Thursday, November 06, 2008

Small Town, Sunday

Two weekends ago kids and I went to the family stomping grounds: Bainbridge, GA. Oh, to be clear that's my family's stomping grounds.
Not Ryan's.
His family?
They're from Long Island. And Ryan, the damn Yankee, wasn't with us because he was out doing his that very un-Yankee thing that he does--deer shooting.

Kids didn't want to ride with me for most of the trip. Carmella changed her mind after lunch. So for most of the ride I was solo. I tried "listening" to a book on tape. Some Patricia Cromwell novel. After about 3 hours of listening I realized that I had actually read the novel and that it made it that much easier to follow along. It was really hard for me. Maybe it is an ADD thing but I kept having to rewind because I couldn't keep my mind engaged.

Later, I entertained myself by taking pictures of me driving:

And pictures of my parents in their car:

That's Itty Bitty. Mom's new mini cooper. She does have a regular size car-- a small SUV in fact-- but their dumb asses wanted to ride 5 hours to South Georgia in a clown car.

My dad then complained the rest of the weekend about how much his back hurt. Carmella wizened up and got in my spacious Ford Explorer. I should also add the Ford Explorer that carried all their crap. As you can see from the picture Beau loved riding in Itty Bitty even if it meant he couldn't eat or drink anything in Itty Bitty.

When we rolled into town we went straight to the Boo Barbie Surprise party where you can see from the previous post much fun was had by all.

The next morning I pawned my kids off on my mom and dad and took a solo ride out around town. I first rode out to my cousin's on the outskirts of town to try to convince her to come ride with me. Apparently preparing brunch for 20 people means you can't spare the time for a 2 hour bike ride. What ev's . . .

Here is the picture I took riding out Lake Douglas road to her house: Yes, I took it while pedaling. In fact, most of these were taken while moving so that accounts for their some what poor quality. I was trying very hard to both not wreck and break yet another digital camera.

My cousin had directed me to ride out Lake Douglas road towards Climax (yes that really is the name of the town). So I headed out on the now two lane country road towards then fine town of Climax. My cousin said the second stop sign would get me to 10 miles. I never made it to even the first stop sign. After passing the speed limit sign that advertised 55 mph I started to think about things. Mostly I thought, Wow, I've never ridden on road with a speed limit over 45 mph. And then when that car passed me going at least 65 I turned around and high tailed it back to town.

The first place I decided to go was my great grandmother Ebie's house. I wasn't sure actually how to get there but when I saw Broughton St and saw this vantage point I knew how to get there.
This is her house, or rather was:

In my undergrad I wrote a poem about it, about this scene, this view. It is called Rescue. You can read the poem here if you want.

Some of the things I wrote about in the poem are gone: the flea market that was once a church, my great grandmother, my grandmother, the porch swing . . . but some things are still there and are still the same:

BrownLee Glass Company:

The tinted glass windows:

One of the houses I imagine no one lives in:

The Southern Bell building that makes me believe Florida is one street over:

The hanging Spanish moss:

The always empty street:

I rode further down the street and took a picture of my favorite church in town. The Episcopal:
And yes, it is my favorite because it has a red door.

Though I am not a religious person I do love that in this town you are never a 1/4 mile away from a church. Seems there is one on every street.

I rode over and took a picture of the church my parents got married in. The Presbyterian:

This is the Methodist Church.
I think this was Lala's church but she got married in the Presbyterian-- that was Daddy's church-- because she thought it was prettier. At least that is the story that I remember but I may have it all backwards because the Methodist church looked grander to me.

I decided my next stop was the cemetery. I knew the direction but wasn't exactly sure of the way. I found it though.

I love that the cemetery is called 'Oak City'. It's the epitome of Southern Gothic: a city populated by century old oaks and tombs. Does it get any more romantic and macabre than that? All that Spanish moss and marble. Sigh. My heart gets all a flutter. I had wanted to walk around and find all my family's markers but I was in my cleated bike shoes. With the exception of the main drag the roads in Oak City are dirt. Not the Georgia red clay that you see up here above the gnat line but that gray sandy dirt that is fine like powdered sugar and is all over the coastal plain of south Georgia.

Okay. Truth. What really happened and why there are not pretty pictures of the marble markers and tombs is that I got scared.

I realized after about two minutes that I was the only living person in Oak City. So even though it was a bright Sunday afternoon and the cemetery was quiet and serene and beautiful it was still a whole city filled with dead people-- and yeah, it was a little creepy. What can I say? I was all by myself in the middle of cemetery on my bike with no cell service. People, I had to ride across the tracks to get there.

So my chicken-ass hightailed it out of there.

As it was I didn't have time to ride over the my grandmother's Adelaide's house or the house my grandmother Anne lived in with her second husband Lee Roy or any of the other places. I had to get back to my cousin's and get my kids and come home.

It was a very nice Sunday ride. Sometimes, just like when I was little, I still wish I could live there.


  1. believe me-you don't want to live there... The pretty exterior hides some very ugly stuff. Lala

  2. Love this post. YOu know i love me some small towns, and old crap, and dead folks! Next time, take me with you, i will try to keep up, and you will be able to have compny in the cemetery.

  3. Would I have been included in either of these Bainbridge post if I had sent a picture? Love the pictues you took of Bainbride. By the way... Lala is right about Bainbridge.

  4. Cat you must have patience. I have not forgotten about you. I did try to stalk your house but I gave up. Too much wine and I couldn't remember where you said you lived.

  5. driving with your kids in the back and taking cameras. good choice!