Mtn. Brook parents, don’t give up on your children’s future in Birmingham

Old Mill in Mountain Brook
Old Mill in Mountain Brook

By David Sher

People ask, “Why do you write about Mountain Brook?”

The answer is simple. I’ve lived much of my life in Mountain Brook.

If I had grown up in Trussville, I would probably write about Trussville.

I graduated in the last 8th grade graduating class at Crestline Elementary and from the first graduating class at Mountain Brook Junior High.

Many of my friends live in Mountain Brook and my children graduated from Mountain Brook schools. I currently live in Vestavia Hills.

I also write about Mountain Brook because its leadership and generosity are critically important to our Birmingham region.

Many of our top corporate leaders live in Mountain Brook.

Many of our top community volunteers live in Mountain Brook.

And much of our region’s philanthropy comes from Mountain Brook families.

I began publishing ComebackTown in February, 2012 because of a conversation I had a few weeks earlier at a Birmingham civic club.

I was at a table with five white-hair balding males, all from Mountain Brook. One mentioned that his grown children had left for college and none returned home. Then one by one, every other person at our table, except one, repeated the same story. That last parent said he still had a child at Mountain Brook High School, but he looked forward to the day when his son could leave for opportunities elsewhere.

Quite frankly, I was stunned.

And nothing much has changed in the past twelve years since I had that conversation. I’m approached regularly by parents whose children have moved to cities like Charlotte, Dallas, Austin, Atlanta, or Nashville.

And unfortunately, if you still have children at home, they will likely leave too–never to return.

Just last week I had a Mountain Brook parent tell me, “My wife and I look forward to our children graduating college so they can build their lives in a place that offers more opportunities.”

Family is everything—and I’m sure you feel the same way.

How can we feel good about losing our children and grandchildren to cities, many far away?

We should be offering opportunities here

Mountain Brook parents take great pride in their sons and daughters and the lives they are building in exciting cities across America, but we should also be offering opportunities here.

I was talking with a local business owner recently and he claimed young people are not leaving. He said his children moved back to Birmingham. However, his children work at his company. Most children don’t have a family businesses to come back to.

No need for Birmingham to become Atlanta, but we should expect some reasonable level of job creation to provide opportunities for our next generation.

Last year the City of Birmingham, Jefferson County, and even the Birmingham-Hoover metropolitan area lost population. I don’t see how it’s possible to lose population when we’re located in the heart of the Sunbelt, the fastest growing region in the U.S.

Mountain Brook is an incredible place to live.

Gorgeous neighborhoods, incredible schools, and kind and generous neighbors—but our children leave anyway.

I wrote this column in the context of Mountain Brook, but it impacts families from Hoover to Trussville.

Today cities compete as regions.

We aren’t going to remain relevant competing as stand-alone cities.

The Birmingham Business Alliance, Jefferson County, and/or some other business or political entity must find a way to develop a regional strategic growth plan,

And we, as parents, should not feel okay to send our children out-of-state for a better life.

David Sher is the founder and publisher of ComebackTown.  He’s past Chairman of the Birmingham Regional Chamber of Commerce (BBA), Operation New Birmingham (REV Birmingham), and the City Action Partnership (CAP).

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42 thoughts on “Mtn. Brook parents, don’t give up on your children’s future in Birmingham”

  1. David
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts on such a timely topic. Has anyone surveyed the adult children and asked them why many choose to not return?

      1. Lack of any professional job opportunities as well as a need to escape a depressing atmosphere (I do not recall many nice, positive people in my life growing up) are the reasons why I left Birmingham in the 90s. It continues to worsen. We do not need statistics to confirm what we already know.

        1. What everybody in this entire country of ours must know, understand, and remember is the most constantly observed fallacy, as if it is the normal thing to do: ‘Overgeneralization.’ You have just done that.

          Your experiences were sadly bad. Mine truly were very good. That is the fallacy that what one or two, or a few have done or observed meant that everybody must be the same, and they are NOT!

          Politicians in both parties are extremely bad at that! especially in the last decade. It is a sign of major decline in our education system. Again, maybe net every school but probably far to many
          In no way does your experience even begin to suggest what I have experienced for over 80 years, then and now. It is entirely the opposite of yours!
          Enjoy understanding this please.

