Memories of a Lifetime
ASHLAND, Ala. (WBRC) - The old rivalries between the towns of Ashland and Lineville always revolved around The Clay Bowl, the annual football clash between the two schools, but the rivalry ran much deeper. Yet, Karen Caldwell, a Lineville girl, felt herself being embraced by the town of Ashland. It was all because of a little girl named Ryleigh.
“I was born and raised in Lineville, graduated in 84 and we were part of the time where you just hated Ashland,” laughs Karen Caldwell. “You loved to hate Ashland. If you liked a boy from Ashland, you didn’t tell anybody and ask me who I married and where he’s from. He’s from Ashland.”
Not only that but today Karen Caldwell and her husband own The Blue and White Restaurant. In Ashland, but she still remembers the old rivalry.
“You have memories, and sometimes all you have is your memories,” Karen reflects.
Yet, sometimes there are small, young things which are bigger than old rivalries. Karen and her daughter Wendy were running a successful t-shirt business. Then there was an addition to the family, “Ryleigh was born June 2, 2020. So, for 11 months; heaven. Just heaven. Out of nowhere she had a massive seizure. So, they air lifted them to Children’s and we spent three months, and it took them about a month to figure out she had a genetic condition, and it was inherited, and it was fatal. And this whole county and surrounding counties wrapped us up. There were times I couldn’t even pray it was hurting so bad. I didn’t know what to pray anymore,” says Karen remembering her granddaughter. Before Ryleigh died the family got to bring the little girl back to Ashland for her own homecoming.
“We make it to about the Blue and White and there are people lined up on the street.”
Ryleigh died last August. The family closed their business and were at loose ends for a while but then Karen explains what came next, “When we heard that they were considering selling this restaurant we said, ' We’re in.’ We don’t know how to run a restaurant, but we can be smart people when we need to be.”
Now you’ll find the Lineville girl here at Ashland’s Blue and White Restaurant where reminders of Ryleigh are always there, “When people walk in here, whether they’re from Lineville or Ashland or not, they’re mesmerized by the wall. They’re smiling because it’s bringing back them high school memories and football games, everything about childhood before adulthood just kind of punches you in the gut.”
Still, the sign out front tells the story.
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