Tag Archives: Georgia

If You Tell A Town A Story…

mouseHave you ever read the book “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie?” It’s all about cause and effect and how one thing leads to another. If you give a mouse a cookie, then he’ll want some milk…and so on. That’s how Wednesday unfolded for me, all because I told that story about spending summers watching Grandmama Eunice write the “News In Gay.”

If you tell a town a story…you wake up to a message from DeeAnn saying that her mama found some of your grandmama’s old columns and has already passed them along to your mama (who calls later to say that she has them set aside and will visit soon–they’re too fragile to mail). Because our mamas have been friends since the late 1940s and our grandmamas were friends too. Miss Ruby and Mr. Hoke lived right down the road from Grandmama Eunice and DeeAnn said she used to HATE it when her Mimi got on the phone with Miss Eunice because it meant they were going to talk for a WHILE and DeeAnn was going to have to cool her jets.

If you tell a town a story…the boy you had a crush on since before you could remember–yes, Jeffrey from last summer’s story about peaches–who also happens to be DeeAnn’s baby  brother, has sent you an email to say that he remembers the exact sound that old metal drink box at Jack Findley’s made. He says he’ll pass the article along to the Findleys’ daughter, Alice, so she can read it too. And then your friend, Lynn, from back in elementary school writes to say that she is all teary with sweet memories because Jack was her Daddy’s brother and that was her Uncle Jack and Aunt Bessie and she loved them so. And I tell her how it was at Jack Findley’s store that I first learned how to whistle, sitting there on the upturned apple crate at the end of the counter while Miss Bessie talked to Grandmama and Grandmama enjoyed an Eskimo Pie from the freezer chest. Then Joe Nash, whose mama taught me at Vacation Bible School for many summers, says he remembers going to Jack’s to buy Chef Boyardee. Joe just opened The Fat Chihuahua restaurant in that little town and it sure ain’t Chef Boyardee!

If you tell a town a story….Lori Lee calls her mama from Florida to tell her about the story about Miss Eunice and before Miss Susie has even had time to finish her breakfast, the two of them are crying and laughing over the good times that Lori Lee had with her Nannie on those summer days long ago. How Lori Lee ate great big bowls of fresh peas right after swimming lessons and before the soaps. Before she hangs up, Lori Lee tells Miss Susie how she understands that it’s important for her own Max and Morgan to get time with their grandmama.

If you tell a town a story…Miss Susie shares that story on Facebook and one of her friends, Carol, says how she remembers my grandparents so fondly because she spent a lot of time at that very house while she and “Sammy” were dating. And I squawk, “You’re THE LEGENDARY CAROL?” The one Daddy still mentions now and then as he clutches at his heart while Big Gay rolls her eyes. And then Carol subscribes to Baddest Mother Ever and now I’m Facebook friends with my Daddy’s prom date.

letter-447577_1280If you tell a town a story….Sonya, who just last year married the boy that SHE had had a crush on since the 1970s, reports that she was going through some old papers at the bank and remembers seeing some of Grandmama Eunice’s columns. She promises to take another look and let me know what she finds. In the meantime, Stephanie, a Wesleyan sister, sends me a tip about a project via the UGA library where they’ve preserved small town newspapers on microfilm and I might want to check it out, seeing as that’s about two miles from my house.

If you tell a town a story…you find out that your VP at work knows that town because her husband was roommates with Willis, a boy from right up the road. Instead of talking about work, you end up talking about shelling purple hull peas and how to make that sweet tomato relish and how it was good to be the girl baby in the family because it meant your grandaddy let you stay in the air-conditioned office at the packing shed while your brothers had to pick peaches. Even the SharePoint developer who was there to talk about site design and governance starts hankering for a big bowl of peas and a glass of tea.

If you tell a town a story…you hear from Mrs. Love, the wife of your elementary school principal and she says she read the story to him and he says hello. My cousin, Greta, who was one of two guests at my first birthday party, says it brought back so many memories of Aunt Eunice’s house. My cousin, Annette, who’s 92 (but you didn’t hear that from me) and still the life of any party, remembers how kind Aunt Eunice was to her after her parents died when she was still a teenager.

If you tell a town a story…you get more stories in return and your heart opens up and you learn things you never knew about people you’ve known all your life.


