Fun times at Tannehill State Park

I belong to a club called Dixie Division Military Vehicle Preservation Association. We find old military vehicles and fix them up, then go out and show them off. This year is ending for our shows, the last show was November 3, 4 and 5. We left on Thursday making it a four-day weekend at Tannehill State Park.

Just in case you have never been to Tannehill State Park, it is a huge place in the foothills of Tannehill Mountains. I go up Highway 280 into Birmingham then take the Tuscaloosa Highway out past Bessemer, Alabama and over to McCalla, Alabama. Everybody has heard of McCalla, Alabama. It is the home of Bo Jackson the famous athlete of Auburn and pro football. The field that he played school football on is in sight as you top the hill.

Back in 1945 Johnny Mercer the songwriter took the music to an old French tune and wrote a song “Autumn Leaves.” Jo Stafford recorded it first and later, Nat King Cole. Johnny Mercer must have seen an autumn as pretty as the one we have had this year.

Tannehill has 1,500 acres of hardwood trees and they were in all their glory this past week. The beautiful Roupes Creek runs right through the middle of the park past all the log cabins that were built as far back as the 1840s.

It is not like some state parks, everyone seems to strive to see that you have a good time. The restrooms are clean as well as the showers. People were there in RVs, campers and tents. The three of us, Ronnie, Tammy and me stayed in an army tent. For you ex-GIs, we stayed in a command tent or GP small.

All wild animals are protected, and we saw as many as six deer at one time.

Right now, I know what you are thikning. “I’m too old for that!” Nobody reading this is as old or older than I am. I went up thinking of a motel or one of the rental log cabins but after three nights I am glad I stayed in a tent. All my army years I stayed in tents and this tent still has that old army tent smell.

Nothing sounds better than children laughing and there were busloads of church groups staying about 200 yards from us and I think every child brought a bike with them. They played every game that could be played and laughed until they were made to go to sleep. Boy scouts were quieter but just as active.

There were 44 vehicles from WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Desert Storm, Iraq and Afghanistan, and most were shown by families, husband and wife, etc. We ate mostly potluck and breakfast was cooked in a portable GI kitchen, we ate everything from cooked bologna and cheese on toast to chili, camp stew and every kind of dessert that could be thought of.

On the last night there we had a big barbecue that was cooked by a man that has entered the national cookoffs.

There is no way I can tell you how many people looked at the vehicles or took a picture of their child, date or family with the vehicles. As we started up the mountain coming home I said this is the last one of 2017 which event did you like best: the USS Alabama in Mobile, Huntsville close to the Space Center, Auburn at the ballgame, or maybe some of the others? It would be a hard decision because we liked them all.

Ronald Brantley is a regular columnist for The Tribune. His column appears here each Wednesday. He can be reached by email at