By Sam Burnham, Curator
I'm pretty vocal about my love of Jacksonville State. A place where I spent slightly over 4 years of my life remains one of my most special places in the world, even after two decades since last sleeping there. The memories remain thick and any sour ones have given way to the good times. Going back for a game, or any other reason, is a source of joy.
Seeing the large trees and the old brick buildings lets me know that I'm back home. Jacksonville is not home in the way that many people often think. But as is mentioned here so often, an attachment to place can be strong. And that place taught me more than just history, political science, and geography, although I learned plenty of that. It didn't just teach me about confidence, teamwork, and competition, although those were common lessons at Burgess-Snow. No, the lessons were holistic. Jacksonville was where I learned about life. And it taught me that lesson well.
Amidst the anguish I have felt is seeing the pictures of destruction has been a peace. The peace in that time is from the realization that Jax State is not just buildings and trees. Most of "my" buildings seem to have survived with little, if any, damage. But seeing Stone Center and Martin Hall as minimally damaged wasn't the peace. Seeing the Houston Cole Library, 12 stories of educational splendor that watches over the campus like one part Statue of Liberty and one part eyes of Dr. T.J. Eckleburg, still vigilant and proud, was nice. But even if it was toppled, that wouldn't destroy all hope.
The peace because Jax State, the Gem of the Hills, is a beautiful place and the history of the foliage and architecture is adds to the charm but that's not what makes the place great. Stone Center was special to me because of Dr. Hardy Jackson, Dr. Stephen Whitton, and Janet Smart. Martin Hall was special because of Dr. Howard Johnson, Dr. James Allen (Ol' Jimmy), and Dr. Jerry Smith. And those are just some of my professors. That's not even getting into all the great friends I made there, many of whom I am glad to still be in touch with. Jax State is great because of the people and the spirit of those people.
Many of the people who made JSU great when I was there are gone. Some of them have even passed from this life. But others have come in. And seeing how old traditions have grown and morphed to further unite the school, I can attest that the new people are just as good as the old ones. But the school is built stronger by the new and the old together. Just as the post game singing of I'll Fly Away has grown to include the football team, cheerleaders, and even Cocky has added to the spirit of the school, research I participated in through the geography department contributed to better tornado warnings. That led to the fact that no one died Monday night. The tornadoes in the 1990's didn't hit campus but the school studied them and learned from them and the region is safer because of that. And 20 years from now, we'll be even better off because of research that will be done on these tornadoes.
To paraphrase Dr. John Beehler's statement this afternoon, Gamecocks are tenacious. We get back up. We don't quit. He's right. I've been there. I've seen it. I've done it. And sometimes a knockdown makes us stronger when we get up. I'll never forget the 1994 game in the mud at Northeast Louisiana. The ball was already in the air when Tracy Pilot slipped and fell flat on his butt. Mud and water flew up from the impact. It was late in the game and it was fourth down. We had to have a touchdown. That was it. But it wasn't it. I'm not sure if he fell because he realized he had to or it we were just lucky. The ball landed in his lap. He caught it. The drive was extended and would lead to a game winning touchdown. We were huge underdogs on the road. We were still in transition from Division II to Division 1-AA (now FCS). They were division 1-A (now FBS). We had read going in that someone had us as 45 point underdogs. And we would have lost...if he hadn't fallen down.
Jax State will get back up. It is just what we do. Go Gamecocks!
By Sam Burnham, Curator
I'd like to take this moment to make an announcement. ABG is going to be one of the vendors at the upcoming National Mayhaw Festival in Colquitt. It is never enough to simply write about the importance of small towns and the economy, so we've headed down to participate. As I often say, we're going out to get some Georgia on us. And so we are joining some friends in celebrating a wonderful little fruit known as the Mayhaw in an experience that our friends at the Colquitt-Miller County Chamber have dubbed "All the Biscuits and Jelly in Georgia."
Ah. I can see you have a question. "Colquitt is in Miller County? What happened to Colquitt County?"
Yeah, travelling Georgia is not quite that easy. Same place names pop up but they aren't necessarily congruent.
Let's look at some examples of how this can be easy.
Carrollton is a good one. It's the seat of Carroll County.
Lincolnton is agreeable as the seat of Lincoln County.
But then it can get a bit fuzzy.
