1930s, African American history, Atlanta, barber shop, BBQ, beach, Big Pig Jig, cotton, Dido, expressway, family trip, field, Florida, general store, Georgia, Georgia State Cotton Museum, mural, old tree, peanuts, road trip, Sand in My Shoes, Sanibel, slavery, small town, Spanish moss, summer vacation, the South, Vienna
We just got back from a vacation to Sanibel, Florida. Instead of the calming sound of crashing waves, I am now hearing the drone of the lawn mower. Sand in My Shoes by Dido comes to mind. I grew up going to Sanibel and now it is such a joy to experience it with my husband and children. I will post a series of photos over the next few days, since I took about a million. This first post is about our road trip getting there.. these particular photos were taken with my iphone, so the quality isn’t as good as I would like.
On our way to Florida, we exited the expressway because of bad traffic and detoured through the small town of Vienna, Georgia. Even though expressways are so much faster, I think it would be amazing if we had to drive the way things used to be, through small towns and back country roads. So much more beautiful and less boring. Full of treasures.
This little town is the “cotton capital” of the South. I was touched by how quaint, clean and historic it is. It is predominantly African American and agricultural. Vienna is a lead producer of cotton, peanuts and tree seedlings. The courthouse building was constructed in 1892.
Tiny barber shop building on the outskirts of town..
Beautiful mural depicting 1930s Vienna on the side of the general store, with a Coca-Cola sign no less..
There is an annual BBQ contest to bring in tourism, the Big Pig Jig. The contest is actually the oldest BBQ competition in Georgia, and the largest in the Southeast. The Georgia State Cotton Museum is also located in Vienna. All of this I discovered by googling the name of the town while driving through. I wanted to know where we were and the history of the town. The most fascinating thing I found were excerpts of historic narratives of slaves where Vienna is located, Dooly County. The interviews took place in the mid 1930s. If you would like to read them, they can be found here. Slavery is one thing that always comes to my mind when driving around parts of the South. That piece of it’s history is so painful, and yet crucial to revisit so it is never forgotten.
On a lighter note, we also cannot help but notice huge religious billboards while driving through parts of Southern Georgia and Northern Florida. Our personal favorite is one we have nicknamed “Rambo Jesus,” because of the fire, tanks, helicopter and guns. We look for it each time we drive that stretch of highway 75. Not sure what the message is, but it’s amusing. Especially when combined with seafood!
Another landmark from our road trips South is a huge Confederate flag that flies over Interstate 75 in Tampa, Florida. It is always shocking to see. It used to be even larger and the traditional red and blue symbol, but now it has been changed to a smaller white flag with the Confederate symbol in one corner. Many people have obviously been offended by it. Unfortunately since it flies on private land, the city can’t do anything about it.
Last but not least are the huge old trees common to the South, draped in Spanish moss. We don’t have it as far North as Atlanta, but nothing says you are in the South like Spanish moss. This tree was next to a gas station and I couldn’t help but take a photo and wonder how many decades or even centuries it has stood there.
That’s it for the road trip portion, next up.. Sanibel! Until then I will leave you with this..