A Plane Crash
There was a plane crash four miles south of Childersburg, Alabama on the old two lanes east side in the winter of 1956. The crash occurred about ten PM. Mother and daddy were in bed and hear a loud noise, but because our house was a quarter mile away, they went to sleep. I rode my bike to the site the next morning which was on a small rise one hundred yards south of Otis Jones store. I remember seeing frost in the cockpit which tore open on impact. The plane was a sliver 1950’s two seat Piper with only the pilot on board. I was told by Mr. Jones the pilot survived and was taken to Sylacauga Hospital, with only bumps and bruises. The direction the plane was headed was about 315 degrees, which meant north north west. How the plane made it over Merkel mountain is hard to understand. Just another day near Childersburg, Alabama a long, long time ago.
M Alton Headley
2020 Is Not My Eyesight, But the Year.
Gravity Hill, Talladega County Alabama
Gravity Hill, is located in Talladega County, Alabama west of US 280 five miles plus south of Childersburg, Alabama near Fulton Gap. Around 2000 Gravity Hill became famous because of the internet. Growing up a few miles, and experiencing the phenomenon many times by the age of sixteen I suppose I just kinda knew it was there and never gave it much thought. You just stop your car, take it out of gear, with no brake on and wait. The car will roll up hill, to which I have no answer.
M Alton Headley
Mikes In Your Face Chili
Today I made my world famous Chili. I have competed and won in International Chili Cook Offs’ coming in third in Ajijic, Jalisco, Mexico. I had to make five gallons to serve 1,000 people. I have been in a number of cook offs in the states, but never been to the big one in Terlingua, Texas for two reasons. Number one Terlingua allows no beans it’s a Texas thing, and me being a poor boy I put beans in my Chili. Number two have you ever been to Terlingua, Texas, yea that’s what I thought, Terlingua is not the end of the world but you can see it from there?
If you ask people what they liked, or not, about your chili, THEY WILL TELL YOU! Don’t get upset, I never take the avise of one person but if three or more say the same thing, it may be time for a tweak. Don’t get too smart, one year I changed from the chili powder, to chipotle chili powder. Chipotle is smoked jalapeno I finished 18th and their were only sixteen competitors. So be careful what you change. If it’s working don’t change.
I always cook my chili three days ahead. Why….because after its cooked then refrigerated for several days the ingredients blend making a better chili. Competition chili is expensive! My cost for a gallon usually run $75.00. Have you checked the prices of high quality spices, quality spices makes a difference? I don’t mean the stuff you can get at Publix, or Kroger’s. I only use prime rib, two pounds cut up in small pieces, unless its for home consumption then I use ground chuck. The price goes down a little if you make more than a gallon at a time but not much.
Last but not least I use only jalapeno and serrano peppers, never habanero. While some prefer HOT most people want a medium chili. Remember the cardinal rule, when cooking chili like cajun food, you can not substitute hot for flavor. Bon appetit!
M Alton Headley
A Leaky Rental Boat
Exactly where near Paint Creek we rented our homemade wooden, flat bottom, flat nose boats I can not say, but it started in 1953. Daddy would head west on Talladega County 92 over the Kahatchee hump at Flagpole Mountain to Fayetteville, Alabama then south. All I remember was we stopped at a old guys house about a mile up the dirt road from the boats. Daddy paid the fee which came with a key, two homemade wooden boat paddles, and a rusty water scoop made from a 20 ounce Donald Duck orange juice can. I remember when daddy bought a factory made boat paddle thinking wow this what a real boat paddle feels like. We would load the boat as the sun was comming up on Paint Creek. One of my jobs was to start scooping water as soon as we left that mud landing, so much for getting to fish. Daddy bought a five horse outboard motor from Sears and Roebuck in Sylacauga, Alabama, and under full throttle that Elgin could push our boat peddle to the metal from the back end of Paint Creek to Lay Dam in 45 minutes ….well maybe and hour if one of my uncles was with us. The whole thing was and adventure especially when we turned south on the Coosa River and I could see Lay Dam.
