Sunday, January 27, 2013

The Lard Can is Rusting

The majority of people alive today didn't enter the world until after World War II. Yet many, at least here in the South where the population is more static and given to archiving tales of eccentricity, have heard stories of the deprivation the global conflict brought to even the decidedly non-cosmopolitan Shoals. Rationing was real and not confined to only gasoline.

The Florence Packing Company produced several meat products, all of them affected by mandatory pricing freezes. One such product was lard, a county cousin to Crisco Shortening and a necessary element in 1940's cooking. Rather than sell the canned lard at a price it deemed too low, the Florence Packing Company stored it in hopes of a quick end to the war and rationing. The result was countless cans of the product that sat in a back storage room, meeting their demise via the rust that entered through the metal cans. In the end, the meat packing company lost money, and Shoals area families lost out on some home cooking. No winners there.

From the moment any structure is built, it starts to deteriorate. The Jackson Ford Bridge (Ghost Bridge) is the most recent example of such deterioration unchecked. We can blame Lauderdale County for not maintaining the edifice, but no one spoke up when this was, or should we say wasn't, happening. It's a fact of life that not all historical property can be saved. Neither can those in power or those who advise them agree on what should be saved and what should meet the wrecking ball.

Our friend Mary Carton writes an extremely interesting and informative blog entitled The Tuscumbian. In a recent post, Mary enumerated several Tuscumbia structures which are in danger. The most urgent building is the Hunt House (pictured). The home's owners reportedly don't want to live there, but refuse to sell the property at a reasonable and attractive price. Across the Great Divide in Lauderdale County, the Weeden Home stands unoccupied, its owner Susan Leigh Smithson reportedly still asking nine million dollars for the ante bellum structure and its surrounding property.

At the right price, there would obviously be willing buyers who would restore both homes to their lost elegance. At the current asking price, all we can expect is an even faster deterioration until too little remains to be saved.

The lard can is rusting...



  1. Thanks a lot for bringing attention to The Tuscumbian and the plight of some of Tuscumbia's historical structures. I wanted to start The Tuscumbian when I found out some of my lost family history. An Uncle who immigrated from Ireland, joined the US Army in WWI and is buried at a US cemetery in France. His story is told in one of the first post called 'The Hero forgotten'. I want this to be a venue for those who don't want to do the blog scene but would like to have some of their family or local history passed along for future generations. History not told is history forgotten.

    Again thank you.

  2. Love the lard can analogy. Spot on. You make a great point about people not wanting to protect historical properties until it is too late. I hate to see Ghost Bridge destroyed, but I would hate it worse if someone got killed from a piece of falling debris. It is important for us to identify these historical homes and work to preserve them the best that we can as a community. Savannah, Georgia is an example of the great work that a historical preservation group can do.