Thursday, February 18, 2010

Dirt Roads and Two-lanes

So many things have happened to the world which we knew throughout our youth. Occasionally, I receive e-mails from folks who have dug up Burma Shave signs somewhere in cyberspace and think I would like to see them.
Well, I do! Growing up in the city by the muddy river, I never dreamed there were other worlds outside the realms of our tiny community. For instance, a rare trip to Atlanta found my school class going to the Capitol to see, shake hands with, and receive an autographed picture from Governor Herman Talmadge.

I think I was thrilled, but not overwhelmed by it. I much more enjoyed my first trip to the world famous Cyclorama, a hand painted wonder of the Battle of Atlanta. It looked so real, and I was struck by the manner in which the artists were able to blend in real clay with the heavy oil painting. For certain, it was like being there during the battle. In those days of my youth, they even put in a portion of the Cyclorama that was taken from the movie classic, “Gone with the Wind.” To my youthful mind, it seemed natural that part of the classical painting should be from the immortal film.
There was no Six Flags over Georgia nor the World of Coca Cola or other things which people go the “Big A” to visit today. Oh sure, there was a Stone Mountain, but back then there was nothing but the huge granite rock—no Laser Show.

In other words, a trip to Atlanta was basically a long drive into another world.
There were no Interstate highways, and to be sure there was not nearly the traffic jams known by any visitors to Atlanta today.
On the trek to Atlanta it seemed to take all day long on a trip up and back in one day. Of course we were young and there were games to make the trip more enjoyable. Does anyone besides me remember Cow Poker, counting cows, old gray mules lone-standing chimneys and of course having all the points erased if a cemetery should appear on your side of the road?
In those days, we used to entertain ourselves with counting the B. Lloyd Pecans signs on the curvy road through Roberta, Barnesville and Griffin. Another group of restaurant signs belonged to Stuckey’s Candy, a great place to take a break from the laborious trip.
To be sure, there were no McDonalds, Wendy’s or Burger Kings to stop for lunch. There was a Krystal here and there, and yes the small square burgers—more bun than burger—cost only nine cents each, but we may have only had a dollar for the entire trip. A dollar was not easy to come by. No one had come up with something called an allowance, at least at our house.
Regardless of our feelings for the day long journey in those days, they seem to remind me of the pre-Interstate highway days when roads were two-lane and side roads were mostly dirt. Associated with those kinds of roads today are some classical and historical towns at the end of them. But take caution, and run, don’t walk because even the most wonderful places in our beloved state are fast going the way of the modern era.
Nothing is sacred wherein developers and builders are concerned. In the 1970s prior to my mother’s death, we took her to the North Georgia Mountains and to the quaint, little Swiss Village of Helen, Georgia prior to the population explosion.
We could actually walk around without bumping or being bumped as we sampled their cheese and crackers and other goodies. It was a treat for my mother which I will never forget. A basic non-traveler, she thirsted for, and drank in the scenery of the pristine mountains of forty years ago. My last trip to Helen involved a traffic jam and a very slow trip through a basically noisy place for the younger set to drink, laugh and talk loud at modern-looking bars and taverns.
If you have never been across Blood Mountain, you should experience it once in your lifetime. It is better than a roller coaster of any magnitude. Even in the mountains which can become too crowded in the Fall of the year, there are still some two-lane roads which have escaped the widening of those very roads by the heavy caterpillars and cranes which are taking them away from we the people.
Many of us talk about the sadness, lack of security, and terrible condition of the world situation which turns us away from traveling abroad to see the wonders of the earth, but most of us have yet to see the wonders of America and what this land of plenty has to offer.
Even more so, most of us live a life too involved in speed and crowded four lane and Interstate roads. We’re in too big a hurry to get where we think we want to be to get out and drive on dirt roads or take two lanes to small towns such as Ideal, Byromville, Ty Ty, Claxton, Parrot, Attapulgus, Cherry Log, Elberton, Hiawassee, Sylvania, Eatonton, Haddock, Jesup, Talking Rock, Buena Vista, and those places are just a few of the small, historic towns which have so much to offer. Even the wacky things in some towns such as Warwick, self-named “The Grits Capitol of the World” where people make, eat and enjoy the southern staple.
They even have a contest wherein people get into a huge vat full of grits with overalls and are given a few minutes to load up with wet freshly-cooked grits—pockets, sleeves, trousers, ears, and hair—to see who weighs the most additional pounds after a pre-weight has been recorded—all in fun of course.
The good thing about visiting these small treasure-troves of small towns, attainable by two-lane and dirt roads, is they are terrorist-free.
Enjoy Georgia first!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

That might be fun but it looks like a waste of some good grits to me.

Makes me think of my mother's fried eggs and ham and ham gravy with some of her wonderful biscuits
and you would be in 'Hog Heaven'