It was the third of June, another sleepy, dusty, Alabama day — the kind of day when everybody wishes that someone would come by, wait for the ice cream truck and say, “Who wants chocolate?” And wonder of wonders, Elsie Gamblin did just that!

The residents of Paden Ridge were treated to delightful, ooey-gooey, melted, sloppy ice cream cones. Karren Arnold, Ellis Maddox, Loretta Beaube, Charlotte Johnson, Dianne Vanko and Grace Perry slurped up the frozen treats with gusto. Some even had seconds. Thanks for a glorious afternoon, Elsie, Lisa Gann and Paden Ridge, it was supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!

Have you heard Kaleb Aldredge sing? He and his troupe dropped by Friday afternoon at Paden Ridge, and we were properly serenaded by this very talented 17-year-old. His versatility and repertoire were amazing, from “Long Black Train” to “I’ll Fly Away,” and ending with “Amazing Grace, My Chains Are Gone” — from Josh Turner to Chris Tomlin with a little bit of Steven Curtis Chapman for good measure. A wonder on both the guitar and the piano, he’s going to change the world!

We remembered the men who gave their lives on foreign soil on D-Day that we might eat burned wieners and smoked hamburgers on Memorial Day and see the named flags, row upon row, along the highway median, reminding us that freedom is never free.

FLASHBACK

Early morning air whispered through his thick, curly hair; the white shirt and velvet pants flapped against his arms and legs as he began the treacherous trail that circled the mountain. He was nearing his favorite place, his holy place. He positioned his horse carefully in a flat, grassy plain, and carefully dismounted. He held the case given to him by his mother as a parting gift tenderly, then unfastened it. As if he could wait no longer, he struck a joyful chord across the shiny violin. He played the instrument with a love that seemed to shine brighter than the sun.

Howard Gardner Nichols, designer of the mill village and first “boss” of the cotton mill, played his own song in the mornings. It was a love song, though the only girl who had captured his heart was back in Chicopee awaiting his call. It was a love song for a new country with tall, spindly pine trees; colorful flora and fauna; roses so deeply red they must have been dreamed of by an opiate dreamer; the yellows and greens reaching out to touch the wanderer.

The song was so pure, so sweet, that it was like a blessing — a blessing so resounding that it has lasted more than 100 years, reaching as far as the boundaries of Alabama City and Gadsden.

The unsuspecting traveler can feel it tugging at his heart, urging him to stop and feel blessing — stop and hear the soft strains of “Nichols Theme” wafting through the pines and chinaberry trees. Try some of Mama Goodson’s fine fig preserves; stop and stay a night or a thousand. We’d love to have you, ‘round town!

Glenda Byars is a correspondent for The Gadsden Times. Send submissions to glendabyars@comcast.net.