Well y’all, it happened again- Stars Fell on Alabama! According to NASA, it is just a warm up…Delta Aquarid meteor showers lit up the night sky over Alabama on Friday night of this week! Now, I didn’t actually see them…but I did go outside after midnight…I did what they said…I looked to the southern sky, I used my naked eye- no binoculars – saw the Fingernail Moon- which is the ‘friend’ of meteor shower watchers. I didn’t have a reclining chair out front, I didn’t put a quilt on the ground like they suggested. I sat on the front porch steps…by myself. I heard a rustling sound under the front porch, I couldn’t be sure if it was a stray cat or a possum. I didn’t wait around to find out…instead I ran through the house and went out on the back porch, oriented myself again- stretched out on the warm wrought iron lounge chair and watched the twinkling skies. If you want to see the ‘show’- go to Slooh.com to find out how to watch…
‘Stars Fell on Alabama’ has graced our license plates-
The song became a popular tune in the 1930’s Big Band Era, being written by Mitchell Parish and arranged by Frank Perkins- then performed by Guy Lombardo. Ella Fitzgerald, Jimmy Rogers, Billie Holiday, Kate Smith, Louie Armstrong, even Frank Sinatra made the song legendary. Whenever I attended an event at the Alabama Theatre- and heard the Mighty Wurlitzer Organ being played- most of the time- ‘Stars Fell on Alabama’ would be played. Go check it out on the Alabama Theatre’s website– www.alabamatheatre.com Let me tell you something- there was nothing more awe inspiring than hearing the Mighty Wurlitzer!
From Debutante Balls, to beauty pageants, honky tonks, Shrine Clubs, Elks Lodges, country clubs, under the revolving ball in the Cloud Room at Cascade Plunge, at leadouts, even dance clubs where you could win a chicken dinner if you were the best dancers- all the way to Mardi Gras Balls- (yes! Alabama was first to observe Mardi Gras)- one thing you could count on was ‘Stars Fell on Alabama’ being played, couples swaying and swinging around the dance floor.
In 1833, stars really did fall on Alabama– it is estimated at 30,000 per hour and continued for approximately 9 hours in Alabama but over a 3 day period elsewhere-constituting a meteor storm. It was a terrifyingly beautiful night- most were scared out of their minds- fearing Judgement Day was at hand-folks gathered in churches with open Bibles, then fearfully throwing dice, cards and liquor into the flames. Some even began to count time from this event in 1833- the only group that was not frightened were the American Indians who thought it was a lucky sign and I believe some sort of treaty was signed by the Cheyenne tribes. Several more meteor showers continued on into the 1860’s – Harriet Tubman, Frederick Douglass even Abraham Lincoln were said to have commented on the falling stars. However bizarre the 1833 event was in Alabama, in 1954 a woman named Ann Hodges from Sylacauga, Alabama, the only known person to have been struck by a meteor- was laying on her sofa, covered up with thick quilts- I suspect taking a nap- when a big rock crashed the roof, bounced off of her radio and left what National Geographic describes as a pineapple shaped bruise on her leg- through all of those quilts!
Some thought it was a plane crash, others thought it was an overt attack by the Soviets- it was during the Cold War after all! The Police Chief confiscated the rock and turned it over to the U.S. Air Force because folks were so paranoid about it all. A court case ensued once the rock was declared a meteorite- Ann Hodges and her husband rented the house from Birdie Guy who claimed since it hit her house- it was her star. The courts agreed. Ann and her husband had public opinion on their side and settled out of court- paid Birdie $500 and later when it wasn’t really worth that much even to the Smithsonian- they donated it to the museum of natural history. Once again- Stars Fell on Alabama! This story was so interesting to another Alabamian, Fanny Flagg, that she fictionally incorporated into her book, Whistlestop Café, which became the movie, ‘Fried Green Tomatoes’!
Now, there are great YouTube videos of Alabama native, Jimmy Buffet singing ‘Stars Fell on Alabama’ and the Jacksonville State Marching Southerners as they play ‘Stars Fell on Alabama’ at every home game, however, I love the version done by the Lennon Sisters- DeeDee, Peggy, Kathy and Janet- holding their train cases on the Lawrence Welk Show!
Aren’t they just darlin’ with their matching suits and bouffant hairdos? From now til August is over….hope you get to see some Stars Falling over Alabama!
Love y’all, Camellia
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