Back in the days before the interstate highway system would take you where you needed to go, we used to take a cross-country route to Jekyll Island or to visit family in Jacksonville, Fla.
The midway point was around McRae. I remember it had a pretty good Dairy Queen where we would often stop.
McRae is one of those nice little towns where streets are lined with trees, nice homes and churches. It is a neighborly place where folks love their community.
You have to give high marks to McRae for its creativity. In the center of town is a replica of the Statue of Liberty. The local Lions Club commissioned it in 1986, the 100th anniversary of the statue.
What’s interesting is the replica is made from an old tree stump, Styrofoam and other stuff folks might consider junk. They gave it a coat of green paint and the old girl is the very image of her larger twin in New York harbor.
McRae has had some tough times, too. In 2008, the county’s small hospital closed its doors. Folks now have to go elsewhere if they need hospitalization.
In my day job, I often get labeled as a "state official." When I visit the small communities in our state, I often marvel at the amount of pride that exists. They often want to show off their new park, water plant or school to their visitor. I am only happy to oblige.
In the past few weeks, McRae found itself in the headlines for unwanted reasons. The community was the scene of the horrible double murder of a Cobb County couple. It was not the kind of publicity anyone in McRae or Telfair County wanted.
The sheriff, Chris Steverson, said he was sad anyone would come to his community and something horrible would occur.
A double murder is not something a small sheriff’s department is accustomed to, especially one that brings a contingent of news media from throughout the region.
The sheriff’s social media site is devoted to things such as thanking another out-of-town couple who brought a cake by the sheriff’s office to thank a deputy for helping them change a tire last year. The sheriff also asked residents to let him know privately of folks who needed help at Christmas.
When the funeral was held for Bud and June Runion in Marietta, a contingent of folks from McRae and Telfair County went and paid their respects. Their message was essentially their community was sorry for what one bad person had done. This evil act was not representative of a community where love of God and country is on display on the avenues of town.
The one thing the Runions and many people of Telfair County had in common was faith. Most of the churches in the McRae area are of the Christian faith, one with its very foundations built on forgiveness.
For anyone who thought McRae was a bad place because of the actions of one person, please ask forgiveness. This is a good community now trying to cope with the results of a crime that made people all across this state angry.
I hope McRae and Telfair County will only become stronger.
Harris Blackwood is a Gainesville resident whose columns appear on the Sunday Life page and on gainesvilletimes.com/harris.