BOWMAN – Out here in this corner of Elbert County, fallow land will soon be hosting sprouting seeds from which will emerge row crops which will likely yield a bountiful harvest after surviving March’s blustering winds, April’s tornados and summer’s heat and dry spells to welcome the glory of the fall—the harvest season.
The rural countryside is a reminder that for all of technology’s worth, that for survival, somebody must till the soil and remain committed to the earth for the rest of us to make it. About the time of the Louisiana Purchase in the early 1800s, 80% of the world’s population lived on farms. Today, that figure has dwindled down to 2%.
I chose to take a meandering trip into these rural parts last week on the first warm day we have had since Santa Claus was hustling about. I simply wanted to traverse the two-lane roads into the becoming hinterlands and wind up at Jim’s restaurant in Bowman for lunch with proprietor, Chris White.
The countryside in these parts is alluring and fetching. Rolling fields with hay bales about and abundant cows that seem to keep their heads down all day long. Blow your horn, however, and they, like a nosy neighbor, will pause, lift their heads and look in your direction.
The countryside is pretty much the same the world over. The pastoral scenes of England, Scotland, France, Italy, Belgium are dominated by meadows, lakes and hay bales, streams and ducks on a pond. Just as it is in North Georgia, North Dakota and North South Carolina. I’m not sure about North Korea since I have never been there and don’t have a hankering to go where a rotten apple reigns in the seat of power.
The barren trees are now budding out. Everywhere from Comer to Dewy Rose to Franklin Springs to Nicholson to Winterville, the pace is without rush. Porches with ample firewood remaining, dogs sleeping nearby; miniature windmills rotating vociferously in a modest wind are pleasant scenes to savor. Dirt roads are still prevalent, often to usher you down to a farm pond where a fishing invitation would surely make your day.
White fences frame a home that is plantation-like, traditional wire fences surround another, a more modest one with less square footage and less acreage—makes you wonder which has the lesser debt.
If you motor out this far, all roads lead to Jim’s if you want a hearty breakfast or a filling lunch. I have had the good fortune to experience each. If you arrange both on the same day, you won’t need any supper.
In an otherwise perfect rural world, I spotted a dead skunk on the side of the road. Slowing down was of ultimate priority as there was the good sense to maneuver the car as far as possible to the other side of the road, making sure the vehicle did not come anywhere near this contaminated varmint. Run over its dead carcass and your car could emit his offensive odor for up to three weeks.
Circling back to beautiful downtown Bowman and Jim’s, it was about closing time. Chris was tidying up after a long half day. He spends most afternoons preparing for the next day, managing home chores for him and his mother, Maudie.
Chris is a country music fan and a passionate sports fan. There is a Dolly Parton poster on the wall along with one of Elvis and another of Clark Gable and Gone with the Wind. There are autographed photos of Charley Trippi, Bobby Bowden and Mark Richt, all of whom he has met. He has also been introduced to Paul Hornung, Lee Roy Jordan and Herschel Walker. He has their autographs, too, and considers them valuable enough to keep stored in his safe deposit box
He has gotten to meet such sports personalities by being a member of the Touchdown Club of Athens. “The Touchdown Club has great speakers,” he says. “That is a highlight of the fall for me to hear and meet those outstanding sports personalities.” His favorite in a long lineup of interesting and entertaining speakers was Holly Rowe, the ESPN sideline reporter. “How nice she is,” Chris says. “Her speech blew everybody away.” For years he has collected baseball and NFL cards. “I just never outgrew them, and they are getting popular again.”
One day soon, I am sure there will be an autographed photo of Mecole Hardman, the former Bulldog receiver who is a multi-talent with the Kansas City Chiefs and a native of Bowman.
Chris’ late father, Shelton, bought the restaurant from his brother, Jim, in 1983. It has been a gathering place in Bowman since that time. It is worth it to take a 30-minute drive from Athens out to Jim’s for a meal. On your journey, you would be smitten by the rural scenes and the mesmerizing countryside.
Georgia’s national championship is much appreciated in this bucolic countryside and for sure, at Jim’s Restaurant and especially with Chris White. Chris might even arrange for you to drive a John Deere tractor if you want to come his way.
Hard to beat down home living in downtown Bowman.