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Bit of a bubbly soap-box homily coming up…fair warning.
In the pre-Georgian years of home schooling my kids (that would be the Virginian era), I recall gathering essays, poetry, and historical speeches, saving them for my kids as examples of how to persuade, how to win people to a cause, and simply how to write and speak well. I didn’t particularly endorse the topics on which the speeches were focused, but rather the manner in which they were written, and, I supposed, delivered.
Southern Hospitality consists of two things: food and stories. Both are done slowly, sometimes over a whole day, smoked, boiled, marinated in something, and dripping with something else. My Americus is the menu and table of contents for both and from what I understand, has been for years.
In my first post, I mentioned the barber shop, Kellette’s, inside the store where I work, Center Stage Market. Kellette knows how to be a barber in this town and it has relatively little to do with cutting hair, although he’s good at it. He is a collector of stories. Kellette’s stories aren’t written in novels or blogs, but in the Americus High School yearbooks he has on display in his shop from the 1960s. Narratives flow from the pictures of UGA’s football teams from even longer ago. The looped blue thread of the letter “A” from some Americus letterman’s jacket invites conjecture: who’s was it? Kellette will let you wonder for awhile, but then he’ll figure out a way to connect you to the story. “You ever hear about so-and-so (#1)? Well her daddy’s farm was in Desoto. I think he lost the farm before she was born, but I don’t know for sure. Now, you remember hearin’ about so-and-so (#2)? His daddy’s farm was out in Preston County. His first child I think was a girl, but his second child was a boy and he was the one who married so-and-so (#1). This (points at photo) was their farm when they first got married. And riiiiight there is where they built their first house. And their son was the first track coach at the high school.” (He puts the yearbook down, resting his case.) It’s an incredibly convoluted story, but that’s what they’re like at Kellette’s Barber Shop. Long, sweet, with seemingly endless rising action, with a “gotcha” moment where you make the connection that allows you to be part of the denouement. And I daresay, it will lead to another story. Kellette loses his keys on a weekly basis, but he can remember every freaking detail from the half-time marching band’s performance in 1972. Oh, did you want to hear that one? Come by for a haircut sometime. Or just come by.
Last Friday at the weekly Kiwanis meeting, Americus’ Chief of Police, Mark Scott, said some beautiful things about his new home. I didn’t hear them personally, but through my husband who is a Kiwanis groupie and fills me in every week. If social clubs had fan girls, my husband would be following Kiwanis around 24/7. It’s really a great idea: representatives from local businesses get together weekly to hear from each other and guest speakers about what’s going on in Americus and Sumter County. It’s cool stuff that you wouldn’t know if someone hadn’t actually taken the time to put a presentation together on it. So when the Chief of Police was the guest speaker, well, let’s just say he had everyone’s attention. Read more