STATESBORO — I have visited 157 of the 159 counties in Georgia. They all have a courthouse. Some are big and stately, others are rather plain.
The other thing they have is a place where men gather, drink coffee and verbally attempt to solve the problems of the world.
It’s not unique to Georgia and I know there are some ladies’ coffee klatches that get together, but the vast majority are an all-male event.
Roy Kilpatrick lives in Statesboro. He and his wife, Thelma, moved there when Roy retired from the insurance business. Roy is one of those guys who would be at home in anybody’s coffee club. He’s a good-sized fellow with a strong voice and the kind of aw-shucks personality that makes you think you’ve known him forever.
Before they moved to Statesboro, Thelma’s hometown, they lived in Swainsboro. Roy was a member of the coffee group at Lynn and Bob’s restaurant. This was an afternoon crowd that gathered around 3 p.m.
Roy is a member of two coffee groups in Statesboro. One is the early crowd that gathers at James Revell’s Country Store. Erk Russell, the legendary football coach of Georgia Southern University, was a member of that crowd until his death in 2006. Erk liked the setting of the country store because he could light up a cigar to smoke with his coffee.
Roy is also part of the 10:30 a.m. coffee group at Snooky’s, a legendary place known for good breakfast and tasty meat and vegetables at lunch and dinner. In his time, Erk was there, minus the stogie.
The 10:30 Snooky’s Coffee Club borders on being a civic club. They keep a list of names and give money for flowers when someone graduates to that coffee club on high. Last week, they all gathered for a steak dinner. I presume coffee was also on the menu.
“That crowd has been together for 50 years, “Roy told me. “We had a pretty nice party.”
From Rabun Gap to Tybee Light and from Flintstone to Attapulgus, these groups seem to have some common threads. There is one guy who will weigh in on everything. There is usually a couple of guys with a newspaper (Thank the Lord), who will actually cite something factual. There is also one guy who seems to have a direct pipeline to the gossip, or as many coffee crowds would say, the talk on the street.
Most of these crowds tend to lean toward the conservative side, but that doesn’t mean that a Yellow Dog Democrat isn’t welcomed. They often refer to President Obama or Speaker Nancy Pelosi as the Democrat’s “buddy” or “friend.”
Within an hour, they have chatted on state, local and national issues and solved them to the liking of most at the table.
I don’t know if it has been tried, but maybe some of our governmental entities should fire up the coffee pot.
If some of those folks in Atlanta and Washington would just circle up the chairs and share a cup, we might get something done.
Unfortunately, they have a no-food-or-drink rule in the halls of Congress, and you’d have to get them to vote to change that — and then decide regular or decaffeinated.
Harris Blackwood is a columnist for The Times. His column appears every week in Sunday Life.