Jan '07-The first MB.com Journey to Mobile


Active Member
Local time
8:54 AM
Sep 30, 2006
Alabama Holly Pond
First step- lay out some maps

Montgomery(about 180 miles away) is the pivot point on the southward leg.........


Three points of interest on the way down are:

The famous "Quilters of Gees Bend"
The new ferry boat that crosses the Alabama River near Camden
Monroeville, home of Harper Lee and "To Kill a Mockingbird".

I've never been to this region, recognize some of the town names as little football powerhouses, cornbred fed country boys who come up and whup N. Alabama butt in the state finals. I found a Gees Bend/ferry article in the Montgomery Advertiser, and hopefully the reporter will provide me with other points of interest:


Weather and time dictate the second leg, once I get above Mobile Bay I have to make a left/right decision. Tentatively:


I won't even think about the return leg yet, but probably will come straight north to the Tuscaloosa area, then northeast back to the house.

Three points of interest after Mobile are:

Bayou La Batre
The Dauphin Island/Gulf Shores ferry
"Lulu's"- Jimmy Buffet's sisters bar, to hoist a cold one, a salute MB.com.

There are three small parishes down there operated by St. Bernard Abbey priests, so I should get good hurricane recovery information from Fr. Victor and Fr. Edward, my college teachers from the old days.

Thus: the irrelevent MapQuest mileage calculates 908 miles.

Add 10% to avoid interstates, and 10% for getting lost, my guesstament will be 1,088 miles, a little over 4 gallons of gas, when I get back and figure out where in the heck I was......


Place your bets early, "closest to the final mileage" wins.
Last week Wheels wrote:

Utopian? I can see a network of wide meandering alternative transportation pathways and byways to complement our huge superhighway infrastructure. Imagine all manner of folk walking, skating, riding their bikes, trikes, cyclotrucks motorized and not to work, shopping and play. Not just around town but linking communities with alternatives. Reducing our dependence on oil, biodiesel motorized bikes, electric, however a human may roll with dignity. I hope that we can begin to discuss the societal aspects and impacts of our actions. It may not be as far fetched as it sounds.


The forum is still in it's infancy. Thanks to MB.com, many new avenues have become available. An audience of peers does not have to be "convinced" of anything regarding the experience.

AND, the other interests of forum members can be included in all future adventures. Augie said he saw 16 guests one time on the forum, yesterday I saw 12, (and I've notified over 200 folks that I'm just gonna hang out here, just too lazy to "blog".)

The primary purpose of all my journey's is a continuation of the "energy conservation" experiences I had in the 1970's-80's. I remember the first Earth Day, as a school kid in San Jose, washing oil drenched sea birds.

That being said, now my journeys can be "multi-tasked", add a little depth to highlight the interests of both the members and the guests.

For instance, Try1897 and others were talking about the joy of recycling, and Auburn University School of Architecture has been building "renewed" homes in SW. Alabama, especially in Hale County. I'll not only find some "links" ahead of time, but hopefully find a "real dwelling" to visit.


Cookie's Katrina experience plays an important part in this trip, as I have contended that Gulf Coast emergency crews could use "sure footed horses" like these bikes to scout disaster areas, possibly save lives when the lights are out and the roads are blocked.

For my college English professor, Sister Mary Ruth Coffman, OSB I want to include at least one literary reference on each trip. When I saw Willa Cather's Red Cloud, Nebraska on the Denver trip, it enhanced my reading her O Pioneers and My Antonia, and her Death Comes to the Archbishop will be re-read if I can make it out to New Mexico.
The coincidence was the first fictional book I read after the Denver trip was Larry McMurtry's Telegraph Days, which took place in that same Oklahoma panhandle I had just traveled through. So Harper Lee's Monroeville, Alabama was on my itenerary from the moment I started planning this trip.

Augie likes history, and I am just beginning to sort through some of the hundreds of Travel Reflections and historical papers from a very notable character, my History professor, the late Fr. Aloysious Plaisance, OSB. I just received a first packet, which has one Mobile reference, which I plan to update. He died in 1991, but he arrived at St. Bernard Abbey back in the 1940's on a huge motorcycle, biked throughout the US and Europe, and his syndicated Travel Reflections were read in newspapers throughout the region.

As always, promoting Oil Independence is important, and I'm also joining the folks in Mobile at United for Peace and Justice to highlight the notion that to "Win an Oil War", you have to physically conserve. I'm also the juniorest member of our local Benedictines for Peace, so I'll have a live report on that event.


