I was fortunate enough this year to attend the Institute of Genealogical and Historical Research at Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama. Upon my return home I wrote an essay about my experiences at Samford and posted it as a series to the APG mailist at rootsweb.com. Now that I have my very own blog, I am going to put my essay here for your reading enjoyment
SATURDAY, JUNE 7TH and SUNDAY, JUNE 8TH
My flight from California was smooth and fast; after a mere 30-minute layover in Houston, I arrived in Birmingham, Alabama, about 2:30 PM. I have never seen a place as green in the summer like Birmingham. Birmingham sits at the bottom of the lower Appalachian Mountain Range. Everywhere you look are low, tree covered, rolling hills.
My roommate had arranged for us to stay with a shirttail relative of hers because we could not check into the dorms until Sunday. We went to dinner at a Chinese buffet called Aunt Lisa's where the only Chinese food I saw were the fortune cookies we were given as a parting gift when we left. I was promised dinner and a show and was not disappointed. In the Winn Dixie parking lot was a group of musicians who get together once a month and play. One of the band members appeared to be under the age of 65, the other 11 were not. There were three women (one played a bass fiddle that was 3 feet taller than she was). A total of 1 mandolin, 1 fiddle and 1 bass fiddle and 9 guitars. They played everything from old gospel favorites to Elvis. In addition to wonderful music was a car show (Southern definition of a car show: A group of 3 or more newly washed vehicles that are NOT trucks parked next to one another). Dancing was an option that a few people took advantage of.
The next morning was a church service that I still do not know how to explain. Finally, after church but before we were dropped off at Samford, I had another dining experience that I feel I must share - The Waffle House. There is a Waffle House everywhere in the south. The places are no bigger than my bathroom at home so I am assuming in order to serve the masses of people who frequent the establishment, having one on every corner is not over-doing it. I had hash browns that were smothered, covered, diced, chopped and some others things that one can have done to their food. As you tell your waitress all the different ways you would like your food to be assaulted, she repeats your request to the cook shouting your preferences across the room.
I was finally here. Samford University is one of the most beautiful college campuses I have ever been on. We arrived about an hour early and the place was so quiet and empty. I was assigned a room in the Chi Omega House, room 11, in the dungeon, er, I mean basement, right between the laundry room and the janitor's closet. The window was at sidewalk level and I can give a detailed report on the latest fashion in shoes for any who are interested.The room itself did not have any comfort from home. I was told this ahead of time, but they really meant it. I brought what I could, given the limitations imposed on me by the airlines. I believe that there should be an award given to anyone who can pack clothing for 7 days, linens for your bed (including a pillow), towels,books, reading lamp, alarm clock, and a snack or two into one (1) suitcase no larger than a tote bag (Note: see airline company for exact measurements) and weighing no more than fifty (50) pounds. I brought all of the above and weighed in at 49 ½ pounds and did not win a prize. Imagine my disappointment.
After settling in, we are treated to the daily special in the cafeteria. I have to admit that the food is very tasty and there is a good variety of items to choose from. A quick orientation followed and we were cut loose with orders to report for class the next morning.
I endured this first 24 hours in 98 degree weather with 98% humidity and a smile on my face.