’t many hills in IL.
hossmack - October 11, 2022 4:40 pm
Angee - October 11, 2022 4:55 pm
I really enjoyed reading this and can I completely relate. I moved the the bham area 5 years ago after growing up in Southern California. People from there are always shocked when I tell them how much I love it here. Maybe I’ll follow your lead, grin and keep quiet. Thank you for writing and allowing me this enjoyment! I appreciate it very much.
Tim from Alabama, Pennsylvania - October 11, 2022 4:55 pm
Sean, if you ever pass through Central PA, know that you have a place to visit and stay at my home. I shall forever claim now to be from Alabama, Pennsylvania.
Charles Compton - October 11, 2022 5:07 pm
An excellent write. I am a transplant from Athens, Ga married a girl from New Jersey. We made Alabama our great home and love her. She has loved us as well.
Chasity Davis Ritter - October 11, 2022 5:07 pm
Never heard an Alabama joke it was always Arkansas that I heard. I’m sure Texans tell Oklahoma jokes. I think sometimes it’s just bullies and jealousy. I’d love to see the state you describe so beautifully. Maybe some day.
Donnie - October 11, 2022 5:11 pm
Love knowing you are a Floridian, as am I. And, you made good and are living in the beauty of Alabama. Keep on encouraging.
H. J. Patterson - October 11, 2022 5:19 pm
Well Sean, I guess I’m just one of the 4.8 million people that’s just an idiot. And I guess these people must have been idiots as well; Hank Aaron, Channing Tatum, Courtney Cox, Fannie Flagg, Joe Louis, Helen Keller, Bo Jackson, Rosa Parks, Charles Barkley, Lionel Richie, Tim Cook, Jessie Owens, Hank Williams, Nat King Cole, and one in particular – Nell Harper Lee and the list goes on and on. If there’s one thing for sure, you just can’t argue with a moon bat so let them keep thinking what they don’t know is wrong. And isn’t Pennsylvania where Joe Biden is from? Just saying.
Naomi - October 11, 2022 5:24 pm
I was born and raised in Birmingham, Alabama. It was a great city for children back then. My grandparents, along with my mother and her sister and two brothers immigrated from Russia in the early 1900s and finished their education in Birmingham. My father was born in Poland and grew up in NYC; he went to Birmingham in 1940 when he and my mother got married.
Bill - October 11, 2022 5:42 pm
Beautiful SEAN, I totally agree with you ! I spent 5 years at the U of A as Associate Athletic Director – most beautiful state, smart people who, like on Saturday’s we’re all “team players” … Everybody in Tuscaloosa and on that campus did everything they could to win on Saturday ! I know my memories will last me my lifetime … And, while they so worshipped the Tide, they worshipped Lord Jesus even more 🌟🥇…
Dennis P - October 11, 2022 5:47 pm
I, too, married a native Alabama girl. Best decision I ever made. I, too, have adopted AL as my home after a life in the Midwest and in the military moving all over this country and planet. I chose Alabama. Twice.
Hall Powell - October 11, 2022 6:03 pm
Amen brother! Sweet home Alabama! From Gadsden. Beautiful north Alabama foothills.
Terry Snell - October 11, 2022 6:05 pm
I agree with you. I have driven backroads in 48 states (missing Alaska and just missed Rhode Island. There’s no state more beautiful. And the people are awesome. Moved from Alabama in 1968 when I joined the Air Force. An very happy to the real south.
Wanda M Hatfield - October 11, 2022 6:18 pm
THANK YOU, SEAN!!
Linda Moon - October 11, 2022 6:26 pm
Sweet Home, Sean, sweet home. God Bless Jamie and you.
Dawn Hockenberry - October 11, 2022 6:28 pm
Please don’t think unfavorably of all us Pennsylvanians. I live in PA and have family in AL. I love you.
Craig Johnson - October 11, 2022 7:27 pm
and Roll Tide! (Alabama summers are hotter then a humidifier factory in Hades)
kswstoryteller - October 11, 2022 8:22 pm
Opp and the tiny hamlet of Samson are the two Alabama towns that shaped me the most. I came to know Jesus in the First Baptist Church of Opp when I was 8 years old. I am glad it “stuck.” It’s almost too cliche to be believeable, but it is. My Opp grandparents were God-fearing, Bible toting, no swearing Baptists who loved Jesus with all their hearts. My grandfather was both a baker and a farmer, two of God’s own highest callings. I learned to love lady finger or slipper peas at their table along with how to pray. My Samson grandmother gave me a love for the written word and for the beach (another hamlet — Cinco Bayou). Hers was a life defining influence that helped set the course of my life. I am convinced that more good things have come out of Alabama than the world will ever know. (And thank you for leaving an autographed copy of your book in my Little Free Library. It was big news in suburbia!)
