I wish I knew what town, but I didn’t see the town sign coming in.

SOMEWHERE IN GEORGIA—We are driving two-lane highways that are draped in scenery from the Old South. My wife rolls the window down. It’s perfect morning weather in Georgia.

I’m having a good hair day. This doesn’t happen often, so let us pause and give thanks. I was born with curly hair. I haven’t had a good hair day since the mid 1980s.

We enter a small town. There isn’t much going on here. I wish I knew which town, but I didn’t see the town sign coming in.

You know the sign I’m talking about. The Welcome To Our Little Town sign with all the service-club shields—Rotary Club, Lions Club, Kiwanis, Freemasons.

And don’t forget the church signs. We pass a million of those. They litter the old highways, just in case any degenerate sinners are looking for a Freewill Baptist church.

There are a lot of denominations to choose from today. We pass a hundred Baptist churches (those who believe in full-immersion baptism), a few hundred Methodist churches (wet-your-hair baptism), a few Presbyterian churches (former Baptists who drink beer), one Church of Christ (we don’t need no stinkin’ piano), Episcopal churches (former Presbyterians who drink Crown Royal), and a Church of God (hairspray).

We ride through tiny towns with churches on each street corner. In one place, I count nine steeples peppering the skyline above the trees. If I didn’t know any better, I’d think Norman Rockwell was mayor.

The towns keep coming. I see a small downtown area that looks frozen in time. There is even a deputy walking the sidewalk—and I am not kidding about this—twirling a long keychain around his fingers.

In another town, I see children playing hopscotch in a driveway. I pass a few kids riding bikes that have baseball cards attached to their spokes.

We finally pull over at a cafe. My wife and I are overdue for a stop. We have been on the road since last week. We are on highways a lot. We practically live in hotel rooms.

This has made us experts in the field of miniature complimentary hotel shampoo. I have tried each kind of hotel shampoo out there, and I have discovered many things. The main thing I’ve learned: They suck.

Most shampoos make my hair look like a cross between Arthur Godfrey and the late Bob Ross.

There is an exception, however. Any hotel shampoo made by Neutrogena is pretty good. So whenever we find these shampoos my wife hoards them. If we pass the maid’s cart in the hallway, for example, my wife gets this lunatic look in her eyes and commits theft.

“Cover me,” she will whisper.

Then she pilfers twenty bottles of miniature shampoo, shoves them into her purse, and runs toward the fire exit.

So the small-town cafe is slow. The waitress comes to our table. She asks for our order. The decision is simple because there are only two choices on the menu.

1. The special.
2. Water.

We order two specials. The waitress goes to the kitchen, fires up the grill, and cooks it herself. When our breakfast is ready my eggs are swimming in bacon grease and my coffee is stiff. This is heaven.

We enjoy our meal so much that my wife and I hardly speak. The views from the diner windows are too priceless for conversation.

A few children chase each other on roller skates. An old man walks with a white dog. I hear a distant train whistle. Two teenage boys meander toward home, carrying basketballs. A mail truck is out for delivery. Is that Opie Taylor?

I am in a different era for a few minutes. And I needed this today. Because sometimes the world feels too heavy. Sometimes, it seems like people are too ambitious. People have gotten busier. Technology keeps confusing me.

Twenty-four-hour news channels say everything is falling apart. Newspapers use five pages to describe each crime scene within ten counties, but use only two hundred words to talk about the local 5K fundraiser race for cystic fibrosis. And sometimes it makes me sad.

But not today. Not in this town. Here, none of that exists. At least not right now. Here, I feel fall in the air. I see a cat who has decided to take a nap on a truck hood. I see a woman walk by, carrying a baby.

I pay at the cash register. There are old men eating at the counter. These men are curious about where I’m from. I can see it on their faces.

One old man asks, “Y’all from ‘round here?”

It’s not really a question, per se.

“Florida,” I say. “We’re just passing through.”

“Florida, huh?” another says. “My sister lives in Lake City.”

Another remarks, “Lake City? Hey, that’s where they make the butter, right?”

“No,” another says, “That’s Land O’ Lakes, you idiot.”

He shrugs. “My wife uses unsalted butter now because of my blood pressure.”

“But she still lets you drink coffee?”

He raises a mug. “What she don’t know, won’t kill her”

Gentle laughter.

We get into our vehicle. We drive away. I can see the steeples get smaller in the rear view mirror. The children on bicycles fade into the distance. So does the cafe. I hear another train whistle.

My wife turns to me and says. “You know, your hair looks nice today.”

I guess you never know when you’re going to have a good hair day.

Thank you, Georgia.

20 comments

  1. Van - October 6, 2019 7:39 am

    It is 3:36 in the morning and I am laughing out loud!! 😉 thanks Sean…

    Reply
  2. Marilyn - October 6, 2019 10:37 am

    I live in a small town and love it! Thank you for reminding me how good it is. Just took a little trip in your Instagram account and loved seeing the photos! You keep saying you are :middle aged” , but that does not appear to be true! You and your wife are still young!! Have a great day.

    Reply
  3. Chan Griess - October 6, 2019 11:18 am

    Try Bryl-creem, little dab will do ya! And yes, I’m old And by the way, it only has water, mineral oil, stabilized with bees wax and been around since 1928. How could you go wrong??

