Loran Smith: Travels and Trash

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Loran Smith: Travels and Trash

Loran Smith
Loran Smith

For this foray into written composition, there was a choice of multiple datelines, owing to a hundred-mile drive in the morning and flight of 30 minutes in the afternoon—which came about last weekend.

Last Sunday morning, I started out in Macon where I had attended the induction dinner of the State of Georgia Sports Hall of Fame.  Leaving the Macon Marriott with uplifted spirits about the big dinner mainly because the Hall had inducted Georgia’s preeminent Sports Information Director, Claude Felton, I had a fresh cup of coffee and feel-good feelings to accompany me on my journey.





There is something about early morning that is inspirational.  Keep the radio silent and allow the stillness to speak to you as your sojourn takes you through a varied landscape. 

I started out on Georgia Highway 22 toward Gray at first light, enveloped in solitude which is a good way to travel.  You think about thanksgiving and forgiveness.  Love and laughter.   Mother nature and good weather.   Grandchildren and quiet time by a wood burning fire.

You think about the good things in life and try not to worry about things over which you have no control such as crime, border control and losing a game.





In no time, you have reached the Gray bypass.  I never come this way without thinking about Otis Redding, who was born in Dawson, grew up in Macon and built a home in Wayside community, near Gray.  I always liked his music.  Above the hum of the engine of my car, I could hear his voice singing “Sittin on the Dock of the Bay.”

“I left my home in Georgia,

“Headed for the Frisco Bay,

“Cause I’ve had Nothing to Live for,

“And look like nothing’s gonna come my way.”

He was reflecting on life which would turn tragic for him, just as he was making it big in the R&B world of music.  He would die in a plane crash in Madison, Wisconsin, Dec 10, 1967.

On a trip to Madison years later to see Barry Alvarez, the football coach at Wisconsin, I went down to Lake Monona where Otis’ plane went down.  He was 26 years old.  How can fate be so cruel?

The Gray bypass ends at a roundabout as I head north on U. S 441 to Eatonton.  I get excited about roundabouts after having been introduced to them on trips to Europe, especially the United Kingdom.  An internet search confirmed that this fluid traffic flow had its roots in the U. S. with a Frenchman designing a traffic circle for Washington, D. C. Don’t tell that to any of your British friends.

After about 25 miles, there is the Eatonton bypass.   Eatonton makes you reflect on the literary works of Joel Chandler Harris, Uncle Remus and Br’er Rabbit, lionizing a cagy rabbit which survived by his wits.

I think of Walter Reeves, Georgia’s gardener, when I pass the entrance to Rock Eagle, the 4-H club center which thrives today, underscoring good tenets and good preachments for young people.

In my early days with the Athens Banner Herald, I heard that Harry Stuhldreher, the quarterback of the legendary Four Horsemen at Notre Dame, was speaking at Rock Eagle and drove my ’50 Ford down to interview him.  

If you visit the stone effigy that dates to 200 A. D., you get a perspective of time and people that brings about wonder and amazement that endures, but gives you hope that we will somehow solve our problems and keep the world turning for future generations.

After Rock Eagle comes Madison, a bucolic community in a pastoral setting, but I try not to take the bypass because it is a fulfilling experience just to drive through this town spared by Sherman on his march to the sea.  The story handed down through the years by locals has been that Sherman said Madison was too pretty to burn.  

Following a meeting, lunch, and a short rest, I motored out to Ben Epps Field and flew to Camilla to quail hunt for a couple of days by the Flynt River.   On the way down I flew back over the route I had taken that morning.

Up above, I saw no roadside trash, no billboards, no dilapidated farm equipment and outbuildings, no mobile homes in disrepair and no homemade signs that said, “Peaches” and “Boil P-Nuts.” 

Why do we befoul, deface, and insult our landscapes?





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