The Batman of Union Springs
Perkins' struggle against his current archenemies, the bats infesting the historic district of Americus, Ga., also was covered by National Public Radio -- on Halloween, naturally.
Interesting bits of Alabamiana collected by Andy Duncan, author of Alabama Curiosities (Globe Pequot Press, 2005).
Thirteen-year-old Edward O. Wilson of Mobile was one of those kids who happily spends hours watching living things. A childhood accident had cost him his sight in one eye, and he seemed determined to see as much as possible out of the remaining one. He was especially fascinated by ants, in particular the ants in the vacant lot next to his family's house on Charleston Street, near the docks on the western edge of Mobile Bay.
He didn't know it at the time, but young Wilson had made a breakthrough scientific discovery. That ant colony he studied and documented so carefully in 1942 turned out to be the first recorded colony of the red imported fire ants, Solenopsis invicta, in the United States.
In 1942, while exploring the ants of my neighbourhood in Mobile, I discovered a nest of the invader near the port docks and subsequently reported. It was one of the first two observations of the species in the US.
The postman is Huey, a lean and hardboned man who looks like he would not tolerate being called a "postal carrier" by anybody. His official vehicle is a speedboat that looks like it’s spent more time trawling for mullet than hauling Val-Pak coupons; its only mark of admiralty is a banged-up sign reading "U.S. Postal Service" on the starboard bow. In other words, do not hinder him: Huey’s boat is a federal vessel, just like the U.S.S. Nimitz.
Huey does know his work. Even though there’s a local ordinance against speeding on the Magnolia River, he clips that boat through the water like a bass fisherman scouting choice angling spots. He rarely requires more than a few seconds per dock: haul in, open mailbox, stuff, close, bring her about; all in one fluid movement. I wouldn’t call it graceful: A man with tanned forearms and a plug of Red Man in his back pocket is no more graceful than the guy who hauls the invisible wires in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. More likely Huey’s just in a hurry.