David S Doom - October 11, 2022 8:54 pm
Deanna - October 11, 2022 9:18 pm
Oh my word, I can feel your pain. I grew up in GA, married and moved to PA. I heard all the jokes, except GA replaced AL. After a while, I learned to love my PA home, but NOTHING, and I mean NOTHING, will ever replace my love of my home state
Linda Everett - October 11, 2022 9:38 pm
Born and raised in South Alabama. Love the people here, kind and caring. My children stayed in Alabama and live close by. We have the most incredibly beautiful beaches, complete with pure white sand, right on the magnificent Gulf of Mexico. Alabama the beautiful! An absolutely great place to live and raise a family.
P.S. I love the politics here, LOL!
Denise - October 11, 2022 9:39 pm
The best next to LA. When we moved here in 1976 we only clained our birth states to get a birth certificate or copy of iur marriage license. Thank you Sean .
Janice - October 11, 2022 9:39 pm
Oh good it is to hear the love you have for our state. I was born here and have lived here all my life. And I love it. Have heard the negative remarks about our state and know they’re said in ignorance. Thank you so much
forest - October 11, 2022 9:51 pm
Well, for goodness sake Sean, PLEASE don’t tell them about Alabama! The mountains on the north end, beautiful lakes and scenic plains in between, and the ocean on the south end….they might come down here….and stay….God bless ’em. And haven’t we had just quite enough of that?
Joy Cowan - October 11, 2022 9:55 pm
Patsy Barrington - October 11, 2022 10:34 pm
Hurrah for Alabama! My husband, who went to his Heavenly home a bit over two years ago, and I grew up in South Alabama. He was in the military for 24 years of our almost 64 years of married life—and we never found another place quite as wonderful as Alabama. We lovingly called it “the Holy Land” in addition to LA or God’s country. The people from our “neck of the woods” are simply a dying breed. He was from Dozier in Crenshaw County, and I grew up in Covington County on a farm only about 13 miles from the Florida line. People from that part of the world, whether family or friend, really care for each other, and it is very evident by their actions, and actions do “speak louder than words.” I applaud you for your great seal of approval on Alabama and its people. And thanks for another awesome story. I look forward to reading your stories daily. Whatever pertained to NW Florida, pretty much spoke for us in SE Alabama. Hank Williams grew up not far from where my dear husband and I lived as we grew up.
MAM - October 11, 2022 10:59 pm
You don’t have to be from Alabama to understand your love of your rebirth state! We all have strong feelings about where we were born and raised, and also we have feelings, some good, some not, about where we are now! I’d rather be in my home state, but “bloom where you are planted.”
Pam M. - October 12, 2022 1:06 am
I, too, love Alabama! Lived there for eight+ years and loved every minute! I have been gone for seven years, but I still miss living there!
Jan Burchfield - October 12, 2022 1:26 am
Born in Birmingham….raised in Tuscaloosa County…don’t get much better than that!
Snowmonkey301 - October 12, 2022 1:48 am
Dear Sean, you are so right. I live in Georgia now, but my heart resides in Alabama- born and raised there for many years. Every time I drive across the state line into Alabama something unwinds in me and I know I am home.
Kim - October 12, 2022 3:19 am
Thank you, Sean!! Born in Alabama and ❤️ this great state!! Wonderful article!
Steve Winfield (lifer) - October 12, 2022 5:32 am
Shannon, Alabama. 5 churches, a 4 room elementary school, 2 stores, a 10×12 post office. No traffic lights. Less than 150 houses. 20 minutes to downtown Birmingham. Paradise. If there’s a better place to grow up on this planet God please take me there. No Andy, Barney or Floyd but it just as well be Mayberry.
While in the Navy I was stationed in Memphis. I brought people from all over the US to Shannon for a weekend. Not a one didn’t fall in love. Knowing they’d visited paradise, they all wanted to come back.
It’s changed since the 60s & 70s. There’s one traffic light now. The stores are gone & the post office is about 30×30. Same 5 churches.
I hope everyone gets to visit.
It was actually an iron ore mine from 1890 to 1927. Some of the old mine camp houses still stand.
I’ve moved a few miles away but my heart will always be there.
A P - October 12, 2022 10:55 am
We are happy to have you and count you as one of our own, Sean.
I left at 19, eager to find ‘more’ in other places, and came back almost a decade later with enough homesickness to learn my lesson. I’m up reading this on my backporch, watching another sunrise with its arresting beauty. It never gets old. Thanks for doing this place justice.
Mike Gibson - October 12, 2022 12:57 pm
I’ve written a book about Level Road, Alabama, the place where my dad was raised. Love the state and the people and, oh by the way, Roll Tide.