    Reply
  4. Andrea Peebles - October 6, 2019 11:26 am

    You’re welcome.
    Georgia

    Reply
  5. Gary - October 6, 2019 12:06 pm

    I thought yall might have been somewhere close to me here in Georgia. But then you mentioned that you could feel Fall in the air. Where I’m at in South Georgia we’re still in the middle of Summer!! Yall must be in North Georgia.

    Reply
  6. Harriet - October 6, 2019 12:36 pm

    Sounds like a wonderful place to be. I love Georgia. I bet you miss your dogs when you are on the road so much.

    Reply
  7. Chuck Gerlach - October 6, 2019 1:17 pm

    Reading this, I can’t help but feel a bit of sadness. What you described going on in those small towns, is exactly how I grew up — but in a huge town. Kids no longer “play outside” or any of the many other things we did in innocent childhood. Now it is all about how many “likes” they can get on Facebook.

    Reply
  8. Melanie - October 6, 2019 1:31 pm

    Long live The South.

    Reply
  9. that's jack - October 6, 2019 1:33 pm

    Well dude, ‘That used to be our town’, I hear that too often now. I miss our old home town with Opie walking down the street.
    But life is still good.
    Sherry & jack

    Reply
  10. Stan - October 6, 2019 2:08 pm

    Your welcome Sean!

    -Stan: Nashville,Ga.

    Reply
  11. Edna B. - October 6, 2019 2:47 pm

    I grew up in a small city. It was a wonderful time to be a kid. Things have changed so much that it’s just not the same now. Thanks for the trip through this little town in Georgia. It sounds really wonderful. You have a wonderful day, hugs, Edna B.

    Reply
  12. Unknown - October 6, 2019 3:23 pm

    From kindergarten through sixth grade I used Vaseline petroleum jelly in my hair cause that’s what mama bought it for. I could put that greasy stuff in my hair on Monday morning and comb my hair and go a full week without combing my hair again until the following Monday morning. Finally, in seventh grade I realized what a dork I was! Those were the days🤓

    Reply
  13. Shelton A. - October 6, 2019 3:29 pm

    Thanks also to Neutrogena! Safe travels and God bless you and Jamie (and, of course, the dogs).

    Reply
  14. Linda Moon - October 6, 2019 3:45 pm

    You spoke/wrote wisely about the differences in eras. This Somewhere Town sounds a lot like your favorite one: Mayberry. You nailed the churches…and let us not forget The One who was nailed for us degenerates. I’m glad you had a good hair day and a good stop in Georgia to remind you of a lighter world! BTW, one of my daughter’s favorite people ever was Bob Ross, The Happy Painter!

    Reply
  15. Bill - October 6, 2019 4:34 pm

    Sean, this was the perfect column for a Sunday morning. Nice and relaxing. Gentle on my mind. I, like so many others readers, grew up in a small town in the South. And yes, this column gave me a wonderful nostalgic trip to a world that is almost gone. I hardly recognize my home town now. Thank you for a wonderful trip back in time!

    Reply
  16. BeBlue - October 6, 2019 7:08 pm

    Spoiler alert – you have to visit us in Texas but the Hampton Inn at Bulverde (US 281 and TX 46) = all the Neutrogena you can stuff into a purse…

    Reply
  17. Joe Patterson - October 6, 2019 8:59 pm

    Enjoy got plenty of them here too

    Reply
  18. Jeannie Schweck - October 7, 2019 5:29 am

    Love your reminder of small town life. I do hate to burst your bubble, however. Many hotels are changing to liquid soaps, along with the shampoo and conditioner that are attached to the shower walls. You just pump out the amount that you need. Better save up of those samples that you can!!!! Things just keep on a changing!

    Reply
  19. Michael Matthews - October 7, 2019 12:18 pm

    Your writing is so soothing I’m with you as I read, not many do this I mostly read fix books or how to but yours is different thanks for that. My wife turned me on to yo awhile back she is a good writer as well keeps you in the moment I finally after a few years of trying got her to start a blog. So far… it’s pretty good. Technology confuses me too or I’d send you a link to the blog to check out. We saw you in Milton fl one night and really enjoyed it. Thanks for being Sean and please continue.

    Reply
  20. Steve Winfield - October 7, 2019 3:18 pm

    I’ve never seen any official count but i guess my town has about 200. I grew up & then settled here. Very near B’ham but out in the sticks. We had 2 little stores & 5 churches. 3 Baptist, 1 Nazarine, 1 Church of Christ. The first Baptisms I remember were in a catfish pond with 3 accordian players.
    A cinder block Post Office maybe 8′ X 12′. In the 60’s we didn’t even have mail boxes. Everyone’s addresses were “General Delivery Shannon” & you went to the P.O. & asked for “our mail, maw maw’s mail & Mr. Cowarts mail”. Sometimes you’d be there for 30 minutes.
    Both stores are gone. We have a much bigger Post Office. Still 5 churches. Right on the edge of town is 108 holes of golf. Ours is an 1890’s mining town that the world is swallowing up from every direction. It’s a ghost town compared to the way it was in the 60’s & 70’s. Everything has to change, huh?

    Reply

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