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The Church of St. Michael and All Angels

Driving along Alabama Highway 21 through Calhoun County,  you might see one of those historic marker signs on the corner of 18th Street. It almost gets lost amid the intersection with a McDonald's and other fast food joints.

Having grown up in Calhoun County I often noticed the sign pointing to the west to St. Michael's and All Angels Church. I had often heard of its historic place in our county and how beautiful of a church it was.

So many times I passed that historic marker sign on the corner of Hwy 21 and 18th Street. Always saying "I need to go visit and see for myself." Never really slowing down to actually visit. So in March when I traveled back to my home county I made it a point to visit.

Driving west along 18th Street through a part of Anniston that seems almost forgotten I came upon the historic church on a glorious spring day.

The Tyler and Noble families founded Anniston, establishing an iron works industry after the Civil War. When immigrant families began settling in Anniston to work in the mills and other businesses it became apparent that Grace Church, the first Episcopal church in Anniston, could not accomadate all the new families. In 1887 John Ward Noble petitioned the Bishop of Alabama to organize a second parish.


On St. Michael's Day of that year the parish was formed and architect William Halsey Wood was retained and ground broken and the cornerstone laid in 1888.

In September 1890 the church was consecrated. The church remains as a gift to the people of Anniston.

The tower of the church is reminiscent of chuches in the Noble family's native Cornwall, England. Beautiful stain glass windows grace the walls of the church as well as an amazing pipe organ. The woodwork is graced with wooden carved angels .



So if you're ever in Anniston and have a few moments turn west on 18th Street and visit the church. It truly is a beautiful church. The church is open daily from 8 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer by Warren St. John

I'd heard of Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer by Warren St. John in passing, but never gave much thought to reading it. Even though I enjoy Alabama football games I don't know that I would consider myself a die-hard fan. So when my sister-in-law gifted our father-in-law a copy of the book I read a few pages and knew I wanted to read it. Of course it helped that Alabama was having such an amazing season. Reading over that last line I might need to clarify and say the football team at the University of Alabama, just in case anyone who is not from Alabama and not familiar with Alabama football is reading this.

Having grown up in Birmingham, Alabama, Warren St. John readily admits that growing up in Alabama is "possibly the worst place on earth to acquire a healthy perspective on the importance of spectator sports." And having been born and raised here myself I have to agree.

After moving to New York to attend Columbia University, St. John begins to realize that maybe this obsession we all have with football here in Alabama is a bit different. As he writes, "It was quite an adjustment to go from coutning up a record number of wins under the Bear to the inexorable accumulation of a record number of losses at Columbia. And just as disconcerting:  no one at Columbia seemed to mind."  He really begins to wonder about the strangeness of it all when home for Thanksgiving he sees a couple at Legion Field in a RV being interviewed by the local news. They tell the reporter they missed their daughter's wedding because she picked the Alabama/Tennessee game day to get married.

So in his search for answers to the question of why sports can turn otherwise sane people into raving lunatics he seeks out the community of RVers who travel to each Alabama game.

Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer isn't so much a travel story, but St. John's own experiences as one of those hard core fans who follow their team.

Having grown up in Alabama myself I understand the almost religious nature of college football here. Honestly the only people I know who aren't Alabama or Auburn fans are a rare few that did not grow up in Alabama and my mother, who belongs in the small minority of those who don't really care for sports. According to St. John my mother belongs in a minority outnumbered by atheist in our state. A fact I have no problem believing.

Although my husband's family doesn't take an RV to each Alabama game, they very rarely miss an Alabama home game. My father-in-law supports the University of Alabama, his alma mater, without waver. Crimson and white, houndstooth, elephants and Roll Tide are in the blood in our family, with the exception of one sister-in-law who graduated from Auburn.

Life stops for Alabama football games. My dad, who is serving overseas with his national guard unit, set his alarm to wake up in the middle of the night so he could watch some of the Alabama games this past fall. Imagine a bunch of Alabama soldiers when the hub housing the wiring for everything burned knocking out their means of watching the Alabama/Auburn game during Alabama's glorious 2009 season.

So it should come as no surprise that reading Rammer Jammer was like seeing our family's life played out on the page without the RV aspect. The obsession, joyful moments of a win, and the depressing moods of a loss described by St. John need no explanation. I see it in my husband and countless others each Saturday from August to December.

So have you read Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer? What is life like in your family during Fall or better know as Alabama or Auburn football?

You can also visit St. John's blog here. (Be sure and scroll down and watch the YouTube video of the little toddler — well, unless you're an Auburn fan. Don't say I didn't warn you if you do though.)