Readers share what makes small-town life special
In the February and March issues, we asked you to tell us what makes your hometowns special, and you gave us some great responses. It may be the generosity of the people, the appreciation for history, the spirit of community, or the heart of its leaders. In this time of uncertainty, our hometowns ground us and help us feel safe and hopeful.
Enjoy what these readers had to say. Some responses are edited for length or clarity; unfortunately, we weren’t able to use all of them. But you can read all the entries at alabamaliving.coop.
Want to highlight your hometown? Email Allison Law at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we may use your comments in a future story.
As the spread of COVID-19 consumes our lives and workplaces, it is during a time of crisis such as this when angels appear out of nowhere and answer the call for help. The town of Moulton, with a population of roughly 3,200, is home to two locally-owned businesses that have teamed up to do something incredibly worthy for healthcare professionals.
Red Land Cotton, manufacturer of bedding and towels from cotton grown on the family farm, and Southern Sewn partnered to produce face masks for the University of Alabama at Birmingham.
Six years ago, International Paper shut down its operations. The ramifications of the closure affected not just the 1,100 displaced workers, but was a blow to the school system and the local government that relied on IP for revenue. Today, the town still struggles, but as Alabama’s health care system is stretched to its limits, these two Moulton businesses have stepped up to help in the COVID-19 fight.
My husband and I both grew up on a farm and have always been country at heart. We had a handicapped child who could not attend school where we lived because she had to have help that was not offered in the small school at that time.
My husband got a job in the city where they had a small class for handicapped children. We moved and stayed in the city until he retired.
We moved to the town of Trinity and love it. My husband has since passed away, but I feel safer and more a part of the community here.
It’s very quiet and peaceful. Even the police and maintenance services are better. The real bonus is having an amazing church family and good caring neighbors. So blessed to live here.
3. Red Bay
Our city of Red Bay has much to brag about. Located in northwest Alabama, it’s named for its red clay banks and its bay trees. It’s a special place to live, work and play.
Arbor Day is celebrated annually, and Red Bay’s Garden Club members take pride in the beautification of our city. One member of the club has transplanted bay trees from the woods for special occasions.
Visiting Red Bay, you’ll meet the nicest people. You’ll be treated like somebody. We believe and know that everyone is somebody. Wherever you reside in Alabama, it will be worth your trip to visit beautiful downtown Red Bay!
Mae Jean Hastings
Editor’s note: The most humorous submission we received was from Robert Quattlebaum of Dothan, who included a photocopy of an old letter to the editor in the local newspaper.
Quattlebaum writes: “My hometown, written many years ago. Don’t know the author but it’s an interesting read. Funny too!”
The unsigned letter was apparently a response to a previous article that poked fun at the little town of Malvern, and the writer was suitably aggravated. He or she noted several points that prove Malvern was superior to Dothan, its larger neighbor to the east:
“Malvern has less juvenile delinquency than Dothan. … No infringement of the law was existent during the Christmas holidays, and none is expected for the remainder of the year. … Malvern has produced three professional prize fighters, all having fought in Madison Square Garden (names on request) … Malvern is in the process of paving the main street, and citizens there have not experienced any difficulty in getting to and from their homes and businesses. Compare this, Mr. Editor, with Dothan. … Malvern has had no lawsuits, or any pending, caused by hazards and un- safe condition on streets and sidewalks.”
“So you can observe from these facts that Malvern is not as small as it once was and considerable credit should be given.”
No doubt, the editor was suitably chastened!
My hometown of Coffeeville is special because what it lacks in population, it makes up for in courage, character and hospitality. The relaxed culture can be a welcome change for some, while also being a humble beginning for others. I am grateful I had the opportunity to grow up there, surrounded by family who instilled values such as integrity, accountability and respect that I can now pass on to my children.
Coffeeville is located in the southwest corner of Alabama. It is known for its hunting and fishing and has the third largest lake in the Black Warrior and Tombigbee system. It’s on the state birding trail, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers operates and maintains a modern campground located just two miles west of town. About 25,000 campers from all over the U.S. visit the park each year.
No matter how far I may travel, Coffeeville will always be “home.”
7. Union Springs
To those who call it home, Union Springs is the center of the universe. Not only is it geographically located among some of Alabama’s best cities, people everywhere seem to be connected to it by relatives, friends or events.
Union Springs is located in Bullock County, whose history is rich in hunting and outdoor activities. It’s home to two national bird-dog field trials and is a mecca for hunting and fishing.
The area also offers theatre and art. In its 17thyear, the Red Door Theatre produces multiple shows a year, all Southern in nature. The theatre annually welcomes over 2,000 guests. The city’s downtown is home to five original murals celebrating the area’s history and culture.
History lovers will find 45 buildings located on the National Register of Historic Places, as well as one of the first public gardens in the U.S.
This center of the universe is my hometown, loved by its residents and welcoming to its visitors.
My hometown is the unlikely place named Leroy, in Washington County. It is a spread-out community (if it was all pushed together it would be much more impressive looking). It has a lot of farming area, but most people work in the nearby chemical plants and paper mill.
Most importantly, it has some of the most wonderful people you would ever want to be around. When anyone loses a family member or has any kind of trouble, so many people are there to be with you.
Our school’s sports teams have won numerous state championships, of which we are very proud. We have churches that are blessings to our area.
I love Leroy, and anyone would be lucky to live here.
Mary Bowling Glover