What’s in the Box?

I have been moving some prosthetic leg parts around my garage for over a decade. I have donated many legs to Limbs for Life, but I found myself not willing to let go of some of them. Until now! A few weeks ago, I reached out to Bruce Larsen, a Fairhope sculptor and Hollywood special effects guy. My friend Wayne Miller told me Bruce presented at a recent Fairhope Single Tax Corporation meeting about a work of art he would create if commissioned to do so. Bruce had the idea to source local objects for the new piece. From there, it was an easy decision to give my leg parts to Bruce. When he came by to pick it up, he snapped this picture of me. The box includes sockets, liners, feet, carbon fiber, silicone liners, resin epoxy, titanium hardware. I even threw in some electronics, a vacuum system called V-Hold made by Hanger, which pulled air out of the socket to keep my stump securely in the socket. I told Bruce a few stories about the legs and a particular foot made by College Park. I was impressed when he said he catalogs all the items he finds or is given. He didn’t say where, how, or if the parts would be used, and honestly I didn’t expect him to. We agreed to stay in touch, and one day, I’ll hear from him and learn where my parts went. I’m always amazed at where life takes me and my prosthetic legs. Now I’m looking forward to finding out where the parts take the artist.

Seahorse by Bruce Larsen and John Rezner. Funded by Fairhope Educational Enrichment Foundation

Want to go for a Walk?

I launched my new venture Fairhope by Foot in May. Look for this postcard around town soon.

Have you Seen it?

My photo of Cecil Christenberry’s old Chevy is in the latest issue of Fairhope Living. Lots of cool treats in our July edition!

Are you Magnet-ic?

Check out the latest Clay City Tile post! The latest blog, thanks to Parker Gray and his amazing family collection, is a treasure trove of historic documents and images of Fairhope’s Magnet Theater (burned, 2010). The post has some fantastic images of the 1924 theater, including the building’s blueprints, snapshots taken during construction, and more!

What’s Going On?

Photo by Kris

On the heels of the April walking tours, I’ve finally started Fairhope by Foot! Beginning in May, I will be leading walking tours for small groups of tourists and locals who are interested in learning more about Fairhope’s unique past. I’m just beginning, but my word of mouth marketing plan is working. I booked my first tour this week! Some bank executives conferencing here wanted a fun afternoon outing.

Photo by Kris

The May issue is due any day now. Click or tap the logo above. Read the magazine in your browser or download the magazine to your device.

No photo description available.

So stoked about leading another creative writing workshop at the Eastern Shore Art Center on Saturday, May 15, from 10 am to 2 pm. All the details are here. Also, be on the lookout for my first Creative Writing Camp for Kids at the Eastern Shore Art Center this summer.

Is There a Best of 2020? What’s Up for 2021? Remember Steve?

Now that we are well into the new year, I’m posting my best of 2020. It’s a short list. The best book of 2020 is a fellow Pensters Writing Group member.  

Little Gears of Time: Martinello, Susan, Walker, Sue Brannan, Krchak,  Jenni: 9780942544060: Amazon.com: Books

Looking for a sweeping generational women’s epic written in verse by a woman? Little Gears of Time, by Susan Martinello is a literary tour de force, an epic of the American story from a woman’s perspective. Based on Martinello’s family, it is Homerian in its breadth and language and is an odyssey of mothers and daughters spanning many generations and taking place between continents and across oceans.

With family trees, maps, and illustrations as our guides, Martinello tightly winds mothers and daughters using personification, letters, history and memoir with a watch, an artifact that comes to represent oppression, imagination and identity.

In Martinello’s exquisite and affective poems we embrace, are emboldened and empathize with these women. As with other great epic’s the world is a stage and as the characters and their experiences play out Martinello’s writing leaves readers yearning for more.  

And of course in a special category is Stump’s Favorite Amputee book.

The Elephant's New Shoe: Neme, Laurel, Wildlife Alliance, Landy, Ariel,  Landy, Ariel: 9781338266870: Amazon.com: Books

The Elephant’s New Shoe: A True Rescue Story, by Laurel Neme, Illustrated by Ariel Landy, Foreword by Nick Marx

While these books are fantastic I was proud to publish three books of my own last year. Available to read for free are The Cape Cod House and Architectural Studies: Montgomery Hill Baptist Church and Bayside Academy. I’m very pleased with the success of Clay City Tile: Frank Brown and the Company that Built Fairhope. It’s a local history book that I enjoyed writing and continue to research. I have another order of Clay City books arriving later this month. I post news and information here

 

