Okay, I know this is a lyric of the Ray Charles’ standard, “Georgia On My Mind”, and he was born in Albany, GA. But it is the State Song so I take artistic license to use it in the title to evoke, uh…the sweet sound of music emanating from the South! I will just list the heavy hitters from the music scene in this town: Little Richard, James Brown, Otis Redding, and the Allman Brothers. Favorites, all! Redding (like my darling Patsy Cline) was killed in a small aircraft accident, just a month before the release of his biggest hit, “Sittin’ on the Dock of the Bay”.
James Brown, from Augusta, recorded several hits here. Little Richard is a native of Macon, and the TicTocRoom where he washed dishes and started his musical career is still on site. The Allman Brothers lived in the “Big House” (18 room, 6,000 sq. ft. mansion), now a museum to Southern Rock. This town is on the “Antebellum Trail” and appears to have more gorgeous, well-preserved Greek Revival and Italianate mansions like the Hay House, but many of them are up for sale. The Downtown was dead; locals explained that it had been a major manufacturing area, most of which left the area for India, Central America, etc.
Steven and I, attended college near San Francisco just after the “Summer of Love”….and yes, unlike Bill Clinton, we inhaled. We recall “Be-ins” in Golden Gate Park with the Grateful Dead, and Janice Joplin and Big Brother and the Holding Company. We still love the Dead, Allman Brothers, and New Riders of the Purple Sage. Although Duane Allman and Barry Oakley are buried here in Macon, visiting “H and H Soul Food Cafe” is like visiting Duanne Allman’s gravesite. Mama Louise still serves the same vittles (Meat N’ Three) as she did for the Allman brothers, and the walls are a testament to their long relationship.
Tango remains alive and well in Macon, as we enjoyed their weekly “Practica”…far more fun and educational than our practice sessions in the WalMart parking lot!
On the way here we also had to stop at the Uncle Remus Museum in Eatonton, GA. The tales of Uncle Remus, and Rudyard Kipling’s Jungle Book are my earliest story memories. Br’er Fox thought he finally had Br’er Rabbit in his clutches as he was stuck fast to the Tar Baby….”Please, Bre’r Rabbit, whatever you do, don’t throw me in that Briar Patch!” …and that sly rabbit slipped away, safe as can be when thrown into the Briar Patch, his playground. The author of the Uncle Remus stories, Josh Chandler Harris, was my distant cousin Lucy Stanton’s next door neighbor at Wren’s Nest in Atlanta. Her portrait of him hangs in the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C. He was a humble man, and reported that his response to her request to paint him was, “Why would you ever want to paint ME?” Lucy Stanton answered, “Because I love you”. He said he couldn’t argue with that and proceeded to sit for the portrait.
Until “Song of the South”, the Disney rendition of Uncle Remus’ stories, Disney had only used “voices”, not actors, as he produced animated stories. The first actor he ever hired was James Baskett to play Uncle Remus, showcasing black talent for the first time in a feature film. “Zippity-do-dah, zippity-ay, my oh my, it’s a wonderful day!…”, was one of the great songs from the movie. We are pleased it has crossed our travel path once again, not just in the title of our travel blog.
Our second day in Macon was spent hiking the prehistoric mounds, and trails through the swamps and along the Ocmulgee River in the National Park. This site was the biggest dig in the U.S. as the WPA provided 800 employees to meet the archeaologists’ goals for preserving a site of continual human habitation for 17,000 years. Unlike the Camp Leaky site we visited outside Las Vegas (see blog blog: October 2012) that has no objects showing human habitation, the Ocmulgee site provides the important “Clovis Point”, a Paleoindian chert spearpoint . The name Clovis came from a site in New Mexico where they were first discovered. Among the oldest discovered in the U.S., they are usually found among ancient bones from long extinct mammoths, mastodons, and other large mammals.