It started with a desire to eat real Southern food, to revisit my roots, to “go back home to Georgia.”
And so I did. Bill and I took a little 1,265-mile round trip to get our Georgia fix. It took a bit of convincing to get my husband enthused about the idea. But once he located and called his cousin Comer “Buzzy” Randall III in Washington, Ga., and they talked for about an hour, Bill was hooked.
Buzzy and his wife, “Bug” – whose given name is Jo but she’s been Bug ever since she was little – invited us to spend the night with them.
We went back home over the Fourth of July weekend back. Of course, there really isn’t “home” to go to. Both sets of our parents have passed on, along with all of our aunts and uncles who lived in Georgia. Bill and I and our cousins are the “older generation” now.
We visited, ate fried food, especially little catfish, and fresh tomatoes and okra and butter beans and corn, and fed hush puppies to the alligators in the mill pond. We also picked high bush blueberries on “trees” higher than my head. Mostly, we renewed family ties.
We had no particular agenda in mind when we left, other then to kin we hadn’t seen in years and take pictures at a few of the older cemeteries where “my people” are buried.
Our first stop was Buzzy and Bug’s Victorian house, built in 1897, on the main street, Robert Toombs Avenue in Washington. A light burned all night upstairs in the town’s funeral home, which is also in a Victorian house across the street. Washington is a little gem of a town, with dozens of Victorian homes opened to the public on homes tours sponsored by the Washington Woman’s Club and the local chamber of commerce.
Buzzy and Bug are the third generation of family to live in her mother’s home place. They’re used to having overnight visitors. Their “Babe’s House B & B” in the cottage behind the big house is one of the draws in Washington. Bug doesn’t cook, she says, but is famous for her cheese straws.
A later start than planned coupled with a frog-drowning rain storm put us in town well after supper hour so we reserved most of our catching up and photo sharing for the next morning, when Buzzy’s brother, David, came for breakfast and a quick visit.
None of the “boys” was sure when they had last seen each other. It didn’t matter. They talked about family reunions of days past. Before we set off for a tour around Washington with Buzzy as he delivered Meals on Wheels to four shut ins, we had time to get a good look at one room set aside just for University of Georgia and Georgia Bulldawg memorabilia.
Our kids think we have a lot of UGA things. They haven’t seen anything like Buzzy and Bug’s collection. One of my favorites was a bumper sticker that proudly proclaimed, “Damn Right I’m a Bulldog.”
I should back up and explain that Buzzy told us one way to spot the house was by the UGA bulldog holding the house number on the front lawn.
Buzzy retired from the family mill, Wilkes Mill & Feed Co. That’s what my husband remembered best about Buzzy and David’s parents, Evelyn and Comer, that they ran the mill in Washington. The family closed it in the mid-1990s, “because we couldn’t compete with the big mills any longer,” Buzzy explained.
We ate at a local country-style restaurant where I could get my fill of creamed corn, okra, fried chicken. Bug’s sister and late brother-in-law and family run the Washington News-Reporter weekly newspaper. As much as I would have loved to watch them put out a newspaper and compare how they do it to the way we do at the Salem Times-Register, we pushed on so that we could make it to South Georgia by suppertime.
Next week: On the road to alligators.