Cry Havoc and Let Slip One Inch of Snow

1781958_10202268250500702_631927003_nIt’s a Snowmaggedon here in Georgia.  Tuesday, as I made my way to Kroger for essentials (cocoa mix, milk, cheese, wine, toilet paper, apples, marshmallows), I laughed to see that there was only ONE cart left in the giant corral of carts by the entrance.  One.  But you better believe I hopped on it like a duck on a bug.  Winter weather in Georgia is cause for panic.  The mood of the day put me in mind of that line from Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar” where Antony worries that Caesar’s pissed off ghost will “cry havoc and let slip the dogs of war.”  In ancient times, “Havoc” was a military command that basically gave the troops permission to pillage, murder and sack.  So when the commander cried HAVOC…things ended up looking much like the bread aisle at Kroger.

I have friends from Minnesota, Wisconsin, Colorado, Maine, Illinois–all of whom roll their eyes at us Southerners when we panic at the first sign of snow.  Yes, WE GET IT.  You have seen more snow in your lifetime.  You don’t understand what all the fuss is about.  In your book, this is NOTHING.  They would NEVER close schools back where you’re from.  Good for you.

For those of you who have grown jaded to snow, here’s a little insight into a snow day in Georgia:

  • As long as you get to choose when to be out in it, we still think snow is FUN.  It makes the dogs all giddy.  It even glosses over the piles of dog crap in the backyard.  It’s so unusual that it makes our kids all hyped up, like your kids would be if they suddenly got a pleasant day–sunny and 65–in the middle of January.  We get sunny and 65 all the time and it doesn’t freak us out.  We don’t rush to the store for sunscreen and margarita mix like y’all do.  
  • joySnow means “play” for young and old.  I spent $60 on sleds from the Army Surplus store this morning and my boss–who grew up in Indiana then Colorado–said, “YOU CAN’T SLED IN ONE INCH OF SNOW!”  Um, yeah–you can.  My kids would sled in the ice maker if I would let them give it a try.  We have a steep hill in the backyard coated in a bunch of crunchy grass and a thin skin of snow.  We. Are. Sledding.  I don’t care if it’s on an old shower curtain liner, a trash can lid or a fancy sled that will dry rot in the garage before we have a chance to use it again.
  • Yes, lots of snow is better for snowy activities, but we are snow beggers and cannot be snow choosers.  I have been snowboarding in Utah on two feet of fresh powder and it was delightful.  I have skied down the Stubaier Glacier in Innsbruck, Austria (in a very pokey fashion) and it was ripping fantastic (once I found a pocket of oxygen).  But an inch of snow can be a treasured childhood memory if it only happens once or twice in your life.  I still remember the week we were out of school in 1982 or 1983 due to snow.  Our house was the only one in town with a wood burning stove for heat and a gas stove for cooking.  Someone found an old sled at the antique dealer’s house.  My mom made real cocoa in a pan on the wood stove.  Our Irish Setter played until his coat was matted with icicles.  I’ll never forget that week because it not very often that we have an excuse to stop what we’re supposed to be doing and play.  
  • OK, we do talk about snow incessantly if there is any threat of a flake falling.  It is the only topic of conversation, whether the conversation be with a stranger, your coworkers, or the weatherman on the television set as we beg, “Please please please say it’s going to happen!”  Again, we talk about snow because it is exceptional for us (the same way transplants to the South talk about gnats and humidity and the fat content of mayonnaise–things we got over long ago).
  • chickenGo ahead and make the jokes about how we run to the grocery store for milk and bread.  Things can get dicey here pretty quickly when the roads freeze up, the power lines start snapping and the trucks can’t keep up.  We lost power for two days when Vivi was a toddler and it scared the crap out of me.  My brother got stuck in that epic traffic jam in Atlanta tonight–almost 10 hours to go from Buckhead to Marrietta (10-15 miles).  But guess what?  He made it OK because he had an 8 piece pack of chicken in his truck.   He had the good sense to stop by the grocery store first!

So y’all go on and roll your eyes if you must while we Southerners dash around with our mismatched mittens, insufficient footwear, and complete lack of black ice driving maneuvers.  I will be over here on my shiny new sled, just like it’s Christmas morning.  Or I will be in the E.R. with a head wound and some fried chicken in my purse.