From Sea to Shining Sea, Day 4: Columbus, GA to Montgomery, AL
|PHENIX CITY'S RIVERWALK ALONG THE CHATTAHOOCHEE RIVER|
Phenix City was known nationally as "Sin City USA." Criminals had so thoroughly infiltrated the local government that they were making the rules and punishing anyone who wanted to interfere with their rackets. A few brave citizens attempted to start a movement to clean up their town, but these were easily put down by threats and violence.
Finally, concerned citizens realized that help would have to come from outside the city. They persuaded Albert Patterson, a local lawyer and Purple Heart veteran of World War I, to run for attorney general of Alabama. After Patterson won the election, leaders of Phenix City's underworld realized they had a significant problem they needed to handle before the new attorney general could take office and bring the power of state law enforcement into Phenix City.
On the night of June 18, 1954, Patterson worked late at his law office in the Coulter Building. His car was parked between that building and the Elite Cafe next door. As he was getting into his car to go home, he was shot three times with a .38 caliber handgun. Patterson stumbled out of the parking lot on to 5th Avenue before collapsing and dying.
|TROOPS PATROL THE STREETS OF PHENIX CITY IN 1954. (Photo from Birmingham News)|
Within a few years, Phenix City was proclaimed "wholesome." Albert Patterson's murder had been the catalyst for accomplishing the clean-up of Phenix City that he hoped to manage as the state's attorney general, but he paid the ultimate price to achieve it. To bring this interesting bit of history and the courage of Albert Patterson to light, even if in a very small way, we planted a letterbox tribute across the street from his old office.
|COULTER BUILDING IS NO LONGER IN USE, BUT ELITE CAFE FOUND NEW LIFE AS GIRLFRIENDS.|
|DUCK VAN DYKE POSING ON THE LEDGE OF THE DILLINGHAM STREET BRIDGE.|
|BUT WAIT! THIS IS JUST THE BILLBOARD.|
|A TRUCK TURNED PLANTER BESIDE THE GATE OF HILLBILLY MALL|
|BIG JOHN IS WILLING TO SHARE HIS IDEAS AS LONG AS YOU HAVE TIME TO LISTEN.|
We had no difficulty finding the address of the Airmen historic site on Chappie James Drive, but figuring out where to enter was another story. The location of the official National Park Service sign was next to a massive empty parking lot. Downhill and quite a distance from there, we saw buildings that we assumed comprised the installation, so we found a road to take us there.
|HANGAR 1 HOUSES EXHIBITS RELATED TO FLIGHT TRAINING.|
|UNIQUE PAINT OF THE 99TH AIRCRAFT LED TO THE NICKNAME "RED TAILS."|
|EXHIBITS IN HANGAR 1 OFFERED AUDIO OF SOME OF THE AIRMEN DESCRIBING THEIR EXPERIENCES.|
|VISITS TO WASHINGTON'S HOME 'THE OAKS' WERE LIMITED TO GUIDED TOURS.|
|CARVER WAS A MAN OF MANY INTERESTS AND TALENTS.|
|FROM A YOUNG AGE, CARVER WAS A ROCK HOUND. MANY OF HIS SPECIMENS ARE ON EXHIBIT.|
|TUSKEGEE TOWN SQUARE. WHAT DOESN'T BELONG IN THIS PICTURE?|
WEDNESDAY, 16 NOVEMBER 2016
• Ended in: Montgomery, AL
• Miles driven: 106 (788 total)
• Weather: 58° to 72°, sunny
• Letterboxes: 0 found, 2 planted
• Walked: 2.6 miles (10 total)
• States: GA, AL
• Counties: 5
• Towns: 11
• Gas: $2.489 (premium) in Phenix City, AL
• Birdhouses at Hillbilly Mall: 2,176
• Broken-down trucks at HM: 6
• High schoolers visiting Airmen site: 42
• Cotton bolls lining the roadside: 18,347,902
Loved: Meeting Big John Richardson, a self-proclaimed hillbilly whose passion for creating art from found materials, boundless resourcefulness and unceasing stream of ideas is reminiscent of the work of another creative genius who worked in Tuskegee.
Lacking: Adequate funding and staffing for the Tuskegee Airman Historic Site.
Learned: George Washington Carver seemingly could make anything out of anything. He extracted pigments from all kinds of natural materials and—in just one minor use of them—developed a rich array of house paint colors to encourage poor local farmers in improving the looks of their homestead. He even arranged the pigments in combinations he thought were pleasing—ceiling colors, cornice colors, and wall colors.
More Photos from Today
|BIG JOHN PLANS TO PUT A FOUNTAIN UNDER THIS TRACTOR SCULPTURE.|
|AT THE HILLBILLY MALL, WE GOT TO MEET BUCK, THE TALKING DEER, WHO CAN SING 40 SONGS.|
|THERE IS NO SHORTAGE OF MERCHANDISE AT THE MALL, INSIDE AND OUT.|
|IF YOU DON'T FEEL WELCOME HERE, YOU'RE NOT PAYING ATTENTION.|
|STUDENTS STROLL THROUGH TUSKEGEE UNIVERSITY'S HISTORIC QUADRANGLE.|
|THE NPS VISITOR CENTER IS LOCATED IN THE GEORGE WASHINGTON CARVER MUSEUM.|
|WE LOVE VISITING MELLOW MUSHROOMS FOR THE FOOD AND THE UNIQUE LOCAL DECOR.|