The Journey Story of Amelia Barton Trowbridge

The Alabama Humanities Foundation will sponsor a traveling exhibition called “Journey Stories” in collaboration with the Smithsonian Institution beginning June 25 in Jasper. This post is the first in a series that will highlight our own personal journey stories. Our stories may include how our ancestors traveled from far away lands to come to America, or it could be about a memorable family trip to anywhere in the world, or perhaps it’s a story about our first car or train ride. Anything that includes travel and transportation can be considered our own journey story. If you would like to submit your own journey story, please email Jennifer Dome at: jdome@ahf.net.

By Amelia Barton Trowbridge, born in Birmingham, Ala., July 24, 1945

As a young child, I always had what some of my family referred to as a wanderlust. One of my favorite cousins told me when I came back to Union Chapel, Alabama, in this new millennium that when I started walking, I starting running and would sometimes just run down the dirt road. I loved reading biographies growing up such as The Life of Madame Curie, Babe Ruth, Babe Diedrickson and Amelia Earhart with dreams that I would be able to experience many areas of the world in both travel and work.

When I finished Walker High School in 1963, I was excited to go to Auburn University and experience another part of the world. From there, I was able to experience many parts of the world. I worked as an economic analyst for Urban Consultants, an Urban Renewal Firm in Montgomery, doing projects all across the South. From there my journey took me to Birmingham, working as an assistant buyer at Blach’s, a high-end department store. After less than a year, I found myself in Atlanta like many young people in the late 60s, early 70s. During that time, Atlanta was starting its rise to become one of the major cities in the world. And it was during this time that my life journeys started to expand more than I ever dreamed.

My real estate career took me to a convention in California where I met my present husband, Chuck, who lived in Denver. I moved from Atlanta to Denver in January of 1981. Denver was an exciting and rapidly growing city at this time. My husband’s speaking engagements and work took us to many cities and states. There are only three states that I have not visited! I’ve mastered subways in many cities including New York, Paris and Tokyo, which was a journey in itself. In 1989 we were fortunate to move to Kealakekua Bay, Hawaii, an area I loved and thought would be my final home. In some ways this area was a lot like the rural area of Union Chapel, Alabama, where I grew up. Some of the families had been there for many generations and were farmers and fishermen.

Unfortunately, my husband got “Island fever,” so we moved back to Colorado. After 11 years watching our grandchildren grow up, we semi-retired and moved back to Union Chapel, my family home place. I have some of the original deeds dating back to the 1800s. Not quite ready for retirement, I am now an AmeriCorps Vista Volunteer working with the Walker County Arts Alliance and the Walker County Ad-hoc Nonprofit Council. Sometime people say it is better to be a big fish in a little pond than a little fish in a big pond; I just wanted to swim in the big ocean of life. Now I am back and could not be happier living where my original roots were.