Monday, July 21, 2008

Archaeologist Alabama Jones and the Copper Peanut

Deep in the jungles of Houston County, archeologist Dr. Alabama Jones approached the ancient Chattahoochee Indian mound. His sherpa, obviously paralyzed with fear froze in his tracks and would go no further.

Sherpas are guides, famous for their knowledge of the Himalayas. Dr. Jones had lost his way while searching for the ancient Indian mound when he happened upon this Sherpa trekking through the jungle. He offered the sherpa fifty American dollars to help him find the lost Chattahoochee Indian mound. The Sherpa seemed confused at first, but shrugged his shoulders and led Dr. Jones through the thick kudzu jungle.

The sherpa stopped and pointed to the mound. “What’s the matter,” Dr. Jones asked, “Are you frozen with fear?”

“No, dude, it’s right there, now give me that fifty bucks.” The sherpa responded.

“What kind of sherpa are you?” Dr. Jones asked.

“Yo, I ain’t no sherpa. I work at Arby’s. I was just out here hiking when I found you. Why didn’t you just go to the main entrance? It’s a state park you know.”

“I was using this ancient map from the Archeology Department at Wallace College. It leads the way to the Copper Peanut.”

“Dude, ever heard of Mapquest? Wait, what’s that about a Copper Peanut?”

Dr. Jones pulled off his fedora and wiped the sweat from his brow, he finally found a youngster interested in history. He told the story to the young sherpa. “Long before you were born, there was a secret society called The Downtown Group. No one knows what they did behind closed doors, but there were rumors of wine and cheese tasting, along with other debauchery. This secret sect tried to change Dothan into what they called “A better place”. No matter how much the general public ignored them, they never went away. Their gatherings culminated in placing decorated fiberglass peanut statues around Dothan. The peanut statue at this site is rumored to have copper peanuts inside.”

“Whoa, dude, how big is this peanut?” The sherpa asked.

“Four feet tall.”

“Those peanuts must weigh a lot. Copper is going for $2.75 a pound.”

“No!” Dr. Jones said adamantly, “It belongs in a museum.”

Suddenly Dr. Jones heard voices coming from the mound area. He ducked down into a thicket of kudzu. The sherpa stood looking at him. Dr. Jones reached up and pulled him down. The sherpa tried to complain, “Yo man you better get back.”

“Listen to me sherpa. We have to be very careful. They are possibly Chattahoochee Indians, the last remaining members of the tribe, here to protect the treasure. Note their unkempt hair and tattered clothes.” Dr. Jones insisted.

“Naw man I think they’re skateboarders. Look, they are moving to the other side of the mound.”

“Now’s our chance! Let’s go! And pull your pants up.” Dr. Jones exclaimed.

Dr. Jones and the sherpa made their way through the clearing to finally reach the Indian mound. “Look old dude, there it is, over by those trees.”

“Proceed with caution young man, it could be booby trapped.” Dr. Jones warned.

“I see a giant peanut in a bed of rocks, surrounded by a two foot high rope. It looks safe to me dude.”

“There could be fire ants or boll weevils. Stand back!” With a sharp crack, Dr. Jones secured his bullwhip to a tree limb and swung across the rope barricade. The limb broke, sending him hurling into the peanut, knocking it off its base and Dr. Jones on his back. “Oh…I…can’t…breathe.”

The sherpa stopped laughing long enough to say, “Look old man, you cracked it. There ain’t no copper peanuts in here. There’s nothing of value.”

Dr. Jones slowly rolled over to inspect the contents of the peanut. It was a time capsule, filled with items from Dothan’s past. “That’s where you’re wrong kid, I see nothing but treasure. It is filled historical objects, little snapshots of a time when progressive groups of people tried to rejuvenate the downtown Dothan area.

“Most individual business owners followed the major flow of traffic while ignoring little things like character in architecture. These small businesses found themselves squeezed between corporate anchor stores, paying the same price per square foot. Most of them didn’t make it.

“Entrepreneurs wanted to chance success in an area previously developed as opposed to out on the highway in some bland cookie cutter strip mall. Property owners in the downtown area ignored pleas from excited new business owners hoping to restore old buildings into a thriving socio-economic area. Their legacy as property owners could have been so much more. Instead of allowing the buildings fall into decay, they could have restored the brick and mortar that had stood for so long, reviving the soul of a lost town.

“Look at this advertiser, proudly locating business in downtown Dothan, Featured Players Theater, The Bistro, Tags Unlimited, Blue Moon CafĂ© and The Foster Street Coffee House, now it reads like an obituary. Once uniquely decorated peanuts now stand as tombstones to a business owner’s worst nightmare. They took a chance on Dothan, but Dothan didn’t take a chance on them.”

1 comment:

  1. creative look at the present and the future!
    well written!