Let me start with a confession. I got the idea for this column from the excellent writing by Susan Percy in the April 2015 edition of Georgia Trend. Her article was called “Georgia Places on My Mind,” and while I agreed with her selections, she and I have no selections in common. With this confession and justification, here are my 10, and with a little about each.
10) Fort Worth, Texas: Could it be as good as I thought it was when I worked at Texas Steel Co. on Hemphill Street in 1963? Then it was just a big, country town with lots of character and characters. I like cows and cowboys (cowgirls, too), and that’s a large part of what Fort Worth is (was) about. Yep, partner, Fort Worth is No. 10.
9) St. Simons Island, Georgia: Lots of history of the state of Georgia is in and around St. Simons. There are great shops and interesting restaurants that serve great food. There’s King and Prince for middle-class folks (that’s us) and the Cloister, just down the road, for those who have done well. It’s a Georgia gem and could be higher than a nine.
8) Oxford, Mississippi: Ole Miss is the prettiest campus in the SEC (Sorry UGA -- I have to put you No. 2). Square Books, on the square, is the best book store in America (admittedly, I haven’t seen them all, but I’m working on it). There’s really great restaurants like Big Bad Breakfast and City Grocery. John Grisham went to law school at Ole Miss. William Faulkner lived just outside town at Rowan Oaks. Larry Brown was a fireman in Oxford until he started writing great novels like “Big, Bad Love.” I could go on and on, but if I did, Oxford would have to be higher than just No. 8.
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7) Madison, Georgia: A 19-room hotel, The James Madison, with Ritz quality, anchors the town, which has some of the best antique shops in Georgia; beautiful and stately colonial homes that William T. Sherman spared; a grand courthouse, good restaurants, etc. It’s a strong No. 7.
6) Cedar Key, Florida: Do any of you remember Edgar “Yellow Legs” Campbell who guided out of Cedar Key? He’s gone, but he is not forgotten. There’s a great, old hotel that goes back into the 1800s, excellent fishing, excellent seafood and good shops. Go out on the peninsula about 45 miles to Cedar Key and fish the Gulf. You’ll have fun and will be engulfed with history in this quaint little town.
5) Fairhope, Alabama: I’ve been there twice. It has what I like. By now, you know that’s nice hotels, good restaurants, great bookstores and lots of history. Perry, Forsyth, Dublin and other towns in Middle Georgia that are trying to improve the quality of life for its residents should look closely at Fairhope. “They say” that Fairhope has the highest per capita of artists and authors in the USA. Go there, and you’ll probably believe that this is one time that what “they say” is right.
4) Sanford Stadium: (If you don’t know this is in Athens at UGA, you probably won’t understand any of this column). Join 95,000 of your friends on a crisp Saturday afternoon. Watch the Dawgs come out of the tunnel and through the smoke (or whatever it is) and onto the field. Listen to the bugler play “The Battle Hymn of the Republic,” and then join the singing of the national anthem. Stand for the kickoff. If you don’t get chill bumps, you are probably so near death that you should have stayed home in bed rather than go to the game.
3) Charleston, South Carolina: I love Atlanta, or most of the time I do. I think Savannah is great. Augusta has the Masters and so many other things, as does Columbus. Macon is beautiful and is “getting there.” But, to me, it’s Charleston, South Carolina -- and probably for the same reasons that I gave for Fort Worth, St. Simons, Oxford, Madison, Cedar Key and Fairhope. Charleston exudes the things I like about towns and cities.
2) Pinehill Methodist Church: It’s where Grandma and Papa, as well as Aunt Lillian and Uncle Jim, are buried, and also, Daddy’s older brother, Clyde, who at age 15 was killed in a hunting accident. I went to Sunday School and church there and heard gospel singing at homecoming after the preaching and dinner on the grounds. When I can’t sleep at night, I think about this little Methodist church in rural Washington County. No 2 is a fair rating from me for Pinehill Methodist.
1) Perry: It’s always been good and getting better. As I wrote once before, it’s where I want to be. You take Charleston or Fort Worth, or some other great place, and I’ll take Perry.
This is my list. It might change some, but not much. I don’t have enough time.
Email Larry Walker at firstname.lastname@example.org.