Alabama Short Stories

Alabama Short Stories

Alabama Shorts Stories takes over where our 4th grade Alabama history class left off. We dig a little deeper and find the stories that make Alabama a unique place to live and to visit. It's the perfect listen for when you are a little behind on your Alabama history.

Episodes

February 27, 2024 1 min

I hope you have enjoyed the first 5 seasons of the Alabama Short Stories podcast. When I released season three, I published the book, Alabama Short Stories, Volume 1. This was the perfect solution for those who like their podcasts in written form. And as a bonus, it had pictures to illustrate the stories. 


With season six of the podcast upon us, I am proud to announce volume two of the book, Alabama Short Stories. There are 30 ...

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Welcome to Alabama Short Stories. This is Shawn Wright, and I am happy to say that Season 6 starts on Tuesday, March 5, 2024, with more great stories about the state of Alabama.

I will start the season with a story in the news the past couple of years. It’s about Cudjo Lewis and the writers who have been telling this former slave's story for the past 100+ years, and we find the Clotilda in the process.


We take driving on ou...

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Armistice Day was created at the end of what we now know as World War I. At the end of World War II, one Birmingham native felt a need to celebrate all veterans, and he set out to honor them. Raymond Weeks took his fight to Washington, D.C., and then put his words into action by leading what has become the largest and oldest Veteran’s Day Parade in the nation in his hometown of Birmingham. Listen to this episode to determine if his...

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October 31, 2023 13 mins

When Alabama Power made plans for Lewis Smith Dam in a rural area of Northwest Alabama, they knew they had plenty of time to clear the basin of trees, buildings, and other potential obstructions before the lake filled. Then the rains came, and the basin started to fill up fast. Learn about the area of Smith Lake and what happened when the rains came.

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October 24, 2023 8 mins

What do you do when you have one of the largest buildings in Birmingham that feature a smooth glass finish with lights to illuminate each window. Create art, of course! Learn about how the Regions building changes light colors and has created designs for the holidays, Olympics, and Golf Tournaments for the past 50 years.

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October 17, 2023 10 mins

John Henry was a steel-driving man or maybe just a folk tale. John Henry died while competing against a steam drill in West Virginia, or did he? Some think this folk hero, or real-life hero, died here in Alabama at a tunnel south of Leeds close to Dunavant. Listen to the story, and you decide if he was real and where he died. I think you know where we stand on this issue.

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Carrie Tuggle and her husband, John, moved to Birmingham in 1883 in search of better work opportunities and social life. They threw themselves into work and growing their family. They both actively participated in the Knights of Pythias, a national fraternal organization. Carrie was a social worker and would see young boys in the court system being sent to prison with adults. It was too much for her to bear. The couple would start ...

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October 3, 2023 13 mins

Harper Lee and Truman Capote are two of this country's most celebrated writers. Lee for her Pulitzer Prize-winning To Kill A Mockingbird, and Capote for In Cold Blood, among others. Both writers got their start behind a battered old typewriter brought home by Lee’s father when they were children. They grew up as next-door neighbors in the town of Monroeville, Alabama. They would play a part in each other's most celebrated...

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September 26, 2023 12 mins

Hugo Black was a U.S. Senator from Alabama who supported FDR’s New Deal. When an opening on the Supreme Court became available, the President knew he wanted an ally on the court, and Hugo Black was his first choice. If the President had done a little due diligence, he would have discovered that his candidate had a checkered past. In 1923, at the end of a trolley line in Shades Valley and by the remains of a race track and dried lak...

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September 19, 2023 12 mins

Yolande Betbeze was a college student at Mobile’s Spring Hill College when she saw an opportunity to help her get out of the South. She won the Miss Torch contest, which sent her to Miss Alabama and then to the Miss America Pageant, which she won in 1951. Miss America was just the start for Betbeze, as her reign created controversy and helped create a competing pageant that exists today. Listen to her story and hear what happened t...

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We all know someone who feels they are their team's “number one fan.” They go to all the games, buy all the gear, and take the day off from work when their team loses. Many fans meet this description for the University of Alabama, but none can hold a candle to William Ralph Price, known to everyone as “Shorty.” Shorty Price would do his best to fire up the crowd during a game, usually getting escorted out of the stadium for hi...

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September 5, 2023 13 mins

A Russian immigrant moves to Selma and sees his first banana. He finds out they are shipped to the port of Mobile, and he hatches a plan. This small move to sell “unsellable” bananas sets off a career that will see Sam Zemurray become the leader of one the largest banana importers in the United States. His reach will go farther than Mobile as he has a hand in overthrowing Central American governments. Learn about how Sam Zemurray g...

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August 22, 2023 2 mins

Season 5 of the Alabama Short Stories podcast is just around the corner, and I can’t wait for it to get started. Hey, this is Shawn Wright, your host for another trip around the state of Alabama to learn about the characters that make Alabama, well… Alabama. 

I am going to kick off the season with a story about Sam the Banana Man and his role in getting the banana that’s sitting on your counter from Central America to you just so yo...

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May 16, 2023 12 mins

Mardi Gras was started in Mobile, Alabama. Don’t let anyone from New Orleans tell you otherwise. After the civil war, one man is credited with getting it started again by dressing like a Chickasaw Chieftan and marching through the streets of Mobile. Joe Cain is celebrated to this day with his own parade during the Mardi Gras season.

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May 9, 2023 12 mins

Terror has been used as a way to keep people in line for centuries. In Birmingham, with easy access to mining supplies, the klan used dynamite as their tool of terror. But they didn’t count on the resiliency of the citizens in the North Smithfield Community that earned the name Dynamite Hill. By the time four little girls died at the hands of a bomb while at church, Birmingham had already earned its nickname as Bombingham. 

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When conservators removed plaster to ensure the grand staircase in the state capital in Alabama was still safe, they were shocked to find out that they were built by a bridge builder. His name was Horace King. Born a slave, he became one of the south’s pre-eminent builder of bridges, homes, and a staircase or two.

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April 25, 2023 10 mins

John Lennon was giving a tour of his home to a reporter when he commented on the popularity of his band, the Beatles. “We’re more popular than Jesus now.” This one innocuous line made its way across the ocean to the studios in a radio station in Birmingham, Alabama, where the morning team took offense. Those two DJs would start a worldwide movement to Ban The Beatles.  

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April 18, 2023 7 mins

Lonnie Johnson tinkered so much that the neighborhood kids called him “The Professor.” He won first place in a state-wide science fair in high school and embarked on a career in the military. He later worked at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory to work on the Galileo mission to Jupiter and the Cassini mission to Saturn. Despite excelling in all these fields, he will forever be known as the person who made a better squirt gun.

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A Japanese war bride who went by the name of Katie Parsons, moved to Birmingham and fell in love with it. When she discovered she had an inoperable brain tumor, her dying wish was to have a garden in her memory in Birmingham. Here about how the town came together to create a garden that was bigger than her dream.

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The daughter of Senator John H. Bankhead of Alabama. Tallulah would forge her own path in life on the stage and on the screen. This outspoken woman charmed audiences and shocked prudes with her talents and antics. Learn how this woman from Alabama became a star on the stage, screen and in the tabloids.

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