Nothing Has Changed
By Pamela A. Bridgeman
The Dairy Queen® still sits on Alabama Highway 280 between Childersburg and Sylacauga. Drive the scenic route from Birmingham to Montgomery and you'll see it there on the right side just before you get to the weather beaten hardware store. Locals say Limbaugh's was built in the early 50's. The rotten wood and tin Coke® signs testify to the folklore.
Shopping plazas, fancy eateries and new developments creeping out of Jefferson County threaten to overtake this time-capsuled hamlet like kudzu entangling the bottomland. Still it's pretty much the same on that stretch of road as it was when Kymulga Caves became known as Desoto Caverns. Sure, the grass has grown high and covered the windows of the abandoned sawmill. A wooden single blade plow stands in the middle of the meadow like a picture on the front of a postcard. Seemingly it waits for a gray mule to come and lurch it forward when an aging farmer decked in a straw hat cracks the reins. The halls are silent in the old high school. But really nothing much has changed.
The sweet aroma of honeysuckle mingled with jasmine still soothes the weary mind, especially when the ground is dew kissed at sunrise on a summer morn. After the loud thunder ceases to roar and the frenzied lightning is tamed, children still run giggling to dig their toes into the squishy red clay as the rain slows to a drizzle and the sun sets after a spring shower.
You don’t have to eavesdrop to hear the elder folk gossip in the supermarket, though they wouldn’t call it that. Swapping tales like they’ve always done is what they’re doing; and that’s just so the good folk of the town will remember to pray for that poor widow down the road or that prodigal son that’s breaking his mama’s heart. No, nothing much has changed.
Football players and cheerleaders sit atop cars in the parking lot of that Dairy Queen® dressed in the same old blue and white – some of those letter jackets handed down from their daddy’s daddy. A man who has to be a descendant of the original owner hollers out the serving window, "Y’all keep that noise down," when cheers of "Roll Tide" strain to drown out yells of "War Eagle" just like they did back in ’66. It doesn’t really matter if you’re an Alabama fan or Auburn fan. What’s important is that you pull for your favorite team when they play like they used to play when they played at Legion Field.
The Assembly of God church is right where it’s always been there behind the Piggly Wiggly®. First Baptist is on Main Street; its three columns that look like those on an old plantation home are freshly whitewashed. When the Church of God peeks its steeple over the top of the hill, you’re approaching the only traffic light on the main thoroughfare. The freckled boy who plays the clarinet and the pigtailed girl who twirls her baton will plead for your spare change if the red light catches you; unlike in some face-paced cities, no robed and wide-eyed preacher thumping his bible share the street corner preaching the end is near. But, shush and listen closely and you may hear choirs melodiously proclaiming the old, old story of Jesus and his love.
Nothing much has changed on that four-lane strip between two small towns. Life is still simple and the days are lazy. Most importantly, God still reigns.
Pamela Bridgeman finds joy in helping others to know the love of Christ and experience the power of forgiveness and love. She is the author of "A Healing Journey" and you can visit Pamela on the Internet at http://www.ahealingjourneyseminars.com or write to her care of the Letters page of this magazine.
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