It’s odd how many memories can be attached to a little piece of paper.
Cordova was flooded with sightseers during the first 48 hours after the storms. That problem was largely alleviated with the arrival of the Alabama National Guard on Friday afternoon.
Zac spent most of that day helping at the Pig. When he returned to my parents’ house (where we were staying) that evening, he announced that the city had been locked down by a series of checkpoints. No one could get in or out without a pass.
Unfortunately, Daddy had already left for work and wouldn’t be back until the wee hours of the morning. After a long, hard shift, the last thing he needed was a standoff with the Guard.
I walked down the street to chat with one of the nice men with big guns about what could be done. He directed me to the commander of the checkpoint Daddy would be coming through that morning.
I provided Daddy’s name and a description of the truck so that he could get home with the understanding that we would all go to the high school ASAP on Saturday and get our passes.
If the Guard hadn’t taken pity on me, Daddy would have had to detour around Cordova via Parrish and Jasper, park his truck at the end of our street and walk to the house.
Every Guardsman I encountered managed to maintain law and order while also showing kindness and respect to the people of Cordova. I cannot say the same for some of the other officers who manned the checkpoints.
Less than a week after the storms, I went to the temporary People’s Bank location, a van in the parking lot of Cordova First Baptist, to get some information for a story. The person I needed to talk to was at the vault downtown, so I started walking.
At the railroad tracks near Main Street, I saw a couple of out-of-town officers chatting on the side of the road.
They weren’t paying any attention to me, and I probably could have walked across the tracks without them saying a word. However, I crossed over anyway to inform them that I was a resident and reporter heading downtown on business, which I had been allowed to do multiple times in days previous.
The cop standing outside the patrol car barely looked at my pass before handing it back and telling me to proceed. I was putting it back in my pocket when the man in the driver’s seat demanded to see it.
I couldn’t believe my ears when he growled, “This says travel. Travel means to and fro. Travel doesn’t mean work.”
My mouth fell open, but somehow I managed to shut it before any of the smart aleck responses spinning around my head flew out and I ended up in handcuffs.
I was heading back to the church with steam coming out of my ears when a People’s employee drove up to the checkpoint. She was transporting a van full of people to the vault so they could close out their safety deposit accounts.
“Hey, you can ride down with her if you want!” one of the cops yelled in my direction.
I bit my tongue really, really hard to stop myself from asking how riding was considered an acceptable form of travel by Mr. Man but walking was not.
However, let the record show that I did not ride out of Cordova that day. I walked down the middle of Main Street and across the tracks in plain sight of the two officers.
Now that my lost travel pass has been found, it can take its rightful place among my vast Cordova collection, which includes hundreds of photos, dozens of newspaper articles, a closet full of clothes, a “Go Devils” insert from the championship football season and an upside-down poster of the inside of Indian Head Mills.
I guess it could be worse. I could collect something really weird, like shoes or candy wrappers.