It wasn't love at first sight, my early memories of being in Alabama: A not-so-willing participant in my folks' latest cross-country adventure, I'd already developed an attitude. Late night, my dad became lost 'midst Selma's civil unrest ... in our ancient yellow Caddy boasting "Goldwater for President" stickers.
Fast-forward several decades: So excited to spend time with my son and his family, who've called Alabama "home" for years. Say what you will about the South, but I'm smitten by their manner of speech, their genuine regard for ladies and senior citizens.
While DH and I'd planned to head home a day before, we were persuaded to linger and enjoy Montgomery's Independence Day festivities along the Alabama riverfront.
Honestly, I didn't know what to expect ... certainly not the magical evening of
'Couldn't help but steal glances at our friend's MIL -- newly immigrated from Russia, unable to speak more than a few words in English -- her sweet face lit up like that of a child.
As is often the case - subtle changes in audio and fireworks signaled an approaching finale. As parents began gathering quilts and hampers, the music's intensity grew: Battle Hymn of the Republic segues to God Bless America, into our National Anthem. By this time, every able-bodied soul had risen, unbidden, hands over hearts.
"Oer' the landdddd of the freeeeee....and the hommmme of the brave!""
I'm readying to grab a child's hand, race to the exit. But no, wait just a minute.
Without missing a beat, here come those unmistakable first notes -- "Sweet Home Alabama."
I'm pretty sure no disrespect was intended, but even 5 years later, that memory tickles me to pieces: Star Spangled Banner's been trumped by Leonard Skynard!! Know your audience!