Tripping Over a Jewel

lynn-head-shot
Lynn Horton is a freelance writer and editor who in another lifetime taught English and Creative Writing at McIntosh High School and later worked in the Starr’s Mill High School Media Center.

Highway 341 to Perry, Georgia via Roberta and Ft Valley, is the wonderfully pastoral route for our now favorite road trip! This alternate to Interstate 75 skirts Griffin with its 101 traffic lights, and if you are unlucky enough to hit one red light, then add a half hour to your journey.
Bill and I were so impressed by how clean the roadsides were on 341; no litter anywhere.  Homes, barns and farm lots along the way were as neat as a pin. The crops are in, so there was little activity along the lightly traveled two-lane road. It was indeed a pleasure simply to enjoy the gorgeous blue sky, its puffy white clouds; its field and pastures which looked like an advertisement for America the Beautiful.
Lines of stately pecan trees marched in even rows, reminding me of soldiers at attention. Some of their giant limbs bent almost to the ground, but not a single stray pecan was left; the area under them had recently been swept clean. Stubble from the cotton crop held remnants of the September harvest, many more leavings than in the days when cotton was picked by hand. Peach orchards, looking a bit sad without their big, fat, juicy fruit, took up most of the remainder of the land. There were some cattle grazing and what looked like soy bean fields minus the beans and with only wilted, dying yellow leaves to identify them.
In the past three weeks, I have made four (4) trips to Perry, all connected with the Georgia National Fair. Not to be confused with the State Fair held in Atlanta just prior to the National Fair, these amazing permanent grounds, exhibit buildings and livestock pens are home to a wide variety of activities almost every week of the year. Following on the heels of the Georgia Days Fair which ended Sunday, Oct. 16th and which hosted more than 550,00 visitors, (that’s over One Half Million), this weekend will be the site of  Barrel Racing Events, and Nov. 6 we plan on going back to see the High School Championship Rodeo. Go to their website. There has got to be something that will interest you. As for me?  I love me a good Rodeo!!
The town of Perry is absolutely charming: cute dress shops, attractive home decor and gift shops line Carroll Street while some wonderful antique shops like “The Antique Theatre” on Commerce Street (an old renovated movie theatre) are just off the main drag. Several top-notch restaurants right in town offer visitors and locals great food and perfect places to gather and enjoy the ambience of this delightful Southern jewel. Most have sidewalk seating. Try the “Classic” sandwich at The Perfect Pear; it may be the best sandwich I have ever put in my mouth, (they do something with smashed pears and mayonnaise that is unbelievably delectable).  The Swanson has terrific Blue Plate fare (my favorite is chicken and dressing with two sides for $8.95) served on the wrap-around porch of a lovely Victorian home right smack in the middle of town.
Perry experienced a revival six or seven years ago and is no longer the same sleepy little South Georgia town it was for years. The courthouse for Houston County (pronounced How-stun) got a gorgeous facelift along with all the shops whose unique store fronts and unusual roof lines retain the individual flavor of what they once were. It’s easy to tell by the distinctive tile that the store on the corner was once a pharmacy with a soda fountain; a place that also advertised “Various Sundries.”  I always thought they had misspelled Sundaes, not realizing that the difference was that one was a powder puff or a card of safety pins, the other, a banana split.
Three and a half hours of leisurely driving, round trip from Senoia, PTC or Fayetteville, takes you past several Motor Courts, some folk called them Tourist Courts, still in business since the fifties and past numerous fruit and nut stands, closed now but clean and ready for next year’s crop of peaches and pecans. So, not much traffic; no harvesters, trucks or tractors on this well-maintained road at this time of the year, just beautiful farm houses, fields and livestock. Looks like they got some rain last week, too.
Oh, and you won’t want to miss the Perry Historical Museum (free) while you are in town, and one of the largest and most attractive visitor’s centers I have ever seen can direct you to other sites, too many for just one day.
So, why four trips in three weeks? Well, for those of you dear readers who are kind enough to follow this column, I am extraordinarily proud to announce that for the first time in its six year history the Senoia Historical Museum has received numerous Blue, Red, and White Ribbons which recognize its excellence as a Georgia Museum of Note! Honored to have been one of only three state museums to take part in the Fair’s special exhibit, “Genealogy along the Dixie Highway, “we delivered, visited (twice) and returned to bring home nearly 40 artifacts and over 20 awards which included many First Place ribbons from the Antiques Exhibit at the Georgia National Fair.
Congratulations and Well Done, Team Senoia!! Certainly a notable achievement during this 150th year; a fine way to celebrate the town, its founders and the men and women who continue to work in order to preserve and protect the  history and culture of the community named for an Indian princess and settled by farmers and tradesmen from South Carolina.