Pike Road: The Biggest Little Secret in The State of Alabama
WRITER'S NOTE:This offering is dedicated to a very good friend, Tracy Estes, from Winfield, Al. The first time I was blessed to meet Tracy was when our life paths crossed in 1990 when he joined the Journal Record newspaper as a news writer. Tracy and I became instant-friends. We both had a love for Andy Griffith reruns, Crimson Tide (University of Alabama) football, and small towns. I not only credit Tracy for many good times, laughs, and encouragement in my walk with Christ, but also it was Tracy who first told me about Pike Road, Alabama. Thanks, Tracy. KENNETH.
Have you seen those
Travel brochures, those you cannot miss in the rest area’s off of the interstates, most-always start the story of whatever town the brochure is about with these words: “nestled in the pristine . . .” countryside somewhere (ironically) on the interstate you are traveling is “the” near-perfect American town that a station wagon load of weary vacationers (again, ironically like you), are just craving to visit for a needed rest.
So I am not going to torture you by writing, “nestled in the pristine countryside.”
But I have to admit that this phrase more-than-ably describes the small town that could be a mirrored-image of the fictitious “Mayberry,” where Andy Taylor and Barney Fife were on patrol for jaywalkers and an occasional moonshiner.
I cannot go any further unless I pull another mention about my good friend, Tracy Estes, again. In the “old days,” as Tracy and I would now call our producing the paper by manual paste-up, Tracy walked up to me one Tuesday and said, “ever heard of Pike Road?”
Naturally I said no.
My life was changing right before my eyes
In the next fifteen minutes, Tracy told me everything a person would want to know about such a “pearl” of a southern town. I was amazed at how time had either blown by or just plain forgotten about Pike Road. I was equally-amazed at how Tracy’s eyes twinkled like stars on a cloudless night as he talked in a nostalgic tone about how great it was to live near this, the “biggest little secret,” in Alabama, Pike Road.
“did you live there,” I asked.
Tracy explained that the time he had worked for the Montgomery Advertiser, he and his wife, Talana, and son, Caleb, lived just on the outskirts of this little town. But was quick to add that if he had been given a choice, he would have never left this area (and Pike Road), but life offered him a chance to move back home to Winfield, his hometown, so the decision was made to come home.
“Hey, let’s ask Les (Walters, our boss), if we can take a road trip down there,” Tracy quickly said.
So needless to say, the die was cast and plans made for the next Wednesday, my day off, and I was to meet Tracy at his office of the newspaper located in Winfield, a scant 25 minutes south of Hamilton. Plus Tracy offered to drive us there and give me a “color commentary.”
I was so excited that I almost lost my appetite.
Les Walters, our boss, asked only one thing for allowing us to take our trip: For me to get enough material out of the trip to write a column for our readers to see what Pike Road was like. Every newspaper employee everywhere should get an assignment as cushy as this one.
When it came time to write my column about Pike Road, I was scared at not having adequate adjectives to use to describe such a near-perfect American town as Pike Road, Al., a town that I am sure that iconic American artist, Norman Rockwell would have loved to paint on any cover of the Saturday Evening Post.
Perfect is a strong-but-good word
I say perfect, for when I was there in 1990, it was mostly the same as Tracy had described it. People who had never seen us said hello to us and went about their day. May I add that they smiled a genuine smile too.
I was simply-captivated by Pike Road. By the same token, my inept-ability (then) to capture all that this quaint little town had to offer was thrilling Tracy moment by moment.
There was this actual country general store on “the” main street. There was no such thing as a traffic jam. Hardly any traffic at all. Okay, you want an example? There was such a small amount of traffic that I stood still in the middle of Main Street while I took a picture of the general store to use with my column.
Then Tracy and I just had to go into this American icon, the general store to take a needed-break. There was an actual butcher named “Bill,” who sold, among other great things to eat, stick bologna, hoop cheese, and leaving “Bill,” made me sad.
