Day 497: Bay Minette

Sipping a cup of French roast coffee in the Emerald Victorian library, Laetitia decided this would be their last day in Alabama. She and her group started the day in Mobile and visited the antebellum Bragg-Mitchell Mansion first. John Bragg, a Mobile judge built the house in 1855. Their next stop was the Mobile Carnival Museum, which highlights the history of Mardi Gras. Mobile claims to be the birthplace of the festival. The group’s final stop was at the USS Alabama Battleship Memorial Park. The ship saw action during World War II. Afterward they went to Bay Minette, where they were spending the evening. It’s a town of about 8,000 that began in 1861 as a junction for the Louisville and Nashville Railroad. Minette was the surname of a French surveyor who once worked in the area.

After dropping her group at the hotel with a meeting time for going to dinner, Laetitia went to a local Irish pub. The man sitting at her left at the bar was studying the history of the French in the area and was a great source of local lore. He said that little would be known about the town’s surveyor, Minette, except for the diary of a French crony who owned a local drinking establishment. According to the diary, Minette was a well-known carouser and raconteur in addition to being a surveyor. Obviously he had a first name, but unfortunately it has become enshrouded in the mists of time, likely because his drinking friends mostly knew him by the nickname they gave him, “Faire.” He had left his wife, Yvette, behind in France. Having finished his work in Bay Minette, he had moved west in search of new adventures when she came looking for him. Unable to find her husband, she made the best of things with a young lad from the local community, even though they had a language barrier. Laetitia decided to make her story the limerick of the day.

When a pretty French housewife, Yvette
Searched in vain as she sought Faire Minette
She soon found a lad young
Who despite his strange tongue
Was in Bay Minette her surest bet.

Day 496: Opp Fop

Situated along the southern border of Alabama just above the northern border of the Florida panhandle, Conecuh National Forest comprises 83,000 acres of pinewoods, hardwood swamps, bogs, winding streams, and cypress ponds. Laetitia chose it after a number of bird watchers contacted the headquarters of Mind’s Eye Limerick Tours—wherever that is—and asked to go to Conecuh in the hope that they would see red-cockaded woodpecker. The species is endangered, nearly wiped out when the long-leaf pine forests where they nested were logged off in the 1930s and replaced with slash pine. A reforestation effort is underway, and there is hope that when the trees mature, numbers of the red-cockaded woodpecker will increase to the extent that they can be removed from the endangered list.

After a day of hiking and wildlife watching in the national forest, Laetitia brought her group to Opp, where they were spending the night. It’s a city of about 6,500 that advertises itself as the “City of OPPortunity.” The city offers an annual Rattlesnake Rodeo that features, among other events, a rattlesnake race. Opp’s chief exports seem to be college and professional quality football players. Some gossip overheard on the street was about a local ladies’ man named Fauntleroy whose style was out of the Cole Porter/Fred Astaire era. He was a dancer, songwriter, and old-fashioned nightclub crooner who contrasted with the city’s reputation of producing brawny athletes. He became the subject of the day’s limerick.

By the men of the village of Opp
Fauntleroy was considered a fop
Who went ‘round in spats
And fancy cravats
But the ladies all thought him “the top.”

Day 495: Pranks in Banks

Leaving Eufaula, Laetitia took the day’s group to Blue Springs, Alabama. It’s a community of about 120 people surrounded by a state park. Blue Springs State Park is built around a clear blue spring that wells up from underground. Swimming is allowed in the spring’s pool, and Laetitia and her group tried it, but found the 56 degree farenheit temperatures a bit chilly. Afterward they went north to Tsinia Wildlife Viewing Area near Tuskeegee, where they spent the rest of the day hiking and bird watching. They spent the evening in Banks, Alabama, where some gossip about a local woman’s unusual habit and a Halloween prank provided the limerick of the day.

The habit of Mary from Banks
To make love while atop propane tanks
She soon had to cease
For boys smeared them with grease
As one of their Halloween pranks.

Day 494: Eufaula Paula

Laetitia and her group left Wilsonville, crossing the Coosa River north of Lay Lake, and went to Talladega National Forest at the southern end of the Appalachian Mountains. At 2,407 feet above sea level, Mount Cheaha is the highest point in Alabama. The group went hiking in Cheaha State Park in a lovely natural area with rocky outcrops and waterfalls. Then they went south to their evening’s destination, Eufaula. Eufaula was named for a Creek Indian tribe that had a village where the present day city now stands. The group visited the city’s extensive historic district before Laetitia took them to their hotel. Some gossip at happy hour about an Eufaula native who went to a local outlet mall in unusual attire became the limerick of the day.

While gadding about at the mall, a
Quite buxom young lady named Paula
Wore a sheer body stocking
That proved to be shocking
To the dowager set in Eufaula.