Autauga Heritage

One More Thing that Can’t be Fixed

I adore Autauga as the town has so much heritage. Many of the vintage houses remain standing to remind us of our cultural past. Nearby Prattsville where I was raised is also enriched by architectural masterpieces that reflect old values. I hope these values are constant in the modern world. The problem with these old relics is that they are in need of so much repair. I hate to admit it, but my home should be on the official fix-it list. While I didn’t grow up here, I have lived here a very long time, loving every moment. The house was already old when I moved in. You can now imagine the state of the bathrooms and the kitchen. These are the areas that become outdated the fastest. You can tell the date of construction from one glance at the sink and faucet. They practically scream, “help me.” So, I listened.

Looking around my space, I recognize the need for change. My faucet has been dripping for weeks and there is no handyman talent in my personality. I don’t even own a proper wrench. I didn’t inherit any tools from my father.  I know any plumber would recommend replacement and I will no doubt give in. I dial the number I find online for my region. It is frustrating when you live in an older abode and there is now one more thing that can’t be fixed. I see the failure of the faucet as a metaphor for how things wear with age—objects or people. When something is past its prime, it is put out to pasture. This is a sad consequence for something that has served humanity well for so long. As we all know from the renovation TV shows and Facebook pages, you owe it to your house to upgrade it. It will have a nice long life if you treat it with respect. The temptation to remodel is strong and there are so many fine fixtures out there. It won’t be hard to find the best faucet at Kitchen Faucet Depot.

The plumber was of enormous help. He praised the bones of the old house and didn’t criticize the lack of modernity. He simply showed me the specs on the faucet of choice for my needs. Unless I wanted to also replace the sink, I was limited to some designs. I couldn’t use a very long neck, but I could benefit from a pull-down unit. Touchless would be up to me. I could get what I needed for a reasonable price and could add instant hot water and filtered cold for a few dollars more. I didn’t know that so much was available in contemporary faucets. You get good looks, the finish you desire and many great features all rolled into one. I wasn’t sad at all that the time had come for an upgrade. It made me wander about the house looking for other projects.


Panning for Gold

I am proud of my state. There is a lot of history if the truth be told in Alabama with many stories surrounding my small town of Autauga. I know it all by heart having studied it in grade school in great depth. When a friend told me he has found places to pan for gold, I was surprised. “What? You can still do that?” I asked. “Let me tell you plain and simple that the state is one of the better gold producing states if you look east of the Mississippi, especially long ago My family has prospected for years in the Talladega National Forest and I bet someone in your family has gone gold panning there, too. “I can tell you more,” he went on. “Gold exists here in lode and placer deposits. Go to the area near the Georgia border for the best finds.” I was eating it all up. Tell me more.

I was not about to rush out and get the best gold panning kit just yet, but I wanted more info. He got out a map to show me the major discoveries in at least nine counties. Talladega is known for more than car racing. Think of the Hog Mountain district and you have hit the nail on the head. Cyanide leaching is used to find gold as it is most effective given our particular geography. When you get into gold mining, you learn your geology. There are many creeks in which to pan as a recreational activity my friend added. Mining has a long history in the area and its own gold rush days in the 1830’s and when gold was a byproduct of copper production. I suppose that much family wealth has been accumulated over generations in this industry. Not surprisingly, many miners left home to join the California Gold Rush years later.

I am most interested in Autauga county having lived in Prattville, the country seat. Other counties may have more rich lodes like Clay, Chilton, and Cleburne, but we have some noted areas. I am happy enough that the state has so much to offer in terms of precious metals. All of a sudden, this new knowledge has become a point of pride. I hear that in addition to state-run forests, some gold is still found on private land. You can’t go there, of course, without permission. And my friend is not about to give out his secret spots.

One day he might ask me to come along and I will find out his discoveries. I don’t expect to get rich any more than he has, but it will be something really novel and fun. You may live far away from my wonderful southern state, but no doubt you can also pan for gold somewhere in your vicinity. Meanwhile, given that Alabama gold mines have been largely idle for so many years, I might get some results if I take a pick and shovel.


Best Listen to the Doctor

An apple a day keeps the doctor away. So does drinking eight bottles of water. Good health comes from daily practices like these. Exercise, eat right, get plenty of sleep, and avoid stress—more tips to keep illness at bay. My physician tells me that I have some minor clogging of the arteries, and it gave me quite a scare. Also, with all my soda and sugar consumption, I could be on my way to old age diabetes. But no worries, he said. Just start a healthy regimen and buy a case or two of water.

