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It could only happen in Alabama – anywhere else someone would have pitched a fit by now.  The legend of Mortimer, the 7-foot-tall hu­man skeleton who graces a place of honor at The Restaurant on Grumbles Alley has grown wild­ly over the years.

Long believed to be the re­mains of an unusually tall person of mysterious origin and identity, Mortimer has sat on top of an old wood­en barrel for decades.  He has silently watched over the patrons, first inside a bar, and then later at the restaurant for the past 40 or so years.

His rickety presence be­hind a set of iron doors, which are believed to have impris­oned slaves long ago when the building was an auction house, has become a welcome fixture with locals and visitors alike. The dusty skeleton has sat there, prompting laughs, hor­ror, conversation and speculation for years, occasionally wearing the Confederate bat­tle flag and other times wear­ing a jolly red and white Santa hat.

The existence of a 7-foot-tall skeleton on display at the restaurant certainly unleashes ones imagination. The un­usual height of the relic coupled with the rumors that the remains are hun­dreds of years old trigger thoughts of interesting possibilities – such as the re­mains of Chief Tuscaloosa, the unusually tall Native American who fought the Spanish conquistador Her­nandode Soto during his explorations in Alabama, have never been found.

While the skeleton has no name, he has had several non-specific identities. One story is that a farmer dug up the remains on his property, al­though the story doesn’t specify where that property was, and held on to them un­til a doctor took the remains in exchange for an unpaid medical bill and used the skeleton as an educational tool at his office.

Another story says it is the skeleton of a Confederate officer who ran through the town alerting everyone that Union troops were approach­ing before skipping town. When he died elsewhere, the remains were brought back to Selma – where the towns­people thought he belonged.

That’s just one of the many tales.

Our waitress, who has worked alongside Mortimer for 17 years at the restau­rant, said it’s not often that people even notice the skele­ton, much less complain. But she is ready with a quip when they do express con­cern or displeasure.

“I always tell them I’m not feeding them what I’m feed­ing him,”

Now I’m sure it’s mostly the out- of-towners who get a thrill out of the sight of a human skeleton on display at the restaurant, which could lead to a catchy T-shirt idea that the owner may want to try out:

“The Restaurant on Grumbles Alley … It’s worth the wait.”

Address:

1 Grumbles Alley,Selma,AL

Directions:

The Restaurant at Grumbles Alley.  Along the river, at the corner of Water Avenue and Franklin Street. Two blocks east of US 80/Broad St. and the Edmund Pettus Bridge.

Phone:

334-872-2006


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What’s on my Kindle today?
Lost in Shangri-La by Mitchell Zuckoff

Currently listening to:
These Eyes by The Guess Who

Current weather – sunny blue skies, 98°F, slightly breezy

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