Living Columns & Blogs

Proud to call Georgia home

Hahira was the brunt of stereotypical jokes about Southerners, but enjoyed its 15 minutes of fame when Ray Stevens memorialized the small south Georgia town in 1980 with the lyrics of his hilarious tune about the antics at a Shriners’ convention.

John Griffin grew up on a farm near the same town and sees his and the city’s history as the sources of funny and poignant narratives of the treasures hidden behind the taciturn faces of farmers who are supported by the fortitude of the families that work those farms.

For the September Sidney’s Salon, on Sept. 13 at Historic Macon Foundation’s headquarters in the Sidney Lanier Cottage, Griffin shared some of those stories — from childhood, from awkward adolescence and from the colorful avocations he has pursued as an adult. He is a relaxed story teller with the timing of a seasoned comedian when relating the tales of high school athletics at Lowndes County High or of his pursuit of a musical career when he discovered the guitar.

Griffin has published a book of his freestyle poetry, “After the Meltdown,” and read his favorite selections after he had whetted the audience’s appetite with some of his new verse, which will be part of a second book.

His first, which garnered a nomination for Author of the Year in the poetry category by the Georgia Writers Association, was published last year. For those who like Griffin’s style of writing, hearing him read the poetry, with intended intonation, enhanced the interpretation. After Griffin played his bluesy harmonica to accompany one of the poems, Terrell Sandefur suggested he record the book on CD for readers who would appreciate the author’s vision.

Although he is retired from corporate and commercial sales for Sears, Griffin still plays guitar and harmonica with friends, promotes the Allman Brothers Band Museum at the Big House, where he serves on the board of directors, explores bicycle paths along the Ocmulgee River, recounts the exploits of growing up in Hahira and spreads the word about the good life in Macon — his adopted home town.


Kirsten and Kirk West, who hail from the Midwest, looked at several options for a home base after Kirk no longer traveled year round as a road manager with the Allman Brothers Band. Remarkably, they chose to put down roots in a historic neighborhood in Macon — over the mystique of New Orleans — and have never looked back.

On Sept. 15, the couple celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary at their second home, Gallery West on Third Street, surrounded by friends who admire and appreciate the contributions the Wests have made to Macon. They were instrumental in saving the Big House and in spearheading the campaign to preserve the house as a museum. They own the gallery on Third Street that is a photographic resource and repository of all things rock ‘n’ roll, and they generously promote other artists in their gallery.

After several toasts to their quarter century of marriage, the Wests paid tribute to their Macon “family,” which has enthusiastically embraced them as if they were natives. One of the guests commented that the couple deserved accolades for their continued efforts to support all of the local arts initiatives and that they have become important players in the preservation and revitalization of downtown — and of the other historic districts. Macon is fortunate the Wests choose to live here.


Yes, you read that right — students are really interested in cooking! Last Sunday afternoon, Gigi Cooks, aka Phyllis Farmer, had about a dozen young men and women sign up for a class on tips to make food preparation for tailgating less complicated.

While the instructor created a basket weave design around hotdogs with thin strips of pre-packaged dough, her assistant Marguerite Parker was serving pimiento cheese muffins, also made from packaged dough, hot from the oven.

Fresh baby carrots and crisp stalks of celery were used for the three-cheese dip, which also had a little crunch thanks to the finally chopped vegetables in the melted and blended cheeses. All of these snacks took less than 30 minutes to prepare, were filling and the perfect accompaniment to the spiced tomato juice.

The idea of cooking classes may seem farfetched, but the young men and women were fully engaged in the class and gave the instructor their suggestion for the next class — crock pot cooking.

A standby for young cooks in the 1960s and ‘70s, the one-dish cooking container is enjoying a renaissance with a generation interested in efficient and healthier meals for apartment living. Classes will be held once a month at one or more of Mercer’s loft complexes.

Katherine Walden is a freelance writer and interior designer in Macon. Contact her at 478-742-2224 or