Look at Dawson County. The seat is Dawsonville but the town of Dawson is the seat of Terrell County. Then Douglasville is the seat of Douglas County but Douglas is the seat of Coffee County. (Yes, we have a Coffee County. We also have a Bacon County which a person from Cook County could properly prepare in Crisp County, if you get out of bed on time as those in Early County likely do.)
It would be hard to imagine two more dissimilar places than Rabun County's scenic small town of Clayton and the busy airport area in Clayton County.
We have Zell Miller's home of Towns County, which, despite the suggestive name, only has two towns, Hiawassee and Young Harris. However, they have a few communities that promise not to confuse us with other county names. Places such as Hog Creek, Fodder Creek, and Bugscuffle. And if you want to get to Tate City (not really a city) you have to forst go to Rabun County because you can't get there from here.
Want to get really confused? Crawfordville isn't in Crawford County. Knoxville is in Crawford County. Crawfordville is in Taliferro County. You don't pronounce Taliaferro anything like it is spelled. The locals call by a word that I've only heard used by locals and is a strange mix between "Toliver" and "Tolifer." It is both of these words and neither at the same time. You wanna know how to say it? Go ask the folks at Heavy's BBQ or a ranger at the A.H. Stephens State Historic Park. They'll say it for you. Taliaferro County used to share a school with Greene County which is where you can find Greensboro but not Greenville which is in Meriwether County.Meriwether is in Baldwin County, near Milledgeville and we aren't even going down those rabbit holes.
But back to Colquitt. Yes, Miller County. Colquitt County is close but that is Moultrie. Both Colquitts are named for Walter T. Colquitt, father of Alfred and Peyton, who have both been mentioned in numerous ABG posts. Colquitt is also the middle name of Uriah Meigs, the protagonist of our fictional stories that we've posted.
Speaking of names, we have no current plans to serve any biscuits. But we do plan to have some interesting and unique vintage goods offered through our ABG Mercantile that is our new enterprise, still under development. Want to find out more? Meet us in Colquitt, April 21st!
By Sam Burnham, Curator
There are a lot of really big corporations in the Georgia headlines lately. Obviously Amazon is still out there. There's the recent spat between the legislature and Delta. Then there's the announcement regarding Facebook opening a new data center in Newton County. And just today I read that Starbucks is looking for executive type office space and is considering Midtown Atlanta.
I've been reading a lot of Wendell Berry lately. And I'm really just relaying some information that I'm reading from him. I've thought about this phenomenon, even written about it. But he actually used the terminology "colonization" and I had never thought about it that way until now. But that is exactly what these huge corporations are. They come in, hire some locals, pay them what they have to, maximize profits, keep the vast majority of those profits, and send the cash back home.
I mentioned this before with Wal-Mart. They open a store out on the highway on the edge of town, often a bypass. The undercut the price of any store selling anything in town. They pay folks just above minimum wage, little if any benefits. All the local businesses dry up. The only place you can buy anything in town is Wal-Mart, most of the money goes to Bentonville, Arkansas and your town never sees it again.
Congratulations, you've just been colonized.
So Facebook comes to town. Newton County could use the financial boost. But this is a data center and while that sounds flashy, it's really lower tech type work. These are not really high paying jobs. And Facebook has no real investment in the community. In fact, if they get upset about a state or local law, they just pack up and move. If they don't get their way, they're out of here faster than you can say "cotton mill."
And now the governor and the legislature are both scared to pass laws that reflect our longstanding principles because they might upset Delta or Amazon. Amazon is more powerful than Georgia voters and they aren't even here yet - may not ever come here. Imagine how powerful they will be if they do come here. And yet they have no real investment here. They aren't attached to Georgia. Even as long as Delta has been here and with 18 years left on their current lease, they don't care about this state. They don't care about Atlanta. They care about the benefits of doing business here. If their level of perturbation exceeds the financial business, poof, cotton mill.
A true, healthy, strong economy in this state can be boosted by large corporations but it has to be built on those local businesses that have roots here, not just annexes. A strong economy is built on community banks, the local hardware store, the local farmer's market, a family owned newspaper. It's built by people who love the place so much, they decide to settle and try to make it better. It's for people who will stay come hell or high water. They don't need an incentive package to relocate here because this is already home.
What can we do to make these sorts of enterprises grow and thrive? That is the question we need to be asking.
Historian, self-proclaimed gentleman, agrarian-at-heart, & curator extraordinaire