Johnny Coggin - October 12, 2022 2:27 pm
Thank you for writing what many of us feel! Being a product of LA myself (Mobile is home), I can identify with each comment you made. I’ve often heard the adage: “Don’t knock it if you haven’t tried it!” I think that applies to my home state, as well. So, to those who think we’re backwards or only worthy of derogatory humor, I say (in the words of an ad slogan a “few” years back), “Try it. You’ll like it!” BAMA PROUD!
Carolyn Kent - October 12, 2022 4:31 pm
You’re in the HEART OF DIXIE. Dixie’s in the heart of you!!! A.L.A.B.A.M.A.!!!!
Tink - October 12, 2022 7:34 pm
Tell them Alabama is terrible. Keeps them away, too many now.
Gigi - October 12, 2022 10:28 pm
Central Kentucky born and raised for over 6 decades, but now reside in SW Florida because it was always my husband’s dream to live here. Kentucky got plenty of bad jokes made about it’s people as well, “Hillbillies, marrying your cousin, no teeth, always barefoot (or barefoot and pregnant), and moonshine” due to the poverty in SE Kentucky (part of Appalachia). We vacationed in Florida almost every year growing up and I have wonderful memories of traveling through and staying at “motels & motor courts” in both Alabama and Georgia. I loved those two states, especially the small towns we stopped in and the kind, welcoming, southern people that lived in them. It was always my dream to live in a small, southern town in one of those states someday. I love the “smallish” town we live in in Florida, but I do miss the seasons and sense of community that Kentucky, Alabama, & Georgia offer.
BMc - October 13, 2022 4:39 am
Don’t be telling folks up north how great Alabama is. Let’s just keep this great state to ourselves!! 😉
sonnyveque - October 13, 2022 2:29 pm
So well said, Sean. I am not from Alabama origanally, however, I have lived here now for 51 years. It is a wonderful place and I feel very fortunate to have landed here. Maybe we ought not let too many people know what a great place this is to live, although, by the looks of the way my area is growing, I think the secret is out!!
Robin Sansom - October 13, 2022 9:10 pm
And GOD BLESS YOU, my new friend!
Anne Trawick - October 14, 2022 5:34 am
I live in Donalsonville,Ga, in the southwest corner of the state. If one spits to the south, it hits Florida-and west, Alabama. I get it.
Ruth Ann Hines - October 16, 2022 4:00 pm
Oh Sean! You’ve done it again! Your articles are ALL amazing and I thank dearly the friend who recommended me signing up to receive your messages. You are certainly one in a million and don’t ever let anybody EVER tell you different. I so wish there were more out there like you! ! !
Julie Fraser - October 16, 2022 8:54 pm
At least no one asks if you need a passport to go to Alabama. Here in New Mexico one hears stories about that bit of confusion on the part of those from out of state often enough to know that the confusion exits. Maybe not as often as the stories indicate, but it has happened. Someone actually said, “New Mexico? Isn’t that the armpit of the Nation?” when we told them we were moving here and to quote you Sean, “This cut me. But I kept my mouth shut.” I kept my mouth shut because in this 5th largest state that ranks 46th in population density, there is room to breath. Really breath, deep cleansing breaths under a sky that always looks photo-shopped. So I am not unhappy some of my fellow Americans think they need a passport to come here, I would rather not move up that population density ranking. But I am just wondering Sean, have you ever been here, been to “The Land of Enchantment”? That state motto fits, and is a lovely reminder of a special place when you see it stamped in your passport.
johnallenberry - October 17, 2022 3:41 am
God bless you, Sean! Mighty proud to count you among the residents of Alabama the Beautiful. So many folks who bust on us have never set foot here. Just a cryin’ shame, bless their hearts. This is the greatest state in the union.
Linda Whatley - October 19, 2022 4:50 pm
Once while vacationing in central Florida we met a couple from “up north”. They had avoided driving through Alabama for fear of the unknown. ….poor Yankees
Beverly Schaffer - October 31, 2022 4:42 pm
Kimberly - November 1, 2022 2:59 pm
The South in general gets a bad rap. MS is my home state. Always listed last in the US. Most people that dislike MS have never been there. People that do visit say how nice the people are and how beautiful the state is. I say American by birth, Southern by the grace of God.
Randall Gardner - November 3, 2022 4:06 pm
Absolutely great post. I was born, raised and lived my life of 75 years in Alabama. I’ve been to lots of places including several different countries, and there is no better place in the world I know of that can come close to living in Alabama – Roll Tide.
My wife of 52 years is from Georgiana. Drive by Hank’s birth place every time we go down. God bless his soul.
We’re up in north Alabama at Southside. Truly God’s country.
Keep up the excellent writing.