          1. As I mentioned in an earlier post, this is MY experience with Birmingham, and MY experience may differ. Many people I know that still live in Birmingham, as well as those who have moved away, share my sentiments on this issue. It wasn’t peaches and cream for us there. Do not make me out to be an island. I’m glad you got to hang out with Wally and Beaver but not me. I did not grow up in the suburbs – it was the projects where people would pick fights with you everyday for no good reason, drug addicts and alcoholism was rampant, constant gunfire and murders. Add to that the suburban types who would clutch their purses or lock their doors when they see you crossing the street. If I would have grown up in Vestavia or Hoover my outlook would have been different, but it is what it is.

          2. Well JS I continue to hear what you are saying in the Barbershop I go too. Absolutely you must own your experience and continue to share such as that is still a rich part of Birmingham! I do some volunteer work with select housing communities.
            Some youth are now attending college and starting businesses!!Not nearly enough but I see a twinkle in their eyes. I never write off any one and just know the obstacles we face as a people are real . Thanks for sharing your story!My ancestors are what motivates me each day to keep my hand on the plow and push on!!!

          3. Booker T. Washington had much impact on a young A.G. Gaston and we all know what he became. “Keep your hand on the plow”; that is very much Washington’s message. You are right; you can not write off a person because of where they were from, who they are or what they look like.

          4. This represents the best way to help your neighbors and your city. It is a great city, of it is a loving city nothing can be better than that We should not not just a lot more pole and money. That can very quickly destroy the livability of any city.

  2. What do those children really know about Birmingham, and especially Mountain Brook. It is unique and exceptional. Very few cities have places within their area that are anywhere nearly as beautiful with as many such good people living in them.
    Also. do they really know what they face in those horrible favorite cities they move to? Some like Atlanta, I do not even want to visit it is so awful. Many good paying jobs they do offer. It is true some that might be desired just do not exist in Birmingham, which is why I moved away. I wanted to teach and be an architect, and nothing like that was possible, until now with Samford beginning a program. (I would love to help that one get going strong.) I missed living in Birmingham, Mountain Brook very much and go back as often as possible, trying for once a month, to keep up with good old friends.
    Do the children know anything about making their own job or starting one like Bill Smith did, and Knight- Eady, George Barber and many more have made hefty fortunes, starting in Birmingham! Also they have been very generous people, George Barber having built his incredibly highly regarded Barber Motorsports Museum. Ben Russell (Alexander City) has built Alabama Children’s Hospital. Many of the children, for example children of Elton B Stevens stayed and did very well, even getting up to being billionaires. The Samfords were different but waited a very long time to move headquarters. Neither Stevens nor elder Samford were born in Birmingham, but arrived young and stay to build their fortunes.
    I know those families and know what fine people they are and they are not stuck in the mud stiff-necked nasty people, but kind, generous and very friendly.
    Those children who are leaving are just too much being fool followers, as in ‘keeping up with the Jones’s.’ It is not good for those children to be encouraged by their parents of all people to leave. That’s just thoughtless craziness, or at least poor education, lack of information, no creative inspiration. (Well do we really want those children? Maybe because they might be great employees!)
    Thank you David for you service, bringing up such matters of significant effect. I agree with Bill Ivey, we could use a thousand more of you, they could be our children!

    1. Good points especially what Roy Knight had to say! Creating jobs as opposed to just looking for the perfect job is always a challenge ! There is lots space in this city and county and state to do both!
      Solving problems can careen meaning careers!
      This city and county and state have many. Government can not do it !! Only the private for profit sector can facilitate such.

      1. Thank you George and especially for saying “Government can not do it. ” I very strongly believe that!

        1. Roy I guess I am old private sector compassionate strong supporter of good old capitalism! Government can get in the way at times.
          I this that may be the case in the city and county and state? Just an observation and opinion.

  3. AMEN to all of the above! Maybe what is lacking here in ALABAMA is the BURNING DESIRE for our lawmakers to create a better “mousetrap” to entice our many qualified students to STAY HOME, like: offer TUITION awards; hire more TEACHERS with special skills; BUILD more labs and libraries; EXPAND our colleges curriculum; take as much PRIDE in advanced education as we do in sports! Finally, enact and protect LEGISLATION that encourages the personal liberties of our young men and women citizens without undue restrictions. Yes, these investments in PEOPLE and FACILITIES will be a huge challenge to finance, but there ARE viable fund raising opportunities!

