Monday, September 10, 2007

Paying Homage to our Heritage

Does your community pay homage to its heritage? Does it erect a statue or otherwise celebrate a person, product or event that gives the town its unique place in the sun?

For instance:

Birmingham has its Vulcan.

Dothan has the peanut.

Enterprise reveres a boll weevil, while Clanton uplifts the peach.

Monroeville hosts a play to honor Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird.

Pine Apple invites folks over for a Front Porch Tour to show its hospitality.

Here in Selma, we celebrate ghosts in the fall and historic homes in the spring.

Over in Greensboro, homage is paid to the catfish. I don’t know of any monuments erected to the product that changed the town’s future, but the fish with whiskers adorns water tanks and welcome signs.

Elsewhere in the region, the catfish is honored as the Tale-Tellin’ Festival’s mascot. It has its own catfishmobile, and a radio station uses Catfish Country for its handle. Past catfish festivals have crowned many queens, and the catfish fry is practically the official meal. Oh yes…the fish recently got its own book!

The catfish certainly deserves all this attention and more! In the Black Belt—where all kinds of studies deem dire statistics for whatever is being measured — Hale County ranks near the top in the nation for production of catfish! It’s the county’s best performing farm crop ever, and back when other enterprises went bust, catfish saved many a family farm and and created new support businesses.

The actual impact will soon be known when Auburn University releases an extensive economic study about Alabama’s catfish industry. Once the facts are out, we may just have to build a monument to the catfish!

What is unique about your community’s heritage?


2 LMZ FARMS said...

So funny that you should mention some towns that my family lives in. Birmingham, I just love looking at the statue, Dothan, and Enterprise( my family was right in the middle of where the tornado came through. Here in our town, we have the bobdock and a statue of the man that founded Pontotc. My aunt told me once that the Valcon changed lights to mean if someone was killed or something, I can't really remember what she said to be honest, just something about the lights changing to mean something. Hope you and yours have a blessed day.

JANET said...

Hi Laura, I remember Vulcan's light too. The green light meant there had not been a traffic fatality that day. A red light meant there had. It was done in an effort to promote traffic safety. Vulcan's torch was removed several years ago and replaced with a spear.
You said that some of your family was in the middle of Enterprise tornado. I hope they were safe. Did they have much damage? My oldest son went with a college organization to help clean up the week after the tornado. All that debris was humbling for him to see, and we lived through a tornado in our neighborhood back in 1996 when he was in elementary school. He is the one who woke us up when lightning started popping constantly. Right after that, we heard that ominous freight train sound! Fortunately, damage to our place was minor.
Thanks for visiting!

GardenGoose said...

hahaha, I had to actually laugh out loud at your question..does my town pay tribute to its heritage?..oh gracious. If you count trying to attract drunk Spring breakers every year and being known as the redneck riviera well I guess that's what they do here. This area sadly is not one that I think even has a "heritage"..if it does they certainly don't do anything to really remember it by.
Sad. One of the significant pieces of the towns history ..a really neat old depot, is being razed to build condos or some sort of development. So..nope..I don't think they care here.
That's why I find areas like Thomasville, and various other places..a bit nicer..they cherish the old ways..and the history. In fact my husband and I talk about this town really not having a "history" of which it is proud of like other Southern towns. Here the draw is tourism and beaches and Spring break.(and naw I'm not too fond of this area..but it's where I am..for now and I make the best of it.)

Nunnie's Attic said...

Terry Francona is from New Brighton and I think there is a sign hanging when you enter the city limits. When the Red Sucks - er, Sox won the World Series I know the sign was there.


Dena ~ swaddlecottage said...

Hi Janet,

Thank you so much for your visit to Swaddle Cottage :) I love catfish so it was a treat to see your blog and some new yummy recipies! I grew up back and forth between California and Arkansas so my southern heart craves catfish, hushpuppies and sweet-tea...alas in Southern California - Tea never has sugar unless you add it yourself afterwards, catfish is unheard of and hushpuppies are shoes from the old days :(

Sandi @the WhistleStop Cafe said...

I like that Chilton County peach... they have a big tower that looks like a bum (from just the right angle)
Speaking of Bums~ we had a view of Vulcan's from our back yard in Homewood.

JANET said...

Garden Goose, I must say it was interesting to read your view of your Panhandle town. Up here (way up North!)a lot of folks can't wait to retire to a beach community.
That is too bad about the old depot. Historic structures bring tourists too!
You are right about many small southern towns cherishing their history. I really can't think of a town near here that doesn't have some kind of tribute either to its past, some product or its main livelihood.
There are even okra, tomato and watermelon festivals around these parts!

JANET said...

Hi Julie, I just googled New Brighton, and it is Home of the New Brighton Flyover, a railroad architectural feat? That's pretty impressive!

JANET said...

Hi Dena, so you're a southern transplant to the West! I just bet those Westerners would like catfish, hush puppies and sweet tea if they ever got to try it!
Thanks so much for stopping by.

JANET said...

Sandi, I never thought about the peach tower that way!
I appreciate your visits!

Susie Q said...

I love the catfish pride! : )
I always enjoy seeing what a town's heritage is when I visit!
Dayton is the home of Orville and Wilbur Wright. We are all extremely proud of their accomplishments, especially since they were done right here. There are statues and celebrations and an air force base and schools named for them. : )
Our area was also the birthplace of Erma Bombeck, Phil Donahue, Martin Sheen, Agnes Morehead and so many others. All loved this area and came/come back often.

I love to come here to husband is a HUGE catfish fan and loves to visit as well!


JANET said...

Hi Sue, So glad you like to visit!
I have been to the Air Force museum near Dayton...long time ago when we visited kinfolks in Xenia and Yellow Springs. I was about nine and remember seeing a lot of planes and hearing that is where the Wright Bros. were from.
I didn't realize that Dayton was home to so many prominent people!
Anyhow, I remember that Xenia had a really nice downtown...this was back before the big tornado.

JennDZ - The Leftover Queen said...

That is pretty cool, Janet! I can totally understand the fascination now! lol!

Flea Market Queen said...

How fun...I love all these wonderful Town Tributes. Here in O.C. it's about the beach & shopping!
Several towns have beautiful downtown ambiance with the antique stores, restaurants & beautiful old Victorian houses.

the feathered nest said...

My town tries! It saves historic buildings and makes developers use them in their new planned communities as club houses etc, we have a town birthday part every year. We actually have a pretty good City Council I'm happy to say.


JANET said...

Hi all. Thank you for your comments!

Jenndz, the whole story of how catfish replaced cotton as king here is truly fascinating. It pretty much started almost by accident and took a lot of inventions and folks mortgaging their farms to make it work.

Flea Market Queen: the beach, antique stores, restaurants and Victorian homes sounds like a winning combination!

The Feathered Nest: Valley Grande, our newest town, is the only one I know of that has an annual birthday or Founder's Day celebration. That's great that the historic homes are being saved in your town.

Hope all of you have a great weekend! Our catfish farmers are looking forward to remnants from Hurricane Humberto. We need all the rain we can get.

La Dolce Vita with LeAnn said...

Thanks for stopping by my neighborhood for a visit. Your heritage tour was great. I would love to visit, To Kill A Mockingbird is one of my all time favorite books.
Thanks again.