By David Hitt
“We judge of a man’s wisdom,” said the poet Ralph Waldo Emerson, “by his hope.”
The evangelist Robert Schuller said similarly, “You can often measure a person by the size of his dream.”
If you want to understand Huntsville, you have to understand the people who live here. Who are these inhabitants of this self-styled Rocket City? What are their hopes, their dreams?
To help you put your trip to Huntsville in context, here then is a completely made-up list of the five jobs every Huntsvillian secretly wants:
OK, that’s not entirely true. What we REALLY want to be is an astronaut. (Except for those of us who find the whole going-up-into-space part kind of scary.) Either way, the next best thing is to be a Space Camp counselor. You get to wear a flight suit and hang out around simulators and lunar-gravity chairs and other really space toys. It doesn’t get much cooler than that. (Keep in mind that this is a place where, if you can honestly say about a job, “it’s not rocket science,” that disqualifies half the city.)
Learn more about Space Camp…and how to make your dreams come true as a Space Camp Counselor here.
We take our weather seriously. Don’t let that scare you – the really bad stuff only comes once or twice a generation, but those who’ve lived here for it still talk about it decades later. Also, like any proper Southerners, we get disproportionately excited whenever the word “snow” is mentioned and promptly congregate at the local grocery stores, as per protocol. So the people who get to be on TV and talk about the weather? They’re some of the biggest local celebrities we have.
So technically this is a guy, rather than an occupation, but we all want to do what this al.com writer does – review local restaurants. Huntsville, traditionally, has had a very, shall we say, dynamic restaurant environment. The downside of that is, unless it’s already been here for decades, don’t get too attached to your favorite place, because there’s no guarantee as to how long it will stay. The upside is that, as a result, we have a constant stream of new restaurants. And the reporter who gets to review them all is Matt Wake. (To be sure, there are lots of other great local food reviewers. But Matt Wake has a boss WHO tells him to go eat at lots of restaurants (not to mention go to cool events and entertainment happenings). And pays him for it. How crazy awesome is that?)
Read about Matt here.
Forty years ago, when the Von Braun Center (VBC) opened (or the Von Braun Civic Center, as it was provincially known at the time), Elvis set up shop for a multi-night stay longer than any he’d played outside of Las Vegas. Elvis may have long since left the building, but the VBC still plays host to great performers. And while anybody in town can go watch them, the VBC staff gets up close and personal. You gotta admit, that’s pretty cool. The closest thing to a downside is that you no longer see EVERYTHING working at the Von Braun Center – the Panoply and WhistleStop festivals, among others, are drawing some impressive names on their own.
Learn about the VBC here.
How very Huntsville is Lowe Mill, a nigh-bohemian arts mecca started by one of the nation’s leading figures in cutting-edge genetics research? Having a studio here is the ultimate realization of the idea of “quitting your day job,” in order to pursue passions from painting and photography to screen printing, cigar-box guitar building and whiskey distilling (sometimes without actually quitting that day job). Grab some Piper & Leaf tea on the way in and maybe a Fred Bread sandwich at Happy Tummy, and imagine what it would be like to stop working for the man. Or, you know, just buy some vinyl records and watch a comedy show. Either way.
Read more about Lowe Mill here.
Which iHeartHsv blogger wrote this?
David Hitt is a native of Huntsville who enjoys telling the stories of his hometown. He works in strategic communications for NASA’s Space Launch System, the rocket that will send astronauts to Mars and prove once again that nobody builds ‘em like the Rocket City. David tells Huntsville history stories at the Huntsville Ghost Walk, Constitution Village’s downtown trolley tour, and the Maple Hill Cemetery Stroll. He’s the author of two books on space history, “Homesteading Space” and “Bold They Rise” and is the director of the Comic Science Improv comedy troupe.