2021

You probably didn’t even notice, but I’ve deleted my Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts. This is not political. It’ personal. I don’t like calling it a New Year’s resolution, but after deactivating several times last year and not missing it or the anxiety that goes along with it, I’ve deleted the accounts. Hopefully, it will work as well as last year’s food choices. Except for a few weak moments during the pandemic and after the hurricanes, we have been able to stick with and really embrace our new menus. As Sue says, “If it walks on land we don’t eat it.” Even though I’m no longer on social media I’d love to hear from you. Send me an email, Want to talk? I’m not hard to find online or in person. Feel free to share my writing with your followers. Instead of posting on social media, I typed a thank you note to the mayor. On paper. Using my Royal Quiet De Luxe typewriter. I put it in an envelope, slapped a stamp on it and put it in the mail. I will be doing more of it in 2021.  

Fairhope Living Magazine January 2021 Cover

Career-wise, I’m still working at Coastal Alabama Community College and writing for the monthly community magazine, Fairhope Living. I’m thankful to serve students face-to-face and glad to have the opportunity to write about my home town.

Remembering Steve

Today is the second anniversary of my brother Steve’s death. It’s rare that a day goes by that I don’t think about him. Here’s to Steve. Nostrovia! To your Health in 2021.   

Early 1990s, West Falmouth, MA.
Also early 90s. Mom and Dad’s place on Edgewater Dr. W. in East Falmouth.
McSharry’s Irish Pub, mid 2010s. I had a Guinness. Steve, Take the Causeway, Fairhope IPA.

What’s Happening in November?

The debut issue of Fairhope Living will be arriving in your mailbox soon! The free print version, with three articles written by yours truly, is being mailed to more than 10,000 Fairhope residences. 

Fairhope Living Magazine November 2020 Cover

In the meantime, visit the website for more information or click on the cover to view the interactive digital version of the magazine. The digital version includes cool embedded links to websites, videos, and even a virtual home tour, a project done by Coastal Alabama Community College animation students. 

This is Alodia Arnold’s Fairhope Living. This Organic-Schooled Fairhoper and mom dreamed, created, sacrificed, and conquered the 2020 challenges to make her dream come true. I am so proud and thankful for Alodia and our team including Laura Miller, Stephen Savage, Susan Beeco, and Chris Riley. I’m excited, honored and humbled to be a part of Fairhope Living. This is Fairhope’s magazine, and we welcome new sponsors (advertisers) and contributors (writers/photographers/creatives). We’d love to read, see, or hear your first impressions on the print or digital editions, so please comment below or find us on Facebook or Instagram

Pensters Writing Group Zoom-November 14 

I’m also excited about talking to the Pensters Writing Group. The online meeting via Zoom is from 10:00-noon. As the Vice President, I’m honored to be the featured speaker this month. After COVID cancelled me in May, I’m looking forward to talking about the reader, writer, and librarian connection. Our meetings are open to the public. If you want to join us, leave an email below in the comments and I will send you the meeting link. 

Page and Palette Holiday Open House-November 22, 2020 

I’ll be hanging out with my friend, author, and fellow Fairhoper Leslie Anne Tarabella at Page and Palette’s Holiday Open House. I will be there from 3-5 pm, selling my 2020 book on a local building block called Clay City Tile: Frank Brown and the Company that Built Fairhope. Copies of Stump the Librarian will be for sale too. Leslie Anne will be there all afternoon selling copies of her latest book Exploding Hushpuppies, the second collection of her newspaper columns. In the meantime, watch a video about Clay City Tile by local filmmaker Michael Marr.   

Thanksgiving 

The last week is for giving thanks. In this weird and wacky year being thankful has never been so important. Thank you for being you, and as always, thank you for reading.  

Clay City Tile, Fairhope Living, and Valentino

Cover

My new book is out! Clay City Tile: Frank Brown and the Company that Built Fairhope, is a local history book. It’s about the Brown Family and how their company Clay Products Inc., and their clay building block is built into Fairhope’s history. It’s technically not a new book, but I used the Safer at Home order to update and rewrite the introduction. It’s heavily footnoted and illustrated, which means fans of local history,  historic buildings, and people just curious about how Clay City Tile was made and used will find the details fascinating. P&PsignZeke

Please join me for a signing at Page and Palette on Saturday August 8, at 1 PM. Books are $9.99. Stop by and say hi. If you have a Clay City Tile home or story, I’d enjoy hearing about it.

ClayCityAlan

The book is for sale at Tom Jones Pottery, the only retailer at Clay City, and through Amazon. If you’d like to purchase my book in person but can’t make it Saturday, there is a third option.

