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Monday, August 8, 2011

DAY 204: DALEVILLE - LEVEL PLAINS - NEW BROCKTON - ELBA, ALABAMA -

Had a running battle with ANTS all last night while parked at the VFW...believe they were hold-outs, not new critters. Probably a new batch hatched out. By this evening, they are back under reasonable control.

From DALEVILLE, ALABAMA, walked West on US 84 at day light for 10 miles. Said Goodbye to the VFW crew and drove to the small village of NEW BROCKTON, ALABAMA, where SPIA parked in a residential neighborhood most of the day. Walked BACK on US 84 towards the large city of ENTERPRISE, ALABAMA - which we drove around the circle route to avoid the down town area. Picked up some ice from WAL*MART along the way -; then walked West for another 14 miles before returning to SPIA.

Met the most delightful young lady, Tonya, who lived across the street from SPIA parking spot. Should have spent more time chatting and meeting the family who were embarked on a major yard clean-up / renovation project. Decisions Decisions....folks ask me what is the most important moment of my walk...took me a long time to realize that the most important moment of any life IS THE PRESENT MOMENT...decisions made at this moment may effect the rest of your life...and perhaps the lives of many others also.

The morning was again with heavy fog.

Finally, a river with some running water...most waterways around these parts are sluggish or not moving at all.

A passer-by.

The small whistle-stop of LEVEL PLAINS, ALABAMA.

Stopped in the Convenience Store for a moment break. Met three gentlemen ... actually they were conversing while sitting at a table...there was an empty chair, so asked if I may join them.

What ensued was one of the most stimulating conversations of recent weeks. The three gentlemen were local farmers...all with strong opinions about our current government and the trouble our Nation finds itself.

Please say HELLO to C.C. Martin, of C.C. MARTIN FARM, LLC.

If he did not have an earlier appointment, we would have chatted much longer.

No, we will not divulge our discussion on this blog.



The area around this part of Alabama is very hilly...say small foothills. LEVEL PLAINS, of course, lies on a flat spot where a number of hills come together.

As I departed from the VFW at daybreak, this one-eyed fellow came over to greet me. He was overly friendly...trying to climb into SPIAs Driver Seat

US 84 negotiates many hills...none more appealing that the above vista.

A Sign Of The Times This gentemen - who has a pronounced walking malady - is picking up aluminum cans. I passed him by twice - once coming and once going...he carrying a large plastic bag bulging with recovered cans.

Vegetation along US 84 is very thick.

I think of this view as my Columbus Road...the world surely drops off up there:

Historical note: Not popular among Historians, I have come to learn that Columbus - as Magellan after him - both carried quite detailed MAPS of the Americas during their initial voyages...anyone care to guess who made those maps and when ??? Answer tomorrow.

This is NEW BROCKTON -

All shops on this street are vacant.

Some elegant homes line old US 84 - new US 84 by-passes NEW BROCKTON.

The residence, I believe, of the leader of the Church two photographs below.

The home across the street from the Church.

The Church - one of three on the same block..the other two pictured below.

Church # 2 on the Block.

Church # 3 on the Block.

I sometimes wonder ...no, never mind !

While walking from NEW BROCKTON, covered more than enough miles to reach the next town, ELBA, ALABAMA...a most interesting town. Above is US 84, the main drag through ELBA.

This photograph is to show the brand new sidewalks in the Village Square of ELBA.

ELBA is centered around a Town Square. This is street # 2...not a single business in any of the shops on this street...and for a very good reason.

I was fortunate to have a few minutes with first Ben, and then with Chief W.D. Jordan, of the ELBA Fire Department. Among other things I learned is that ELBA has been the victim of a series of disastrous floods. ALL of the buildings in the above photograph have been rendered usless by repeated flooding over the last nearly 100 years.

At the center of ELBA Town Square sits this most elegant COURT HOUSE, recently renovated after the flood of 1999.

This ornate Fountain fronts the Court House. It would be at home in any city in the World.

When looking at ELBAs Library, one must wonder at the past grandeur of the town.

Chief Jordan gave me quite a few details. ELBA, with a present population of 3,500, once was a bustling industrial town with two major factories...one manufacturing 18-wheeler Trailers; the other children's clothing. They each employed near or above 2,000 workers as recent as 1990.

The repeated floods caused the Trailer manufacturing to halt 18-wheeler trailer production to eek out survival by keeping less than 100 folks employed manufacturing specialty trailers.

The US / CANADA / MEXICO Trade Agreements caused the manufacturer of children's clothing
to close their plant and move the entire operation to Mexico.

Bottom line: approximately 4,000 jobs have been recently lost, leaving ELBA with no means of maintaining the past standard of living.

The 3rd side of the Town Square.

Chief Jordan explained that the first big flood was in 1929 (or there about), with a second flood in 1970, followed by another in 1990, 1994, and finally 1999.

The town sits on the banks of the Pea River. The US Corps of Engineers long ago built a dike completely around ELBA, only to have the river rise over and through, flooding the town up to 18 concrete blocks deep.

Two years ago, the water of the Pea River once again reached the top of the dike, only to recede before spilling over again. Where US 84 Bridge crosses the Pea River, there is installed large Steel Gates of about 8 feet high, which can be closed by electric motors attached to batteries. They were nearly closed two years ago. Chief Jordan is concerned if that should happen, as his Fire Department would then have no access to the other side of the river with the gate blocking US 84.

Impressive homes abound in ELBA.

By the way, ELBA was named in recent years by drawing a slip out of a hat. Each resident made a name suggestion on a slip of paper. The slip drawn had ELBA written on it. Questioned as to why ELBA, the author of the slip, a local lady, explained that the Little General (Napoleon Bonaparte) was exiled to the South Atlantic Island of Elba. Her town is also a town surrounded by high dikes...in every way, just as isolated as the Elba of Napoleon.

One of the few businesses located on the Town Square of ELBA, ALABAMA.

Nearly every town I have walked in the deep South has a number of Second-Hand Stores. This one caught my eye...I may return to this store tomorrow and purchase the above beautiful mosquito bed net...it is gorgeous.

Sorry, Chief Jordan; the only photograph I took of your Fire Department was this pressurized hand pump on a cart.

And here is the cause of all the despair in the Island town of ELBA, ALABAMA:

THE PEA RIVER

And, the dike which protects ELBA from the Pea River tantrums.

The steel gate across the US 84 Pea River Bridge...raises the dike level another 8 feet at the bridge.

And, finally, there sits SPIA

Looking down into the Pea Riverside Park, a view from the US 84 bridge.

The Chamber Of Commerce offices arranged for SPIA to park here, complete with electricity. The lady in charge even called to Police Department to let them know we are here. During my conversation with Fire Chief Jordan...he says...Oh, is that your vehicle down there; yep, the whole town knows we have dropped by.

Yours Truly: a self image taken at the height of the heat and humidity. At the suggestion of the EMS folks, I no longer wear a shirt under my vest. I stay much cooler...and I am receiving many more waves and Honk Honk from passing motorists.

My friend, Ralph, made the comment a few weeks ago that "Old People Are Not News"..."to get noticed, you must do something quite extraordinary."

My left leg is very sore this evening I may take another day off while enjoying ELBA.

Reminder: To enlarge photographs, double click the picture.

1 comment:

Marilyn Eaton said...

You are quite an amazing person. I have spent the last couple of hours reading bits here and there to get the condensed version. I am amazed at the tenacity of the generation that came before mine and think the rest of us could learn alot about perseverence and determination. I will be friending you on Facebook and will recommend it to my friends and family of all generations.