Alternative Spring Break, Decatur: Monday, Monday

Each year during Harvard’s spring break, PBHA’s Alternative Spring Break program sends student volunteers on public service trips across the United States. This spring, 10 students traveled to Decatur, Alabama to work with the local Habitat for Humanity and volunteer in the local elementary school. The students blogged throughout the trip; this is part three of their series. Read part one and part two here. 

Monday morning, bright and early, we arrived at the site for the build. We looked out at muddy grounds leading up to a concrete slab. This was the beginning of a house, and we were going to make a home from the bottom, up!

After a blessing, we got to work. Splitting into teams we started by assembling the backbones of the walls and “framing” the house. We had people lifting, gluing, nailing, and everyone worked together. What was a sunny morning turned into a hot afternoon. We were really feeling the Alabama sun after weeks of dark, cold Boston weather. I know I personally got pretty badly burned. We all agreed, however, that it was totally worth it.

We drove to a local thrift store after work that day. We were in our pickup with the windows down and sunglasses on, without a care in the world. The clothing we picked out was pretty out-there, but all of it was super cheap. I can’t wait to sport my new Hawaiian.

That night we had a walking tour of Moorsville, Alabama, the small town where Heba, Carmen and I are staying. The town appears to be frozen in time. Moorsville, being on the other side of the Tennessee River than Decatur, was left untouched in the Civil War. It runs three streets east to west and three north to south. The second oldest functioning post office exists in Moorsville, and it is incredibly quant. There are 56 P.O. boxes in that post office. One for each of the 56 people that live in Moorsville year-round.

That night we had dinner at the Limestone Bay Trading Company. Joining us were all of the host families who were allowing us to stay with them. We got the opportunity to sit with new people that we hadn’t met yet. Le and I sat with Bill O’Brien and his wife Terry. We had a great time. Le is from China and experienced “white sauce” for the first time; he was an instant fan.

We walked back to the Peeble’s for Woody’s famous milkshakes. We got to talking with all of the dinner guests. It was really great learning about what they do and their lives in Alabama. We probably could have kept talking all night if we really wanted to.

We sat and listened to beautiful jazz music and sat by a big brick fire. Woody collects tokens of history that make up an extensive Americana collection. Sitting in the first floor of the barn we got to look around at just a fraction of the cool things he’s collected throughout the years. The majority of the stuff was in the back, in garages and storage trailors, which we toured before dinner.

We talked until our eyes began to close. It was a late night, but a deep sleep, as we recovered from the first day of building.

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