• 86°

Time has flown by since ‘I’m with Phil’

It’s hard for me to believe that it’s been a full year since the 20 Phils (and one female Phyl) converged on the town of Phil Campbell to help with the tornado recovery.

I remember first hearing about their impending visit.

I thought the phone call I received from Rita Barton explaining to me what was happening had to be some sort of a joke.

It sounded so silly to me at first and I couldn’t comprehend why in the world someone from Australia or Scotland would want to come all the way to teeny-tiny Phil Campbell, Ala.,

But then I started to embrace the idea and decided it really could be something cool.

The writer in me kicked in at this point because I smelled a story.

This was the quirkiest thing I had heard of in a long time and it was going to be happening just a few miles up the road.

I immediately got in contact with Brooklyn Phil Campbell, the ring-leader of this three-ring circus.

I got the scoop about the first time he heard of the town of Phil Campbell from the TV show “Hee-Haw” to his Phil Campbell Convention in 1995 to his desire to come back again in 2011 and be part of the Phil Campbell Hoedown.

But as stories usually go with me, I got to know the person behind the story just because that’s how I am.

I never meet a stranger and Brooklyn Phil was no exception – even if he did talk with a funny Yankee accent.

By the time Brooklyn Phil rolled into town last June, I was anxious to actually meet him in person because I had talked to him back and forth so much for the different stories I’d done on their unique gathering.

But little did I know I would meet so many more interesting people that weekend.

All the Phils I met came into town and acted like they were right at home and were glad to be a part of everything that was going on.

They met the residents and rode in the parade and cleaned up debris for people they never even met.

By the time the Phils all rolled back out of town, I had completely forgotten that my whole focus in the first place had just been on their quirky story.

I found myself being sad that my new friends were leaving, because that’s what some of them truly became.

And I wasn’t the only one who felt that way.

Many residents who met the Phils felt like they were just one of them – like they belonged in this little town in North Alabama even though some of them were from Alaska or the United Kingdom.

A year later, I still find it amazing that this group of 20 strangers had such an impact on the lives of the people they met in Franklin County.

I hope they know what an inspiration they were (and still are) to the people of this area and that they will feel welcome here whenever they decide to come back to their “hometown.”