Just as you cross into Alabama from Mississippi on US-72 after the welcome sign, brought to you by the governor, there is an interesting monument. It, too, was brought to you by former Governor Dixon and, of course, Director Shaddock. Apparently, in the early forties, the Highway Director and the Governor decided to commemorate Alabama statehood, whose centennial had arrived back in 1919, with a monument. Since you can’t sling a dead cat in most places without hitting a monument of some kind, they didn’t exactly hit on an original idea. Did I really write that thing about the cats?
If you are a cat lover, I want to formally apologize right now.
It is actually a pretty stretch of road and a nice place for a Sunday drive. If you are ever around these parts I would highly recommend the side trip. A little over four miles into Alabama, just before the Buzzard’s Roost Bridges, on the same road, is our locally famous “Shoe Tree.” For a reason I can’t exactly describe, I find the Shoe Tree, well, creepy. The Shoe Tree is a converted Sycamore tree in an impressive limestone rock cut. Some people write messages on their shoes before they tie the laces and fling them on the tree. I am sure this is also, not an original idea.
Can you tell where this column is heading?
We were never sure when a shoe had done its job and become litter at the Tuscumbia District. We also really never knew what to do with the granite monument. Is pressure washing enough? Should we honor, err, statehood with Daisies or is Creeping Juniper ok? How many people, exactly, stop and look at it anyway? It would take a very good set of binoculars and real talent to read it at cruising speed.
I have a few pairs of old shoes. Should I write a note and fling them at the Shoe Tree? Will the monument my family buys to plant me under suffice or should I make arrangements for something else?
How will I make my mark?
When I read the obits in the paper, I usually look for someone I know. Age is a dead giveaway…let me rephrase, in finding people I know, age is a very good place to start. In the south we must then sort by funeral attendance, or not, by funeral visitation, or not, by flower arrangements, or not…I usually make my determination using the niceness quotient. Was he nice to me? Was someone in her family who was nice to me taking the death pretty hard? Like any good engineer, I have data and a test for most of life’s mysteries.
Do you have a rule for funeral attendance?
So, I guess part of my mark will be constantly working on my niceness quotient. As for the other things, I think they will take care of themselves if my niceness quotient is sufficiently high. Truth is, most of the things we do for our legacy are fleeting. Shoes rot and monuments fall down. Our actions are what make people show up to help plant us. If someone misses me, I am pretty sure my mark will be made.