A HUGE Thank you to Magic City Scooters and all those incredibly fun scooterists! Even the car (cage) driving civilians I met were wonderful. Friday was my seventh day on the road and I had a lot of plans. Thursday had been a calm night visiting with my Aunt after a fast paced ride into town; fortunately avoiding the storms which have been ravaging the South East.
Birmingham Community Kitchens had replied, quickly, to my volunteer inquiry. Since 1980 their doors have been open; providing a much needed service to those who are hungry by serving over 112,000 meals annually at our two locations. These meals help nourish the body and spirit of those in need. I was fortunate to help out two great guys who run the Woodlawn area kitchen. PLEASE watch the video at the end to see how wonderful these guys are and how they define Peace.
I set out from my Aunt’s beautiful neighborhood with plenty of time, fortunately, because the directions were shabby. The city’s grid made sense to me and about 10 extra miles later, I arrived – just before serving time.
There were a lot of strange looks cast my way and the first couple of people I talked to didn’t seem to believe, that YES, I was there to work. Finally, they put in touch with James, the chef, who I call Papa James. He gave me a photo of him and his wife to carry with me. Very touching.
Scott, his co-worker was actually the first of two Michigan transplants that I would meet that day. Which reminded me of PJ Chmiel, who recently told me he would consider a move to BHAM. At that time, I emphatically discouraged him, based on my memories of BHAM as a youth. However, I even tossed the idea around in my mind while visiting!
It was nice to be back in my hometown-really just my birthplace. When I was three we moved away, but I came back to visit every summer until I turned 18. A lot of firsts happened in this town; mostly coming of age things we all experience. I also rode my first scooter there; I plowed it right into my friend who lived across the street, dislocating her wrist. Know where the brakes are people, very important.
I’ve never really explored BHAM, scooting around I discovered an industrial city trying to revive itself. Matthew, who owns Magic City scooter shop, greeted me very warmly. He gave me a Buddy to ride to go get some coffee, while generously giving mine an oil change. Him and his side kick Will are easy to spend time with; we jived a lot and had fun. Very genuine people.
It’s hard to believe Matthew’s shop has only been open 5 months. It’s perfect; the logo, storefront, stock, memorabilia, knowledge, attitude, and its customers. It’s easy to tell that Matthew knows a lot about his trade and he’s ready for BHAM’s revival. I was impressed that he wears so many hats, and is both an excellent host and mechanic. What more can you expect from a man with a banjo on his knee? There is a little video coming eventually, of his shop, patience, patience.
Magic City Scooters was hosting Game Show Night, which generally rotates venues. It was a hoot, shall we say, but really fun because of the people who attended it. It’s a night based loosely on old school game shows and everyone is a contestant. There was a mix of Game Show Night die hards and scooterists who happened to be around and were roped into playing. I had acquired quite a lot of prize beads, but had to leave early. My Aunt had told me to be in early and I was having a curfew crisis-at 33.
Walter, a very cool, clever man, looked at my directions home and said he knew a more scenic route, so I followed him through the city, up near the Vulcan Monument. The view provided a panorama of BHAM’s city lights. It was such a perfect view and the smell of honeysuckle was heavy in the air. I almost ran into oncoming traffic turning my neck around to see it all. The day was long but perfect, a fresh, new look at Birmingham. Thanks to all the interesting folks!
Matthew busted my chops for not staying with him and his girlfriend (wife?) but I had not known there was an invitation. I wasn’t ready to head back home, but had too.Sadly I couldn’t visit him the next morning for coffee and a city ride, as we had discussed. I hpe we stay in touch though. There have been horrendous storms and tornadoes here in the South, bad enough to take many lives. This means my departure comes earlier than usual each morning-storms usually happen late in the afternoon in the South.
My Aunt, the classic Southern lady, could have kept me chatting for hours. I was headed to Jackson, MS to see my father, on Mother’s Day. Sadly, I missed Matua by 24 hours, actually talking to him on the phone when he was here. He was rushing past Jackson, as seems to be his pace. It was frustrating, but I can understand not wanting to stick around here too long. More on that coming up.
Video interview with Scott and James, who work at Birmingham Community Kitchens.
*of course you want to know why it’s called Magic City, I did too*
It’s named after Birmingham, England. It was established just after the Civil War and experienced a growth boom from travelers heading South to New Orleans. It was rich in industry for many decades, causing a lot of pollution. Often it was called the Pittsburgh of the South, with its heavy emphasis on iron and steel. Magic City is a name given to other cities that went through the rapid growing pains-Cheyenne, WY and Miami FL for example.