February 19, 2019

What to do with boxes of Brown’s Guide to Georgia?

     Since 1989, I’ve been walking past stored cardboard boxes, trying to decide: “Is this procrastination or hoarding?” Maybe it’s a little of both. There’s excess space in the Lavonia warehouse, so I prefer to call it “out of sight, out of mind.”
     But last week, I cracked open a couple dusty boxes of the magazines. Thumbing through some editions from the 1970s and 1980s, I wondered what to do with these copies of Brown’s Guide to Georgia.
     For whatever reason, the previous owner of our company bought all un-circulated editions of the popular travel guide. Over the years, I’ve been tempted to haul the mini-mountain of magazines to the recycling center. And then nostalgia genes cloud my thinking. Do we have a stockpile of treasures, or do we have a cargo van of trash?
     Best I can tell, Brown’s Guide died and was later revived on the internet, only to die again. If I am wrong, please correct me.
     I am right about this: “I have a dilemma.”
     Here’s an example of why I can’t hurl the inventory during this year’s spring cleaning.
     As I leafed through a November/December 1976 edition, I skidded to a stop on page 96. The heading was “Places and Pleasures.” I had dined at four of the five featured establishments: Ray’s Mill Pond (Ray City), Southern Cafeteria (Vidalia), Reedy Creek Cabin Restaurant (K’ville) and Paloma Court (Nahunta.) I had not been to Big Jim’s in Enigma, east of Tifton.
     Longtime Southeast Georgia residents will remember the excitement the Jones family (Clifford, Nina, Gene and Dorothy) stirred when opening their quaint eatery on the western edge of Wayne County. Reedy Creek proved good food will pull hungry folks over the miles.
     That’s why the Paloma Court flourished in Nahunta, too. Nelio Porcile’s motel restaurant was a culinary adventure in our rural landscape.
     Here’s how Brown’s Guide introduced its readers to Neilo’s:
     “He runs the strangest restaurant we’ve ever been to anywhere. If you call ahead, you can order a mammoth four-course dinner for $5.50 that includes food from many countries and in several styles, none of which resemble the dishes of the same name you may have tasted elsewhere … .
      “… The décor is similarly eclectic—a mélange of items from the New and Old Worlds, and the spelling on the menu is a whimsical delight. … Eating here is both a stomach-stuffing adventure and a bargain.”
     During its operation, we enjoyed taking out-of-town guests to Neilo’s. One night, I asked our server about the dessert. “Well, they call it Baked Alaska,” she said, “but it’s really ice cream with likker poured on it and set on ‘far’.”
     You can’t make up memories like that.
     And you can’t make up literary “desserts,” a la old copies of Brown’s Guide to Georgia, either. That’s why I can’t “set on ‘far’” all these editions.
     Do we have a stash of treasure or trash?
     You tell me.