“Maycomb was an old town, but it was a
tired old town when I first knew it,” Lee writes early in the novel.
“People moved slowly then. They ambled across the square, shuffled in
and out of the stores around it, took their time about everything.”
pace is still measured in Monroeville and the foot traffic to the
Courthouse Square storefronts, some of which are empty, is an unhurried
Most buildings from the 1930s – when the novel is set – are
gone, but no one would describe the place as modern.
Unfortunately, the Monroeville of today shares another distinction with the Maycomb of the novel: both were hard hit by the greatest recession in American history.
was no hurry, for there was nowhere to go,” was how Lee described
Maycomb's economic isolation.
“Nothing to buy and no money to buy it with, nothing to see outside the boundaries of Maycomb County.”
When I booked my room at the small, weathered Budget Inn motel (484 Alabama Avenue; 251-575-3101), where Lee and actor Gregory Peck met (in the room next to mine, the owner pointed out, proudly), the woman who took my reservation asked if I’d been to Monroeville before.
“No, why?” I asked.
“There’s nothing to do here,” she said.