November 19, 2015

Minutes of the 11.19.15 Meeting of the Rotary Club of Mobile
The meeting was called to order by President Robby McClure with Henry Seawell giving the invocation accompanied by Les Greer on the piano and Gordon Korb leading the song.
Our student of the week was Paige Reach from Citronelle High School who was introduced by Lena Llindsey, CHS Counselor. Ms. Phillips, grandmother to Paige was in attendance.
Cart Blackwell introduced our speaker, John Sledge, a notable local author and journalist who discussed his new book The Mobile River”.
Sledge began by telling the origin of the terms ‘stevedore’ and ‘longshoreman’. The former comes from the Spanish meaning ‘to pack your stuff’ while the latter is a nineteenth century Canadian term.
He told that the Mobile River began about fifty miles above the city near the present location of the formerly named TK plant where the Alabama and the Tombigbee join. The Mobile River drains about 45,000 square miles of the southeast.
He was inspired to write this by another series “The Rivers of America” which unfortunately, did not include Alabama rivers.
He described the river traveling through upland bluffs, marshy land and the bluffs.
Regarding local lore, the word Mobile is reportedly a Choctaw word meaning to paddle. When the French arrived c. 33 Mobile Indians were left due to disease brought by the Spanish. About 90% of the Mobile Indians died due to disease.
He went on to show pictures of local personages and scenes from the river noting the river was used in the 19th Century for commerce, industry and recreation and later shipbuilding came to be done on the river.
In the 1920s, the State Docks were developed ushering in a new and critical feature on the river. Next came the Bankhead and Wallace Tunnels. He mentioned that when the Bankhead was opened, local citizens were invited to walk through the tunnel for a period of days to get acquainted. One young boy eagerly came into the tunnel on roller skates, enjoying half the ride until he discovered the tunnel was build with an angle meaning the lowest point was in the middle. Sad for this child to reach the center to his surprise.
President Robby adjourned the meeting at 1 pm announcing a board meeting.
Rose Johnson