(Unless otherwise noted, the Kathryn Tucker Windham blog is written by her daughter, Dilcy Windham Hilley.)
I believe January 14, 1963, was the coldest day in Alabama history.
The recent inauguration of Alabama Governor Kay Ivey made me think back on that day. Maybe it wasn’t a record cold day, but it was bitingly bitter.
Mother thought it would be a good idea to take my sister, Kitti, and me to Montgomery to see George Wallace sworn in as Alabama’s governor. It was not at all that Mother supported Wallace and his hateful segregationist agenda. Several high school bands were invited to march in the parade, including the Selma band from Parrish High School. Brother Ben played trombone, so we would go cheer on the band while seeing a little democracy in action.
Streets leading up to the Capitol were packed with viewers. We were not close enough to hear Wallace’s speech proclaiming “…segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever.” It’s fortunate because, had Mother been near, I think she would have belted him with the hefty Alabama State Bible.
We were all wrapped up like Ralphie’s little brother in “A Christmas Story.” The wind sliced across our faces, our mouths exposed only to chat with the other parade-goers. The one next to Mother was a tiny, shriveled woman from Jasper who struck up a conversation.
When the high school bands came marching by, not a single wind instrument was performing. “I wonder why the horns aren’t playing,” my mother said to our new friend.
The little bean of a woman looked at Mother and said, “Lady, it’s too cold to pucker to toot.”
That became a much-quoted phrase in my family whenever the weather turned bitterly cold.
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"Some people are important to intellectuals, journalists, or politicians, but Kathryn Tucker Windham is probably the only person I know in Alabama who is important to everybody."
–Wayne Flynt, Professor Emeritus in the Department of History at Auburn University.
Ben Windham & Dilcy Windham Hilley
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