February 12, 2015, Marianna to Sylacauga- Today was a day of few photographs. The central purpose of my drive up to Sylacauga, midway between Montgomery and Birmingham, on the Beeline (U.S. 231), was to lend a listening ear to a young friend. Alabama has lots to offer the visitor, but for this journey- it was enough to visit the Welcome Center at Madrid, enjoy a couple of barbecue meals (lunch at Smokin’s, in Wetumpka and dinner at Larry’s, in Ozark, where I spent the night), and sit conversing with my friend, while her toddler alternated between playing in the McDonald’s rumpus area and coming over to get our attention. That’s what 3-5 year-olds have to do, to make sense of their slowly unfolding world.
I began the day in Marianna, about an hour west of Tallahassee. I had spent the night there, at Best Value Motel, and did my laundry at a nearby coin-op. I had an interesting conversation with the owner of the laundromat and one of the other patrons. The owner was a native of Marianna, and has watched it go through several changes. To him, having grown up and stuck with the city’s West Side as home, the gradual deterioration of family values and increase in crime and dysfunction were not things he foresaw. On the surface, things in that area look quite peaceful, but he advised me not to walk around much, at that hour of the night (It was 8:30). I only had to walk next door, so it was no problem.
This morning, I took a walk around downtown Marianna, after breakfast at Bobbie’s Waffle Iron. The mood in the breakfast spot was a bit colder than that at Jim’s Buffet, the night before. I was pretty much served quickly and expected to eat and leave quickly- with some men at the other end of the place muttering about “stranger over there”. No one bothered me, though, so I just went on about my exploration.
I checked out some of the noteworthy buildings and an obelisk commemorating the Confederate Veterans. I noted the difference between First Baptist and First Methodist.
The Confederate Obelisk stands in front of an apartment building, in the center of Marianna.
Leaving Marianna around 10 AM, I made good time along the Beeline. Here are some scenes from the Madrid, AL Welcome Center. Composting is done with watermelon rinds, by shredding them.
This Army helicopter is a reminder of Alabama’s strong military presence. Fort Rucker is not far away, and the regional airport is named for Igor Sikorsky, the inventor of the chopper.
Alabama has welcomed me nicely, each time I have passed through.
I didn’t take any photos of Sylacauga or of my friend, Christy and her son. The mood didn’t feel right. Little man was quite tired, it being mid-afternoon and all. He was, however, quite proud to show me his Hot Wheels tattoo, so I know a bond was starting to form. His mom and I talked for a short while about things that concerned her, and I think she felt a bit better afterward. That is time well-spent.
I headed back downstate, and took a room at Ozark Motel, 3 mile north of the town of Ozark- close enough, so that I would be on track for Friday’s two meet-ups, in Panama City. Time grooves on.