Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Spring Break Foley, Alabama

You know that song "Gary, Indiana" from The Music Man? It's okay if you don't. I only ask because it's been stuck in my head for the last few weeks- with one important textual difference. Instead of the words "Gary, Indiana," I've been singing the words "Foley, Alabama." I know, I'm a wordsmith. Will the real Julia Snowden please stand up?

While you're at it, watch this. It has nothing to do with anything apart from the fact that we're sort of talking about American musical theater. One of the most beautiful songs ever written.

Anyway, the city of Foley is in southern Alabama, just a short drive from the lovely beaches of the Gulf Shore. You know the little nubbin thing at the bottom of the state on the left hand side? That's where it is.

View Larger Map

It was founded in the early 20th century by a Chicago businessman named John Burton Foley. Apparently, before he became a fancy land developer he was manufacturing something called "Foley's Pine Tar and Honey Cough Remedy." Nothing says early 1900s like a good "remedy," am I right? You know, dudes in striped suits twirling canes and saying things like, "Pardon me, Cornelius, but I must go to the druggist for Beckham's Essence of Wheat Germ." "Ah yes, Reginald, I do believe I'll join you. My wife asked that I buy her a vial of Whitmore's Licorice Vapors." Then they would die of Tuberculosis.

Back in this century, you'll find a sleepy and refreshingly unpretentious downtown Foley. There are gift shops and antiques galore. I'd like to recommend the adorable old-fashioned soda shop(pe) but for some reason it smelled unbelievably disgusting inside. It was weird. There were all these smiling kids and grandparents sitting at cute wrought-iron tables with ice cream sundaes as though it smelled like rainbows and gumdrops and not the most vile of Gary's sewers. Hopefully it was just a fluke.

South of downtown is the ubiquitous strip of mainstream stores and restaurants. This is where I visited my first Piggly Wiggly. My grandmother on my father's side was born and raised in Alabama and my Dad, as a result, likes to wax poetic on all things Southern. I'm fairly confident he once said, "You've never been to a Piggly Wiggly? Oh, Piggly Wiggly is the best! They don't have stores like that up here." Actually, Dad, Piggly Wiggly is horrible. Sorry. You're right about Wegman's, though. Now that's an excellent grocery store.

Continuing south, after you pass the snazzy outlet mall and just before you cross the bridge that takes you to the beach, (and the ritzy city of Gulf Shores, Alabama) you'll pass a wee amusement park with three go-kart courses, miniature golf, and an elaborate arcade. I recommend the wooden go-kart track. It had three levels. Just don't do what I did and get distracted trying to keep your skirt from flying up. You may get in a small accident and suffer minor whiplash. Yes, I live on the edge.

We also managed to squeeze in a side trip to Pensacola, Florida where we had some really incredible seafood at a place called The Fish House. I'd love to go back in the summer. You might be surprised to learn that Pensacola has been around since 1559. Well, kind of. There was, in fact, a settlement created in 1559 but it was almost immediately destroyed by a hurricane and nobody really came back until 1696. But still.

To close, a sampling of my very average photography:

Downtown Foley

One Horse Town

Orange Beach

I don't care if it makes me less of a New Englander- there are a lot of things I love about the American South.

(This isn't one of them.)

Until next time...


Meredith said...

I didn't care much for Carousel when I saw a live production of it at the North Shore Music Theater, but I think I'd be willing to give it another try, since I love R&H so much.

I am also interested to hear the ways in which the South is better than New England. Is it because the people are nicer? Because my Southern friends have informed me that New Englanders are assholes (who knew?).

ashupe said...

I love the south! And I miss it.

Sara said...

Foley, Alabama?

How did that even end up on your route?

That picture of the beach is killing me. I like that I go to school in the same state as a bunch of beaches and I have yet to get there, while you drive to Alabama and Florida.

Julia said...

I was there to do Habitat for Humanity.

Go to the beach, silly.