May 26, 2015

What should be on Wayne County’s Must-Do Top 10?

     Columbus is excited about the Chattahoochee River’s white water now roiling past its downtown.
In Ludowici, you’d hear about its namesake—those classic, curved clay tiles.  Folks in Savannah will tell you about the city’s squares.
     When David Letterman hosted his late-night TV show, a signature feature was his Top 10. If you were touring first-time visitors to Wayne County, what would be on your Top 10 must-do list?  To jump-start your thinking, consider these:
     1. Altamaha River, the Amazon of the South.  Kayak under the Doctortown Trestle and tell how Rebs—in the Civil War—kept Yanks from burning that crucial railroad bridge.
     2. Rayonier Advanced Materials.  When you launch at Jaycee Landing, you’ll paddle right by the world’s largest chemical cellulose mill.
     3. Jesup Drive-In.  Not only is it a twin outdoor cinema. It is Georgia’s oldest drive-in.  
     4. Dairy Ranch.  On the way to town, snack on a bag of batter-crusted French fries.  One bite and I’m back to 1955.
     5. Clary-Whaley House.  On city lot number 1, one of Jesup’s earliest settlers, Willis Clary, built this house that is now the office of Harris & Company.  CPAs Derwin Drury and Kenny Bryant, former owners, restored this landmark.
     6. Train Depot. Jesup got its start on a rail line.  Now, this magnificently restored structure is a gem in our community’s crown.
     7. Bennetts’ Pool.  Dr. Larry Bennett and his late wife, Jann, shared their backyard amenity with the masses, including our own 1984 Olympic Gold Medalist, David Larson.
     8. Jaycee Stadium.  In 1959, this gridiron was the home turf of two state champions—the Jesup Yellow Jackets and the Wayne County Training School Tigers.  Len Hauss was the first among many to join the NFL.  Now, Tre Jackson and Ty McGill are going pro.
     9. Pearce’s Furniture.  The late Doug Daniel turned Odum into the furniture-buying capital of Southeast Georgia.  For decades, throngs drove from all over to haul away couches and dinettes.  His computer-like recall of where he had inventory stored—all over town—was as legendary as his prices.

     10. Lake Lindsay Grace.  On the way to Screven, swing by this man-made addition to Wayne County.  Water—lakes, creeks, ponds or rivers—are magnets, and we are blessed with plenty of each.
     11. Turkey Oak.  Wayne County’s second-largest town has something big, the biggest in the state of Georgia and runner-up for national honors. Check out this record-setting Turkey Oak in Screven.
     12. Penholloway Creek.  Slip your canoes into this black-water beauty.  The sugar-white sand and canopy of trees make this a paddler’s paradise.  Don’t miss the cypress, with knees that sometimes remind me of Disney characters.  Try out the mirror-like Satilla River, too.
     13. FCI Jesup.  Some infamous federal inmates spent time here.  Perhaps the most noted was TV evangelist the Rev. Jim Bakker.
     14. Altamaha Apiaries.  In Gardi, Troy Fore’s brick honey house—with its Ludowici Tile roof—is one of my favorite buildings in our county.
     15. Jones Kitchen. Sybil’s.  Your guests don’t have to leave with empty stomachs.  Wayne County is loaded with eats. You can name plenty.  Friends from across the state tell me about their frequent stops at two of our oldest establishments:  Jones Kitchen and Sybil’s.    
     If you are about to grumble about why I didn’t mention this or that, slow down.  I know. I didn’t mention the hospital, schools, churches, the technical college, recreational facilities or some of your favorites.  My goal was simple: Get brainstorming gears turning.

     I doubt David Letterman is coming to Wayne County to help us develop our Top 10. And I’m having trouble stopping at 10.  So, tell me.  What’s on your must-see, must-do list?