In Defense of Alabama

Sean Dietrich


I have here an email from a man who shall remain anonymous. He says:

“Sean, you cannot be serious about moving to Birmingham, Alabama! I’ve lost all respect for you. Anyone who would choose to live in Alabama is a total [beep], I would NEVER move to Alabama by choice.

“I worked in Alabama for 11 years, I’m originally from Brooklyn, and it [Alabama] is the most backwards state … Those people are a bunch of small-minded [beeping beepers] and I’d never move back unless someone paid me a million bucks.”

Call my crazy, but I detect a slightly negative tone in the above letter.

Nevertheless, I won’t get into an argument with the author. Namely, because arguing on the Internet is dangerous business. One grammer mistak can destroy yor entire argumint

As it happens, I’ve visited Brooklyn. It was scary. One night in Brownsville, Brooklyn, I was approached by a man with a knife who was going to rob me. Things were about to get ugly when a local priest finally showed up at the last moment. I didn’t stand a chance against the two of them.

So I’m not going to attempt to change the author’s mind about Alabama, or remind him that most of my family lives here. But I wonder if he realizes how vibrant and unique the Twenty-Second State is.

For starters, Alabama is home to some pivotal American figures such as Rosa Parks, Booker T. Washington, George Washington Carver, Helen Keller and James Spann.

Satchel Paige, Willie Mays and Hank Aaron learned their trade here. So did Hank Williams Sr.

The nation’s first Mardi Gras celebration took place in Mobile, a whopping 15 years before New Orleans was even filling its diapers.

The Saturn V rocket that put Neil and Buzz on moon was designed in Huntsville.

But alas, it has become trendy to trash-talk Alabama. You see a lot of famous people doing it on TV or in print. Still, what about Alabama’s positives?

Consider this. In addition to being the birthplace of the American Civil Rights movement, Alabama also features the third fastest growing Latino population of any U.S. state.

Meaning, not only is Alabama developing one of the country’s most beautifully diverse and international communities, but the taco trucks in Birmingham will strip the enamel from your teeth.

Something else you might not know. Approximately 70% of Alabama is covered in forest. Simply put, there is enough virginal woodland in this state to cover Rhode Island, Delaware, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Connecticut.

To put it in perspective: Alaska is 48% forest; California is 32%; Brooklyn is 60% parking meters.

And since we’re talking about the woods, Alabama is home to the world famous Tree That Owns Itself.

In 1935, a live oak in Eufaula, Alabama, was granted its freedom by the town mayor. Later the oak was uprooted by a tornado, but a new tree was replanted by the International Paper Company, whereupon the tree received a certificate of freedom, a deed to its property and a 30-year-fixed mortgage with a low APR.

Alabama has one of the most biodiverse populations of snails — land snails, freshwater snails, sea snails, hors d’oeuvre snails, etc. Forty-three percent of all known snail species live in Alabama.

Meantime, over in Anniston, stands the world’s largest office chair, comprised of 10 metric tons of steel. Call now for our wedding venue rates.

Speaking of steel, Birmingham sits in a 100-mile long anticlinal valley, one of the few places in the world bearing all three ingredients needed to produce iron and steel: coal, limestone and iron ore.

You want to know what Brooklyn produces? Adam Sandler.

The first 911 call ever dialed was placed in Alabama in 1968, in Haleyville (pop. 4,100). One Friday, Speaker of the House Rankin Fite called the local police station and uttered those eloquent, gracefully spoken words for which history shall always remember him. “Ah, hello?”

Windshield wipers were invented in Alabama. In the winter of 1903, Mary Anderson was forced to visit New York City against her will. There, she rode a streetcar. When the motorman stopped the vehicle to wipe snow from his windshield, Anderson’s first reaction was something to the tune of: “What’s all that white stuff?”

“Haven’t you ever seen snow?” the motorman said.

“I’m from Alabama,” she said.

Then, after a few minutes, Anderson came up with the idea for a mechanically operated automotive blade that, someday, technicians at Jiffy Lube would charge upwards of $63 to replace.

Dothan, Alabama, is the “Peanut Capital of the World”. Half of the peanuts in the United States are grown within a 100-mile radius of Dothan. This means that if there is a jar of JIF, Skippy, Peter Pan in your cabinet, you owe a Dothan farmer a thank-you card.

Over in Magnolia Springs, Alabama, is the only U.S. Mail river-route. My wife used to live in Magnolia Springs before we were married. Her mail was delivered via bass boat every day.

There are 191 boxes along the 31-nautical-mile Magnolia Star River Route. All mail receptacles are located on river docks. This means that river residents are often able to check their mailboxes without once releasing their beers.

Oh, I could go on about Alabama, but I’m running out of room. I could tell you how in Shelby County, Habitat for Humanity workers hold the world record for the fastest home construction (3 hours, 26 minutes and 34 seconds).

I could tell you how the only historically confirmed case of a meteorite colliding with a human being happened in Oak Grove, in 1954. I could tell you how in 1836 Alabama was the first state to declare Christmas as a legal holiday.

But you don’t want to hear these things because you hate it here. And you wouldn’t move back unless someone paid you a “million bucks.”

Well, I’ve never been so grateful not to be a millionaire.


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