I get frustrated sometimes, when cities gripe and moan about traffic, then don't think creatively. All you Metal Welders can SEE the simplicity of the system they have in the Rocky Mountains to transport bikes, a high school technical program could install these brackets to "move people around".......


And whenever a Coloradan posts his map, I can relate a Springfeild Colorado lesson in Windpower, where ONE turbine, operating at less than 40% capacity, fills the towns needs (but being 40 miles from the main lines, they cannot sell the surplus). I've seen cell phone towers higher than these things, so why aren't they in more places??


So, you can be carrying new information along the way, with MB.com as the reference to point folks to. When I got to Tuskegee University in March 2006, I learned about the "switchgrass/fuel" program a month before President Bush visited. He griped about the potholes, sent some dollars down there to patch them, while I tried to find out more about "homemade" fuels.


It is going to be so much more fun having all these different aspects to meditate upon next week's ride......EXCEPT WHO ORDERED THE COLD WEATHER? :eek:

Hope that passes us quick, best wishes to you midwesterners stuck in the middle of it.
organized jesters in the parking lot
would that be anything like a "disillusioned (unarmed) sailor on a water-tower?" if you figure out where that schtuff belongs, maybe i'll peck out my own tale...

My only other visit to Mobile: April '76

I graduated from high school in 1974, and the "jester" period did not begin until 7/7/77, with the infamous 7/7/77 memo. Growing up in California, then getting driver's license in wide open Alabama, well, ya' know. We could haul hay all day, rinse off and load up, and go see some helacious concerts in Birmingham and Huntsville.

For instance- July 4, 1975 (the 199th Independence Day) Ticket price $1.99 Rickwood Field (an old baseball stadium, 8 keg beer stands on the field). Lineup: 1) some group I forget 2)Black Oak Arkansas 3) Lynyrd Skynyrd 4) ZZ Top. $1.99. My first Grateful Dead show, "the jesters in the parking lot" wasn't until 1977, for they were still on hiatus.

But during my sophomore year at Cullman College, I saw a show that is still in my top 3 concert experiences, in Mobile, AL. I've seen Bobby Zimmerman in umpteen variations since, but on that trip to Denver, a lot of memories were about those 2-in-one day Mobile shows.


Those Denver All Stars did 39 songs that night last year, there were supposed to be 40 but somebody forgot "Quinn the Eskimo" needed a bass player, and all the bass players were upstairs in the Oriental Theater comp room.

Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rolling_Thunder_Revue
The Rolling Thunder Revue was a famed concert tour comprised of a traveling caravan of musicians, headed by Bob Dylan, that took place in the fall of 1975 and the spring of 1976. The January 1976 release of Dylan's album Desire fell between the two legs of the tour.
Among those featured in the Revue were Joan Baez, Roger McGuinn, Ramblin' Jack Elliott, Kinky Friedman and Bob Neuwirth. Neuwirth assembled the backing musicians, including T-Bone Burnett, Mick Ronson, and David Mansfield, and, from the Desire sessions, violinist Scarlet Rivera, bassist Rob Stoner, and drummer Howie Wyeth.


Link: http://www.bjorner.com/DSN03275 1976 Rolling Thunder Revue II.htm#DSN03375

Expo Hall
Municipal Auditorium
Mobile, Alabama

29 April 1976 - Afternoon

Bob Dylan (guitar & vocal), Scarlet Rivera (violin), T-bone J. Henry Burnette (guitar & piano), Steven Soles (guitar), Mick Ronson (guitar), Bobby Neuwirth (guitar & vocal), Roger McGuinn (guitar & vocal), David Mansfield (steel guitar, mandolin, violin & dobro), Rob Stoner (bass), Howie Wyeth (drums), Gary Burke (congas).

Note. There is no recording circulating from this concert.

This "Expo Hall" was more like a large high school gym, a brick barn with high crankout windows and those wooden rollout bleachers folded against the walls.
The afternoon session was nice and roomy, one ticket got you in both shows, but a lot of folks must have still been on the road, and there was no taper section. The "backdrops" were hand painted, I wandered over and checked it out, it was like 6 foot high butcher's paper and finger paint. I never saw a set list of that first show.......everything was rumor about that great afternoon in Mobile.

We wandered around after the session, found a resturaunt and had some creole platters, returning for the second show and mingling with the very mellow crowd, trying to figure out "how to unlock those bleachers without a key".

