News from the Tennessee Valley Columnists


Soothing sound of rain on a tin roof

Grandfather Glenn was a visionary of sorts who was way ahead of his time on some things. But his visions of what could be usually had rough edges.

He beat Detroit to the concept of combining the comfort of a sedan and the hauling ability of a pick-up. His solution was to take his 1937 Packard, a real car in its day, cut off the top behind the front seat and make a good-riding truck.

He was ahead of the 1940s station wagons that substituted wood for metal, too. He planned to bolt boards across the gaping hole to seal the cab and use planks for the bed of his Packard truck.

My uncles talked him out of doing that and into buying a real truck.

People thought he was eccentric for building a three-bedroom log house with a tin roof on the edge of Blount Mountain when he had hundreds of acres elsewhere.

Some people thought he intentionally built the house on top of the line that divides Blount and St. Clair counties as a novelty. But he liked the sweeping view of the valley below from that exact spot. He had something no one else living on the mountain at the time had or wanted.

The family ate in St. Clair and slept in Blount.

Today, the brow of that mountain is lined with luxury homes of people who, like my grandfather, moved out of Birmingham for the spectacular view.

I remember the excitement of summer thunderstorms pounding the roof of the log house so hard that talking was impossible. I remember gentle rains putting me to sleep in the back bedroom.

Regina remembers tin roofs from her South Alabama childhood, too; so our hardest part of deciding on a metal replacement roof for our Blount County farmhouse was its cost.

We chose the metal, which is to be installed this week.

In the meanwhile, we both recall the novelty of a tin roof and are wondering if it was all that great.

Come the first good rainy weekend, we are going to find out. I hope we are not disappointed.

Tom Wright Tom Wright
DAILY Executive Editor

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