More Bits and Pieces

I know the comments made regarding the revisit area are at best melancholy.  But they should not be.  Much that is gone has been replaced with something, in many cases, better, and the people who have left the area are enjoying a like that is most likely economically improved.  However such items of memorabilia as the country store have not been replaced.  And the baseball team which was almost the only form of entertainment in the thirties has unfortunately been replaced by the passive watching of television.

In an early chapter, I stressed the low crime aspect to show that a latch string and bar at the front door was adequate security.  However, I recall that at least five of the young men of the area were sent to prison.  None were sent for stealing.  Four were convicted of violent crimes (two for murder) and one of bootlegging.

The area is now much more dependent on the outside world.  In 1940 if you had sealed off the area for a year with no connection to outside commerce, the people would not have been greatly inconvenienced.  Their clothing would have been more worn, but their diets would have been little changed.  Each family had a cow, gardens, corn, potatoes, dried peas, etc.  A family would not starve with two or three gallons of milk a day and chickens producing eggs.  I did not see any evidence of a single milk cow in the entire area, and gardens seem to be a thing of the past.  If you sealed off the area today, within a few days or weeks the people would experience severe problems and privation.

There is also evidence of changing demographics.  In the time from 1930 to 1950, every person I knew was a WASP (White Anglo-Saxon Protestant).  The area was inhabited entirely of descendants of English, Scotch, and Irish, with a few German families.  There were no blacks, Catholics, Jews, Italians, etc.  Today the cluster of mobile homes off Wilson Chapel Road with its soccer field indicates change under way.  In my graduating class at Susan Moore every person was a WASP, which was probably true of the entire student body.

In my entire trip through the area, I did not see a single field where row crops, the mainstay of the time, such as cotton, corn, peas, beans, and peanuts were grown.  There were many areas fenced as pastures.  I assume the growing of cattle is profitable, but how does every one else earn a living? There is no industry closer than Huntsville, Gadsden, or Birmingham.  Perhaps they work in service jobs in the area.

Another large change is political.  As a boy I may have known a half dozen Republicans.  The democratic Party was the choice of perhaps ninety percent of the voters.  The advice many fathers would offer was simple and straightforward: Pull the lever and vote a straight Democratic ticket.  The people talked about Hoover rags and though Franklin D. Roosevelt was their savior.  His Works Progress Administration (WPA) and the Civil Conservation Corps (CCC camps) brought in needed cash.  Not every one voted since a poll tax was required and many were not willing or able or able to pay the tax.  I do not have the tallies of recent votes in old Beat 15, our voting district, but I would guess the change from Democrat to Republican is so sweeping that more than sixty percent now number themselves among the GOP.

Perhaps the changes in the Friday's Crossing area are much less than the changes in the writer.  In 1944 when, at age sixteen, I graduated from high school, I couldn't wait to get away.  My dad wanted me to stay and help him make one more crop, but I was too impatient and instead got a job in Birmingham.  When I left the area for good, I had no idea what the Dow Jones Average was and had no interest in currency exchanges.  Today I check the Dow sometimes twice daily and a Canadian bank has taken over a local bank in which I own stock, I am greatly affected by fluctuations in Canadian currency.  Do I have any regrets? Yes! I wish I had helped my dad make one more crop.  He tried to make it as attractive as he could by offering to pay me thirty dollars a month which at the time was all he could possibly pay.  I wish I had stayed to make one more crop.  It would have been small pay for all the family did for me.  But years later when I lamented to my mother about the regret, she helped my feelings by telling me, “You twernt no farmer.”

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