Sunday, July 17, 2011

The Pleasures of Union County

We just spent a couple of days in Blairsville, Georgia. We went to a family reunion on the 2nd day. The first day and second day there we went to four cemeteries and took pictures of some distant relatives’ graves. Which after I go through them I might show some of the most interesting graves on a future post.

But now, let me tell you about Friday night. After checking into our motel we went out to look at the country side. We went to the Liberty Cemetery and the Choestoe Cemetery. This was in the Choestoe community. In Indian, Choestoe translates to “Dancing Rabbits” We noticed in the area one street called “Dancing Rabbit Lane”.

We came across an old house at the foot of a hill. I remember that house I have been to it a couple of other times. It is a Hunter built house. It was built by one of my early Hunter relatives that lived in the area many years ago. I remember bullet holes were pointed out to me when one times a family ruckus happened there. Since then, the house has been restored somewhat, and the contractor unknowingly covered up the bullet holes.

The last time we were here the big field in front was covered with corn growing. It was the same as this time.

We left there and I remembered a distant cousin lived just up the hill. I knew the name of his street because I have sent him many letters swapping information. We followed what I think was his driveway far back into the woods. He has long been divorced. The house was moved there in two parts from North Carolina. It must have been quite a feat to move such a gigantic structure up and down those steep grades and around those sharp curves in the area.

I knocked on his door and no one came. I knocked again and I heard noise from within. Then my distant cousin opened the door. His first words were, “You woke me up!” I apologized and said we would come some other time and he replied, “No, no, come on in, I’m awake now”.

I motioned for Anna to get of the car and come on in also. We talked about different members of his family that had passed away and his one remaining sister and his nephew and niece which I met.

I also brought up the time he told me about being stationed at Dobbins Air Force Base in Marietta and a man he made friends with which was also a friend of Anna’s parents. Small world about says it all.

He offered us soft drinks but we turned him down saying we should be going. We had already been there 20 or so minutes. He walked us out to the porch and we said goodbye. Anna was already in the car and I was about to when he said, “Who are you anyway?”

That almost knocked me for a loop. I explained to him who I was and how we used to swap information. Then he more or less said now he remembered, I was the one that wrote that book about the Hunters.

Next we went to nearby Jim’s Smokin’ Que. I ordered a half rack of ribs and Anna ordered a pulled pork sandwich. The meat was fantastic tender, tasteful, and plentiful. Everything was just right. When I was at the counter ordering I asked the girl taking my order where was the Saw Mill – a breakfast place. She turned around to man chopping or pulling pork and, “Hey Dad! Can you give this man directions?” He stopped what he was doing and was very nice and not rushed at all, He started saying, "Saw you want some wood to saw?" - he was just joshing and then he told me directions to get to the Saw Mill. He didn't have a local accent, he had a Yankee accent.

Which made me think: When I am in north Georgia I like to eat at place to represent the local food; when I eat in north Georgia, that would be big country breakfasts (with grits) and barbecue. I don't want to go to an Italian restaurant in Blairsville. This bbq was cooked by a yankee yuppie and apparently took it on himself to learn how to cook barbecue, he probably took a scientific approach and did an excellent job.

There seemed to be enough tables that we could pick where we wanted to seat. I think there were about 4 tables empty and 4 or 5 being used. While we waited it gave me time to watch the people structure of the place. Jim was obviously the owner who gave me directions. The young lady behind the cash register was his daughter. She had chestnut red hair. There were two other females behind the counter with chestnut red hair. One was older, looked to be about the age of Jim. That had to be Jim’s wife. And the other chestnut red female was much younger, maybe 15 or 16, she was probably Jim’s youngest daughter. There was another female who brought the food to the tables – she was bottled blond and had a cast on the bottom part of one leg. She didn’t have the freckled-look the three chestnut red heads have. Ahah! She was the red-headed step-child. No, there were already 2 redheads, so she was the “not red-headed” step child…or not related at all.

Before we finished eating the line of new customers were lined up almost out the door. That happens a lot with us…it is like we have a sign on our back that says, “The Line Starts Here”.

When we got outside I decided to take a photo of the place for this very purpose (top picture). As you can see there is a man and woman sitting at separate tables outside. When I took the picture the lady said to the man, “He just took your picture!”

The man said, “I see!”

Then she stood up and said to me, “Sir, would you like to come up and sit with your friend and I take your picture together?”

What? What the shit? I told her NO!

In the parking lot, as I mentioned the line has grown, so had the numbers of cars in the parking lot. It was hard to get out. We had to squeeze by an elderly couple getting out of their car which had a Florida license plate. Anna rolled down her window and told them it was worth it (meaning the complexity of wiggling out of a parking space). The elderly man more or less thanked us, and told us that was his daughter and son-in-law who owned it.

We next went to downtown Blairsville. In the center of the town’s square is an old courthouse. It is no longer an official courthouse. A newer one has been built a few blocks away. This old courthouse is now a museum of history ran by the Union County Historical Society. We went in and everything is well presented. Two elderly women sort of kept an eye on things, probably also looking out for sticky fingers. We soon discovered a concert was going on upstairs, in what used to be the courtroom. It was a family playing Bluegrass. One of the old ladies told us it was standing room only. We hung around down stairs for a while and some people came from upstairs and left. One little group leaving said they left 3 empty places, right back the door. We went up and sat down. The family was a non-pretentious bluegrass playing family. It was another unexpected pleasure for the evening.

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