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Published: January 18th 2013
The Lattice B&B
is in the Garden District of Montgomery which sounds lovely and I am sure it was at one time. After our breakfast (no hot food, only cold cereals, hard boiled eggs, muffins, fruit yogurts and some fresh fruit, hardly B&B food) we walked a bit of the Garden District. Jim, our B&B host, kindly routed us around the neighborhood to avoid some bad areas but to include walking past the Governors Mansion. The homes in this once lovely area were mostly in need of repair or maintenance. Grass was growing through the uneven sidewalks throughout most of the Garden District. A half marathon was under way as we approached the grand Governor's Mansion (no grass on these sidewalks) causing us great difficulty driving into town to make our 10AM tour of the Dexter Memorial King Baptist Church.
When we returned to the funky B&B we had a different view of the home with its overgrown garden and sad looking wicker on the sagging front porch but once inside we were again transported to the charm of the tastefully appointed rooms with two front parlors, one with mission furniture and the other a mixed use room with a
piano, computer and comfortable seating, a definite contrast to the outside world. Jim proved to be a thoughtful and gracious host during our stay doing whatever he could to make our visit enjoyable.
We left the B&B in what we thought was enough time to reach our 10AM tour of the Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church
but we were not aware that the marathon and the road construction would hamper our efforts to "get to the church on time." We arrived about ten minutes into the tour that had begun in the church basement. We were in time for the very instructive film about the history of the Civil Rights Movement and the role that Montgomery played in these troubled times. A mural painted by the talented Dexter deacon John Feagin depicted scenes of Dr King’s journey from Montgomery to Memphis during the Civil Rights Movement. We walked through the pastor's office where Dr King could look up at the Alabama Capitol through his windows where we are told the view reminded him that he need only look out that window to "fix his eyes on the prize."
Our tour guide Carol Carter brought us upstairs into
the famous church, still in use with services every Sunday. I was able to stand at the pulpit where Dr King delivered his important sermons to his parishioners. It would have been awesome to stay for a service tomorrow but Destination Dave who was anxious to get home, was not buying my idea.
Our next scheduled tour was at the Dexter Parsonage Museum
but again with detours and one way streets I got turned around so badly that I truly flunked the whole navigation process causing us to be ten minutes late for this tour as well.
Our guide Marguerite was cordial and understanding filling us in with what we missed. Marguerite later told us that she was one of many members of Coretta King's women's groups that met frequently in this and other homes in the area. After a brief movie (that was not as impressive as the one at the church) we walked over to the actual parsonage standing on the front porch where the bomb was thrown during Dr King's first year in Montgomery.
I like to get a sense of place in history by going on these kinds of tours. Here we were
able to see Dr and Mrs King’s actual rooms and in most cases their furnishings, or at least reasonable representations. The unusual "standing cigarette ashtray" in the living room parlor struck my fancy (Dr King was a closet smoker), but as Marguerite proudly showed us, the most important room in her mind was the kitchen where, after Dr King had received one too many threatening midnight phone calls, he had a pivotal emotional and spiritual experience in the middle of the night. He was sipping coffee at the kitchen table after another threatening call while he struggled with his thoughts about fight or flight. He was concerned about the safety of his family weighing it against the greater mission of freedom. He would, through prayer, eventually decide to proceed on his nonviolent mission of freedom. Standing in the very room by the table where he sat we were able to listen to his voice on a CD as he later described this struggle in a sermon he gave in Chicago. Leaving Montgomery, exploring the South:
Leaving Montgomery we drove south looking for lunch. We ended up in Troy, Alabama at Goldberg's Deli, which looked like the only option
around. From Troy we drove south to FL to Rt 10 to Tallahassee to Rt 19 south to Perry, FL, another very rural town dotted with fast food joints along the highway.
So much of Alabama is a rural time warp. Driving south on 231 I was surprised to see rolling hills and pine forests. It wasn't until we were near Dothan, AL that we began to see some flat land with stands of cotton in the fields. The rolling terrain continued through route 10 in Florida until we turned south on 19 past Tallahassee. It was here that we began to see more cattle ranches, the occasional cotton field and flatter land.
I talked Dave into staying in Perry, FL at the Holiday Inn Express
, rather than spending another six hours of driving at night to get home. The Holiday Inn Express was a lucky find in this fast food strip on Rt 19. With clean rooms, happy hour with free beer and wine and tortillas, salsa, veggies and dip and cheese and crackers and good old Southern hospitality, we were able to relax and enjoy life in the slow lane.
I should not have had the wine because it clouded my judgement when ordering food at Deals Famous Oyster House
. Instead of ordering the oyster stew I had planned on, I ordered fried oysters with French fried sweet potatoes, hush puppies and cole slaw. The wine made me do it because I never would have ordered that sober! My oysters were very small and the rest of the food was just average. Dave's pongo (fish) was grilled but so salty it was nearly in edible. I will say the local color was something to see at least once if you are in the area anyway. If you ask, Zoe, the former owner, will give you a 3 minute musical concert on her pogo stick with drum, cymbals and assorted other musical noisemakers while she bounces and bongs throughout the restaurant but be quick because the entertainment is very short lived, once around the restaurant was all we got. Heading home:
Pine forests skirted the road south of Perry on our way past Steinhatchee, the remote fishing village north of Cedar Key, where Dave and I took our first adventure together in Florida.
On this warm Florida morning as we headed home just south of Perry my head began to swell, my nose became blocked and the sneezes began in earnest. Welcome back to allergy heaven.
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