As we pulled into Greensboro, I felt proud that the town’s beauty and luster remained unchanged. It still looked picturesque, like a postcard frozen in time, and its beauty shone this time of the year. The small, quaint, town flanked by the Black Warrior River, was located about forty-five miles south of Tuscaloosa in Hale County. The county took its name from Lt. Col. Stephen Hale, a Confederate war hero whose statue stood in the town square in front of city hall.
Greensboro wore its charm like a badge of honor. The kind and respectable residents gave the town a friendly atmosphere. Six days a week, the town buzzed with activity, but on the Sabbath, most residents chose to honor God. Through the years, great racial strides had been made between blacks and whites to create a quiet town where everyone minded his or her business and protected each other. Most working-age residents were able to comfortably eke out a decent living, pay their tithes and taxes, save for retirement, and send their kids to college. There was work in town, but most folks commuted to work in nearby towns at textile mills, factories, the railroad, and the Mercedes Benz plant.
Greensboro had always been a close-knit community. The bonds of family and friendship ran deep here. Many of its citizens stayed their entire lives, although some, like myself, longed for the noise and bright lights of a big city. No matter where life took me, home was always going to be home, and thus never far from my heart. And for whatever reason, home was where Frankie and I had returned.
Spring’s beauty abounded everywhere. Trees, bushes, and flowers were blooming, and birds sang in harmony. Here in the town’s square, folks milled about, cheerfully greeting each other in passing. Several threw their hands up to acknowledge us as we drove by. Every business appeared immaculate. I rolled down the window and inhaled the clean, new, air mixed with the fragrances of pine and honeysuckle, which drowned out the acrid smell from the piles of burning leaves we’d passed before reaching the town square…