    1. And stop dumbing down the schools and that includes most of the Birmingham area, make it a place where people want to come and have a great life. We are headed in the wrong direction. Crime is high, no great job opportunities, lacking top notch education. We are never going anywhere when all you teach is how to live off the system.


    Since we now live in Nashville and this airs on a Wednesday (non-football) night, I look forward to watching this series premiere. I plan to watch with a few questions in mind: (1) Will CNBC interview young people who are flocking to Music City, and not just big-name celebrities and politicians? These young people, who are coming from across the country, not just Alabama and the South, are fueling growth as much as corporate expansions and relocations. Though I suppose that’s a chicken-and-egg proposition. (2) Will Nashville’s metro form of government be cited as one reason for our growth? Folks on “Comeback Town” might want to watch to see. (3) Will CNBC show the downside of “explosive” growth, such as unaffordable housing and traffic congestion? Nashville was recently cited (I think by Forbes) as having the nation’s worst commute. Given that this is a business network, I can almost answer my own questions, but I’ll watch nevertheless.

    1. Nashville is traffic nightmare!
      Give me Jefferson County warts and all!
      All this job growth brings another set of problems! The magic city and magic county are not capable of such growth? We are busy navigating 33 cities and 13 school systems in Jefferson County!

  5. A big part of the problem is that despite being in the Sun Belt, Birmingham has a Rust Belt economy. I have always been proud that Birmingham is more like Pittsburgh than Vicksburg, but that means Birmingham has been severely hurt by the decades long decline of the steel industry like Pittsburgh has been.

    There could be many people who want to come to or stay in our metro area but cannot get a job here.

    Then again some of these children growing up and leaving home may just want the experience of living in another metro area or state.

    1. I am curious about one comment made by JS?
      What is the reason Birmingham is not faring well but we are not willing to say? I find those who read and post to ComeBack open to all viewpoints and facts . I do believe some who are doing well in this community do not want explosive human growth like other Sunbelt cities. Hence all the complaints about Atlanta and Nashville’! Just my opinion .
      Please JS share your with us the issue not being mentioned!

      1. This is based upon my experience growing up in Birmingham, so my experience should not be expected to be in congruence with yours. I do not know where in Birmingham you grew up, but as I alluded to in the prior post, I came from the “bottom of the bottom” in Birmingham and it wasn’t easy. Having the distinction as being one of the most impoverished zip codes in the nation says enough on its own. Anyway, I really shouldn’t have to mention what happened in the 1950s and 1960s here, as that is the “elephant in the room”. “That happened decades ago”. True, but so did the steel and mining industry that truly built Birmingham, so which do we wish to represent us historically to the rest of the nation? The rest of the nation doesn’t care that this was a displaced Rust Belt city (Pittsburgh bounced back) – it’s in the Sun Belt, and the echoes of the past are still enough to cause some to steer clear and not forget all that happened here. This is what I am saying and those in my neighborhood shared those sentiments as well and I do not wish to debate it.

        1. JS I meant no harm in my question and sincerely apologize if any harm was done! I grew up as another free Black man in the the Republic of Texas warts and all. It was not without pain but my parents and grandparents instilled in us Black racial pride. Please know the city (Ft Worth) had hate towards Black and Brown people and the vestiges are very much present there today.
          I am very comfortable with talking about and debating the race and poverty and zip code elephants. I again apologize if my comments are uncomfortable! Since relocating to Birmingham and Alabama by choice I see the racial elephant each day of the week and continue to challenge the power structure when possible on race and economics and education and poverty!
          Thanks for your thoughtful comments.

        2. No need for an apology, I did not know where the question was going. I have a friend that lives in Ft Worth (originally from Birmingham) but he never really mentioned much in the way of any racial tension there. I used to live in Houston myself, as well as a small town out in the prairie region called Brenham. Living in/visiting some of the small towns that are isolated is almost like traveling back in time.

