Coming home to Clanton

Published 6:40 pm Friday, May 8, 2015

Dear editor:

I was born and raised in Clanton – and as a teenager I could not wait to leave. I even graduated high school a year early so I could leave sooner.

Now, almost 35 years later, I am bringing my two children for a prolonged visit to the same town I was in such a hurry to put behind me. Why would I want my children to experience small-town Alabama? Simple: It is home.

In recent years, I have done some genealogy research and found that my ancestors first came to the area now known as Clanton in the mid-1800s. As was common, the children got married and moved onto their parents’ property, creating large communities of people related to each other.

It was only in recent years that some of the children strayed, like myself, and moved away to strange lands. I have been back to visit many times over the years. Sometimes the visits were happy occasions, and sometimes it was to honor a loved one that had passed. Regardless of the reason for the visits, there was always some level of comfort upon returning home.

I have not always admitted that I still consider Clanton home. When my family would ask, “When are you coming home?”, I would answer that I had a new home. But “home” has a much deeper meaning than just where you currently reside. When your family has lived 150-plus years in a particular area, your roots are much too deep to sever.

While I have not physically lived in Clanton since the early 1980s, I can revert back to my Alabama twang in an instant. When I come back to visit, there are countless relatives to see and some old friends that still remember me.

So what do I want my children to learn from their visit to Clanton this summer? Well, hopefully none of my high school friends will tell them stories I’d rather they didn’t know. I do want them to experience the love and friendship that only a small town can offer. I hope they can find time to explore the town and get to know the people.

So if you see a couple of young faces in town this summer that you don’t recognize, introduce yourselves and give them a big Clanton welcome. I’ll see you when I get home.

Dorene Wright Haden, Chilton County High School Class of 1982