I’ll be at the Safe Trade Zone in front of the Fairhope Police Department on Saturday August 22, at 11 AM.

Also, look for a short video of me pitching the book on a Fairhope Public Library book talk later in August. I’ve shared some Clay City Tile history that is not in the book.

If you want more information about the book or Clay City, visit my website, Clay City Tile.

Fairhope Living

I’m thrilled to be part of a new Fairhope publication! Fairhope Living magazine is the brainchild of Fairhoper Alodia Arnold. She successfully launched the first N2 Publishing magazine in Pensacola, Florida. The first issue will be published in October! Check out our Facebook page for updates.  

Valentino the Goat

Click on the photo to read Valentino’s Alabama leg-end by Michelle Matthews at AL.com.

Valentino is currently getting acclimated to his new prosthetic leg. (Photos courtesy Serenity Animal Farm)

What Have You Been Doing?

Whether it’s an entry into a journal, a note about a book I’m reading, or revision, revision, revision, writing is my passion, hobby, profession, and most important these days, a distraction.

With that in mind I want to share some writerly news.

I’ve recently completed two eBooks, well eBooklets really, and they are available for free through links in Internet Archive. Architectural Studies is my undergraduate work on building surveys for Montgomery Hill Baptist Church and the Bayside Academy Administration Building. Those projects are combined in one book.

ArchStudiesCover

The second book, The Cape Cod House, An Architectural Study, traces the origins of the Cape Cod style house dating back to the late 1600s to it’s proliferation in the 1950s. CapeCodCover

I’m proud of my scholarship. The books are for fans of local history, architectural history, and historic preservation. You can read them online and download them for free through Internet Archive. Yes, FREE. They will also be available to borrow soon from the Fairhope Public Library. If you prefer your own print copy, I’m selling them myself for the low, low, direct-from-the-author’s hatchback price of $5. For distant fans, or if you prefer the speed of Print-on-Demand, the books are available for purchase on Amazon for $9.99. Readers, not sales, make me rich! So write a review to let me know how your heart raced a little when you skipped down the page toward those tantalizing…footnotes.

Another Book (not free, but very reasonable)

Have you ever wondered about the orange block structures and houses around Fairhope? Or perhaps you know about them but want to learn more. Well, soon you will wonder no more.

My book Clay City Tile: Frank Brown and the Company that Built Fairhope will be out in July! People have called me the “Clay City Tile guy” for a while, so I’m finally getting around to publishing it. It’s local history, which I enjoy. I’ve posted a few photographs (not in the book) on the book’s website Clay City Tile.

Stay tuned for updates about the Clay City Tile book on the above website and right here at Stump the Librarian!

Research

Of course, I’m always doing research. Lately, I’ve gone down the letterhead rabbit hole. I’ve found all kinds of great Fairhope letterhead at the Fairhope Single Tax Online Archive. Of course, anything can be used as letterhead these days. I’ve been using the Bank of Fairhope. It’s kind of cool, and it surprises me that with all the banks in Fairhope (26?), no one thought to resurrect one, the best one in fact, from Fairhope’s past.

BankofFHFHPL

Incidentally, The Bank of Fairhope’s second location, which became the Press-Register building and is currently Christmas Around the Corner, was built in 1927. It is scored stucco over…you guessed it, Clay City Tile.

Odds and ends

RoyalReview

New Typewriter, it’s a sickness really, but at least I’ve got the ten fingers for it. Er, well, that’s five per typewriter now.

Stumpcoverfun (2)

People have been taking photos of themselves in book covers. How could I resist!

Oh, I almost forgot Summer Camp. I’m leading a Creative Writing workshop for writers ages 10 and up at the Eastern Shore Art Center. My Creative Writing Summer Bash takes place July 13-17! Join me if you can. It’s going to be super fun!

 

The Perils of Spring

Around 8:00 AM Sunday, I got on my bike. Normally, I ride for exercise, but today was a slow bike ride. I said hello to Paul, my next-door neighbor who was gearing up for a go-fast ride.

No cars passed me in either direction on Morphy Avenue.

Cruising down Bancroft, I saw a few cars in the Greer’s parking lot and a man walking to the store. A few people were in their cars on cell phones, perhaps connected to the city or library WIFI.

I stopped at Wells Fargo. They have pictures of historic Fairhope in their windows. One I didn’t recognize. It turned out that they cropped an image that I was familiar with from the Brown/Dealy Collection.

The Welcome Center was closed, a product of the “essential” only, I guess. Given our toilet paper hording, I guess Fairhope’s public comfort station is no longer essential.

