Soldiers fill the hotels on the weekend.




My first trip to the Deep South was in 1981.  I spent the first half of the year in Basic Training learning how to be a soldier.  My memories of Anniston are dim.  I do recall fried battered catfish for dinner at a local eatery.  Mostly  I stayed within the confines of the reservation.  Danger was all around me, as I was young and prone to fits of idiocy.  My best bet to get through the thing was to keep my head down and do what I was told.  And it worked.  Over the course of 16 weeks or so I made the steady transition from civilian to…something else.  And it happened in Calhoun County, Alabama.  I went back through Calhoun County some months ago, and walked the dirt where I had been once, long ago.  I guess I was hoping for insight, or some message from the past.  The base was no longer operational, having been deactivated many years ago.  The barracks were deserted, boarded up.  The inspirational slogans were still visible. As I stood  I recalled running double time with the battalion in a rain storm, highly motivated and ready to go, Alabama thunder sounding all around us.