Well it was that time again. Time to pay taxes on the trailer that no one occupies, that cannot be rented, that is on the land that is not mine. That story can be told at a later date, but it will require much alcohol.
I was headed to the county seat of Haralson County, Buchanan Georgia. Headed west on I-20 (This highway runs smack dab though the Deep South), I turned off at Villa Rica Georgia for some breakfast at Ruby’s Diner, as I was about to gnaw my left arm off due to hunger. When you go to visit Ruby’s (and I know you will now) drive slowly on Hwy 78 as you drive west out of Villa Rica or you will miss it, as I did this morning. The lack of buildings will signal you to turn around. You can look for the smallish Coke sign with Ruby’s Diner at the top, or you could just look for the ‘50’s style trailer park right next to the truck garage. There you will find it squashed right between the two. This seemed to be the appropriate place to dine this morning as mobile homes were at the epicenter of my day.
The trailers had been parked behind and around the diner in an odd fashion. It was if they had been parked there because they had gotten stuck into the mud or had had a flat tire. I can hear the driver shouting out “This’l have to do right c’here, she’s bogged down, and I ain’t got my winch wi’h me!”. The trailers had been painted in dull colors several times over, and had odd shaped porches attached. They were over-adorned with many wind chimes and hanging plants and such. Meant to travel, these living units seemed still ready to do so, even though their rear tail lights had been painted over years ago. Ruby’s Diner fit right in, having been modified with a tin roof since the last time I had visited. It is a rectangular architectural mess. I am sure like the mobile homes it was once shiny and bright, the talk of the town. However, time has now morphed it into a mishmash of added on rooms, somehow still stuck together in an oddly orderly fashion.
I ordered some eggs and turkey sausage with grits and biscuits with white gravy. What? Look, it was my day off, and everyone has turkey sausage these days. Everything was hot and good as I scraped the last crumbs off of my plastic plates with my kid sized fork. I listened to the couple next to me talk about cooking tilapia with random methods. I found out that the 9 oz portions cook better on the grill than the 5 oz portions, and that if you soak talapia in Bourbon it will taste better. My attention left their conversation as they argued about where the fish came from. "China, everything comes from China!"; "Well I ain't eatin' it if it come from anywhere's other than Georgia." Geeze. I finished my first cup of coffee and was about to leave when another regular walked in. He spoke of his trip to Louisiana and his Harley trike breaking down. A discussion ensued on how to fix said trike. Talk of spindles, gears, and Mustang 2 rear ends entertained me for a second cup of mud. Then it was back to the drive to Buchanan.
I went the quick way this time. I drove up Hwy 27, past the "new" Super WalMart, past Bremen, which seems to be having and economic revival of sorts. Hotels and more fast food joints have graced this exit, which for so long only sported a gas station and a McDonalds. I turned west again to Buchanan and looked for the giant black steer off to the left, which happens to be my favorite landmark. This is where everything starts to look like 1953. Old everything. The Queen Anne style courthouse loomed ahead on the right. I turned and drove one block to the tax assessor’s office. I walked up to the door and there it was, Buchanan's sign "Cash or Check Only". Really? Wow. Seriously? Fine. Back into the truck, and off to find an ATM. Unbelievable. I returned, paid the tax , got my sticker and my receipt then drove onward down towards Tallapoossa Georgia.
Driving from Buchanan to Tallapoosa Georgia can give you an education in mobile homes if you are looking for one. First off, obviously, the mobile home community in West Georgia deals in cash, checks, or chickens. No internet surfing, plastic card using, pin number remembering city boys are allowed in this group anymore. Here are the groups of mobile homes as I see them.
New mobile homes, the pride of the community. Scrape the land extra level, and purchase some shrubs to go in front of the hitch.
New Double Wide homes. You might have well purchased a Southern Mansion. This is the new Tara.
Used single wide. I fall into this category. Hoping for a good electrical storm.
Old Double Wide. Do not be deceived. These are not houses. They have bricked the mobile home underneath. The roof pitch is a 2/12.
Modified mobile homes. Porches turn into rooms, then every porch has a porch. No squares, levels, or plumb bobs used during construction.
Driving along 120 towards Tallapoosa you can find these examples. I drove to the trailer, stuck my sticker, and said a prayer for fire. I think trailers seem like a good idea at some point in time, but I caution all who would venture into this realm now days. Take the time, build a house, and spend the money. Trailers are like old used cars rusting away. They never age gracefully. You never drive down the road and say "Hey, look at that cute old trailer." It just does not happen.
It started to rain, then really pour down hard, washing the caked on pollen from my truck. “So much for geocaching today”, I thought to myself, as I drove off the land. Driving past the old and odd trucks, cars, and a good portion of junk that littered the entrance to my old homestead, I found this a very ironic place for a city boy to be in the Deep South. Buckling up as instructed, I drove home down I-20 listening to my new Bluegrass CD. I had to replay "99 years and one dark day" over about ten times to settle my soul.