CommunityPam's House Blend

Photos from Birmingham

I love this one; the no-tell motel has a diver on its sign; we drove in the parking lot and there’s no pool to be found — but we did see a tidy yard with a sorry-looking lawn chair on it. Katie said this place has been around forever, and that the pool was probably filled in long ago.

Still have to scan the loft tour brochure, but I thought that I’d put up some pix…

This is the town/county where Kate’s relatives’ house (on Smith Lake) is located. It is, as one reader said, one of the most culturally backward parts of the state. They do, however, have wireless internet at a local Mexican restaurant, lol. We had lunch there, and a large table of young locals was giving us the evil eye, since clearly I “didn’t belong.” Fortunately, we finished up and left.

Yesterday, after the hotel flooding incident, Kate and I did a little detour to Irondale, little town/neighborhood that was the inspiration for Fannie Flagg‘s Fried Green Tomatoes. It’s a tiny town, in fact, the “historic district” where the Whistle Stop Cafe is located, is about 3 blocks long. I took some pix of some of the interesting things there (click to enlarge):

The last couple I took in Irondale were funny, though the pix didn’t turn out too well. There was this sad-looking van for sale in a yard that had fundamentalist stuff all over it. It had the biggest sign of the fish I’ve seen painted on its hatch, along with a bumper sticker that said “If Jesus is your co-pilot, SWAP SEATS!“. It also had “I live for the Lord” on the side door. It looks like it’s been out there for a while.

Back to the loft tour on Saturday. Here are some pictures of buildings that have been rehabbed and are now homes for commercial businesses again.

Below is our favorite building downtown, City Federal. It was vacant for over 11 years before recent plans to convert it into condos. They have not begun the restoration/construction yet, but surely this will be one of the coolest addresses in Birmingham. The building, which opened in 1913, is on 2026 2nd Avenue North, and has views of the entire city.

One last story before I forget it. Katie and I stopped in McD’s for some tea one AM, and we were hit full force by the oddity that is self-segregation in Birmingham. Kate noted that we got some interesting looks when we came in together and ordered. The all-black staff behind the counter looked at us strangely, which I really didn’t take note of — Kate did. She had told me before that despite all the civil rights struggles, blacks and whites really don’t socialize. We asked for confirmation of this with a cousin, who said this is definitely the case. Interracial dating is still a big problem in most social circles of any kind in Brimingham.

When we sat down, Kate wanted to get some jam for a biscuit, and when she went up, she said they gave her the up-and-down as if “why are you there with a ‘sister’.” We laughed it off, but it’s really sad, and a foreign concept to my experience here in Durham, which didn’t experience the level of racial conflict that Birmingham did. I think that has to be a factor. No one here was siccing dogs or turning fire hoses on people. The legacy of that sh*t is hard to erase if white folks are in denial mode and black folks are too wary to let the past go.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding