News from the Tennessee Valley Columnists
SUNDAY, DECEMBER 31, 2006
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SCOTT MORRIS

Sherman: Please return to burn Atlanta

Hand me a shovel.

After one too many trips to Atlanta, Iím ready to dig up Union Gen. Tecumseh Sherman and light his torch.

He may be the only hope for this mess of concrete, snarled traffic and grandiose delusion.

My family wasted way too much time and money this year attending to personal business in Atlanta. On the last trip we watched in a public setting as several so-called professionals insulted Alabama for being backward.

On the same trip, we read in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution about Hog Mountain Baptist Church changing its name to Hamilton Mills.

Hog Mountain is in an upscale Atlanta suburb. It got its colorful name from a time when farmers stopped there while driving their pigs to market. The churchís name was good enough for 152 years, but the community turned upscale with pricey houses and commercial development along Interstate 85.

So the backward-sounding Hog Mountain became the proper-sounding Hamilton Mills.

Something inside me mourns when a housing development or shopping center chews up a forest, a cornfield or a perfectly good name.

The South needs to find a way to prosper and still retain some of its rural character.

We need fields of snowy cotton to make Yankees marvel. We need forests and free-flowing rivers for weekend escapes.

In our corner of North Alabama many of the paved roads follow old Indian footpaths, but we buried that history long ago by changing the name of our county from Cotaco to Morgan.

Maybe we can hang on to Bugaboo Mountain, No Business Creek and Hog Jaw Road. Or maybe, as in Atlanta, weíll let pretension replace them.

There is no shame in living in a place that hasnít been ruined by concrete, traffic and pomposity.

There is no shame in worshipping at Hog Mountain.

Like most places on the map, Atlanta is full of people driving cars they canít afford, living in houses they canít afford and wearing clothes they canít afford. Itís a flimsy facade tacked together to hide the truth.

Atlanta is proof that we wonít become better people by paving every square inch of the South and giving it a fancy new name. And we wonít grow in stature by looking down on our ďbackwardĒ neighbors.

Every time my family has the good fortune to escape Atlanta, I glance into the rearview mirror and imagine Sherman bringing real progress.

Scott Morris Scott Morris
DAILY City Editor

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