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stimulating the dead

Wilkinson County (pop. 10,026) has won more federal stimulus money, per capita, than any county in Georgia.

I know the area well. My dad was born there, as was his father and grandfather. I wrote about it a few years back (sorry, no link):

Toomsboro sits about 30 miles east of Macon, and the procession on Ga. 112 is a bleak one.

Most notable landmark: the towering presence of Central State Hospital, where my great-grandfather, Alex Boone — a longtime state legislator and newspaper publisher — was given the rather inauspicious honor of having a wing named after him.

No matter how you arrive, you’ll find yourself deep in pine tree territory. Pines seem especially fond of Middle Georgia soil, but their prominence on the landscape can be at least partly attributed to the area’s kaolin bounty.

Kaolin is basically chalk, so as long as classrooms have blackboards, earthmoving machines will be coming to Wilkinson County. When they leave, the mining companies gamely attempt to cover their tracks with freshly planted pines.

Magnolias scent nostalgia. Cherry blossoms signal optimism. Flinty pine trees reek of resignation.

Once you cross Boone Bridge into town, you realize you are in the middle of the middle of nowhere.

Trip back in time

Growing up in east Cobb, every trip to visit my grandfather in Toomsboro seemed a venture back in time, where it was hotter, flatter and more depressing than any place I had ever been or seen. No theaters, no drive-throughs, not even a place to get a Slushee.

I had found Oblivion.

“There ain’t nothing to do in Toomsboro but die, ” my grandfather would say. It follows that the last new business constructed within the city limits was a nursing home, some 20 years ago.

It’s gotten worse in the five years since this story was written. The area could certainly use the money, but for what? There’s nothing to invest in, except more roads to nowhere.

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One thought on “stimulating the dead Leave a comment

  1. The main thing that strikes me when driving through the towns and countryside of Middle and South Georgia, is the complete and utter lack of any kind of entreprenurial spirit. I know that there has been a dearth of industry (pine, kaolin, agriculture, what-ever). It’s really weird, there is nothing in those towns besides either a down and out McDonald’s, maybe a Walmart (if they’re fancy enough), and a gas station convenience store and that’s about it. I know that this is a generalization, but it’s fairly true enough. I know that North Georgia now benefits from tourism and the slow sprawl of North Atlanta, but it used to be just as poor (and still is), but the downtowns in North Georgia also had more of a vibrancy about them.

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