Veterans Day, Covered Bridges, and Stills

Reader Contribution by Mary Carton
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With a three-day weekend for Veterans Day, the area had numerous events. American Legion Post 31 in Tuscumbia had their annual parade down Main Street on Friday November 10 followed by a program. Afterward, all were invited to their hall for lunch. Two of the walls at the hall are covered with pictures of those who gave their life in service of their country going back to the mid-1800s.  What is so sad are three of those who died during the Vietnam War don’t have a picture available. Only a newspaper clipping.

The next morning, I caught up with Wayne Chaney for his annual rendition of Taps honoring veterans at the Marriott Shoals in Florence.   

Part of the weekend was at the dedication of the 101 World War I monument. During 1917-1918 it was estimated that around 1,000 civilian defense workers died while working on the Army’s Nitrate Plant projects at Wilson Dam.  The number of Cuban and Mexican workers dying is unknown. The largest percentage of them died during the great pandemic flu outbreak of 1918.  One hundred and one of the workers were buried in an unmarked area of Oakwood Cemetery in Sheffield, Alabama.  It is thought that more are buried on the TVA property.  A monument to the 101 was dedicated listing the names of those buried.  My Grandfather was a mounted security guard there after his discharge from the Army.

Farmers have finished combining corn and are finishing up combining soybeans and picking cotton, and planting winter wheat.  So far November, which is normally a wet month, has been very dry. 

The last of the hummingbirds left the end of September.  I just took down the last feeder this week after making sure I didn’t have any overwintering this year.  The butterflies stayed around until a hard frost last week. I had a monarch that stayed around for several days enjoying my tall zinnias.

Back when I was growing up, our area was dry as in prohibition dry.  While at the Lagrange College site for Christmas in the County, a friend mentioned that I need to visit the Dawson distillery located on the original road going up to the town and college site. The town, home to around 400, and the college were burned by Union forces in 1863.  The town and college never recovered.  Its demise was blamed in part of a curse by a Native American chief during the Native American removal 30 years earlier.  The Dawson family or Dawson gang as they were known in these parts were the biggest moonshiners aka bootlegger in these parts. It took three years to get all of the paperwork through all of the state and local agencies. It’s just so hard to imagine a legal still in these parts.

The American Queen riverboat based in Memphis visited the area going to and coming back from Chattanooga.  I started at dawn with Norma, a photographer friend, photographing her on a foggy river, and finished up standing on the road over Wilson Dam photographing her as she locked through the dam.  On the trip back,  I again started in the morning and watched her turning a 180 in the Tennessee River at Florence and go back upstream. You realize how large she is when she takes up most of the width of the river when she turns around.

The Christmas events in the area have started, first with Christmas in the Country and then the Tuscumbia Christmas parade. This year we had the largest crowd ever for a parade and a long-lasting parade. The Tennessee Valley Museum of Art Trees of Christmas gets better and better each year. Christmas decorations are going up in the parks of the area.

Grace, a good friend of mine, and myself took at trip to see five of the remaining covered bridges in the middle part of the state. Getting to a few was an adventure in itself; I’ve never seen so many turns and curves. The covered bridge trail has been on my bucket for a while. Later we’ll venture to the ones around the Birmingham area.

One day I took off on a nature trip over to Wheeler Wildlife Refuge.  A few whooping cranes have arrived, and I hoped to photograph some.  I just missed three at the observation building, but there were plenty of Sandhill cranes and a creek along the way that had a large number of pelicans.

My three Hooligans need to get their letter to Santa written so I can make our Christmas card.  I’ll probably use an old picture of them on the card instead of putting them through the stress of making one at their age.  Patches is having arthritis and hip issues, and I’m afraid she might get hurt from Blackie and Levi’s antics. They’ve had a lot of rough fun in the past making their pictures.

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