Some towns have lots to brag about. And some of them do it on their city limits sign.
As I drive through the state, I like to look at what cities offer as their claim to fame.
Valdosta, near the Florida line, had a huge streak of state football championships and billed itself as “Winnersville.” In recent years, the county rival, Lowndes County High, has proven it may well be Winnersville, too.
Valdosta is also the home of Sonny Shroyer, who played “Enos” on the TV series “Dukes of Hazzard.” It used to be noted on the city limits sign.
Years earlier, Waycross was proud of native son Pernell Roberts, who portrayed Adam on “Bonanza.” Here was a local fellow, the son of a Dr. Pepper salesman, who was not just on TV, but on color TV when that was a big deal. Roberts became deeply involved in the civil rights movement and that didn’t play well in Waycross.
My current hometown, Gainesville, has long been known as the “Poultry Capital of the World.” I guess we could have been the poultry capital of the entire universe, but one of those unmanned explorers may have seen chickens pecking around on Saturn.
Cordele, in south central Georgia, is the “Watermelon Capital of the World.” Right about now, you’ll find more watermelons than people in Cordele. They use old school buses with the roof cut off to haul them. I guess they are also the convertible school bus capital of the world, too.
I was driving recently on U.S. 280 between McRae and Mount Vernon (you’ll just have to take my word for it). Among the little villages along the route is Glenwood, which is home of the 1953 Class C State Champion Baseball Team. It was right there on the sign.
They don’t have a high school in Glenwood any more, but they are nonetheless proud of what they accomplished 62 years ago. Do the math; those players are now in their late 70s or pushing 80. I don’t know how many of them are still around, but I bet if there are two, they still tell stories about the ’53 team.
Just down the road from Glenwood is Stuckey. It’s not even a town. It was named for Henry T. Stuckey, the postmaster and owner of the general store.
The community of Stuckey was the birthplace of Jackie Anderson Strange, the deputy postmaster general of the U.S. from 1985 to 1987. Until this year, she had been the highest-ranking woman in the postal service. That was until Megan Brennan became the 76th Postmaster General of the U.S. By the way, the first Postmaster General was Benjamin Franklin. I thought that was pretty cool.
I may not turn around for a beauty queen or a movie star, but I decided to stop for a sign honoring a high-ranking post office official of 30 years ago.
I did some research and found out Jackie Strange died this year at the age of 87. She graduated from what is now Georgia Southern University and took a job as a temporary clerk at the post office and rose to become the No. 2 person in the agency.
She raised two boys as a single mom, was a seamstress, a published poet and an accomplished pianist. She was honored with the post office’s highest award, named for Franklin.
When she died, she lived in Chapel Hill, N.C., Her funeral was at the Duke Chapel, one of the most beautiful structures on earth.
There is not much at the tiny crossroads of Stuckey, but years ago, a local girl made her hometown mighty proud.
Harris Blackwood is a Gainesville resident whose columns appear on the Sunday Life page and on gainesvilletimes.com/harris.