Not wanting to go shopping weekly and averse to toting heavy loads, I elected to get my clean water another way. I read about different filtration systems and the benefits of drinking filtered water at this page – After that, I immediately elected to install a reverse osmosis unit. It will decontaminate the water and render it as fresh as that which comes from a spring. Yes, the taste of mountain water can be yours without spending a bundle. A home water filtration system does require a bit of an outlay, but it is economical in saving regular purchases of bottled water. You can fill any container from the tap and have what you need for a day or two immediately at hand.

These water systems are not cumbersome. They can be over or under counter styles, or work with an existing kitchen faucet. I like the idea of a whole-house approach so I get clean water for my baths and showers. I love that even the dog can enjoy renewed health. We all will benefit, even my household plants sitting on the window sill. They get thirsty every four days and love the filtered water to keep them moist.

As much as I love my town, and I work hard to preserve its heritage, we are not known for our water purity. Who knows what additives find their way into it. You may get fluoride whether you want it or not. You won’t die from drinking it as it gets tested regularly by the “authorities.” However, you can do better with a home water filtration system of your choice. If not, I would be at the discount store getting some inexpensive bottled water. Oddly enough, different brands have different tastes, so be sure to try them out first. If none appeals to you, the home system is definitely the best route.

Drinking eight bottles (or the equivalent thereof) is not easy. At first I felt water logged, but you get used to it, especially if you pace yourself throughout the day. I have two by eleven, another by one, two more by four, and one by six. I top it all off with two at dinner. If I cheat and drink six, I am pretty sure I have had enough to satisfy my doctor’s recommendation for “more water.” He says filtered water is great to prevent kidney stones, curb appetite, flush out impurities, and more.


Just Like New

I like to get out of the house and take a stroll now and then. I was walking down Main street in Autauga when I spotted a wonderful antique shop, the kind that has disappeared from the heartland of America all too soon. Such stores held a treasure trove of items for personal use or décor. You could go in and browse for hours and come home with just a china tea cup and saucer. You might find that one thing you have been pining for. It was such a pleasure to be there. The owner would tell you all about the inventory and its provenance. I love hearing about the old days and how people once lived in places like Prattville. An antique shop is a bastion of cultural memories. What are we going to do without them once they are all gone? I might have to open one myself. The issue is to find special things that speak to people in a modern world.

I eat up every story and tale about the past and the kind of world that is fast changing as the urban sprawl takes over small town life. For now, let’s enjoy what we have—those of us who are lucky enough to live simply and comfortably amid friends and neighbors in a town that has a rich heritage. Every town has something to share in the present. We learn from the past so let’s not let it die. I do my part. At the antique store that day I bought a great old chair. The problem is that it had seen better days. I imagine the people who sat on it and who wore the wood away. Now it needs some tender loving care and I have asked my handyman husband to help out with some repair. He borrowed a top quality palm sander from a kind neighbor and learnt about sandpaper from this guide. I love that people are close where I live. We all share the same homey values.

A palm sander is indeed a handy item. I wonder how my husband missed out on this gadget when he was replenishing his woodworking shop. It produces a fine swirl-free finish. I understand that this is important. The 3.0 Amp magnet motor produces constant speed and power while a button-style paper clamp system enables you to make effortless paper changes. Every job has its requirements. The universal hose adapter allows for connections with various vacuum hose sizes. Then there is a plastic dust canister fitted with a filter that provides efficient dust collection and enhances durability. This is a small wonder and it really did the job on my chair. It looks like new. Watching my husband at work made me think that I could use this gadget. I don’t collect that much furniture, but now and then a chest of drawers or an end table needs a bit of sanding. I can refinish and re-stain anything after this little machine goes to town.


Medication Fog

There comes a point in everyone’s life when they face major or minor illness. It can happen at a young age. It might be high cholesterol or blood pressure. It isn’t a cause for concern if you qualify for prescription medication, which means no adverse reactions to the drug. Modern medicine is a miracle, but there are some side effects. Many medications, especially those for allergies, cause fatigue. Benadryl is one such drug that people used to put themselves to sleep even though it is actually an antihistamine—and a very good one at that.