This store had it all. From College Girl shoes to nails sold by the pound for the area carpenters. The break area was an antique wooden church pew outside the store where Tracy and I sat down to breathe-in every moment we were in Pike Road.
I was no relaxed that I was glad that Tracy said, “Kenny, watch out!” I noticed that my feet were sticking-out into the main street because it ran so close to the general store.
On a road-tour later, I was shocked to see a police officer and his partner, a beautiful German Shepherd dog. Of course, he and the dog were “the” K-9 Drug Unit, but what made me laugh was there was such a small amount of crime, the officer and his dog were both fast-asleep.
Only in Pike Road.
A funny story from the librarian
The Pike Road library, as Tracy explained, was a double-wide mobile home. And probably the funniest story Tracy told me about the library was the librarian telling him on a visit years prior to our tour, that a “pervert,” as she called him, “came into the library and started reading nasty words out of the dictionary, as she stated. “after an hour, I told him to stop.”
The living is that slow and easy in Pike Road.
Before we left and for the record, against my will, we stopped for a moment at the Pike Road Community Center where they held city council meetings, community events such as square dancing, potluck dinner nights, and other neighborly-events.
After getting out of Tracy’s car we heard, “can I help you, boys?” a tall, stately man said with a huge smile.
We said we were just visiting and started to walk away.
“Well, if you need anything, call on me. My name is Harold Turnipseed,” he said with such authority that I secretly-wished that I did need some information or advice on when they had their checker tournaments.
I admit it. Leaving Pike Road was rough. I caught myself falling into depression the further away we got from this lovely town. But Tracy had a “trick up his sleeve,” and in about twenty-minutes, I was to be stunned again.
One more for the road
We were famished from our morning of touring the Pike Road area and Tracy asked, “You like real barbecue?” Confidentially, this was a dumb question on Tracy’s part.
I nodded in total-agreement as he left the main access road leading back to I-65 north back to Birmingham, Alabama.
Before I could talk in-length about great barbecue, we were pulling into a rickety-shack-of-a-place called, Char House Barbecue. The parking lot was jammed-full of BMW’s, Lexus, and other fine autos and as Tracy explained, “a lot of high-class doctors and lawyers eat at this place every day. And Kenny, you will see why in a moment.”
I must say that the Char House is no restaurant with a snooty waiter at the door. There is no need. I was thankful that Tracy and I found an empty table.
Before we could read the simple menu, a waitress whose name was Doris, walked up to our table and offered to take our order.
Tracy placed his order. I said with gusto, “half a barbecued chicken.”
“Oh, that’s tomorrow’s special,” Doris said, but it really didn’t matter. There was not really anything on the menu that wasn’t an honor to put in my mouth.
With the day at near-end, Tracy and I stopped once more at Clanton, Al., to unwind and share some ideas for my column.
My day ended at 9 p.m. that night.
God really smiled on me
I was blessed with enough material to write a full-page column that is still in the bound-files at the Journal Record office in Hamilton, Al.
Before I go, here are some more facts I found out about Pike
Pike Road is a town in the Montgomery County, Alabama area, in the United States. As of the 2000 census, the population of the town was 310. The 2010 census indicated a population of 5,406. It is part of the Montgomery metropolitan area.
The mayor of Pike Road is Gordon Stone. The councilmen are Chris Dunn, Betsy Atkins, Angie Bradsher, Rob Steindorf and Leroy Tolliver. The staff is, Charlene Raben.
If you have a hankering to visit a realistic “Mayberry,” pack your duds and head to Pike Road, Al., You won’t see Andy or Barney to ask directions, but you can use the information below to get you there safely and ready to have a great day.
Pike Road Town Hall | 9575 Vaughn Road | Pike Road, AL 36064
Phone: 334-272-9883 | Fax: 334-272-9884 | Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
ANOTHER WRITER'S NOTE: In no way in this story did I make fun of nor disrespect anyone or anything about Pike Road or any small town. The adjectives I used are heart felt. Not callus. Thank you for reading this hub, KENNETH
Check out: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/