Sunday, December 6, 2009

Dickens Christmas in Northport




Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I’m not known to be a sports fan by any means. The one exception has always been rowing. For as long a I can remember I’ve been impressed by the precision and teamwork of a crew rowing in seemingly perfect synchronization. This picture was captured on a morning walk along the river with Debbie in the fall of 2007. The college crew on a calm river with picture perfect foliage for a background is hard to beat.

I never would have imagined that the sport of rowing could take such a hold of my life at this age. This morning at the “Y” I passed the 100,000 meter mark on the Concept 2 rowing challenge. That makes for me working out seven days a week. Who would have ever thought!

Let me backtrack to the Dicken’s Christmas celebration last Tuesday. I had no idea what my tour assignment was to be. I left it open to the person in charge….”Just put me where you need me, I can work either shift.” The tour assignments were assigned to 5-7 and 7-9 shifts.

I never heard anything. On Monday I called Sue who was the second in charge and left a message for her. I totally forgot about that call till Tuesday morning. Sure enough there was a message back from Sue, begging me to show up at 5:30 and to work a double shift if possible. I knew this would happen.

Traffic through the city to Northport was bumper to bumper. I was never able to get out of the right exit lane so I had to exit over the bridge and try to get as close to downtown as I could using the back way.

The crowds seemed up from last year and the mood seemed happier. I had been reading through my old entries from last year and they are so depressing. What a dismal time for the economy and my life!

I arrived right on time at 5:30. Things are all in chaos. They had moved the ceremonies back some, and the house will not be open to tours till 6:00 after the ceremonies of lighting the tree and music. People are walking into the house wandering around who should not be there. I parked myself at the front gate to inform folks when the house would be open and to be the “good will ambassador” of the place. Amy and Tim showed up and took these pictures I’m using for this entry.

Lacky and Me:

Amy (one of my rowing friends) and me.

Opening ceremonies; I like to think that big strong orb is Marvin, my good friend who passed away in April. He was the man who started the ball rolling for these festivities so many years ago. It is the first Dicken's without him present. (in the flesh!)

I started the evening in the front hallway doing the orientation and background history of the house. One of the main rooms is just off this hallway. The rug for this room had just been restored and it turns out it is a silk antique oriental supposedly worth too many thousands of dollars to be walked upon.

Me at work in the hallway;

The docent for the bedroom had to exit at 6:00, so I did double duty in describing the house, hallway and this bedroom. The fun part of this room is the spirit of the original inhabitant that is still present. It is amazing to watch the kids on the tour get huge eyes when telling the story of Elizabeth Shirleys ghost. We tell how that room was her bedroom and she watched Croxton’s Raiders march down the road in front en route to Tuscaloosa to burn the city.

She survived the war. Her ancestor Marvin, showed me in person how he could roll back the sleeve of his shirt, hold his bare arm over the bed and al the hairs on his arm would stand on end. This was documented on an Alabama PBS show years ago.

We tried to time the tour segments to around four minutes. The person on the porch would knock on the front door as a signal to shift the tours. I’d cup my hands around my mouth and announce into the parlor, “OK time to move on!!”. This routine was devised on the fly and it worked out very well.

At 7:00 the docent in the front parlour had to leave. Fortunately, the second shift person turned up for the front bedroom. I put her in the hallway so she could do both, and I took over the parlour duty. I’ve done this room for many years. The rest of the night was a blur. The tours were stopped at 8;00 and the front door was locked. That meant it was nearly 9:00 when the last of the tours left the house.

I had awoken with a scratchy throat in the morning. Flushing my sinuses twice with the netti pot, and gargling with salt water throughout the day preserved my voice for the evening. The Halls cough drops helped too throughout the evening.

It was so good to get home and collapse into bed. Another Dicken’s was under my belt….

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About Me

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Tuscaloosa, Alabama, United States
Retired auto worker who can now spend too much time restoring his 1922 Bungalow Home. I'm involved in a number of varied activities from collecting bricks to rowing with a masters rowing group. This blog is to share different aspects of my life on my Facebook page. I've kept an on-line journal for eight years.