On my way to Florence, I stopped in Huntsville Alabama to tour the U.S. Space and Rocket Center. After visiting I realized that this place is really an educational facility for children - Space Camp is located here. There are day programs for school children ( and there were plenty of them today!) where they can participate in all kinds of simulations -pulling G Forces, landing on the moon (looked like a rough ride from the outside), space shot off a pad, etc. There are warnings all over the place for people with neck and back problems, claustrophobia, epilepsy, and on and on. But hey, they are kids and they went on and came off without one of them ever throwing up - good for them. The special exhibit was interesting - chock full of info about Wernher Von Braun. It's a great place for kids, as for me - I prefer the Kennedy Space Center or the Houston Space Center.
Seventy miles west of Huntsville is Tuscumbia where Ivy Green, the birthplace and childhood home of Helen Keller is located. What an incredible person she was and her story is so compelling. The guide pointed out that Helen's grandparents built this home in 1820 on 640 acres of land. The caretakers have done an excellent job of preserving the home, the furniture - 85% original and one piece alone appraised at $18,000 by Antiques Roadshow - and the grounds which remained untouched during the Civil War. The estate is surrounded by 150 year old boxwood, magnolia and mimosa trees, roses, honeysuckle, and tons of English Ivy from which the place got it's name. There are four large rooms on the main floor - the living room, the dining room, parent's bedroom and another bedroom that now is "the museum". That room houses an extensive collection of photos, awards, Helen's braille books and books she has written ,and gifts from people all over the world. Helen graces the Alabama state quarter whose slogan is "Spirit of Courage". The movie, The Miracle Worker, was filmed in New Jersey because this house and the grounds simply could not support the crew and all of the equipment. I spent lots of time here . I loved talking to the guides and "Bless Their Hearts" ( a favorite saying down here), they answered all the questions I had and then some.
It was getting late and I wanted to get to the W.C. Handy house before it closed. This is the original 2 room log house birthplace of "the Father of the Blues" . It was moved here from a few blocks away and a visitor center/museum was added on. The museum houses his famous trumpet , personal piano, handwritten sheet music, and tons of other memorabilia. I got to hear recordings of interviews and recordings of his music. Handy's father was a deeply religious man and the only instrument that he would allow was an organ because that was used in church. As they both grew older, the father - who once said he would rather see his son dead than have him be a musician - gave his approval .
Time to check into a hotel and get ready for tonight's ball game. That meant that I had to pass on visiting the Coon Dog Cemetery - 200 headstones strong!