May 16

Goodbye, Auburn

You sleep and eat in safety in it, but a house is, really just the place where you put your memories for awhile.

This was a pretty good house, then. Except for the part about being on a haunted burial ground.

But there’s another house waiting, elsewhere.

Goodbye, Auburn.

It’s been real.

May 16

Last of Lee County’s markers

When I graduated from high school I had this poster under my ceremonial costume. It said something like “Thanks Mom! On to Auburn.” I’d been working at that for a while. The grades were no problem, but the money was tight. Two days after graduation I got my scholarship offer and off I went. And so I attended school there for five years. And then I left, because there was no work there in town. I would have stayed. But I went into the world instead and started making my way through it.

In graduate school I met my future wife and on a date the next fall I took her to Auburn and she liked it. And then when she finished graduate school she got a job offer at Auburn. There was no suitable half way spot, and Auburn is a nice place to live and so we moved there. And we stayed for six years. Until today, when we finished loading up the car and brushing away tears and drove off into the midday sun.

In between good things happened and great things happened and sad things happened. Life happened.

One of the many smaller things that I did was to start riding bikes. And from there I started seeking out all of these historic markers all over the county. Today the Lee County project is officially completed. This is the last such site and, before we signed the papers selling our house today, this was the last thing I did. I visited Pine Hill Cemetery.

Pine Hill Cemetery

And this is fitting. A small part of what I am now is because of Auburn. And a small part of what I am now is because of my appreciation for history. My mother asked me once why I liked history so much. I thought of two answers. I finally got lucky and had a history teacher who taught the material as more than names and dates. That stuck with me. But, when I was in undergrad at Auburn I found Pine Hill. It was an old cemetery that the city had almost forgotten about — which is a total Auburn thing to do, ignoring its own history — but they’d undertaken a big project about the time that I showed up to revitalize the place.

As well they should. I love this place. I’m not the sort of person that hangs out in cemeteries, but this place is special. There are about 100 Civil War soldiers there. The man my high school was named after is buried there. The names on the buildings and roads in Auburn are almost all buried right here, in Pine Hill. And somehow, one day, that stuck with me too. It wasn’t names and dates, but people’s lives. History isn’t an abstraction if you walk through the doors of a place named in honor of the person resting right here.

So, as I said, fitting that I would be here last. I saved it for just that reason. You can see my pictures from Pine Hill Cemetery right here. If you want to see all of Lee County, Alabama’s historical markers click here.

May 16

My last hours in Auburn

That sounds melodramatic, I suppose, but it is what it is. I spent two years trying to get here, then five years living here and then nine years missing it and, returning, six more years here. That’s, all told, more than half my life thinking about the place. And, in most ways, that’s unrequited. I don’t really have a lot of other ways to talk about it than that.

And now I’m leaving it. Don’t want to, but there it is. Here we are. Here we go.

So I rode around one last time and took a few pictures of buildings because … I don’t know, but that’s what you do.

My first class was in this building, many years ago, just off to the right. It was an 8 a.m. Monday, Wednesday, Friday class. Animal Dairy Sciences:

Comer Hall, my major lived in there. This is the top of ag hill, and I spent half of my undergraduate career there.

A few more views of Comer:

And this is Duncan Hall. I did my internship there, and worked for another year or so besides. Did some writing, some photography, some online work, some radio editing, some satellite uplinks and so on:

And one of the better oak trees on campus. Always looked like a place to climb or read or kiss.

Tomorrow we sign our papers and drive away, on to the next thing.

May 16

Let’s ride bikes

A quick selfie before a ride around town …

We went out riding with one of her graduate students. I suppose he’s a former grad student now, having graduated and all that. He’s from Florida and he was not prepared for anything where his bike, which he’s dusting off and riding again after a good long while, pointed up. And we don’t have real hills here. But we had fun! And that’s the purpose of the bike. One of the points. I’m presently using it for at least three of its modern purposes.

May 16

The penultimate Lee County historic markers post

OK, next to last set of marker shots from Lee County, Alabama. This particular project wraps next week, but first there are two markers and a locally-quarried stone marker within a block of each other. They mark the history of Auburn and the place where town and gown meet at Toomer’s Corner. Also there, the old Auburn Bank (which was until recently a series of bars and is now a pizza joint).

Toomer's Corner

That is the gate onto campus, donated by the class of 1917. The eagles had previously perched atop the Penn Mutual Life Insurance Building in Philadelphia and then in a yard there for some years. They arrived in Auburn in 1961 where they stayed until being removed for renovation in 2011. The ones you see here are actually re-casted replications of the originals, which have been removed. The transition is, thus, complete. Everything feels like a gift shop now.

You can see all about the downtown markers here. Check out my entire run of the county’s historic markers here.