What we are thinking

Feb. 25, 2020

Author Ernest Hemingway was once asked if he could write a novel with only six words.  He took a pencil and scribbled on a sheet of paper, “For sale: Baby shoes. Never worn.” Hemingway’s story was powerful because it caused the reader to try and fill in what was not said that caused the shoes to come on the baby shoe market. Were the shoes simply not needed by a healthy child? Or was there a tragic loss—something requiring God’s deep love and comfort?

 I am not gifted in my writing ability to bring out such imaginative meanderings on the part of the reader with the use of such a small group of words.  But it does seem to me that there is a book in every person waiting to be told, either by the hand of that person or with the aid of a biographer friend.  Also the ability to get a book on the Amazon shelf has never been easier.  With the help of a laptop and Word, you can provide your grand kids with the story of your life very inexpensively.  Amazon’s Kindle publishing service can get your book ready to publish with almost no upfront cost if you can submit your edited and formatted manuscript to them. And you don’t have to buy a truck load of books.  You can simply buy one and take a close look at it before deciding to buy more.

 Since I retired I have had the pleasure of helping about twenty people publish their first book.  There is a great deal of satisfaction to be had in holding your first book in your hand and knowing that people all over the world can purchase one of them from Amazon.  And some of the life experiences and struggles with hard times of these people would amaze the young people of today.  It is difficult to imagine folks coming to adulthood with no electricity, no indoor plumbing, no garbage pickup, no cable TV, no phone, no central heat and air, and no automobiles.  This was the case with some of the people I have helped in the publishing of their book.  And yet they survived, and in many cases thrived.

 Anyone can publish a blog that will be a source of news to all who are made aware of it and decide to read it.  To me, photos and words on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc., are all forms of publishing to the public.  President Trump has aggravated much of the modern media with his Twitter output in the last three years.

 It is also very easy to set up a website to communicate with the world about yourself, your business or your organization.  Helping the outside world become aware of the enjoyment of small country community living and its history has been a source of much enjoyment for me with our Red Hill Historical Preservation Association, Inc. website, www.redhillcommunityclub.com. I would also recommend the Facebook site, “Forgotten Alabama” which allows people all over the state to publish photos of buildings no longer in use, along with comments regarding their history.  I encourage you to provide your grandchildren with a book, hard copy or electronic, about how it was when you grew up.


Feb. 21, 2020

Sometimes, when you stop to think about it, the pace of changing technology is overwhelming, especially to older people.  I used to reflect on my Grandmother Hall’s life span and what she was able to witness during her 94 years on this planet.  She saw covered wagons in the 1890’s and a rocket put a man on the moon in 1969. She rode in wagons that used buggy whips to increase the speed and in automobiles that used a pedal on the floor to increase the speed.  In the early days of the twentieth century it took all day to make a trip to any of the four towns around Lake Martin, Dadeville, Alexander City, Tallassee or Wetumpka. Of course there was no Lake Martin in those days and it might not have taken the whole day to go to some of them.  Today you can go to all four towns and be home for lunch.


These days I reflect on the changes in technology I have experienced and find myself amazed at the pace in which things have changed.  I understand that Gordon Griffith had the first phone in Red Hill in the mid-1940’s.  My cousin Sellers Hall had joined the USAF and wanted to call his mother on Mr. Gordon’s phone. His mother had to walk from where the rock house on Castaway Island Road is just down below the vet’s office, to 4068 Red Hill Road where Mr. Gordon then lived to receive the call, which is just over a mile.  Prior to Mr. Gordon getting the first phone, Mr. Palmer Taylor had sold his grocery business across from the Red Hill School and moved to Eclectic so that he could get phone service for his new petroleum products distribution business.


Not too long after I got out of the USAF in 1960, I went to work for IBM in Tampa, Florida.  At that time computers were electro-mechanical devices rather than electronic and received most of their information from punched cards.  Within a few years I had the responsibility to maintain all the computers in all the banks in Tampa.  At that time the holes in the cards were the data of the card and were read with metal fingers being pushed through the hole in the card.  Very soon the holes were being read by a light going through the hole to a photo cell behind the card.  After that came magnetic character recognition using characters printed in magnetic ink.  Still later characters could be photo scanned.


All those bank computers in Tampa, with all their computing power, could not come close to matching the cell phone in my hand today.  The first car phone I owned almost filled up my trunk space. And it could only be used in a limited number of areas. Today my hand held device can just about be used everywhere. With Google and a cell phone you can just about find out everything you wish to know about just about everything.


The futurists are predicting driverless cars and trucks.  What is going to happen to all the truck drivers without a job, all the taxi drivers and Uber drivers no longer needed?

Jun. 7, 2019

Growing up in Red Hill in the 1940's sometimes depended on personal improvisation to provide for fun activities. One of our favorites about this time of the year was to tie a cotton string to one of the rear legs of a June bug and allow it to fly around you while tethered to the string. Helium filled balloons were hard to come by in this area but the June bugs attached to the string in our fingers was an amusing substitute. I always tried to let my June bug go free after he tired out.

Jul. 28, 2017

As you drive by what must be the highest building in Elmore County, Alabama, located just south of downtown Wetumpka, the thought drifts by that the Indians, or Native Americans, or what ever name satisfies your people description requirements, that they are having the last laugh.  The old Creek Indian Land boundary line ran up in a generally northwest direction from the Chattahoochee River and crossed the Tallapoosa River very near where the second Creek Casino stands today.  At that point it went up into Elmore County slightly before heading directly west to the Coosa River on the south side of what is today downtown Wetumpka.  In fact Boundary Street, on the south side of the Wetumpka downtown area, runs along that line.  This boundary marked the last stand of the Creek Indians against the steady onslaught of the American settler's usurpation of their ancestral homelands.  That the Creeks are back in Wetumpka, that they are completing the tallest and most beautiful building in the area, not far from their old boundary line, and that they are preparing to relieve the palefaces of much of the contents of their coin purse with their beautiful new casino, just has to make the ghosts of those Creeks buried so long ago in the vicinity of the new casino area howl with a laughter of vindication at last.  For all the crooked land deals in which they were victimized in their lands east of Wetumpka, for the forced, long and arduous trip down the Alabama River to Mobile, from Mobile over to New Orleans, from New Orleans up the Mississippi to Arkansas, and the trek from Arkansas by foot to Oklahoma, payday has finally arrived. Few people in this area know that hundreds of them were killed when a steamboat going down the Mississippi ran into, and split apart, the boat on which the Indians were being transported upriver to Arkansas.  And now probably more than 500 local white eyes will wind up working for them in their new facility.  For the Creator of the universe, truly, payday is not always on Friday.  But a reaping in the early 2000's is following the sowing in the early 1800's.

Mar. 20, 2017

Below is a pic of field of broom sage, which is quite common in this area.   While broom sage may not be all that impressive in its areas of growth, it was used often the early half of the 1900's to make brooms for sweeping the floors of homes in our area.  My step-grandfather, John Henry Abrams, walked the countryside in the Red Hill area, cutting profuse amounts of the straw, bringing it home and using string to tie it into small handbrooms for sweeping floors, firesides, and porches.