Friday, July 31, 2009

Trip to Vulcan

A couple of weekends ago was the Birmingham Membership Alliance Day, where various museums and theaters throughout the city allow reciprocating access to members of other museums and theaters. We have memberships at the Birmingham Zoo and the McWane Science Center, so we figured we'd use the opportunity to visit one of Birmigham's other sites, Vulcan.

Vulcan Park and Museum is a tribute to Birmingham's history in the steel industry. The statue of Vulcan, god of the forge, stands atop Red Mountain, overlooking the city of Birmingham. For those of you interested a detailed history, take a peek at the Vulcan website. For those of you who don't want to click away from these beautiful smiling faces, here is my executive summary:

Birmingham was founded in 1871. The area where the city grew is very special because it contains coal, iron ore, and limestone, the raw materials for making iron and steel. Birmingham's founders knew this would be a good place to build an industrial city. By 1900, Birmingham was called the "Magic City" because it grew so quickly. The city's leaders wanted to advertise Birmingham and the state of Alabama to the world by entering an exhibit in the St. Louis World's Fair. James A. MacKnight, the manager of the Alabama State Fair, decided a statue of Vulcan would best highlight the area's growing industrial abilities.

. . .

Designed by Italian artist Giuseppe Moretti and cast from local iron in 1904, it has overlooked the urban landscape of Alabama's largest city.

. . .

The statue proved to be a very popular exhibit and won the Grand Prize [at the St. Louis World's Fair] . . .

In 1905, when the World's Fair had ended, Vulcan was taken apart and brought by train back to Birmingham. . . . he finally wound up at the Alabama State Fairgrounds. . . . Merchants began to use him for advertising, and over the years he held various objects, such as a giant ice cream cone, a pickle sign, and a Coke bottle. Later he wore a giant pair of Liberty overalls. In the 1930s he was repainted in flesh tones.

. . .

In May 1939, Vulcan, now painted with aluminum paint, was finally in his new home in Vulcan Park, atop Red Mountain. The hollow statue was filled with concrete to help anchor it in place. In 1946, some safety-minded citizens decided Vulcan should remind everyone to drive carefully. Instead of his newly forged spear, he now held a cone-shaped, lighted beacon. This signal glowed green on days no one was killed in an auto accident and red on days when there was a fatality.

Apparently, Vulcan suffered from the same ailment as my backyard basketball goal in high school. Just like my basketball post which was never covered, the top of Vulcan's head was not covered, so rain poured in and he eventually developed cracks. Unlike my basketball goal that rusted at the base and fell over, someone figured out what was happening to Vulcan and dismantled him in 1999 before he could fall over. He was fixed, repainted, and the park re-opened in 2003.

I suppose it is a tribute to how long I've been in Birmingham because I can remember going up in Vulcan prior to 1999 and also remember when they took him down for safety reasons. For a while there, it seemed like no one was willing to put any money into restoring Vulcan. Eventually they did, but I wonder what Vulcan's fate would have been if they had to do the repairs in 2009 instead of 1999. . . Maybe he could have gotten some of that fictional dome money.

Ah well, at least Birmingham has some lasting legacy that heralds a time when Birmingham was a booming city full of promise. For Little I's and Mr. C's sake, I'm anxious to see some of that promise return.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Happy Birthday Mr. C!

It is hard to believe that just one short year ago MomE and I were still at the hospital with our newest family member, Mr. C. Yesterday was a big day for Mr. C. He had a little birthday celebration with friends from play group, he got some new toys to play with, and he had his first cake. We decided to treat him to barbeque out for dinner after spending some time at the library. Mr. C must have known it was an important day because he surprised us with two new words: "bubbles" and "balloon"! His vocabulary now consists of eight words, which means he improved his vocabulary by 33% on his birthday. Way to rise to the occasion, Mr. C! Rather than wax philosophically about the relativity of a year depending on how you look at it or spend an inordinate amount of time reminiscing about the past 365 days, I'll get straight to the pictures.

The friends:

The family:

Blowing out the candle, Little I helped:
The cake with action shots:

I have to brag about MomE's creativity here. The "ice cream cones" below are actually cup cakes baked into ice cream cone shells. No silverware or napkins needed!
Happy Birthday Mr. C! We're so glad to be your mom(E) and dad(D)!

Saturday, July 11, 2009


I: Hey C
C: zup
I: chk out my new cellphone.
C: Who U been callin?
I: GG, Papa ... Santa ;-)
I: JK GG is on Mommy's phone, but I pretend to call her. I'll let you talk to her on my phone sometime.
C: TY WRUU2 right now?
I: I'm helping mommy make a strawberry pie.
C: Sounds gud. I still would prbly prefer a "na" (banana).
I: UR loss G2G help make dinner now. TTYL
C: L8R