          I can not think of a definite “win/win” solution for the Birmingham region that would have everyone on board and all in for supporting it. I’m by no means a progressive/liberal but I’m not solidly in the conservative camp either and I’m definitely not Libertarian so I do see some of the pork barrel politics that all sides play for the sake of urban renewal or building up the economy for the region. To me, urban renewal is not building more loft apartments downtown or gentrifying older neighborhoods. Likewise, building up the economy is not subsidizing Amazon or Walmart to build more warehouses and superstores. It is not building stadiums and amphitheaters and walkways. They all miss the mark because it is not a physical structure that will save a region. There has to be an overhaul of the pervading mentality which exists there. There is not enough optimism (and action behind the optimism) to outweigh the negativity that is felt hanging over the city like smog. It’s an energy and you can feel it at times. Being surpassed by Huntsville is like watching your little brother surpass you and making the 1st round draft pick. If people in Birmingham are mostly thinking “I can’t wait to leave”, what do you think people who may have been considering this area are going to think? How to change a mentality that has been ingrained in people for decades? I honestly do not know, but Nashville is not having this problem right now. Instead of trying to build up amenities and tourist attractions, why not start with a goodwill tour of these other cities and simply survey random long-time residents in those areas on what they think of those cities and why they wish to remain there. I think a lot can be gleaned from something that simple and inexpensive.

          1. To JS
            Thanks for your reply. The BBA has done many junkets to other cities back in day. I even went on several of them I think? A waste of time in my opinion,but I learned a lot which is always good. You say the mentality of this region needs to change? I agree but people only change when they want to change. The will to change has yet to happen.
            Some of the vestiges of the 1871 city is still with us. I deliberately chose to move to Birmingham because I wanted to live in racially diverse city and county and state warts and all! I have not been disappointed to say the least. Not growing up allows me to engage the Confederates from time to time about their racial animus. Please stay engaged with your hometown city. We need all voices,
            I still am engaged with my hometown inTexas when practical.

        3. couldn’t agree I moved away in 77 to Westcoast an I still have to explain to people we not in bandage in Alabama we free the Past is what holds us back Tuberville , The Judge with pistol an got kicked off Bench twice an Alabama still wanted him a Senator with still the laughing stock to America check the We still No.45 to 50 in every metric of good living and still going backwards

          1. Will i too spent some time living and working in SanDiego back in the day and folks would ask me about Texas? When I choose to move to Birmingham it was like are you kidding me? I said I like a challenge!
            I have not been disappointed! Ha ha ha
            Your comments are fact based evidence.
            Thanks for sharing your thoughts and facts about the Magic City! Tuberville is one term! Let us hope he retreats back to Florida. As a military veteran myself he has no clue about the harm he is doing to our men and women in harms way!!

  6. Reading some of the comments (yes, I actually read all comments before posting) makes it appears as simple as “creating your own job” if you wish to remain in an area that offers little in your preferred discipline/trade/skillset. It was simpler in simple times; in the days of Barber and such, you could more readily succeed in this way. Starting a business requires startup capital (and bank loans) that younger persons cannot easily leverage. Most choose the path of least resistance (a high-paying occupation in a faster growing region) because no one wants to endure years of struggle and ramen noodle dinners because they’re loyal to a specific area (there is no such thing as loyalty anymore for the younger crowd).

    The advent of the internet and social media has allowed people to instantly gauge the progress of their geographic region to other regions and plan accordingly. Even 30 years ago it would not have been possible to reasonably assess what is going on in Charlotte without either visiting there or knowing someone who lives there. Birmingham is not faring well compared to other areas in the Sun Belt for reasons we all know but will not say. That gorgeous landscape and scenery is indeed attractive but most would see it as undeveloped land. Scenery does not provide W2s to graduating seniors, which is why they’re leaving in droves.

    I personally left Birmingham because it was FAR easier to be an engineer in Huntsville (I lacked the business sense, the confidence, the necessary experience and the connections at the time to do my own thing). I wasn’t from Mountain Brook, I was from Birmingham proper (I lived in the housing projects). My reasons for leaving were varied and not necessarily tied to an occupation as much as “there must be something better elsewhere”.

    If, hypothetically, Birmingham and Jefferson County merge their governments, then what? Is the magic supposed to instantly happen? With what jobs? What industry? Our society, for better or worse, is economically driven; jobs drive growth, not nature or scenery or riding on the coat tails of past glories.

  7. David, I appreciate you and read Comeback Town regularly. I hear what you are saying about “Metropolitan Birmingham”. However, the cities outside the city limits of Birmingham do not pay taxes to Birmingham. The reduction of the tax base from places that developed their own cities where white people fled to when Birmingham schools finally desegregated is part of Birmingham’s problem.

