the Elephant itself is an old story, J and I discovered it in a cemetery outside of Moultrie last summer, but it was new to Bella and N and it was a hit. Really, Bella turned out to be more interested in the bronze dog she met later that night on the streets of Thomasville than the baby elephant or even the pig she’d seen on Saturday. After drinking from the dog’s water bowl, she sniffed his nose and his butt—just to make sure?
But we can still tell the story of our first Georgia road trip through Bella.
FORSYTH and HAWKINSVILLE
Sitting on the porch of This Little Piggy BBQ in Forsyth, the chef brought Bella her first ever rib which she gobbled up happily. Although she didn’t appear to notice the big pig that looked just like her toys back home, we got her to pose with it. Back on the road she slumbered until Hawkinsville, whose main street was as wide as the town itself. The firehouse, which I had come to check out, was a great little place, and I discovered a cat when I stuck the camera in the gap under the door and snapped. Another cat dashed across “film” in another beautiful abandoned commercial building around the corner. Bella was taking a walk around the block and missed the cats but that was probably a good thing.
Naturally, a girl and her camera on a lazy Saturday afternoon in a small town attract attention, esp accompanied by a boy and a big beautiful dog like Bella. I was approached by the possibly homeless, town drunk/eager tour guide/town promoter who had been observing us and correctly deduced our interest in the old stuff. The firehouse (“it’s old” he told me) sits behind the 1907 Opera House which hosted Oliver Hardy (with the mustache, my informant repeatedly emphasized in sign language) before he was famous. He then pointed out the oldest church in Hawkinsville, a pretty little Episcopalian sanctuary.
From Hawkinsville we took the road to Chauncey, a railroad town without much of a historic center (I suspect some of the 5 lanes of highway are responsible for some of that). There is a 1920 school building, however that’s big enough to hold the whole community today. Further down the road and off the beaten path, Rhine made up in historic buildings what Chauncey lacked, it might’ve used to have a good bit going for it even: the Bread and Butter Restaurant (our first religious eatery sighting), the hardware store, thrift store, post office and lawyer’s office. Not that anything appeared to be open, ever. Charmed, we rolled on. in Rochelle we drove past a tempting antique-junk market in a big old downtown hotel building (!!), we didn’t stop.
Adel was the first place I had to do any real work. It seemed that no one was home after I knocked so I jumped off the corner of the porch to take a picture, only to be startled back into professional decorum by the woman who answered the door. oops. Down the street, we all got out at another house owned and recently rehabilitated by the same owner. Zeke, a black lab mix that lived there, bounded out the front door when he saw Bella and they got to play in the yard for a few minutes. After that Bella slurped up some water from her collapsible bowl and climbed back in the backseat for a good nap.
Which could explain why she was so UN-interested in the baby elephant at the grave of William C. Duggan.
We reached Thomasville just in time to settle in before dinner. One bed for Bella, one bed for us at the Baymont Inn. The pool looked like it could’ve been more refreshing to tired feet than it was, but we weren’t complaining. There were many options for Saturday night dinner in Thomasville but we settled on Jonah’s fish and grits, a truly delicious eatery full of the word of the lord though, thankfully, not pushy about it. I’d recommend it to anyone who didn’t need a beer.
So, if I recall correctly, the city of Thomasville used to be a resort town for Floridians, Georgians, and northerners alike. You could be near the coast without being on it and, though I don’t really see that advantage, the beautiful tree-lined streets with an eclectic mix of late 19th and early 20th century houses points to the fact that many people did. Relatively wealthy Victorians reclined behind screened verandahs and on lush wide lawns under spanish moss and palmettos. It is a town of repose and relaxation and churches. Lots of churches. In recent decades Thomasville has benefitted enormously from a very well-managed Main Street program, preservationist-minded individuals and a strong non-profit organization, Thomasville Landmarks.
By the way, for you hippies out there, the new (or newly restored) fountain at the courthouse is perfect for bathing. It reminded me of Mom and her cousins on their European travels in the late ’60s.
BAINBRIDGE, FORT GAINES, and swimming!
The next morning work took us to Bainbridge and then on up the left side of the state in search of BBQ for lunch. a pit stop at the George T. Bagby State Park gave us time to teach Bella how to swim while watching for alligators. The sign said that if the water was dark watch for gators, well, isn’t lake water always dark??! B was more than a little uncertain about this whole swimming thing, but she was trooper, anything for a tennis ball.
Slipping across time zones we made it to Phil’s BBQ in Eufaula before it closed for the day and then followed beach traffic out of town and homeward.