Remembering the Comers

At lunch today I was reading a forum about race recovery. (And, I promise, I’ll stop talking about this just as soon as the novelty of something I did last Saturday still leaves me feeling wiped out wears off.) The general consensus was that we don’t always know why recovery can take this long or that long. There are things you can do to help speed the process along.

Of course I’m doing very few of those things, it turns out. Maybe next time.

The other consensus was that the duration of your recovery has to do with your overall general fitness. When you think about it, that seems both logically true and annoyingly insulting. I just swam a mile and rode 56 and ran 13. Let’s say I’m in pretty decent shape. Except it is going to take me more days than the average bear to recover.

I did ride for a bit this evening, just plodding along at a slow speed. I think I managed to get into the 20s about four times. So it was a nice, easy 20-mile ride through town. I went up one of the parking decks, just for the view:


That’s Comer Hall, where I spent a lot of my time in undergrad. It is named after Braxton Bragg Comer, the 33rd governor of Alabama, and, later, an appointed senator. Serving in the first quarter of the 20th century he would be considered a progressive. He lowered railroad rates, came out for child labor laws, was a prohibitionist and, also was a big proponent of education, health improvements and conservation. Of course he also served in a time of poll taxes and other segregationist strategies. He went into the governor’s office just six years after blacks were disenfranchised and the Republican party was effectively tamped out in Alabama, something which would take roughly 80 years for the GOP to overcome. Like so many other people and things in the south, the industrialist Comer’s is a tricky legacy.

At home, he and his wife had nine children. They’re all buried in Elmwood, near their parents. One of the sons, Donald, also became an industrialist in his father’s footsteps and would run Avondale Mills while Braxton was in public service. To be of a certain age and from a certain swath of the south and to hear Avondale Mills is to understand the impact of the Comer family on the region. But, then, history is funny like that. When textiles moved away and the economy shifted and commercial impact took on another face, who would know of the legacy of the Comers or their mills or mines? Ans when you think of that you have to wonder, what have we unknowingly forgotten?

Allie, by the way, is very interested in reading some of Comer’s speeches:


Comments are closed.