I have seasonal allergies and they can get pretty intense, causing coughing, sneezing, weepy eyes, and more. I use Benadryl because it is fast and effective, even though it causes drowsiness. It works better than other brands in curbing my many symptoms. My niece has noticed this negative drawback and is trying to help me overcome the problem. She has read about these amazing alarm clocks that have sunrise light simulation built in. She has absorbed all the reviews on Be Right Light and has read the many feature descriptions and has narrowed it down to a special wakeup clock. She even contacted them on Facebook, because she wants me to feel more alert in the morning and hopes the appliance will counteract some of my medication fatigue. I am grateful for the help and am willing to listen. No doubt she has become tired of my complaining. We used to jog in the morning together before work and she is sorry that I have discontinued my interest. I am sorry too as I am starting to pack on a few unwanted pounds.

Follow up report: I have received a wonderful clock from my niece as a gift. It was a terrific surprise. I started to use it right away and within days I noticed a difference. I am no longer in medication fog in the early morning. I am not sure why the sunrise simulation works, but it does. It triggers a kind of automatic response in my body that wakes it up gently and effectively. I don’t know if it will work for others, but I imagine it will impact the ability to wake up for most. Taking medication doesn’t have to be a curse. You need it to cure what ails you, but you don’t have to succumb to its drawbacks. If a sunrise alarm doesn’t work for you, try to change your dosage or get a new medication. No one wants to be groggy first thing in the morning. You want to be productive at work. The first three or four hours in your day are the most energetic and you can accomplish a lot. Feeling sleepy in the late afternoon is normal, but you don’t want to feel this way all day.

In short, my allergies are cured and my brain fog has diminished. I will end this blog on a happy note in the hope that it will help anyone with a similar problem.


One Person’s Clutter is Another’s Treasure

I love to help my friends raid their parents’ attics, looking for family treasures that evoke cultural memories and loving moments of the past. I don’t keep this stuff and sometimes I donate or sell it so others can share our mementos. It does no good to let them sit idle. If it is really something special, of course I keep it tucked away in a sealed box for posterity. Something like my brothers old tools immediately goes into a container for resale. He has all new equipment and particularly likes his stick welder. It is time for the old one to go. I am going to find just the right person for his machine to carry on doing more tasks. It looks like of sad all by itself in a pile of refuse and cast offs bric-a-brac.

First I had to ask around about who likes to weld in their home workshop and wouldn’t already have this device. Maybe you are not familiar with a stick welder and may only know of MIG or TIG types. The stick model is inverter powered that is easy to use almost anywhere you like. This particular system has the advantage of increased power output from a comparatively small transformer. It is therefore quite lightweight (weighting almost half of other traditional models). You get a shoulder strap that lends portability to the welder making it easy to manipulate as you work. It is versatile and great for many materials such as stainless or mild steel, cast iron, or other hard surfacing.

Now I have to explain all this to a potential buyer. Most likely he will already know if he has experience. He may be looking for a back-up device or want to gift it to a relative or friend. I put an ad in the paper and got a few inquiries. One fellow teaches welding and said he runs a popular Twitter account on the topic, @RateMyWelder and would find my brother’s tool ideal for his classes. He didn’t want to spend a lot on equipment since it isn’t used that often or for too long. He could since such welders are durable and long lasting. I gave him a fair trade and wished him well in his endeavors. He, in turn, offered me free lessons. Not interested in my brother’s hobby, I declined. I know it is a handy skill around the house or if you like to get creative and fabricate metal art or furniture. More people than you realize partake in this pastime. For some it is a career.

The lesson to be learned is that one person’s clutter is another’s treasure. I suggest you get scouring the attics of family and friends and see what you can find. You can make a few dollars and treat the former owner of the items to a special dinner or outing. The idea isn’t to make a killing for yourself but to help others clean up storage spaces and perhaps give the sales proceeds to charity.


The Old Daniel Pratt Mansion

Daniel Pratt is a hero to a lot of the people in the South. I don’t think that a lot of people outside of the American South have even heard of him, but that’s always the way of it. If it weren’t for him, Alabama probably would not have the industry that we so take for granted today. If you live in Prattville, you’ve been hearing about how great Daniel Pratt is all your life. It might not seem like a lot to those of us outside of Prattville, but it means a lot to me.

