TARRYTOWN — You don’t need to slow down all that much when passing through this town of 66 residents on Georgia Highway 15, which stretches 346 miles from the North Carolina line in the northeast section of the state and ends just south of Folkston at the Florida line.
There is no traffic light, not even a caution light blinking. There is no stop sign, but Internet connections are available and at the Trading Post, you can purchase a beer or a Diet Coke.
The farmland around here is good as the transition from the clay of the Piedmont section of Georgia segues into that rich soil which yields the best-tasting onions on Earth, the Vidalia sweet onion.
Tarrytown is 4.5 miles south of Soperton, the seat of Treutlen County, and 12.9 miles north of Vidalia, the home of the sweet onion that people — from everywhere — pine for. With the generosity of the R.T. Stanley family, I often ship Vidalia onions to friends at distant addresses, which brings about high praise from the recipients.
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There are many out there who can bite into a Vidalia onion as most of us would an apple from the mountains of North Georgia. Unfortunately, I cannot digest one of Georgia’s best-known farm products without serious internal rebuke.
With debilitating acid reflux, I cannot abide onions. If an apple a day keeps the doctor away, an onion a day with this country boy, for just a day, would keep the doctor busy for 48 hours or more.
It is a reminder of how warm and contented I feel when friends, over the years, with central Florida residences, ship oranges and grapefruit to my door during the holidays.
Unfortunately, I don’t have a friend in Omaha who is given to shipping steaks my way. That would be the ultimate friendship. I regret that I don’t know Warren Buffett. Bet he sends Omaha steaks to his friends.
I knew a man, who was born in this town and would grow up to be a farmer, moving some 36 miles northeast. He would drop out of school to work his daddy’s farm during the Great Depression years. He had to work the farm with the greatest of commitment to help enable his family to keep foreclosure at bay.
He later raised his family with an emphasis on hard work, making do with the ultimate emphasis on honesty, integrity and faith. If the Good Book said don’t do it, he didn’t. If the Good Book said, do it, he did.
It was a hard life, but he made it without health insurance, a luxury automobile, vacations in the islands and tickets to the Super Bowl. When he died, he was debt free. Like the apostle Paul, he had fought the good fight.
That man was my father. There is no marker or tribute plaque here in his honor, but to me he was Great American.