There is something about rows of corn and peanuts that is both claustrophobic, and releasing. Lee and I went to Fitzgerald this weekend. The drive there is always amusing. The directions at one point go something like, “Turn at the caution light at Jeff-Ro’s convenience store on the road with no name.”
Jeff-Ro’s, you have to understand, is an amusement in and of itself. Not only can you buy gasoline (and don’t expect pay at the pump or any of that nonsense) and snacks, you can by the finest in camoflauge and hunting boots, and even a deer stand. You can also bring pictures of your son’s first Kill of The Season and have it posted on their bulletin board.
Past Jeff-Ro’s, past the Lumber City Meat Company (fried pork skins, cooked fresh daily!), past the cardboard cut-outs of Jesus and some sheep in the lawn of a church, you arrive in Fitzgerald.
There are parts of the town I really like. The people are friendly, there are some nice, old houses and buildings. But the downtown is sitll in some ways like a ghost town, and Wal-Mart is the biggest thing to hit the area since the two screen movie house (still called “the show.”)
Life is truly at a slower pace. Sometimes it’s maddening, sometimes it’s nice. It’s not every town where your morning commute could be slowed by a flock of wild chickens or a man on his tractor taking up both lanes.
I don’t think I could live in that kind of town for long anymore. I enjoyed it as a highschooler, as much as any highschooler enjoys the town where they live I guess. But there’s not much for me to do there anymore. But there is still something beautiful about cotton fields. It reminds me of summers on my grandparent’s farm – of watermelon and gnats and exploring and creating. I don’t want to live there anymore, but I’m glad small town southland still exists.