Daniel Pratt was actually born a Yankee, but he moved to the South in short order. He had an apprenticeship as an architect back in New England. He then became something of a successful architect-builder in the South. He worked with Samuel Griswold, who ran a factory that manufactured cotton gins. Soon afterward, Daniel Pratt managed to go off on his own and he started his own cotton gin production. His settled cotton gin factory was built in 1838, and he built it all himself. He then more or less created the whole town of Prattville for the people who would work in the factory.

Alabama didn’t have that much industry before then. Cotton gins became the first major product of Alabama. Prattville was the largest producer of cotton gins in the world, and it really helped to expand the economy of the American South and Alabama in particular. A lot of people don’t even know about Prattville today, but they would probably have known all about the cotton gin and everything connected to it historically.

I’ve been to the old Daniel Pratt Mansion. This is the kind of place that we used to visit in school field trips, just to give you an idea of what it was like and how we tried to make sure that the kids were connected to their heritage, for better or for worse. This mansion has literally stood the test of time. It’s a historical landmark that has managed to exist for a long time and that can still be educating people for years to come. I hope that it’s going to stand strong long after I’m gone and that kids from all over the world are going to continue to visit in order to learn about the history of Prattville. This is not a place that lots of people know, but that could change in the modern world.


The Prattville Study Club

The Prattville Study Club


I think that people should know something about their local community. You don’t have to just focus on that. You can and should think about the rest of the world. Your local community is where you came from, though, and I think that people should try to find some sort of kinship with the people who looked at the trees that you’re looking at now and the people who walked down the same paths. Even if your area looks completely different from the way that it looked a hundred years ago, something about it is still the same. Try to find a way to have something in common with someone who was there a hundred years ago.

I’ve always liked the Prattville Study Club because it really did allow me to establish some sort of kinship with the past. The past of my area is gray, and there are plenty of things not to like about it. It still happened, though, and it is still the kind of thing that people should remember if they want to really feel complete.

We’re all going to be here for a brief while. We’re all going to be gone for longer than we’ve ever been on Earth. We all try to worry about how we’re going to be remembered after we die, which is something that I think about a lot. We should be thinking about the time before we were born as well. That involves being connected with the past to a certain extent.

I hope that the Prattville Study Club stays open for longer. This is one of the places that really does allow people to learn more about the area. It’s one thing to know in the abstract that people from hundreds of years ago stood where you stood. It’s another to actually know the context and to know what their lives were like.


My Favorite Time of Year

What is my favorite time of the year? When you get to be my age, you think about that a lot. You think about the fact that you only have so many days left. You want to remember the days that are the best. You want to be able to think back on the times that you wish you could relive again and again.

I still have to say that fall is my favorite season. I know that lots of people will still say that spring is their favorite season. In the South, it’s usually so hot all year long that the colder parts of the year are often the best ones. There’s all this beautiful foliage in the area and you can appreciate it in all of its colorful glory. This is the time of the year that really allows you to appreciate the South in all of its natural wonders, and I really have to love that as a Southerner.

There are lots of great harvest festivals and fall festivals in my area as well, and that’s always been part of the appeal for me. There’s less pressure than there is at Christmas. In my area, you really are expected to go all out at Christmas time, and that’s usually the way it works for me. I try to be as neighborly as possible during the autumn as well, but there still isn’t anywhere near as much pressure during those points of the year. You can be friendly without having to worry about what everyone else is thinking all the time.

At this point in my life, I also have to love autumn because of its associations with new transitions and new memories. I’m an older person now. We have to think in terms of the time that we have left at this stage of life. It’s easier for me to identify with the autumnal stage of the year as if we have both entered the same basic point in our time. The spring is for the young and so is the summer.

I’m not in the winter of my life yet. I still have some time. Still, I can feel the first frost. It’s easier for me to think in terms of the beauty and the joys of autumn at this stage of my life


A Scrapbook is Like a Time Capsule

I’ve been scrapbooking since I was a little girl. What a time I had back then! I would take all sorts of pictures, images, and clippings, and use them in order to create the sort of scrapbook that I knew I would remember forever.

Maybe in the back of my mind, I didn’t think I would need it. When you’re a little girl you think that you’re going to be a little girl forever. Every year takes forever to complete. You can’t wait to grow up. Then you grow up and everything moves too fast. You want to save the picture and stop the funny tests of time from changing it. To me, that’s what is so great about a scrapbook in the first place.

