We here at Serpents of Bienville have a lot of different projects currently running. One project that we are particularly excited about is the Alabama Oddities pieces that Amanda is writing for our social media sites. She is doing daily updates, bringing you a new story every morning, of something strange and odd from our Southern home. Not everyone has social media, so we will be doing weekly rundown's of her stories, which we will be publishing every Sunday. We hope you guys enjoy, and remember to follow us on our social media sites to get daily Alabama Oddities stories. Enjoy!
Monday December 14th - Though Shall Not Worship Melton
William Joseph Melton was a wealthy plantation owner and a heavy political player in Pine Apple, Alabama. His daughter wanted to do something special upon his passing, and brought a photograph of him across seas to a skilled Italian sculptor to recreate his image in memorial. The gravestone showed up by boat, and the people of Pine Apple were immediately outraged. They refused to let the statue stand as a false idol to be worshipped in their community so strictly sticking to their ten commandments. Eventually, the people of the town decided to allow the daughter's gesture of love for her father to be placed on his grave, but only if it was laying down. Slowly, the Christian congregation broke down and let the statue of William Joseph Melton stand up tall, still posed atop his grave at Friendship Baptist Church Cemetery in Pine Apple.
Tuesday December 15th - Sand Island Lighthouse
The Sand Island Lighthouse has a long, deep history of death and destruction, much like the barrier island it was built for to beckon lost seamen. Sand island is a barrier island of Dauphin Island, a barrier island to Mobile, Alabama. Built in 1837, the land around the 55 foot lighthouse was obviously eroding and moving quickly, so a new lighthouse tower was constructed by 1858. In 1861, the tower was burned down, killing the Union Soldiers hiding at the top, caught spying into Fort Morgan. A stand-in wooden structure was built in 1864 until the lighthouse could be rebuilt bigger and better than before, stretching to 125 feet. The foundation started crumbling almost immediately due to erosion. Two keepers lived with their wives in the newly constructed keeper house when a hurricane hit in 1906. One of the keepers went to warn folks on the mainland, and the other keeper and two women were taken with the light out to sea, never to be seen again. The light went out again in 1919 when another hurricane hit the island. When it didn't come back on, a landing party went out to see what the trouble was. The entire island was deserted. The keepers' boat washed up on shore a few days later, but the keepers were never found.
Wednesday December 16th - Jim Bird’s Hay Bale Art
Today's oddity is more of a photographic adventure into the quirky wonderment that is Jim Bird's Hay Bale Art, displayed along Highway 43 in Forkland, Alabama. He started this this public service in 1993. If you head up that way and catch him in his golf cart with a golden foo dog strapped to the top, he'll tell you all about it! Enjoy!
Thursday December 17th - Old St. Stephens
Old St. Stephens is "where Alabama Began", being the first capital the moment Alabama was granted statehood. Archeologists from the University of South Alabama have been working tirelessly to dig up and map out the once thriving town that has been reclaimed by Mother Nature. The one thing that has not been explained by historical accounts is the "Indian Bath Tubs". The land had been claimed by the French, Spanish, and British, as well as being Native American ground at different points in time, so no one really knows who dug these tubs. A natural spring runs into the tubs, keeping the water continually fresh and constantly chilly. It is doubtful that anyone actually use these holes to bathe, with the water being too cold for enjoyable use, though some have speculated the use of these structures to be of therapeutic, or even torturous means.
Friday December 18th - Five Points Children
County Road 222 through Five Points, Alabama used to have a railway running through it. Legend has it that a teenage boy was driving across the train track laden bridge with his girlfriend and decided it was a good idea to give her a little scare. He turned the car engine off and popped the car in neutral, acting desperate to crank the car back up. He swore to her the car wouldn't start, and just when she became a bit panicked, the worry turned to terror when the train whistle blew and the bright lights were headed straight for them. The problem was, the car really wouldn't start. after every attempt to move the vehicle, the couple decided to abandon the car and jump from the rails. All of a sudden, the car began to roll toward the oncoming train, to the other side of the land bridge, and swerved off the rails, just missing the train barreling by. The car finally started and the couple drove as fast as they could to the nearest fill station. They bounded out of the car only to see the dewey car covered in tiny hand prints that had pushed them to safety.
Saturday December 19th - Prancer, From Alabama
If anyone remembers the 1989 Holiday film "Prancer" starring Sam Elliot, Cloris Leachman, Abe Vigoda, and Rebecca Harrell, then surely you remember the Alabama raised reindeer that stole the show. Her name was Boo and she was raised on the Baldwin farm in Huntsville, Alabama. Her name explains her temperament. She was gentle natured and easily spooked. Coincidentally, this made for the perfect actress to play the role of wounded and lost reindeer of Santa's, to be found and befriended by a young girl and nursed back to health, saving Christmas and living happily ever after, in true family film form. Boo was an instant star, touring the nation and making appearances every holiday season thereafter, pleased to make the acquaintances of gleaming children until she retired back to Huntsville and passed away at the age of 22.
Sunday December 20th - The Fruitcake Lady
Do you remember “The Fruitcake Lady” from the Tonight Show with Jay Leno? If you don’t, go to YouTube right now. Marie Rudisill was invited on initially because of her book named Fruitcake. Jay Leno had her on as a guest on December 14th, 2000, teaching him and Mel Gibson how to make a fruitcake. She was actually the aunt of New Orleans born Truman Capote, and when he would visit her as a child at Christmastime in Monroeville, Alabama, they would bake fruitcakes and send them to people they liked, like the President of the United States, missionaries in Borneo, and the neighbor lady. So she taught Jay and Mel her fruitcake secrets, and in such a hilarious and quick-witted manner, as all wonderful old southern ladies do, that she was invited back in a regular segment known as “Ask the Fruitcake Lady.” She passed away on November 3rd, 2006, four days before the release of her last book, Ask the Fruitcake Lady: Everything You Would Already Know If You Had Any Sense.