Rhubarb Jones: “Proud to be a Georgian”

517px-Flag-map_of_GeorgiaI want y’all to understand one thing right up front. I’m a Georgian. Always have been and, the Good Lord willing, always will be.

I was raised in a small Georgia Town and educated in a large Southern university. I have traveled in all fifty states and several foreign countries-including New Jersey and Pennsylvania.I realize that we have been infiltrated as of late with a number of Northern transplants, and they are all welcome, as long as they choose to live amongst us in peace without spending all their spare time telling us how much better things were back in Cleveland and how proficient they are at driving on snow and ice.

Nonetheless, I feel it is my civic duty to provide a primer of sorts for all the good people who have recently migrated to the Peach State. It might not hurt to remind some of the natives of a few points of pride as well.

There are some things that all Georgians should know.

Coca Cola is ours, and unless you’ve had one in a green six-and-a-half ounce bottle, with a slight crust of ice on top, you don’t know what the real thing is.. And you might want to try pouring about half a pack of salted peanuts into one sometime.

If it weren’t for a Georgian-Crawford Long of Jefferson, open-heart surgery would hurt like hell.

True Georgians say “ma’am and sir” and call their mothers “mama” and their fathers ‘daddy”. They know that y’all is perfectly good English and never means just one person. “Fixin to” is perfectly acceptable, too. And if y’all don’t like the way we talk, Delta (which is also ours) is ready when you are.

Long before the Olympics brought the world’s greatest athletes to Atlanta, we gave the world Ty Cobb, Jackie Robinson, Walt Frazier, Luke Appling, Johnny Mize, Fran Tarkenton, Bobby Jones, Wyomia Tyus, and Herschel Walker. If you don’t know who these people are, you ought to find out before you go to bed tonight.

Long after the Atlanta Olympics have faded from memory, the greatest tournament in golf will still be played in Augusta every April, with or without Jessie Jackson’s and Martha Burke’s approval, and on autumn Saturdays, 90,000 or so Red-and-Black faithful will gather in Athens for a prayer meeting between the hedges. No matter how many times the Braves play in the World Series, nothing will match the excitement of that first one.

The Stone Mountain carving is lots bigger than the one on Mt. Rushmore and the people etched into the side of Stone Mountain deserve the honor. It wasn’t just about slavery.

Atlanta was called “the city too busy to hate,” back in the sixties, because it really was, and we should be proud of that fact. In 1864 Sherman burned Atlanta and much of Georgia in his March to the sea. Crack cocaine is bringing more harm to Atlanta than Sherman ever dreamed of.

We don’t grow the most peaches, but we still deserve to be called the “Peach State” because ours are the sweetest. That includes the Georgia peaches that don’t grow on trees.

We do produce the most peanuts, pecans, and poultry.

Elvis wasn’t ours, but Otis Redding, James Brown, the Allman Brothers, Johnny Mercer, Joe South , Ray Charles, Bill Anderson, Brenda Lee, Trisha Yearwood and Alan Jackson are. So are Sidney Lanier, Joel Chandler Harris, Margaret Mitchell and Alice Walker. And I still miss Lewis Grizzard every day.

Julia Roberts may be Georgia’s prettiest movie star, but Holly Hunter is the most talented. Dakota Fanning may one day surpass them both.

FDR adopted us. His “Little White House”in Warm Springs is exactly as it was the day he died there, near the end of World War II. Every Georgian needs to visit Warm Springs.. Roosevelt’s New Deal put Georgians to work and turned an entire generation of her people into “yellow Dog” Democrats.

Georgia once had three governors at the same time. Lester Maddox wasn’t one of them, but was elected by the General Assembly without getting a majority of the popular vote. He did a good job too, God rest his soul. Zell Miller was the best governor I never voted for, and Jimmy Carter might have struggled while he was in the White House, but he became one of the best ex-presidents we ever had.

Gone With the Wind belongs to us. We own it. Not only is it by one of our own and is about us, but it’s also one of the great novels of all time and an absolute film classic-and we shouldn’t apologize for liking it.

WSB means “Welcome South Brother.” She ain’t what she used to be, but she’s not as bad as the AJC has become.

The Brown Thrasher, the Cherokee Rose, and the Live Oak are our symbols. Proud, decent, honest people are our heritage. None are as plentiful as they once were, but none are on the endangered list, either.

The best barbecue in the world is served at Holcomb’s in White Plains, but Open Air in Jackson ain’t far behind. The best seafood is at Williams in Savannah and the best catfish is at Henderson’s in Covington. The best sausage is at Stripling’s in Crisp County. The best fried chicken in the world is served at my mama’s house, grits is groceries and sugar doesn’t belong in cornbread.

God intended for iced tea to be served sweet.

And lastly, Georgia ain’t exactly heaven-but it will do until I get there.

–Rhubarb Jones, “Proud to be a Georgian”

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