My friend David Sticher ran back to his car trunk, returned with a wicked looking "waterwrench dealio", said something like "just leave them bleachers to me". Later, the sound of those bleachers coming down "whoomp", then on the other side "whoomp" was bringing cheers from the crowd, but Stish wasn't going "down the line", he's dancing and spinning, (he weighs maybe 290 pounds and folks are getting out of his way), he's holding the wrench high and making a big production out of it, back and fourth across, so we knew where he was from the bleachers collapsing here and there, until finally he got all 10 of them on the ground.

Then we had to do some talking to "Security" to enable Stish to stay in the Hall, somebody with a "backstage pass" came up and said a good word in his behalf. I remember the band looking out from backstage to see what all the commotion was about, so maybe Bob saved Stish, it makes a good story anyway.

Ya never know if something is going to happen, but I highlighted in red two "trigger songs" that set the mood that night.
Expo Hall
Municipal Auditorium
Mobile, Alabama

29 April 1976 - Evening

Flint Hill Special (Earl Scruggs)

T-bone J. Henry Burnett:
Werevolves of London (LeRoy P. Marinell(Waddy Wachtel/Warren Zevon)

Rob Stoner:
Too Good To Be Wasted (Rob Stoner)

Steven Soles:
Mad Man (Steven Soles/J. Henry Burnett)

Donna Weiss:
Tears On My Pillow (Donna Weiss)

Mick Ronson:
Is There Life On Mars? (Roscoe West)

Bob Neuwirth:
Mercedes Benz (Janis Joplin/Michael McClure)

Alabama Dark (Bob Neuwirth)

They Had To Move Away (Bobby Charles)

Battle Of New Orleans (Jimmy Driftwood)

Kinky Friedman:
Rock And Roll Across The USA (Kinky Friedman/ Danny Finley ("Panama Red"))
Dear Abbie (Kinky Friedman)
as***le From El Paso (Kinky Friedman)

1. Mr. Tambourine Man

2. It's Alright, Ma (I'm Only Bleeding)

3. Vincent van Gogh (Robert Friemark)

4. I'll Be Your Baby Tonight

5. Maggie's Farm

6. One Too Many Mornings

7. Isis (Bob Dylan-Jacques Levy/Bob Dylan)

Roger McGuinn:
Eight Miles High (Gene Clark, Roger McGuinn, David Crosby)
Cardiff Rose (Roger McGuinn)
Lover Of The Bayou (Roger McGuinn)
Chestnut Mare (Roger McGuinn/Jacques Levy)

Joan Baez:
Do Right Woman, Do Right Man (Lincoln Wayne Moman/Dan Penn)
Ain't Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me 'Round (trad.)
Love Song To A Stranger (Joan Baez)
The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down (Robbie Robertson)
Diamonds And Rust (Joan Baez)

8. Blowin' In The Wind

9. Railroad Boy (trad.)

10. I Pity The Poor Immigrant

11. Shelter From The Storm

12. I Threw It All Away

13. Stuck Inside Of Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again

14. You're Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go

15. Going, Going, Gone

16. Lay Lady Lay

17. Silver Mantis (J. Henry Burnett/Fleming)

18. Mozambique (Bob Dylan-Jacques Levy/Bob Dylan)

19. Idiot Wind

20. Knockin' On Heaven's Door

21. Gotta Travel On (Paul Clayton-Larry Ehrlich-David Lazar-Tom Six)

Those three a capela songs Dylan and Baez sang together were magical, and she hit notes I never heard before or since.

Coming back from Denver, I made sure to get my "Highway 61 Revisited" picture (with my trademark "black dot on the lens"). Nobody wrote down the set list from that afternoon Mobile concert, nobody had a tape, nobody in fact believed David, Billy and I that there even was an afternoon show.

But I am 110% sure "that song" which signaled the crazier times which would follow, was played that afternoon in Mobile, and I'll continue to claim I heard it until somebody shows me a cassette tape that proves me wrong.


"Highway '61 Revisited"

Well, God said to Abraham "Kill me a son"
Abe said "Man, you must be putting me on"
God said "No"
Abe said "Wha?t"
God said "You do what you want to, Abe but
The next time you see me coming, you'd better run"
Abe said "Where do you want this killing done?"
God said "Out on that Highway 61"

When I get to Minnesota one day, I'll take another Highway 61 picture guaranteed....and since my trademark "black dot" on the lens cannot be duplicated, the picture will tell 10,000 words.
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January 8, 2007

To: Brother Augustine Campion, St. Bernard Abbey, Cullman AL

Copy to: Sisters Eleanor Harrison, Mary Ruth Coffman and Bertha True, Sacred Heart Monastery, Cullman AL

Brother Augustine,

Thank you for the folder of Father Aloysius Plaisance articles. I'm thinking these are the tip of the iceberg, you said there were three large collections. I've been doing a quick "look-see", hopefully to find potential historical moments I can update.

