USS Alabama Mobile
USS Alabama docked in Mobile

Alabama Attractions: A WWII Battleship and a Archetype Operation

By Max Hartshorne
GoNOMAD Editor

Aboard the battleship USS Alabama, docked as a museum outside of Mobile, AL. Photos by Max Hartshorne.
Aboard the battleship USS Alabama, docked as a museum outside of Mobile, Alabama

A chill went through my spine equally I strode up the gangway to the USS Alabama, anchored just off the coast in the Mobile. It was a absurd morning on Mobile Bay, where in the 1960s this 680′ long grey slice of historical steel was towed from a West Coast shipyard to the state information technology was named for.

Walking effectually on such hallowed steel made me think back about the real heroes, like my male parent, who served during the 2d Globe War on ships like these.

The legend has it that Alabama school children sent in their ice cream money in order to raise the million or and so to pay for the relocation. On the ship, swing music is piped into the galley and on the deck, reminding me of the era in which this transport served active duty in the Pacific. It was a short stint, just 37 months. She sailed almost around the globe, served her time, and at present she’s by the side of the bay for tourists to walk around on and gawk at.

On the shore sit other historic vessels and aircraft. A diesel fuel Submarine, the USS Drum, is up on pilings, and a monstrous B-52 sits upward on the backyard.

“The men desire to see the gun turrets, and the big guns on the deck. The women want to see the living quarters and the big galleys where they made meals for hundreds of sailors,” said our enthusiastic museum guide.

The average age of the enlisted sailor was near 21; many were much, much younger. Many of the soldiers and sailors of WWII were likewise young but didn’t want to miss the excitement so they got in anyway.

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Country Highways

While the Battleship was one of our morning time stops, nosotros traveled on over the two-lane highways through southern Alabama. On the sides of the road most of the houses were built on cinder blocks, no cellars down here. Peanuts were for sale in every shop and some downtown storefronts were sad and bare. Information technology seemed the towns here are either thriving or just out of gas.

A Egret on Alabama's Gulf Coast. Max Hartshorne photo.
A Egret on Alabama’s Gulf Coast. Max Hartshorne photograph.

We passed a facility that makes big alpine telephone poles and pilings for docks. These directly and tall pines were decimated by Hurricane Ike in 2005, flattened and downward. The result is far fewer copse for lumber and poles, and much more for pulp and paper. A man in Monroeville said that he notices it a lot when he goes out hunting, acres of blown down trees. It was a roughshod storm.

The Courthouse in Monroeville, AL, where each spring the town performs To Kill a Mockingbird starring local citizens as actors.
The Courthouse in Monroeville, AL, where each bound the town performs To Kill a Mockingbird starring local citizens equally actors.

In Monroeville, their claim to fame is a literary one… Harper Lee’s seminal novel, To Impale a Mockingbird was written here, based on these same small towns. At an advanced age, Lee still lives in these parts, and the courthouse dates back to 1903.

The flick starring Gregory Peck was filmed here and every yr the 7000 residents of Monroeville join together for a series of performances.

They put on the stage version using the outside of the courthouse for Human action 1, and the gorgeous round within of the court for Act 2. Information technology brings lawyers, local businessmen, and children together to play the familiar roles such as Scout and Atticus in the play which takes place in late April and May every year.

Other Literary Notables

The other notables that Monroeville likes to claim equally its ain are novelist and human being-most-Manhattan Truman Capote, as well as legendary musician Hank Williams. Truman’s dearest aunt lived in Monroeville, and he liked to come down and visit. In one case Capote came in his new Jaguar XKE and wowed the townsfolk, and his photograph appeared in the local newspaper.

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Inside the courthouse at Monroeville where the movie was filmed.
Inside the courthouse at Monroeville where the movie was filmed.

The Old Courthouse Museum is a must-see for anyone who wants to know more than nearly both Harper Lee and Truman Capote. Sadly, the house where Truman lived for a short time has been torn down, at present in that location’southward only a stone wall and a soft-serve ice cream joint there.

Alabama’due south Gulf Shore

Along the Gulf Coast, storms can whip up pretty quickly, every bit nosotros establish out one day as we ate breakfast on the outdoor deck of
Tacky Jack’south
in Orange Beach.

A ferocious thunderstorm came up after looming grey clouds rolled over us. We retreated inside and institute out that this fiddling joint is a frequent favorite of music star Jimmy Buffet, who comes by on one of his boats. He was born in Mobile and loves the Gulf shore expanse.

Downtown Fairhope, Alabama.
Downtown Fairhope, Alabama.

Alabama we learned, loves big, big portions of just well-nigh whatever meal, and more than than once our waiter made the claim ‘nobody ever finishes that’ with a hint of pride. (I kept thinking, ‘Maybe you should serve a smaller portion,’ but I’m not from Alabama, so what do I know?)

Case A would have to be the omelettes at
Tacky Jacks. They are and then big they encompass the entire plate! Beneath the eggs is a nest of homefries…and yes, nobody volition finish such a mountain of nutrient. The same thing with the bread pudding at
Wintzell’s Oyster Business firm
in Mobile. A trivial likewise much of a very good thing!

Along the Declension

Our guides said several times with a smile that we should stop by
Florabama. It’s a funky rambling shack where great music is played and there is a beam extending beyond the middle of the chief dance area.

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Breakfast at Tacky Jacks in Orange AL. photo by Max Hartshorne.
Breakfast at Tacky Jacks in Orangish AL. photo past Max Hartshorne.

It is lined with a hundred or so woman’s bras, displayed in all their glory, with a lone pair of men’due south boxerbriefs upwards there with them.

The night we popped in the rocking band was playing ‘Hot Rod Lincoln’ banging it out on a stand up-upwards bass and a full outfit of guitars and drums.

Girls wearing tanks and halter tops slithered through the bar, with the thunderous dissonance of the band keeping anyone from speaking conspicuously to one another.

At the door was a muscular adult female with big tatoos and a line of Harleys stretched down the archway. A popular drink is the Bushwacka, Frozen yogurt and 151 rum.

Florabama dance floor.
Florabama dance flooring.

To many of the jaded denizens of the Northeast USA, Alabama isn’t a spot they’d e’er consider visiting. But the fact is, Alabama has a whole lot to offer, and is amongst the nearly cute places in the entire Southern half of the U.s.!

There are some blighted down-on-their luck towns, scarred by airtight paper mills and desolate downtowns, only then you come to a boondocks like Fairhope, and are struck by the flowers along the sidewalk and the bustling cafe culture.

Nosotros found many such surprises; Foley with its sprawling model railroad display and town spirit, Monroeville with its townwide appreciation of a truly classic American novel, and the lovely sprawling beach towns on the Gulf like Orange Embankment.

Storm approaches in Orange Beach, AL.
Storm approaches in Orangish Beach, AL.

Whatever state where they have a thing like a Jubilee, (where fish and clams embankment themselves to be picked upwards past waiting seafood lovers) is a special place… and whether it’s Alabama’south “Curl Tide” or Auburn’southward “War Eagle,” I’m now a fan of the state that the locals lovingly call “Sweet Home Alabama.”