Sam Burnham, Curator
Towards the back of the great lexicon of Georgia place names which are pronounced differently than they are spelled you’ll find White. Any true citizen of Bartow County can tell you it is pronounced “Whites.” Such a name makes for interesting headlines in the Cartersville newspaper such as “White Man Charged With Robbery” or “White Residents Angry About Tax Hike” or maybe “White School Sees Enrollment Increase.” You know, since there aren’t enough controversial headlines out there already.
White is a unique place. Nearby you can find the world-class Tellus Science Museum and the modern yet beautiful Cass High School (which was relocated from Cassville but understandably wasn’t renamed White High School.) The museum and the school are relatively recent developments.
Let’s talk about some other locations in White.
First of all, let’s just say this is one of those fun, quirky places that you’ll find scattered across the rural South. There’s a lot fewer of these places than there used to be - too few for my taste anyway.
Old Car City is a slice of Americana. It’s kinda rusty, a little beat up, and pretty odd. Calling this place a junkyard would be like calling The Louvre a building filled with old pictures. Old Car City is a collection of masterpieces, cars you don’t see every day. Some are in rough shape and the mosquitoes might fight you for them but if you come prepared, you’ll see some cool stuff.
The best primer I can think of on Old Car City is the article my friend James Calemine did on the place for Snake Nation Press. He has done a lot of photography there and many of the photos found their way into his books. Old Car City is one part preservation and one part disposal. A museum and a salvage yard where history is what is salvaged.
While I love old and unique automobiles, food is the way to my heart. Just across the street from Old Car City you’ll find Wes Man’s.
Now I’ve done a review of Wes Man’s before. ABG can vouch for the burgers as well as the steak and gravy. They even have an Old Car City Burger that is a burger with bacon, pulled pork and BBQ sauce. There’s a full breakfast menu as well. The food is good.
But if you’ll look around as you’re waiting for your meal you’ll notice all sorts of oddities. Newspaper clippings, autographed photos of celebrities, old license plates, numerous Sheriff Woody dolls line the walls. Some of the items might leave you scratching your head. Coach Drew commented more than once that “they hung that up there and they don’t even know what it is.” It’s a plausible theory.
As sort of a gateway to White, there’s an old Chevrolet panel van out on the corner of the Wes Man’s parking lot. It is coated in layers of paint. A special request can get a birthday greeting painted in the side of it for a special someone. It’s right out beside the highway for all the White residents and even the White visitors to see. (See how crazy that sounds?) Anyway, Happy birthday to Daddy Billy Joe, Luke, and John.
I really hope these two places last forever. As the creep of strip malls and fast food climbs up I-75 like kudzu emerging from the bowels of Atlanta, I fear pavement and progress will ruin this pristine weirdness. The best thing I know to tell you is do not delay. Plan your White visit today. Check out Old Car City and grab a bite at Wes Man’s. You’ll thank us for it.
Historian, self-proclaimed gentleman, agrarian-at-heart, & curator extraordinaire