Saturday, May 7, 2016

Alabama. Sweet home?



I love Alabama. I really do. My parents moved to Huntsville for 2 ½ years when I was in college. It was a great town, full of scientists. I worked the summer after my first year of college-it was the summer of '65- as a slave in a lumberyard In Huntsville. It was me and 25 black men, hauling sheetrock and other building supplies. I got along just fine with the men, and felt honored to be accepted by them. They worked hard and I valued their respect. However, the work was hot, dangerous, and dirty. Oh-and I got paid $1.15 per hour, with mandatory overtime on Saturday. I was a visitor to this life. My colleagues were stuck in it, with no visible escape possible. I went back to Vanderbilt at the end of the summer and doubled my GPA. I also ramped up my already heavy involvement in the Civil Rights movement.

The second summer I got smart and applied for a competitive position as a mathematician at NASA (!?!). I got the job and spent the summer wandering around Redstone Arsenal looking for Werner Von Braun and the other former Nazis who ran the American space flight program at the time. No disrespect to these German scientists intended. They saved our butts, not to mention our national space flight honor, from the Russkies. Lynyrd Skynyrd was on to something good about the state, or so it seemed. I must admit to losing track of Alabama for the past 40 plus years. Now I read this article and it appears the place has gone completely bonkers. Enough is enough. Come on, now! What are ya’ll thinking? 

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