To be honest, after I flamed and burned on June 5 in my campaign for a seat on the Montgomery County school board I have felt like a free man.  Not once have I driven down a street thinking a yard sign would look great on that corner lot or which neighborhood should I pick to knock on doors.

Which is why I hit the highway last Friday on a whim.  Actually, this venture was inspired by an article in my latest issue of Neighbors magazine which is published each month by the Alabama Farmers Federation.  The index called my attention to page 16 with the line, Ribs Worth A Road Trip.

Seems that my friends at the federation decided to find the best rib joints in Alabama and judged Heard’s BBQ & Soul Food in Maplesville as one of the top four.  I was out the door in ten minutes, headed northwest up U.S. 82 toward Tuscaloosa.  About 55 miles later I turned onto Alabama 22 and straight for Maplesville.

Granted, we have dozens of Maplesvilles around the state.  I’ve seen many of them.  Hamlets that time has basically forgotten due to four-laned roads, Wal-Marts and shopping on the internet.  The last census said Maplesville’s population was 708, which was 101 less than in 1850.  A sign on the edge of town told me Maplesville put down roots in 1823 and that in recent years the high school has been home to seven state championships in various sports.

It is a 1-A high school, the smallest classification in the state.  Only 410 students from kindergarten through 12th grade.  The same classification you find for places like Notasulga, Linden, Georgiana and Falkville.  The places where schools and communities are still closely tied together.  The missing link in so many education situations.

In modern times, Maplesville’s two most renowned citizens were probably Tommy Agee and Harold Morrow.  Both played football at Auburn University and went on to careers in the National Football League.  Agree won two Super Bowls playing with the Dallas Cowboys.

But on this trip I was looking for BBQ, not football stars.  And I found it on the west side of town, wedged between on of those storage unit places and Dollar General.  “Rustic” might be a too kind way to describe the home of Heards, owned by Roman and Shakira Heard.  You climb a small ramp that could use some newer, more sturdy boards in it, open the screen door and there you are at the counter.  Like any “real” BBQ place, there is no ambiance.  Which I guess really is the ambiance.

If you are dining in so to speak, you get a seat on the porch

So I tell the lady at the counter that I have driven from Montgomery to get some ribs.  Only to learn that ribs are only available on Saturdays.  I mutter something under my breathe that is not fit to be repeated here.  I settle for a BBQ plate, fries, cold slaw and a slice of “light” bread.  With sweet tea naturally.

It’s good.  And ample enough that I had leftovers for lunch the next day.

If you are like I am and always looking for another country road to travel, I highly recommend making the trip to Maplesville.  Just remember, ribs are only on Saturday.