A scrapbook isn’t as fancy as a photo album. It’s supposed to be a fun thing that people will do together. It always brings girls together. Lots of my best memories growing up, as a young woman, and as a less young woman all involve scrapbooking. I’m an older woman now, and I can still access all of those great memories just by looking at all of my old scrapbooks.

Scrapbooks are time capsules because of the memories that are contained within the pages. They’re also time capsules because of the memories that you create when you are actually working on them. To me, these are some of the best memories of all, and these are the ones that actually make me smile at the end of the day.

Obviously, one of the best things about being able to do something like scrapbooking is that you have the memories, and you also have all of the things that you made in the first place. It’s a nice combination. You get to have a finished product in addition to the fact that you can have the happy thoughts and feelings of those around you as you complete the project.

There aren’t enough group activities that people do together in the same place anymore. When I was growing up, a lot of socializing with the girls occurred over group activities like scrapbooking, knitting crocheting, and things like that. A lot of the best local gossip happened that way, and if you missed out on those circles, you were going to be out of the loop altogether in most cases. You didn’t want that.

Lots of activities today seem to pull people apart rather than bringing them together. There’s nothing wrong with some solitary activities. You have to make sure that you are able to do some activities together with friends, so the activity is actually about the bonding and not just the activity itself. For me, things like scrapbooks are about both.

When you do something in a scrapbook circle together, you are bonding over all of each other’s memories, and that makes a huge difference. Knitting and crocheting are great for this sort of bonding because you are doing something that is capable of leaving your hands free and you’re able to talk to one another at the same time. However, when you scrapbook, you are actually participating with each other in a very different way. You can actually bond over each other’s memories in a way that is not going to work otherwise. While you can always talk about those things over a knitted cap, when it comes to scrapbooks, you always feel as if you are truly making something out of someone’s memories, and it’s hard to replicate that experience.

I recommend that younger people today make their own scrapbooks. Even if they’re digital, it doesn’t matter. It still counts. I hope you just make them with friends and bond over each other’s lives.


Mama’s Favorite Recipes

There’s no cooking like Southern cooking. We didn’t have the fancy equipment for keeping things cool for a good portion of our lives. The American South is warm and tropical in parts, and we need to eat the kind of food that is going to work in a warm and tropical environment. Most of our Southern meals reflect that.

I still remember all of Mama’s favorite recipes. She came up with them all herself. She also told me that I’m not allowed to share them with anyone. She was probably imagining that I was going to be sharing them with people around the neighborhood. She never knew about the Internet, and she never knew that one of these days, I would be able to share all of our recipes with people I had never even met before halfway around the world. She would have blistered if she knew that a bunch of Yankees were going to be cooking her prized meals.

I can never know how she would have felt about me putting her recipes over the Internet. I do think that maybe she would have changed her mind, and maybe she would feel better about the idea of sharing all of this with strangers if she knew that it’s now customary to do this. People share everything over the Internet. The world is not a place that keeps on getting smaller. It keeps on getting bigger. People can share all of their mama’s recipes with everyone.

Mama always used to complain about the fact that the North was big and that people there lived in big cities where no one talked to one another. People in our hometown would just drop by. If you did that in the North, people would look at you funny. They’d think that you were being intrusive or inviting yourself over. Mama always said that this was because they were rude and you couldn’t get friendly with them. She said that people in the North always seemed scared of each other all the time and that this was because the North actually was scarier.

I wonder what she would have thought about the Internet, where people tend to speak their minds without a thought to the consequences, and they sometimes go out of their way to hurt people just because they know that they can and they know that they can get away with it. I wonder how she would feel about her recipes being released into an audience like that.

All I can say is that we all have to find a part of the world that is going to be safe and that is going to work for us. There are lots of dangerous people out there. There are lots of unsafe places in the world out there. We have to carve out our own safe spaces, and it is much easier to do that on the Internet than in many other locations.

I still won’t release her famous recipes, since that is not what she would have wanted. I just want people to know that she had them, and what her wishes were, and how she would have responded to a world like this one. It’s odd to imagine the figures from our past in the modern world.

You have to wonder whether or not they would have adapted to the world of today. Maybe some of them would have. Maybe some of them would have wished for anything that would allow them to go back in time. I like to think that Mama would have been able to adjust to our world in all its wonders. I like to think that she would have been able to move forward and not backward, which is always what she instructed us to do. That’s how I would like to remember her, anyway, so I guess that means that I’m imagining her twenty-first-century self in a certain way.