The following story is a chapter in my book, Valley Road: Uplifting Stories from Down South. Get it here.

By Gary Lloyd

The name of the town is Moody, but it is anything but.

We moved here the year after we got married, because you can get a whole lot more house and land for your money in St. Clair County, Alabama. I was a bit skeptical of the city when we moved in. I focused a lot on what the city didn’t have.

There was no movie theater or true grocery store. The only nearby sporting goods store closed not long after we moved in. You come to rely on nearby places like those, without a doubt. Moody didn’t have these entertainment and convenience venues, though we did get a Publix a year after we moved in.

Over time, I have come to love this place. I love that my best friends also chose to call Moody home, and that we all live within four miles of each other. I love that in the city park, you can leave books in a wooden box for others to read. I love that finding out about local events is done so via banners at the Crossroads, not on Facebook or Twitter. I love that the women working at the new civic center know me by name. I love that Girl Scouts wave me down at the Crossroads several times a year, begging me to buy Thin Mints and Shortbreads.

I love that the best barbecue joint in town is less than a mile from our house, and that we can watch the annual Christmas parade from its heated patio. I love that people wave when I drive past them. I love that my church hosts a Halloween event and gives away thousands of Snickers, Jolly Ranchers and Reese’s. I love that this city seems to only make the news when its baseball or softball teams sweep a rival, and not much else.

I love that the kids on our street shoot hoops, bounce on a trampoline and ride Big Wheels, instead of sit inside numbing their minds with video games. I love that my dogs rest in a patch of sunlight on our back deck, and hustle down the steps to chase squirrels up the trees. I love that my next-door neighbor, an elderly woman, cuts her grass more often than I do mine. I love that I was able to practice my golf swing at the same dusty driving range we came to a decade ago, as high schoolers. I love that the small public library, strapped for cash, purchased a signed copy of one of my books to rent out to residents.

I love that pink and orange sunset that never fails to grace our sky over the huge auto auction’s property. I love that this town is a reprieve from thick traffic on U.S. 280 and downtown Birmingham. I love that more families are moving here to raise their kids.

I love that this town will be the first stop in 2018 for the eighteen-month tour of Alabama as part of a bicentennial celebration, since our county is a year older than the state. I love that when I found out about this, I learned that Andrew Jackson had a residence in our county during the Creek Indian War, and that it served as a theater during the War of 1812. Our governor spoke about the bicentennial at a kickoff event in the spring of 2017. She summed up our state, but especially our town, perfectly.

“Alabama has a rich history. As we embark on the three-year celebration of our 200th anniversary, we will be reminded of the hard work, dedication and resolve of our people,” the governor said. “Yet, our bicentennial is not only about our past accomplishments as a people, it is also a launching point for the untold numbers of innovations that will come from Alabamians in the next 200 years.”

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