Welcome back, if a week late, and hope your Holiday Season was terrific. Mine went pretty well, all considered: my mother turned her ankle and had to stay off it for a while, necessitating her recruition of me as Kitchen Swab, but she is back on her feet: a great Christmas present by itself, sez I, sez I.
More good news from The Land of Ort.: my friend Melissa, who has been ill off and on lately, is progressing wel enough that she is back in circulation, at least part-time. She and I had dinner together the other night, followed by a sojourn the next afternoon (Saturday) to The Globe for her, longtime friend Bob, and me. Don’t mean to make my column sound like the likes of “Fish Branch/Garder News” by Truella Bliss (now THERE’s a name for you), which appeared in the Herald-Advocate of Wauchula, Florida for umpteen years: Mrs. Bliss would report on the health of everyone from Roller Gobble to Aunt Fanny McCorquodale and all sundry in between, lo those many citizens of Metropolitan Fish Branch and Beautiful Gardner (which lost its post office before 1960 and doesn’t even have a store now); but she left reporting on the happenings of Crewsville and Environs to Mrs. Pete Marovich (no relation to Pistol Pete, I can assure you), in spite of the fact that surely there must have been some leakover, since plenty of Crewsville people went to church at Fish Branch and the opposite. There was also “zolfo Springs Samplin’s” and “Ona Happenings” by I-forget-who-all; Zolfo Springs has close to 2,000 people and is zip 33890; Ona weighs in with about 120 and is 33865… if it weren’t for the railroad crossing next to the fence post creosote plant on S.R. 64 which makes you have to slow down, if momentarily, you’d miss Ona entirely. West of there is New Zion, which has (naturally) “New Zion News” by one Roberts or another: there are aplenty of Robertses out there to choose from; that is a common and honorable name in those parts, just as Carlton is in Wauchula. Boy, do I digress! So Melissa is doing well, and that’s another thing that can be called a Christmas present in and of itself. Whew! I said it!!
I’m a little bit chagrined at the downturn the local economy seems to be taking: Western Sizzlin’ Steak House on Baxter and the A. & A. Bakery downtown on Lumpkin have closed in the last couple of weeks. The steak house was about 25 years old; the bakery was originally Arnold & Abney, and was founded in 1897, serves me. I will miss both, although I rarely traded either place — hey, don’t hold me responsible, folks!
There are quite a few storefronts vacant downtown now, or coming up: The A. & A. Bakery, Sunshine Cycles’ old location, a couple on the far end of East Clayton, Funkadelia’s space, and B. & B. Ltd. on Clayton near The Book Center is closing: I think Mr. Betts says they want to retire and travel… well, I wish them well: their little cubbyhole store was often a joy to me and Melissa and many others, to boot… I will miss it. But this all seems to be a reshuffling rather than anything ominous, and I take it that way.
Back to Nashville. Made another trip up, bought lumber, and boarded up my house. It was secure when Ron and I left, and hopefully still is. Bought some more Market Street Oktoberfest Beer and received word that the Winter Brew will be sold in bottles: in fact, it’s out there now. I’ll return to Music City, maybe by the time this is printed and distributed, and will glom some up then. Wish me luck in my endeavors there, wouldja?
Widespread Panic is set to play in Nashville while I’ll be up there. This is being written Sunday night before they play here Monday and Tuesday, so I trust they’ll do their usual quality thing and I’ll have a blast both nights. (They tend to do this, y’know.) So does the Jody Grind, although stylistically these bands are quite dissimilar. And, most importantly, neither band has gotten the “swell head” and quit being just plain folks. The disarming talent of Kelly Hogan Murray may be why there’s a Venus de Milo, for all I know… Just like my mother’s gravy which could make virtually anything taste good; Kelly makes any song, no matter how old and tired, come back to life. She is, in her own way, what Spring is all about. Unless you’re into thrash metal and little else, this band is a definite winner. So’s Panic.
So’s Market Street Beer. Yum. Getting thirsty. I once wrote in my journal thusly “most lagers are nonplussive affairs, devoid of surprise and practically so of malt.” Not that one. Enough about them; they aren’t paying me. Burp. I also wrote: “I’d rather drink a beer that tastes like ANYTHING than a beer that tastes like NOTHING.” Well, I found a good one: a friend of mine had me sent, on a truck, a local Connecticut product called Elm City Ale. It’s from New Haven, CT., a city that pre-World War II had eleven breweries in its environs and was down to one by 1976: Hull’s. Yes, Hull’s Export Beer, a tasty, woody, quirky affair, brewed in the William Hull Brewery, built in 1872, located at 820 Congress Street. Go there now and all you will see is a pile of bricks and low income housing. Some lady lives at what is now 820 Congress Street: she told a reporter “I don’t know no Hull up here; I know some back home, out from Union Point, Georgia.” You know, I’m sorry I missed that one: I’m especially sorry I never got to taste Hull’s Dingle Bay Brand Cream Ale, available on draft and in longnecked green bottles. The name evoked dreadful puns, but the product was good. Hull’s also made a seasonal Bock Beer and a special Christmas Brew. Hmmm.
Hmmm. Things run full cycle sometimes. If we can get rid of the idiotic laws we have in Georgia and other states, fresh local lagers and ales will return to the scene: they are making a dramatic comeback in many places. Think of me as you pound the miles of pavement out there and sample local products, wouldja? Here I am slaving away over this hot keyboard wishing for a cold local beer… last time, it was for liver and onions, and I got that wish from my mother and from The Ranch House in Nashville.
You never thought you’d catch me with little to say in a column, or is that every time? Well, this is it, if ever, unless always. See you around and about, keep listening, and to thine own selves be true.
My new address, should you care, is: William Orten Carlton = ORT. Post Office Box 171. High Shoals, GA 30645.
Nothing too lewd, okay?
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