Thursday, March 24, 2016

Our Private Tour of the Alabama Capitol

Several weeks ago, when we were walking the trails around Red Bay, Alabama, we met Johnny Mack Morrow. One of the friendliest of all the friendly Alabama citizens we have met, Representative Morrow gave us his phone number to call when we made our way to Montgomery. We think he might have been a little surprised when we did just that.

He actually had us meet him in his office, which is in the state house just behind the capitol.

Unlike other capitols that we have toured on our journey, both the senate and representative offices are in a separate building from the capitol. Johnny took us into the house chambers in the state house before the session started that morning. He introduced us to many of his colleagues as his "new best friends from Oklahoma."

Johnny has served in the state legislation for 26 years, and he seems to be known by everyone we passed in the hallways. He next took us to the Alabama Public Television office in the state house, where he introduced us to the director of the state's system. That would include a tour through their studio, including the place where they film most of their state legislator interviews.

Next, he whisked us to the capitol building through an underground tunnel available only to persons with magical keys. When we came into the capitol, we were near the winding staircase that led us from the first to the third floor. An engineering marvel, it has no visible supports as it winds its way up three flights.

Johnny Mack took us into the House chambers in the capitol, where we crossed the velvet ropes to stand where the early legislators once conducted business. Now a symbolic room used only for formal occasions such as state of the union addresses, it is devoid of the computers and modern technology necessary for doing business today.

He also pointed out the walls of that room. Because adding crown molding to such a large room would be expensive and would have to be made by hand when this building was built, the ornamental moldings were painted on. This wall is actually flat, skillfully painted to look like it had three dimensional molding added.

We zipped around groups of school children taking the formal capitol tour, and got a picture of the dome overhead.

Then he took us to meet Alabama's Secretary of State--John Merrill. Perhaps we'll see John (on the left) as a future governor, and we pledged to vote for him.

We appreciated all the time that Johnny Mack spent with us this morning! He is obviously a well-liked legislator, and we got to experience his southern charm first-hand. As he hurried off to today's legislative session, he encouraged us to watch from the visitor's gallery upstairs. Looking quite different from the empty chambers we had been in earlier this morning, there was lots of business going on now.

But then the wheels of legislation came to a grinding halt, as one of the representatives came to the podium on the left in a political maneuver to waste time. He talked for ten minutes about nothing in particular. Then another representative asked one question, so that our first politician could start another ten minutes of time-wasting banter. By the time we saw him take the microphone for the fourth time, we could hardly stand it any longer. Not a fan of the political process before, we certainly aren't after today.

A trip up two flights of stairs brought us to a similar scenario in the senate.

So it was a great morning on capitol hill, made especially informative by our private tour guide from Alabama. Thanks Representative Morrow! We can see why he has been representing his district for 26 years. If he makes all of his constituents feel as welcome as a couple from Oklahoma, they will surely re-elect him another 26 years!

We are enjoying our time in Montgomery. We also spent time at the river front park, where a tour boat was docked. This port on the Alabama River has loaded thousands of cotton bales to be used down river in Mobile.

There is also a wonderful Court Square Fountain in the middle of a busy downtown intersection. An artesian spring, the fountain has been adorning this area since 1885.

Since we were both raised on ranches, we also stopped in at the Alabama Cattleman Association headquarters in Montgomery. Their lobby houses the "Moo-seum" about all things cattle. Mark is standing with the picture of the cow's four-part stomach, which explains why cattle chew their cud.

Mark talked Denisa and her two twin sisters into posing in the cowboy photo board.

Besides this moo-seum, we also visited the Museum of Alabama. A great collection of historical displays, we also enjoyed the audio and video presentations. As we watched the credits at the end of one of the videos, we thought it was interesting to see "special thanks to Johnny Mack Morrow" roll across the screen. At the end of our day exploring the great state capitol of Alabama we'd have to say the same--"Special Thanks to Johnny Mack Morrow."

No comments:

Post a Comment