My first tour of 2007 at the end of January is heading to Mobile, via Gees Bend and Monroeville, all unfamiliar territory for me. At last Saturday's Witness for Peace vigil, Sister Bertha showed me on a map her youthful stomping grounds around Newbern, which may put me in the radius of Selma, Demopolis and Moundville on the return leg.

You mentioned that Fathers Edward and Abbot Victor are at parishes on the eastern side of Mobile Bay, and that Bishop Oscar Lipscomb, OSB in Mobile probably has his own Father Aloysius memories.

Those first paragraphs from 1976 says it all-

CULLMAN-Some of Father Aloysious Plaisance's friends call him the unlikely monk. They remember when he rode a big motorcycle around Birmingham, and to New Orleans and Florida. He still rides a motorcycle occasionally, delighting in the surprised faces he passes.
Some of his friends have wondered why he became a monk, but he can name off the advantages those friends cannot see even after he names them. They see confinement: close. tight life of isolation.

"FREEDOM" he says, "It gives me freedom."


When I am riding long distances, I always think about how Father Al would have thought "this is SO cool", especially the "surprised faces".

When I read through these sample "Travel Reflections" columns, and knowing what a unique character he was (I contend he was better known than Thomas Merton outside Benedictine circles, because his columns appeared in syndication throughout the south), an idea has occurred to me.

Sister Eleanor noted my conundrum at lunch last Saturday. She and I found that when we Googled "Aloysius Plaisance", there are not a lot of actual articles he wrote on the internet, and in many cases the entry is simply a casual mention of his attendance here and there, or how Senator Howell Heflin honored him in the US Senate, with few details.


Plaisance, Aloysius, O.S.B., "Dom Joseph Didier, Pioneer Benedictine Missionary to the United States," 3:1 (1952) 23-26
Plaisance, Aloysius, O.S.B., "Emmeran Bliemel, O.S.B., Heroic Confederate Chaplain," 17:2 (1966) 209-216
Plaisance, Aloysius, O.S.B., "Ethan Allen's Daughter, First United States Nun," 8:2 (1957) 144-152
Plaisance, Aloysius, O.S.B., "The Catholic Church and the Confederacy," 15:2 (1964) 159-167

Cataloging the first batch of his works, there are "Travel Reflections" east to Atlanta and Belmont, north to Chicago, Philly, Seattle. There are a couple of European articles when he biked from monastery to monastery (always arriving in time for lunch), some letters to Abbot Hilary Dreaper. So far, no articles south by southwest, toward the Gulf Coast.


Of course there is his famous "Bear in the Smoky Mountains" story. I heard that warm-up opener in his History classes, with the more realistic and profane commentary he likely made when waking up with a black bear in the bunk next to him, rummaging his backpack full of fresh food.

There are two historical papers, one delivered in 1962 to the Alabama Historical Association meeting in Mobile, titled "THE CATHOLIC CHURCH AND THE CONFEDERACY", another titled "EMMERAN BLIEMEL, O.S.B. HEROIC CONFEDERATE CHAPLAIN" (1966, The American Benedictine Review) . That Googlesearch mentions many more, on some Adobe or pdf file.

Picking through the first article, the Sisters of Charity in 1861-1865 Mobile are mentioned.

"The work of the nearly 200 sister-nurses did a great deal to lessen the misunderstandings of the Church and produced a much greater appreciation of the Church's good works.

In Mobile the Sisters of Charity operated City Hospital. In the last days of the war, when the Confederates were evacuating Mobile, on April 12, the sisters gladly took charge of the Confederate sick and wounded. Sister Gabriel Larkin, Superior of City Hospital, has left an interesting description of their work in this regard.

"When the Confederates saw that they were obliged to evacuate Mobile their anxiety was what would they do with their sick and wounded who were about to be removed from the city....after some deliberation they came to the conclusion to send them to the City Hospital, knowing as they said, that they would not be molested while in the charge of the Sisters of Charity. They sent them all to us, and provided them amply with provisions. Our hospital was crowded and I hardly knew what to do when I was told they were going to send them to us, but it was useless to demonstrate with them, the only answer I got was, Sister we are ordered to leave them with you.

Wagon after wagon came and emptied their sick and wounded at our door, the front yard and the street around the hospital were buried with them, it was a cold rainy day, and to leave them there much longer would certainly cause their death. I had them crowded into every corner of the hospital."

