2016-04-20 / Editorial

BURGS AND BOROUGHS

Don Lively

Not many people know this, but Mama was Egyptian.

Born and raised smack dab in the middle of Egypt.

My good friend's first husband was from Rome and she actually lived there herself for a while.

A college buddy of mine, Mike, was from Scotland, proudly so.

In the same dormitory that Mike and I lived in, there was a young man, Tommy, who hailed from Belfast, just across the water from Mike's place of origin.

Over the years I've had friends from all sorts of exotic places.

Holland.

Vienna.

Damascus.

You might say that I have a cadre of international friends and relations.

Or, you might not.

Because all of the above mentioned folks, Mama included, are all natives of the same place.

Georgia.

Mama wasn't really born in North Africa, she was born down the road in Effingham County.

My friend's ex wasn't Italian, he was from up above Atlanta, Rome, Georgia.

And that body of water that separated my friends Mike and Tommy wasn't the Irish Sea. It was the Altamaha River, yep, in east central Georgia.

Egypt, Rome, Scotland, Belfast, Holland, Vienna and Damascus are all towns and cities from right here in our beloved Peach State.

This week is the annually designated Georgia Cities Week.

It's a week dedicated to singing the praises of and informing the folks about how towns and cities all over the state impact the lives of their citizens.

That's an easy chore for me.

My real job, not the one where I write stories like the one you're reading right this minute, is to promote my very own hometown.

A town that welcomed me back nearly a decade ago when I returned after thirty years away.

A town where many of the same people I knew all those decades ago still reside, making it a great place to live.

A town that has not changed much, but that has changed drastically.

If you see things the way I do, there's no contradiction in that statement.

My friend Bill and I were chatting about our town during a week where two major downtown events, both likely to draw hundreds, were scheduled. He had taken a day trip down through the central part of the state and told me that nearly every town he drove through had some sort of festival or celebration going on.

Yep, that's how we roll.

In Georgia, you can attend festivals that celebrate all kinds of food from banana pudding, in Irwinton, to peaches, in Fort Valley, to onions, in Vidalia AND Glennville.

You will also find Georgians celebrating living creatures as diverse as gnats, in Camilla, to swine (pigs for you Yankee readers), in Climax, to crawfish, in Woodbine.

There was even, once upon a time, a boll weevil festival, but I suspect it might have gone the way of the actual, nearly eradicated, boll weevil.

Seems we'll celebrate pretty much anything in our state.

Some of our forebears also apparently had a sense of humor when it came to naming towns and cities.

Without ever leaving the friendly confines of Georgia you can go to Texas, Kansas, Boston, and Jacksonville.

In fact, you can go to Jacksonville twice.

Yep, Georgia has two Jacksonvilles.

It would take you nearly five hours to drive the 286 miles from the Jacksonville in south Georgia to the Jacksonville in north Georgia, if anybody would ever want to accomplish such a thing.

There are also two Bellvilles, which, in and of itself, is not too remarkable, until you consider that to drive the 212 miles from the east Bellville to the west Bellville, you must pass directly through, yep, Jacksonville, Georgia. The south one.

There's something really odd about that.

I hope I'm not boring y'all, but, I dig strange stuff like this.

The point of all of it is, I love Georgia.

Bet you do too.

In our state every town, city and metropolis has its own flavor, its own identity.

There's a reason why we are second only to California for TV and movies being filmed locally.

And there's a reason why we are in the top ten in tourism dollars and jobs.

Why we're in the top twenty in manufacturing jobs created.

It's because, to use 70s parlance, Georgia "is where it's at." I admit, I'm partial. I love it here. That's why I came home. So, this little scribbling is for us, the few, the proud, the Georgians.

Hopeulikit.

Yep, that's another town in Georgia.

My home, and yours.

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