    I moved from Vestavia to Birmingham to give my support to the city. But, so I won’t be untruthful, I know reside in Irondale. Retirement forced me to downsize, and I found nothing affordable in our lovely city. I hope this will soon change so that I can return to my city. All this to say, if we believe in Birmingham, we will live in Birmingham.

  8. Back in the day, they chanted :
    Then , you’d have a real METRO led by lawmakers, businessmen, citizens from all walks of life, rich and poor, people who might make a difference by just
    having a seat at the table!
    Why not?

    1. Jerome
      We all have a seat at the table even if not welcomed? It might be one great County.
      I am an old “by what ever means deliver results “ for all citizens in Jefferson County!
      Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  9. David in the 10+ years of writing this blog has this problem gotten worse, stayed the same, or gotten better?

    I too find it interesting that you write so much about Mountain Brook. Mountain Brook’s leadership does not desire a strong Birmingham, or at least not higher paying jobs. Reference David Faulkner, R – Mountain Brook, author of the bill that outlawed an increased minimum wage. By the way, the bill passed overwhelmingly and was signed into law by the governor.

    Let’s be honest, the real reason the Birmingham Business Alliance or Jefferson County hasn’t developed a regional strategic growth plan, is because they can’t get buy-in from the Mountain Brook elite you love to write about.

    Get ready to clutch your Over the Mountain Pearls, but why do you think David Faulkner and other Mountain Brook leaders do not want regional growth? Maybe instead of writing a blog to stroke the egos of leaders from the Tiny Kingdom, you should look at the root cause of “Lack of Regional Cooperation.” Why is it that many people you first pitch the idea of regional government say, “I don’t want my kids going to school with Birmingham City kids.” Why did white flight happen? Why did communities decide to create City school systems?

    If you continue to refuse to acknowledge the root cause of the problem, you will never be able to address the problem. But writing a blog and never mentioning the root cause keeps you in the good graces within the realm of the Tiny Kingdom.

    1. Well John Black I for one look forward to the responses! You are very much on point in opinion!
      Race and poverty and public education and crime are all involved in these 33 cities in Jefferson County and the 13 school systems in Jefferson County. Of course business and economic development are the heart and soul of Jefferson County! I would not spend a lot of time dealing with the legislators in Jefferson County for some of the reasons you point out. I think the city of Birmingham challenged that state law if the federal courts?!What did the 11th circuit court say?

  10. So what we are reading into this is that the White OTM Brookie crowd is the savior to a failing city all because of the money that is given by the Tiny Kingdom?

    1. Wang
      Ha ha ha !! I would not say that but you are indeed entitled to your opinion. Birmingham is a city in transition as are the 32 cities in Jefferson County as is Jefferson County. Resources are not evenly distributed in Jefferson County. I doubt if MB perceives itself as anyone’s savior. Those of us who do not live in MB are our own savior and do not rely on any entity but our own creativity and entrepreneurial skills . Thanks for your observation.

  11. Here we are…a couple of years down the road…discussing the same issues.

    Sometimes I think people hear and read what best suits their cognition abilities at said time. For straight, white people (particularly men) Mountainbrook sounds like a wonderful paradise. But for women, Black and Brown people and LGBTQ, Birmingham still flashes with scenes and stories so horrific they are burned into your brain. All those groups of people are highly sought after in companies aceoss the world…not just here in the U.S.

    Jobs are critical, yes. But you cannot attract companies without talent. Talent will not come without the jobs. And the top corps in America want to be able to say, “Our staff is diverse”. Diversity studies have proven a businesses bottom line exponentially increases when the employees are diverse.

    It may seem cruel to those of you who read my posts. I have gone back and read some of what I have written before. From the outside over here in Atlanta, I have a viewpoint that is informed from a regional understanding of our shared culture of the past. But as I have stated many time, Birmingham has a PR problem. It is almost a karmic curse for past wrongdoings. The cloud will not lift. Alabama in general fills some with chills to even enter her borders because it still revels in politics that are vicious and bigoted but with a big “I’m a Christian and I act with God’s approval” sacharine smile. There is a difference in being TOLERATED vs. being WELCOMED. Most people who are not straight and White know they put themselves in greater danger just by being in Alabama.

