Most folks I’ve encountered in life have a certain fondness for the place they grew up. Some don’t, if they had a negative experience I guess. But the reason I love this place isn’t necessarily because of its spectacular traits — although it has many — but because it’s home.
Huntsville is full of so many people who have moved here with their jobs, usually with the military or NASA or with one of their many contractors. To be a native, I think, is a rarity. It’s something I’m proud of.
Many people who move here like it and stay here. If you ask them why, they speak to the weather or the scenery or the culture. I like those things too, but I love it here because it’s my heritage.
I was born in Huntsville Hospital. I love downtown and the Big Spring, Maple Hill Cemetery and Monte Sano Mountain.
— when Huntsville Hospital for Women & Children was Humana, and when there were banks and dry cleaners in the blocks between. Huntsville Hospital now takes up all of that space and is expanding even more, in all directions, so it seems.
— when Parkway Place Mall was Parkway City Mall (a name I sometime still use). It was just one story with a Montgomery Ward on one end and Dillards and Parisian on the other.
— when Madison Square Mall was being built way on the far side of town, in the middle of nowhere. The urban sprawl has now, of course, spread way past there.
— when the Saturn I at the Space & Rocket Center was “the big rocket.” Now the Saturn V towers above it, so much so that the Saturn I is hardly noticeable from a distance.
— when the Von Braun Center was the Von Braun Civic Center, aka VBCC. That’s another one that I still often call by it’s old name.
— when Huntsville didn’t have a pro hockey team and UAH hockey ruled. The city held a contest to name the pro hockey team, and I submitted the idea “Huntsville Huskies.” The winning name was Huntsville Channel Cats, a name I didn’t understand at the time but grew fond of, especially over later names. A Huntsville Channel Cats t-shirt still hangs in my closet.
— when Holmes Avenue between Sparkman and Wynn was called Christmas Card Lane because of the large Christmas cards the residents placed in their yards each year. They stopped after the construction of Madison Square Mall, in protest of all the traffic using the quiet, two-lane road to get to the mall.
— when Huntsville’s only ice skating rink was the Ice Palace, a small, dark rink on Governor’s Drive (now Southerland Station). I had my first boy/girl party there when I turned 13, even if only one boy came.
and so and so on.
If you’re not a native Huntsvillian, the things above probably mean nothing to you. But if you are, you may find yourself nodding that you remember that too or perhaps the list brings to mind other bits of Huntsville nostalgia.
What I like best about Huntsville is feeling like I know the place and having a long-standing relationship.
Second to that, I like how it has a big city feel without the big city traffic, and a country road is never too far away when you need one.