I never in a million years thought I would ever move to Alabama. The most I knew of the state was that Forrest Gump lived there, and even then, he is fictional…I think. I pictured Alabama being full of confederate flags and trailer parks in the middle of nowhere, and the shopping consisting of Piggly Wigglies and gas stations. But coming here, I realized that I couldn’t be more wrong. As soon as I arrived in Mobile, I felt like a big uneducated idiot for thinking that way. Here are some things I have learned about Mobile and/or Alabama since I arrived here exactly one month ago:
1. As soon as I drove over the Bay Bridge into Mobile (which is a beautiful drive over the water by the way), I couldn’t believe my eyes. In the distance I saw real life, really big high rise buildings! (Later I found out that this was downtown Mobile.) Cooper City does not have high rises. 1 point for Mobile.
(Downtown Mobile. Photo not taken by me…Well, taken by me from Google Images)
(Bay Bridge on the way to Mobile)
2. People from Mobile are called Mobilians.
3. Pronunciation of “Mobile” is very important. It is not pronounced like a mobile phone or mobile home, nor is it pronounced like a mobile which hangs above a baby’s crib. The emphasis goes on the second syllable when talking about the city (mo-BEEL). I apologize to any Mobilians for mispronouncing this at first. But don’t worry, I will never do it again.
4. Jimmy Buffet is a famous Mobilian. He is doing charity concerts and things here lately to help benefit the efforts to clean up the oil spill. (His sister actually has a restaurant on the water about 45 minutes away which I am still wanting to check out: Lulu's at Homerport Marina)
5. After NYC and Chicago, Mobile ranks 3rd on the list of cities that have produced the most members of the Baseball Hall of Fame (5).
6. Contrary to popular belief I am not the only Jew here. By 1853, there were fifty Jewish families living in Mobile, including Philp Phillips, an attorney who was elected to the Alabama State Legislature and then to the United States Congress (Thanks Wikipedia). If they were here that long ago, I’m sure there are still some left….besides me.
7. My personal favorite: Mobile is the birthplace of MARDI GRAS in the United States, and has the oldest celebration, dating back to the early 1700s of the French colonial period. (Thanks again, Wikipedia). They have a ton of parades and even high society balls (As in “Cinderella went to the ball”… I thought I better clarify because I have never heard of a ball besides Cinderella’s). From what I hear, Mardi Gras is more family friendly here, as compared to New Orleans, but it is just as big of a deal….just less boobies. Wanna come? It all starts February 5th this year if you’re interested! You have a queen size bed in a 2nd bedroom calling your name!
So Mobile isn't full of broken down cars and hillbillies. As Jaron's dad said with such amazement on his most recent visit, “Your Home Depot is just like our Home Depot!” I don’t know why us “city folk” expect the worst when thinking of Alabama, but I have to say, its pretty normal and pretty great so far - skyscrapers, Home Depots and all.