A woman walking shouted to a family she recognized in a red golf cart at the center of Fairhope, by the clock. They talked through the change of light. There was no one waiting behind the cart. I turned onto Fairhope Ave towards the pier. There were no cars along this stretch, unusual, even for a Sunday. Another Broken Egg is typically open. Not anymore.

Turned right on Church Street where my friend Phyllis told me, during the book launch party for the second edition of The Original Fairhope Guidebook, that there are “no churches on Church Street anymore.”

I heard a conversation. It turns out it was ‘a voice.’

A sermon was on the outdoor speaker at 1480 AM WABF Radio. I wave to Mark, the producer, who was framed in the center of the studio window with a pair of headphones on. I went by quickly, but I don’t think he was giving the sermon.

I rode through the University of South Alabama Campus and stopped at the head of Stack’s Gully, near the community garden. I straddled the bike looking down the gully, enjoying the view, and just watching, and listening. I saw a raptor in a pine tree that bends over the gully. Her routine hasn’t changed. She’s looking for breakfast.

I stay a few moments watching her like a hawk, waiting for her to take flight, when I hear, “Hey Alan.”

I turn around, “Hi Wayne.”

He’s walking his dog, like he does every day. We talked about the latest closings and the Single Tax Newsletter that we are working on, family updates, and what we’ve been doing. He’s a woodworker.

“I’m trying not to go to the store every day,” He said about his typical routine. Spoken like a retiree, I thought.

“Yeah, we keep a list, try to go once a week. We’re shopping for Sue’s parents too.” The whole time we shuffled around, aware of our distance, me straddling the bike, his dog sprawled on the hot top.

“That’s nice.”

I told him about the bird. “See the big pine growing over the gully…It dog legs right. She’s below the top canopy of needles.”

Wayne said, “I see it.” We stopped talking for a minute.

“How’d you see it?” I didn’t answer.

“This is a nice quiet spot,” Wayne said.

“It sure is.”

IMG_1433

He gave me a book recommendation, Alas, Babylon, by Pat Frank and I jotted down the title.

Wayne and I talked for 20 minutes, I guess. I don’t know because when your talking to a friend time is meaningless. Moments matter.

One of the best places on my ride is Knoll Park. It’s usually quiet up there, very few people. Joe, a man I’d met on a previous ride, was walking up the hill, walker stretched out in front of him as he climbed the hill.  If that wasn’t enough, he was leashed to a small white dog. I wish I’d noticed if the leash was attached to the walker or to Joe’s hand. Either way, when I approached only the dog heard me. They were several yards away and headed in the same direction, so I stopped to guzzle some water. On the way down the hill, he said hello to another man walking his dog. I’ve seen them both in the park many times.

I thought our book club could meet up here at Knoll Park. Drinkers with a Reading Problem meets once a month. It’s a great name, and it’s an interesting bunch I’ve been a part of since 2009. Our April book, American Nations by Colin Woodard talks about American regionalism.

The meeting’s a week away and is likely to be yet another lost liberty.

I waved and yelled “hello” to Chris, a fellow Eastern Shore Slow Biker who was sitting in his side yard.

A family was on bikes heading south and we exchanged hellos. Mom and dad had bikes and Dad was towing his two young sons, possibly twins, but too small for their own bikes or trikes.

I stopped along Bayview to get a photo.

IMG_1435

The bench and the swing on the bluff are usually empty on my bike rides. Nothing different today. I suspect they’re full for most sunsets.

After I took the photo a mockingbird landed just over my left shoulder on a “No Parking in Park” sign. For several beats of stillness between us, we did not have the required social distancing. When his eyes met mine, he’d seen enough, and flew south.

On Saturday, Sue and I saw two other book clubbers during our walk around town. Sometimes I forget that this time of year people can spot me and the exposed prosthesis from a few blocks away. We met them separately but in between a visit to Dr. Music. Wade said I was too late. He’d sold out of the new Pearl Jam album. Book Clubber Irene pedaled by in the other direction with a friend. The doctor in our club told us about Mr. Gaston’s death. There is no more prominent name in Fairhope. It’s the same as our Founding Father, though I cannot say if the two men separated by generations are even related.

On my ride home I saw Paul again and his wife Stephanie. On Friday, we had a socially responsible gathering, with adult beverages, in their driveway. It was fun! We talked about what everyone on the planet was taking about. Then we talked about everything else. It was mostly small talk. We know each other well, but not that well.

Later Sunday, one of our neighbors texted that next week’s gathering was off.

Nothing has changed, but everything has changed. “Closed until further notice” is on every non-essential business door. Outside, nature continues and this should comfort us. In our distant world without human touch we’re all grieving, but words still matter, and voices carry.