Saturday, September 21, 2013

Monument To a Pest

Frenetic work and social schedules forced aside, Eric and I took a much-needed beach holiday with my family.  Spending time just lazing around with family and food is something I can really put my efforts into.  No schedules.  No meetings.  No putting out programming or grant fires.  Very little phone use.  Even less computer use.  It is the only way that I am able to really recharge my battery properly.

The trip down to Ft. Walton, FL is usually the same for us.  Leave early.   Stop at Murder Stuckey’s in Verbena for an annual beach trip breakfast Butterfinger Blizzard (try saying that fast five times).  Drive until we need gas, at which time we inadvertently find the next most murder-y filling station.  Drive on in until we hit the beach and loved ones.

But this trip was different.  We had to board Booker at the vet’s for this trip.  No dogs allowed (in the tradition of Snoopy Come Home) on this jaunt.  So, I dropped our puppers off the night before we left.  I was THAT person…the one with the hand-made dog bed, box of special grain-free food, Kong with all natural peanut butter, a list of instructions a mile long and tears in my eyes.   Could I call to check on him while we were away?  Yes, of course you may, Ms. York.  Eric and I hardly slept that night.

Another thing that was different on this trip:  Our Murder Stuckey’s in Verbena had been cleaned up, un-Dairy-Queened and turned into a respectful Sunoco.  There was absolutely nothing scary about it at all.  Which is terribly disappointing.  We are really going to miss the falling down Stuckey’s sign, the friendly clerks and the ice cream & French fries from the Dairy Queen that was tucked inside.  We’ll miss less the overtly racist bumper stickers for sale, the hand-made, child-sized pioneer dolls that hung in the window (also for sale), and the dilapidated serial-killer trailer out back.  Sometimes change is a mixed bag.

And to really throw a new spin on things was the fact that on this trip Eric and I decided to detour through the lovely town of Enterprise, AL to see the world’s only known statue dedicated to an insect responsible for destroying a town’s cash crop, the boll weevil.  See, back in the early 1900’s, Enterprise was doing pretty well economically by growing cotton.  Then came the boll weevil, which destroyed their cotton crop.  The farmers of Enterprise and Coffee County had to find another crop to raise in order to survive.  They turned to peanut farming, which saved their town.  So, to honor the pest that caused them todiversify, they built a monument to the boll weevil.

The boll weevil statue of Enterprise is located in the center of town, a lovely thirteen-foot iron rendering of a female figure holding aloft a boll weevil trophy.  But what stands in the center of town is not the original statue.  The eight pieces or so of the original statue reside in the Depot Museum, just around the corner from the crossroads.  You see, like the finger of our Emma Sansom statue gracing Broad Street here in Gadsden, the boll weevil statue of Enterprise has been vandalized and stolen over the years, the final act of vandalism resulting in it being irreparable broken into a number of pieces.  Visit the Depot and see the statue.  Notice how some well-intended soul attempted to repair her arms by using PVC pipe.  It did not work out.  

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