Selma was Mr. Rogers’ neighborhood

Published 7:53 pm Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Mr. Rogers’ neighborhood — I wish it were real. His neighbors were people with interesting niche hobbies and trades. As he sprinkled some goldfish feed into the tank in his living room and talked to those puppets (which I admit were kind of creepy sometimes) a neighbor would knock on his door and tell him all about a new hobby or take him on a tour of a place in town Mr. Rogers had never been.

I think Selma was a lot like Mr. Rogers’ neighborhood this weekend during Pilgrimage. I saw all sorts of houses and met the colorful characters that live in them — most of whom I already knew. I felt like Mr. Rogers a little too, and not just because I happened to wear lace-up, navy blue Keds and a sweater.

In the show’s theme song, Rogers first sings about what a beautiful day it is in the neighborhood. At Pilgrimage there were more than 15 Plein Air Artists from all areas of Alabama who came just to paint one of the top ranked places to paint in the nation by the Paint Institute. One of the artists told me that in Selma, “spring is just everywhere, you can feel it and see it everywhere you go in Selma.” I watched as artists from other places appreciated what a beautiful day in my neighborhood it truly was. I was thrilled to hear that word of mouth was traveling to their artist friends in other areas about Selma and how great the scenery is.

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I met out-of-towners who admitted to me that they, “had no idea that all of this history and beauty was here in Selma.” It was great to introduce people to my neighbors.

And that is what I love most about Selma — the neighbors. They are all people that I want to introduce to the world. My neighbors all around Selma are quirky, creative, interesting and one of a kind.

My neighbors are people like David Hurlbut at the Harmony Club who is always seeing unique architectural pieces throughout the city as art; The Jackson Family who are always at the Selma Walton Theater making people feel at home; Anne Murray who loves to make things in Selma look pretty; and people like Ronnie Leet, who have all kinds of stories to tell about Selma’s Jewish roots.

Some neighbors dress up in Confederate Uniforms and passionately tell you about what the Yankees burned down when they came through. Others tell you about the silver in their dining rooms or the ghosts that make the floorboards creek in the attic.

Think of all the places in Alabama and around the country where people do not know their neighbors. Selma is just the opposite. We not only know our neighbors, we want to introduce them to you.

We are also constantly inviting others and pleading, “Won’t you be my neighbor?”