On November 14th, I wrapped myself up in a shirt, a scarf, a sweater, and an overcoat in preparation for the frigid morning I was about to face. EH204 was taking a field trip! We were scheduled to catch the morning bus across the street on Arkadelphia. It arrived three minutes before schedule at 9:11AM. There were a few stragglers and one particular busy Bee who just didn’t make it in time. We boarded the warm bus and headed downtown. In no more than seven minutes, we arrived in the heart of Birmingham.
We learned about the Black district and of all the theatres that once occupied 1st and 2nd avenue. We saw the Carver (pictured below), one of the few theatres still standing, which apparently now houses a small jazz museum. And we passed through a structural tribute to the Temptations, covered in ice. As we read the signs that told of its history, professor Glenny Brock flagged down Bee who had been dropped off at the Alabama Theatre. Bee informed us all that the power was out downtown, which led us to the correct conclusion: Today was going to be interesting.
Since Glenny happens to have a key to the Alabama Theatre (pictured below), we took refuge from the chill inside the ticket area under the marquee. There we learned about the history behind one of Alabama’s oldest and still functioning theatres. Each intricate detail of the beautiful decor stays true to the theatre’s original design and made me want to bust open the doors and explore the whole building, camera in hand. Trendy twitter users that we are, we took a class selfie in the ceiling mirror to tweet then headed back out into the cold.
After being kindly greeted by the winter wind, we took to finding another warm escape. Glenny suggested the Continental Bakery Downtown. There were no objections. We strolled down one block and into the cozy cafe. With no shame, we wiped out their entire inventory of morning sandwiches, baked goods, and coffee cups and seated ourselves at a large lavishly decorated table on the second floor. We munched on some satisfying snacks and checked our newsfeeds, naturally.
Though it took much convincing for a few, we then walked back a couple blocks to check out the Peanut Depot. Scattered shells covered the ground outside the entrance. Their 100+ year old roasters inside smelled like metal and, well, peanuts. The gentleman behind the counter told us that because the power had been out, they were just now getting started for the day. He offered us a few different flavors to try like salted and cajun, and a few of us walked out with bags of peanuts in hand.
We then walked through the incandescent Magic City tunnel and arrived at the bus stop. There we stood– the few, the proud, and the really really cold– waiting for 11 long minutes for the 10:00 bus to take us back home to the Hilltop.