Most Saturdays we fished Paint Creek rarely going out into the river. No trolling motor in those days, so I paddled a lot, and fished some. Often I played with the minnows, or ate. I learned a lot going to Paint Creek like you have to get up by 3:30 AM in order to be on the water as the sun comes up. Also fish can hear better and be scare easier than people, how do I know? They must because daddy was always telling me I needed to be quite, or it would scare the fish. We rented from the same old guy for several years, until we started to go to a more refined place called Little Toms. The most fun was on the way home we would stop in Fayetteville at a old white store, getting crackers from a barrel, then the owner would cut us a wedge of cheddar cheese and lay it on a piece of brown wrapping paper which he tore from a roll. All that and a eight ounce ice cold coke in a green glass bottle to wash it all down. Getting up at 3:30 in the morning, and getting home at 8:00 PM made for a long day for this ten year old. Just another day near a place called Childersburg, Alabama a long, long time ago.
M Alton Headley
The Florida Short Route
Growing up on the west side of US highway 280/231 four miles south of Childersburg, Alabama I had the distinction of living on what was known from the 1940’s to…. when people stopped using the phrase The Florida Short Route. I remember thinking as a kid I live on a very important highway., as I watched the cars and trucks going south to Sylacauga, and even Florida.
I am not sure why the road was called the FRS because it did not have its southern terminus on the white sands of Panama City Beach, Florida. While the trip started in Birmingham, Alabama the Florida Short Route wandered southeast through Auburn ending up around Valdosta, Georgia. I think I know why the road did not make it to Florida. After a poor soul had survived not being killed in what was known as The Narrows in Shelby County they were so happy to be alive they did not care which direction they went!
I can not tell you the disappointment I experienced on my first trip to Florida down US 231 through Montgomery then south on US 331 through a town call Florala in my Uncle’s black 1949 two door Ford. US 331 went through funny sounding towns like Opp, and Defuniak Springs. When we got to our motel on Panama City Beach, and I had my first taste of Florida water all I could think of was these poor people, no wonder they drink so much Coke.
One trip we traveled with an uncle, two aunts, mother, two sisters, and seven cousins in two cars from Childersburg, Alabama to Camp Helen let me say “it was a pleasure to get out of that Ford after eight hours.” In those day children were not allowed to udder the words are we there yet? I remember trying to find a place to sleep, but the only vacancy was on my aunts feet next to the transmission hump so it was a good thing I was only six. All I remember was I woke up when we made the left turn on to US 98 headed to Camp Helen. One of my other uncles worked at the Avondale Mills in Sylacauga, Alabama so we got to go to Camp Helen for my first but not last trip to Florida.
A few years later when money got more plentiful we traveled to Panama City Beach staying in what I thought was a great motel right on the beach. I am told all those cheesy 1950’s motels are gone now, replaced with high rise condos. Too bad I thought we were living the good life, looking back I think we were.
M Alton Headley
One Saturday morning Kay answered the phone and it was her friend Mary Ann wanting to know if we would like to accompany she an Tom her husband to the horse races in Bossier City, Louisiana. Because I had never flown into the Bossier City airport we said “yes.” I couldn’t help but inquire upon our arrival for my walk around inspection of Tom’s Piper 300 six at the Addison, Texas airport if he had been out late the evening before and had a bit to much to drink. He answered in the affirmative. Tom and I had a relationship where he got to go places he wanted when he wanted, and I got to fly a very fast airplane. That’s what is called a symbiotic commensalism relationship.
Tom was a successful businessman, but had a proclivity for the 21 tables in Vegas. He was either just back from four days at the tables and picked up a new Cadillac Eldorado at Lone Star Cadillac in Dallas. Or was running from the boys with the back Cadillac Limo with the cement mixer hitched to the back. Something about owing the boys in Vegas some money. I know when Tom went to Las Vegas his room and meals were comped. Tom had arranged his business in such a way he had no need for records such as state, or federal taxes including FICA. That alone kept bookkeeping cost to a minimum. Because his employees where from a country south of the Texas border he paid his employees in cash, which kept personnel issues, well lets just say Tom did not have those.
The last times I saw Tom was at a North Dallas car wash. That car wash was one of those upscale affair with a shoe shine stand, that way you could sit and watch your car pass with all the soap and water being applied while your shoes were shined. I remember Tom’s truck which he pointed out was a rather sad rusty thing. So I assumed Tom was on one of his down cycles. Good old Tom ever the Hi Roller in good times, and just a roller in bad. I could never live that life, but I will leave you to your conclusions as to Tom’s faults, I know I have mine. I lost track of Tom several years ago but I can’t help but wonder if he is still riding that roller coaster. Sure hope not, for that’s no way for a man to live. Thanks for the memories Tom, Kay and I hope you and Mary Ann are well.
M Alton Headley