That Don is amazing – planning our adventures and our path with such creativity. We began our day in Scottsboro, Alabama. Home to the sad story of the Scottsboro Boys (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scottsboro_Boys), this is a sad little town.
But it does have one fascinating local attraction, the Unclaimed Baggage Center.
This operation buys up truckloads of last and unclaimed airline baggage and then sells the contents to the public. They must spend a lot of time and energy refurbishing and organizing the ‘stuff,’ because it looks very nice and is quite well organized. But it is a bit strange…a place where you can buy a blouse for $2 or a diamond bracelet for $2,000.
And let’s talk about the kind of stuff that doesn’t get claimed. Everyday clothes, okay. But wedding gowns? We didn’t see any prosthetic limbs, but there was a section of crutches. Reading glasses, okay. Engagement and wedding rings? (Maybe there is a pattern here.) Army fatigues? You lost your uniform? A huge surfboard? Earphones galore and cameras out the kazoo – and some very nice bargains for a range of about $20 to $100. All in it, it does make Scottsboro a shopping destination, and probably a very important shopping source for the locals. I never did find that scarf I lost in Detroit, but that’s the way it goes.
So that’s the part of the day about belongings that got uplifted and never reconnected with their original owners.
Then there was the uplifting experience of art in charming Huntsville. You can tell a lot about a town and the size of its pockets by trolling the local art museum. Seems they are doing quite well here. There was big travelling show about World War II, based on the archives of the Associated Press. Some things we had never seen before, and some iconic photographs. The permanent collection is also very nice, and the building itself quite tasty.
And then for the really uplifting part – the US Space and Rocket Center, also in Huntsville. I have a vague memory of touring this more years ago than I care to recall, when I was handling the Martin Marietta account, and they were building the external fuel tanks for the Space Shuttle. But that was a while ago, and our space program is a thing of distant glory.
If we had had a 12-year-old boy along, this would probably have been a more dramatic experience. (They actually do have more men’s restrooms than women’s – for good reason.) Instead, it seemed a bit sad, almost like looking at artifacts of a distant culture. Interesting, but rather like the Indian mounds. However, it did give Don a chance to fake the effect of G force.
And perhaps because we had just come from the WWII exhibit, it was a little jarring to see the tributes to Wernher von Braun, who basically ran this place and oversaw its major accomplishments. Was there resistance then to us bringing over so many…let’s just call them missile experts…from Germany right after the war? I mean, did anybody have a problem with that? Or did that just seem like a super-duper smart idea?
Well, we got to the moon and a few other places. So, I guess we won. It’s too expensive to even dream that high any more. But weren’t those the days?