    I have been told the powers that be want it this way, which is why nothing will change. Well…the powers that be are taking all of you down with them. And you can say whatever you will about your neighbor to the east, but I will take the Atlanta traffic every day of the week compared to a place where the traffic is thinning even during rush hour.

    1. Everyone should read this, but also recognize that it is quite exaggerated. Much that is truly good, that I have personally witnessed also strongly proves that never is improvement impossible. What is really the point I fully agree with is that Birmingham’s failing PR is full of this kindling of unshakable bad memories from personally experienced terrible, even terrifying moments. I know and witnessed those too. They were real and vey damaging. It is not that those should or will be forgotten, they should not, but so should advancement a progress be recognized as well. PR needs to show more of the positive possibilities and the existence of such things as ‘the Birmingham Pledge’, the drastic replacement of the iron and steel industry with educational and medical institutions achieving top level rating in the nation. These are really sign of the citizens very strong capabilities, even strengthened by getting through and going beyond its nasty past.

      You may like Atlanta. Its PR has pushed it forward to become what I think is a horror show of today. I do not want to go into the details of all of their bad parts. In so many ways it is also a truly great city. What you see is only what you dare look at.

      1. My suggestion has always been for Birmingham to take control of the message of learning from the past and highlighting real efforts to lead in a positive, inclusive way. We don’t need to talk anymore. We need to do better. People are tired of lip service. And everyone is craving to feel good about this country and its people.

        Nothing is more admirable and intriguing than a redemption story. The country needs something to believe in after such divisiveness and nastiness. Because people don’t expect it from Alabama, I think the U.S. would get behind something that can bring people together with good intent, no matter how small the move forward is. The rebirth of Birmingham writes itself (at least in my mind).

      2. I too must agree that one only sees where one dares to look. I visited with friends and family in Birmingham last week and it has come a long way but not long enough. Much development is focused heavily within the “three walls” [I-65, I-20/59, Elton B. Stephens Expy]. It is like New York focusing on Manhattan while leaving Brooklyn, Bronx, etc. to rot. There is heavy blight in the rest of the city; these people do not shop at the midtown Publix. Virtually all cities in this nation are in that urban renewal phase; it is in no way unique to Birmingham, as larger, sweeping agendas are influencing these global changes. To put it another way, they’re dressing up the front windows but the back rooms are still a mess.

        Anyway, I purposely avoided Atlanta when leaving Birmingham; I did not like the overall vibe there. Too fast, too outrageous, too weird, too much traffic. For the record, I did not care much for New York [city], California, Las Vegas, and Florida either. Other people love these places for the same reason I hate them. I used to be a fan of Nashville, but I can not say if that sentiment is the same today.

        I prefer urban development that is not bustling and “bursting at the seams”, but is operating within the current constraints without overstressing resources and infrastructure, meaning that once those who are homegrown locals are feeling the pinch of higher housing prices, increased traffic without highway/road development, and sudden waves of strangers in their neighborhoods and property crime, it becomes the responsibility of the local administration to manage that growth with some degree of intelligence. I used to live in Huntsville [twice], but now I do not know if I can even return as so much of the place was unrecognizable and it lost its “everyone’s friendly” charm the last time I was there over 10 years ago. Almost half of Huntsville is populated with people that are not indigenous to Huntsville or the South, so the “southern hospitality” is not in high supply from my perspective.

    2. Hello ATL Christopher
      Ditto on all of what you say!
      This city and county and state are traffic free as good people like you are exiting as we speak!
      I am a free Black man who grew up in the Republic of Texas and choose to move here to live and work! No traffic as the Confederates are alive and well but guess what so are independent free thinking people are as well. I do not mind the fight!!

      1. YOU George Munchus, have my total respect. You understand and you have successfully adapted. Thank you, for ‘the fight’ is the counter to the challenge and the strength derives from having applied your strong capability for doing exactly that,

        1. Well Roy I must say you are too kind.
          I rarely receive such comments for speaking truth to power. I was very fortunate to have had parents and grandparents that taught us all people matter regardless of their status and or race. My brother and actually believe it! Such has served me well while living in this city and county and state I now call home warts and all. It so refreshing and to not have to explain why I have chosen to live a place so many are fleeing from? I like the challenge of outmaneuvering the Confederates of yore!!

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