Thursday, October 30, 2008

Rayle - Taste Test

The best way to get from Athens to Augusta is on US78. You don't have to worry about traffic lights in Oglethorpe County (there aren't any) and Washington, the seat of Wilkes County, has a nice collection of restored antebellum homes. The rest of the drive, until you reach Interstate 20, passes through rolling farmland and wildlife management areas. Before you know it, the trip is over and you're in Augusta or you've got one more hour to see the Dawgs visit the Ol' Ball Coach. But of course, this blog isn't about Athens, Augusta, or Columbia. It's about the places you've probably never heard of, like Camak, Dearing, and Rayle, all small towns between those "big" cities. A year and a half back, I passed through Rayle right when the prime time commercial spots air, coming across a simple advertisement that made its point. The message, touting the dominance of the home state's most famous product against a bitter rival, was an advertising executive's dream.

Taste Test

Almost two years later, taking advantage of my time in Athens, and needing some alone time, I set out on this same route, knowing that much had changed. During this time, the Pepsi machine had vanished, Hogan’s Store had reopened, and the Jesus Saves – Vote sign was preparing for another Presidential election. Driving back towards Athens, I came across the perfect scene as a light rain began to fall. Ms. Ruby’s, an aging daytime general store / night time bar, was lit up against the darkening sky. Facing west, I began to photograph the building, making sure to include the parking lot’s fresh tire marks and the lonely mailbox sitting along US78. I had taken three, maybe four, photographs when I heard the voice of an old lady, presumably Ms. Ruby, yell at me to get off her property. Standing on the porch of a neighboring trailer, this was a voice I didn’t want to argue with. While the vast majority of people I’ve met during my travels have been accepting of me, every now and then I’ve come across a person who's been suspicious of my activities. This was the first time I met somebody who would not even give me a chance to explain what I was doing. I apologized and walked quickly back to my car, thinking that maybe I didn’t deserve a chance to explain what I was doing. Maybe I was intruding on these people’s lives. Maybe I had no business being here on a Saturday night in August. Leaving Rayle, I drove a little faster. A heavy rain began to fall, and I wanted to get back to Athens as fast as I could.

 Ms. Ruby's