I couldn't find a Sisters of Charity contact in my search, and also I was hoping I'd find a Father Al angle about the Visitation Monestary in the packet.


My original idea was to simply find the "Travel Reflections", especially which involved his bike travels, to Canada, those trips he peddled along the Natchez Trace, AND especially articles about the southwestern area below Montgomery and Selma where I will be traveling in January.

I was thinking of revisiting his routes, comparing what I find decades later. I know he wrote about nearly every Civil War site over 4 decades.

The first packet did have one sabbatical article featuring his biking the British Isles while at Cambridge in 1975-76. There were none about the trips to the Continent, except the letter to Abbot Hilary regarding N. Italy.


The packet included two "Pastoral Life" articles, "A Southern Priest Up North!" (1966) and "Traveling in Coat and Collar" (1963).

The funny part about the second article, like when he traveled by Greyhound and introduced southerners to a real "catholic priest" in small rural coffee shops and bus depots, it should be updated with the stories circa mid-1970's when he was having medical treatment in Memphis.

Abbot Hillary assigned him the fastest Abbey vehicle, which had no air conditioning. So the collar sat in the passenger seat. When the inevitable state trooper finally caught up, with a quick "attachment", the collar and the glaucoma excuse got him out of three or four speeding tickets. "Rolling Asylum" it could be called.

I tried to scan some of the copies of "Travel Reflections" into my upcoming pre-Mobile preparations, with less than steller results. In the "Traveling in Coat and Collar" article, which is mostly humorous, he does not mention any small town names, in fact, the only city mentioned is St. Louis, after chiding "alter Christus" wearing sports shirts on vacation, where he ponders what would happen in a catastrophe.

A personal case came up when I was waiting for a train in the Union Station at St. Louis. A large group of soldiers entered the station and headed for one of the trains. One soldier appeared to be rather loud and out of order when a MP came to him and ordered him over to the MP desk. The soldier refused and began to attack the MP. Drawing his pistol the MP fired a shot, wounding the soldier who was a short distance away from me.

When I heard the shot I rushed to the side of the wounded soldier. He was dying. At the sight of a priest, the crowd moved quickly aside and allowed me to be with him as he died. Would I have been permitted such a quick access had I been without my "coat and collar"?

I hope could be relayed to Abbot Cletus and Prioress Sister Janet, if we could find a place to link articles written by the monks of St. Bernard and the Sisters at Sacred Heart, an archive, and I would volunteer to type in some of the hundreds of Fr. Al Reflections.

Don't the Benedictines have Scribes anymore?

The primary reason for my Mobile journey is to attend the January 27, 2007 rally, as a juniorest member of the sisters of Sacred Heart Benedictines for Peace.

Along the way, I'm aiming to see the Gees Bend Quilters, riding the new ferry crossing near Camden, strolling around Harper Lee's Monroeville. Each new trip will try to feature a figure from American Literature.

For instance, when I visit Oxford Mississippi one day, my William Faulkner experience will be enhanced by Father Malachy's many "front porch drinking juleps stories". Hopefully Father Malachy had some hard copy for posterity.

Well, I guess Faulkner's confessions wouldn't be written down, now that I think about it.... :???:

And there are Sisters from Covington LA now, so this summer I could refer to any archives they have when I travel toward Abita Springs.

Anyway, what is the status of the Scribe program? Typing isn't half as tough as quill and ink, the good old Abbey days......

And please pass along my idea about archives of community members works, links I could reference along the backroads of America.

Yours truly,

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"everyone get on the (2-stroke) peace train"

i really like where this is going, keep it up 8)
Waveland, yeah i heard lotsa good stuff about 'em up her in jaxon. being hippy's, they did 'hippy stuff' (take that for what you will ;) ;) ) but it was overlooked because of their most excellent relief effort. 8)
istbenz said:
Waveland, yeah i heard lotsa good stuff about 'em up her in jaxon. being hippy's, they did 'hippy stuff' (take that for what you will ;) ;) ) but it was overlooked because of their most excellent relief effort. 8)

Waverly/Waveland- Ask me how I get misdirected. You and Cookie being closer to the actual Katrina action is making me a heck of a lot more informed, prepared for this adventure, than I was.

Yesterday, before our Witness for Peace Vigil, Sister Eleanor also pointed out that the Mobile Visitation Monestery I had intended on scoping out is ACTUALLY full of French Cloistered Nuns, so that pretty well knocks out the "lunch" invite. :???:

Tis good to be amongst wiser folk than myself! :D btw: moving that Hurricane topic to Cookies RIDERS OF THE STORM was NOT a simple cut/paste, but I tried............