A Slice of Life
Day 15 (Saturday)
It was a beautiful fall morning as I left Montgomery and headed south on I-65 for Mobile, Alabama. My first stop was to visit the Foley Railroad Station Museum located just north of Oyster Bay in Foley, Alabama. This was a small museum with early Railroad memorabilia and a nicely restored collection of rolling stock.
In a separate building they had a large model railroad layout that fascinated adults and children alike. A High Point for many of the children was the small scale train that the museum provided for rides around the museum property. I don’t believe I’ve ever seen a young child that didn’t like to ride in a small scale train like that.
Next I headed across Mobile Bay on I-10 to visit the Battleship Memorial Park in Mobile, Alabama. This Memorial Park is made up of the battleship USS Alabama (BB-60), the submarine USS Drum (SS-228), a replica of the Civil War submarine H. L. Hunley, various types of Army, Navy & Air Force airplanes/vehicles, as well as an indoor aircraft pavilion. It’s a very nicely laid out attraction, but the outside display aircraft and vehicles need some help with protection from the elements. The aircraft in the aircraft pavilion are beautifully restored and very nicely displayed.
Next I checked out the Fort Conde (4/5th scale reproduction) located in downtown Mobile. According to Wikipedia, Mobile and its Fort Conde (originally called Mobille & Fort Louis de la Mobille) were founded by the French in 1702, and actually located some 27 miles north of its present location. Then after heavy damage by the flooding Mobile River in 1711, the town and fort were relocated to their present location.
Over the years (1702-1813) the region around Mobile was occupied by the French, British, Spanish, and finally the United States. There was a lot of construction going on around the fort, which made it difficult to access. I finally found a parking lot close enough that I could take a picture of the fort, but opted not to go inside today.
Down the street and around the corner was the Gulf Coast Exploreum Science Center. There was a large group of Young mothers with their 2-4 year old children in hand, entering the center as I pulled up in front. I surmised, from the looks of things, that this was an “education day” for these kids and decided I did not want to share the experience with all that noise.
Not far from the science center I visited the Mobile Carnival Museum. This was a new experience for me. Not being a fan of the Mardi Gras, I did not think this would be a very interesting museum. As it turned out, this was probably the high point of my day. I never knew that the annual Carnival Celebration (Mardi Gras) is celebrated pretty much worldwide, and I had never heard of it being a big deal anywhere in the United States, except for New Orleans. Do I lead a sheltered life or what?
The Mardi Gras costumes, and history of the celebration, as explained to me by the museum tour guide, was astounding. The other fact that was hard for me to get my head around was that Mobile was the first city in the United States to celebrate Mardi Gras (1703). And all this time, to me, New Orleans (founded in 1718) was getting the credit for that. The tour guide also informed me that Mobile puts on about 35 Carnival type parades each year that draws an average of 1.5 million visitors. All this activity keeps an entire community industry busy, year around, designing and fabricating all the necessary costumes and floats. For an in-depth picture of the history of the Mobile Mardi Gras, I would suggest the book “Mardi Gras in Mobile “ by L. Craig Roberts, who just happened to be my tour guide today.
Next I visited the Continental Classic Cars collection located in west Mobile, only to discover that it was a private collection. However the owner, Dennis, was in his office and was gracious enough to show me his collection of automobiles. They consisted mostly of beautifully restored 1950s-1970s muscle cars, and a few classic hot rods.
When I told him I was disappointed not to be able to find more automobile museums in the Mobile area, he suggested I check out the Henderson Collection, which was not too far down the road. He said that Jim Henderson had a collection of over 100 beautifully restored cars, and that if I could catch him at his Mobile Lumber Company office, he might agree to give me a tour of his private collection. The lumber company office was closed and Greta and I tried diligently to find Mr. Henderson’s building, that houses his collection, but to no avail.
So, I called it a day and headed for tonight’s motel for some rest. On the way to the motel I spotted a Taco Bell and stopped to feast on a Mexican Pizza and a Beefy Chedder Crunchwrap Slider. The Slider was OK but, the Mexican Pizza with lots of Verde sauce to spice things up was much better, in my opinion.
—–To Be Continued—–