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Fireside Chats: Alabama’s Roadside Shrine

Also called “wayside shrines,” you used to see them frequently along roadways in Europe in years past. They were less common in America, and even less so nowadays when automobiles and airplanes make travel a speedier, safer process. Back in the olden times, shrines were set up along roadways, often at crossroads, where folklore had long established that evil spirits were known to commune—think of the legend of Robert Johnson meeting the Devil at a crossroads to bargain his soul, or the tradition of burying criminals or suicides at crossroads, in case they returned from the dead as vampires, so they wouldn’t be able to find their way home. Travelers could stop and pray for safe passage.

Thanks to Roadside America, I learned that Alabama has a large roadside shrine, a “rock igloo” fashioned from stone and concrete. I had to make the drive to see it. (NOTE: I followed the rules for social distancing. I did not interact with a single person during my roadtrip, only stopping once to pump gas, which I would have had to do anyway. I paid at the pump.)

The shrine is beautiful, a lovely curiosity and a throwback to bygone days. I entered to say a little prayer for a speedy recovery from this pandemic, and that those who need to will learn the appropriate lessons from this so that they can prevent another one.

Just a few miles from the shrine, by the way, is an old water tower that looks like a castle. Why? Why not!

TheCheezman • March 30, 2020

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