Sweet Home Strange Alabama

greg strange bikeLocation, location, location; the classic real estate mantra. Well, chances are if you are reading this, the answer you would give for one of the location blanks on a form is “Alabama”. Maybe you have lived here your entire life. Maybe you are new to the Yellowhammer State. Either way, there is a good chance you have uncovered an indisputable fact: Alabama is strange.

Don’t get me wrong; I mean the title as the highest compliment in some ways. The first definition of strange is unusual, extraordinary, curious. That doesn’t sound so bad. Much better than cookie cutter, standard, and boring. In fact, there is a delightful blog and facebook page devoted to the wonderful strangeness of Alabama, named very cleverly, Strange Alabama. In recent months, the author, Beverly Crider, has offered entertaining examples of our strangeness. For example, her most recent blog has delved into the roadside wonders our state has to offer, such as the Giant Rooster of Brundidge, monuments to hogs, bird dogs, and boll weevils, and the ancient sign near Prattville that reads “Go to Church, or the Devil will Get You”.

Thinking about those roadside oddities, we must have a fascination with rear ends; I have overheard an actual argument about which had the best butt, Vulcan‘s moon over Homewood, or the very cheeky Big Peach water tower near Clanton. I personally think Vulcan wins; after all, there is a song dedicated to his famous derriere. Thank heavens the past petitions to clothe his posterior were stopped by admirers and he stands today in all his glory.

And then there are the crazy place names. Slapout, Whodathoughtit, Remlap (Palmer spelled backwards), Lick Skillet, Boar Tush, Frog Eye, Hell’s Half Acre (maybe that’s where the devil sign should be), Possum Trot, Chigger Hill, and in keeping with the backend theme, Buttsville.

And yes, as claimed in the movie Sweet Home Alabama, there is a sweet cemetery dedicated to Coon Dogs, the only one like it in the world.

Alabama is blessed with a hodgepodge of amazing musical styles and talents.  I give you three namesake artists and dare you to find three more different: Alabama, Blind Boys of Alabama, and the sensational Alabama Shakes. Artists paying musical homage to our state spans The Doors, Jim Croce, Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald, Otis Redding,  Lynyrd Skynyrd, and many more. And of course Muscle Shoals was at one time the Hit Recording Capital of the World.

If you are in Alabama for long, chances are you will eventually break one of our more bizarre laws, which include my favorites:

  • It is illegal to wear a fake moustache that causes laughter in church.
  • You may not have an ice cream cone in your back pocket at any time.
  • It is illegal to sell peanuts in Lee County after sundown on Wednesday.
  • In Anniston, you may not wear blue jeans down Noble Street.
  • Boogers may not be flicked into the wind.

Never fear. If you do have legal issues in Alabama, our top politicians sport names that should inspire confidence. Our state treasurer is Young Boozer, in charge of the PSC is a lady named Twinkle, and the Alabama Attorney General’s name is: Luther Strange.

Alabama is known for our strange obsession with college sports, specifically college football. It’s not just everywhere that the spring practice game is standing room only in our huge campus stadiums. The Auburn/Alabama rivalry is documented ad nauseam; but what is not as well known is how, in times of trouble, each group of fans is very likely to rush to the aid of the other.

Living in Alabama for fifty years, I have learned to not be surprised at the wacky and weird; an adventure is always right around the corner. I never knew until recently that I live within fifteen miles of Hitler’s typewriter; and even stranger, until just a few years ago it was placed a few feet away from a real, live… no, make that just a real, authentic… mummy named Hazel. If I’d known it I would have visited her.

The internet and the local meat-and-three diners provide a wealth of information about crazy festivals, fabulous foods, and eccentric characters in Alabama. Whether the state is your home sweet home or just a sweet spot to visit, you will not be disappointed if you get off the beaten path and find your own strange favorites.

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