Sunday, January 31, 2010

Troy, Storytelling and Red's

On Saturday morning I drove down to Troy, AL for the Pike Piddlers Storytelling Festival.

Troy, AL

Troy is 45 miles southwest of Montgomery on a state highway -- it's a drive through rural Alabama and even a little swamp land.

Troy has a population of about 15k and a university with the same name. I walked around the downtown area for a bit, which is really just a town square with shops on all sides.

There's also a confederate war memorial in the center of the square (that's how we roll in the South).

Being the cynical person I am, the shopkeepers must have receieved instruction from the chamber of commerce about being friendly. Every store I went into I got a big hello and an equally warm goodbye. Even a random person who held a door for me at a shop gave me a long "have a good day -- thanks for visiting." (Not surprising, people can quickly spot that I'm not from these parts.)


The Storytelling Festival was very entertaining and funny. It featured: Donald Davis, Kevin Kling, and Elizabeth Ellis. The name makes it sound more quaint than it really is. What these people do, telling stories, is exactly what David Sedaris does, though they were not quite as R-rated as Sedaris. Each storyteller told stories for about 45 minutes.

Donald Davis was the clear audience favorite and probably the best. He took a bunch of random stories about his grandmother who lived in Appalachia and weaved them together into a cohesive narrative. One of his early stories involved visiting his grandmother when he was 9. During the visit a neighbor asked his grandmother to "layout" his dead wife. 30 minutes later, he ended his storytelling talking about his grandmother's funeral (a few decades later), saying that when he saw all the makeup the undertaker had put on her, as well as the clothes and the way her hair was done, he finally appreciated the service his grandmother had provided many years earlier. The undertaker didn't know his grandmother, and thus, dressed her in a way that made her unrecognizable to the people who knew her. It wasn't all sad stories though -- most were amusing and told with wit.


After the storytelling I drove to Red's Little School House Restaurant for lunch.

Red's is 30 miles south of Montgomery, off a back road, very much in the middle of no where. It's considered one of the quintessential Alabaman restaurants -- it seems like everyone who has lived in the state for a while has gone there at some point. To give you an idea of its popularity, when Jessica Lange was in Montgomery filming "Big Fish," she would eat at Red's. No one, though, is quite sure how she knew about it (clearly someone must have told her about it).

Like all the restaurants here, it's traditional Southern, but served buffet (there's also a menu). Part of its mystique is its location, as well as its ambience -- the restaurant is a converted school house. It's the kind you would see in movies set in the 1920s and 30s -- large single room, hardwood floors, long wood tables, etc. They still have pictures of all the Presidents in the dining room, including Obama. Here's a picture of the inside form an Alabama tourist guide:

I thought the food was excellent and they had these amazing fried cornbread biscuits. I totally forgot to try out their pies, so I guess I'll do that next time.

Pioneer Village

On the drive back to Montgomery I passed by something called "Pioneer Village." From the road it looked like a bunch of log cabin homes. I of course had to check it out.

It was closed and really ammounted to nothing more than antique shops and hotdog stands. You cannot see it from the pictures, but there were Coca-Cola signs on everything -- just like in pioneer times.

The antiques must have no value because they were left outside:

1 comment:

  1. Troy looks like it served as the inspiration for the Hill Valley town square in Back to the Future.