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Cairo wins state championship, gets this nice column

POSTED: December 16, 2008 11:55 p.m.

Last week, I made a friendly wager with a newspaper friend in Cairo over the outcome of the Cairo-Flowery Branch game. I lost.

But there are some nice things to say about Cairo and its high school.

They are called the Syrupmakers. When we think of syrup, we think slow. But not this group, they were fast ... really fast.

Fast is not a requirement in football, but it sure does help. Now, the state championship crown is in place at Cairo High School.

Time for them to do a little bragging, but it’s a town with so many established bragging rights.

Cities with some claim to fame often boast about it on their city limits sign. Waycross used to have a sign proclaiming it to be the home of Pernell Roberts, who played Adam on "Bonanza" and later was "Trapper John, M.D." Valdosta used to have a sign touting it was the home of Sonny Shroyer, who played Enos on the "Dukes of Hazzard."

If Cairo listed all its famed natives and champions, it would take a big billboard off the road.

It was the birthplace of baseball great Jackie Robinson. Here’s a guy who not only broke the color barrier in baseball, but maintained a lifetime .311 batting average and stole 197 bases in a 10-year career with the Dodgers. The baseball field at Cairo High is named in his honor.

Then there’s Teresa Edwards, winner of four Olympic gold medals and one bronze. She’s been called the Michael Jordan of women’s basketball. She grew up on what’s been renamed Teresa Edwards Street in Cairo.

A couple other Cairo High alums made it big in football.

Like college Hall of Famer Bill Stanfill, who still holds records for the Miami Dolphins.

And who could forget "The Big Toe from Cairo," Bobby Walden, with his 716 career punts for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

And what about that syrup?

Cairo and syrup are synonymous and I am glad that Dr. Roddenberry turned an avocation into an industry. I’m only saddened that they don’t make syrup there anymore, at least not commercially. Honestly, for years I bought Roddenberry products in sort of a tip of the hat to Cairo. When they moved out, I moved to other brands.

Grady County, named for newspaper legend Henry W. Grady, is also the home of two of the greatest annual events, Mule Day at Calvary and the Rattlesnake Roundup at Whigham.

My column appears on the Internet and anytime I mention rattlesnake roundups, somebody will write me a less than nice note.

What I admire most is the sense of community that brings people together to enjoy fun things like boiled peanuts and barbecue.

Let the nay-sayers say what they want to, I hope your events last for many years to come.

I used to go to church with Art Williams, a Cairo native who revolutionized the life insurance business.

You’ve had some fine folks who have represented you at the state capitol. There was the late Bobby Long, who was a character. I always admired Sen. Harold Ragan, because he fought to keep vocational agriculture in our schools. George T. Smith, who began his law practice in Cairo, has left an indelible imprint on our state as house speaker, lieutenant governor and a supreme court justice.

Your current representative, Dr. Gene Maddox, has become my friend and he is deeply devoted to Grady County.

There’s a lot to be proud of in Cairo and Grady County. With or without a friendly wager, it’s a great place to be.

Congratulations on being the AAA state football champions for 2008.

Harris Blackwood is community editor of The Times. His columns appear Wednesdays and Sundays. He can be reached at 770-718-3423.



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