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OPINION: This truly is the friendliest city in the south

By Shayla Terry

Every day I walk the streets of Luverne, Alabama, and anticipate being spoken to. To be “spoken to” is a southern terminology for saying hello. In the south, “speaking” is a manner of good home training. You “speak” with you walk into buildings; you “speak” when others “speak” to you.

I’ve never seen people happier to meet me and know my name than the citizens of Luverne. Branded “The Friendliest City of the South”, a visitor to Luverne would surely think that’s just a fancy branding. Imagine my sheer shock when I found the slogan to be completely and entirely true.

One of my first assignments in Luverne was to do a story with former Mayor Joe Rex Sport. I remember meeting him and his wife and thinking, “Gosh, they’re nice!” An hour after meeting Sport, he and I were in his pickup truck riding throughout Crenshaw County. I took pictures and we walked the country side of Dozier, Alabama. The next time I met with Sport, he showed me his collection of clocks. We sat in his work shed, and he showed me his favorite things. I felt like I had known him forever.

Again, I removed from my mind that everyone in the city was like him. As I began spending more time in Luverne, I realized I wouldn’t have to make too many introductions. Every day someone walked up to me and introduced themselves. If they don’t introduce themselves, they simply asked me how I was doing…and they actually awaited my response.

I’m from a small town. In my hometown, we’re more of a “speak when spoken to” brood. As an Alabama native, I’m no stranger to southern hospitability. Of course all southerners surely have it. But, this is really the friendliest city in the south. You feel the warm of every face. Over time I realized that every soul holds the key to what makes this city great. Every handshake and smile holds sincerity. From city officials to the man who waves hello at me every day through my office window, everyone is happy to see me.

So what do you do when you’re not prepared to be as friendly as the friendliest citizens you’ve ever met? Catch on fast! Not only Luverne, but Crenshaw County as a whole allows you the practice of being friendly. It’s a practice we as a human race should all give a go. It’s never a bad thing to be pleased to make anyone’s acquaintance.