In-Laws and Courthouses – Thomaston, GA

Q -What do old courthouses and in-laws have in common?

A – The best ones are in Georgia.

After spending several days with Rob and Betsy and “The Weekend” with all the kids, I packed up the boys, left the dog and took off for Georgia. It was a ten-and-a-half hour drive, but what is that compared to 44? Long, that’s what. It was worth it though. Charlotte and Barney spoil me in so many little ways. I didn’t spend enough time with them early in our marriage to fully appreciate their personalities, but when Charlotte came to nurse me back to health and take care of the family after my near-death run in with MRSA in Germany I finally got to really know her and I will always be thankful for that. This summer I arrived at their house bone weary and ready to power down. They were very understanding and we spent several mellow days doing very little.

I ate a lot of peaches and even wrote about them on The Kitchen Catwalk.

The boys spent several afternoons swimming at Barney’s brother’s house which is a beautiful oasis on a country road.

I dread the day when they decide they’re too old for this sort of shot.

For extra excitement one afternoon, I locked the keys in the van while the boys were in the pool. Not a proud moment, but Charlotte called the police department to see if anything could be done and a kindly Sherriff’s deputy showed up within half an hour to pick the lock. You know you’re in a friendly place when the law-enforcement is happily helping you break into your car.

Ric’s niece brought her adorable son over for a visit during our stay. Josh and Si introduced him to wielding a light saber in the backyard heat.

One evening, the boys got to go see Cars 2 at the little movie theatre there in town – all by themselves. The Ritz is a cute little place run by a couple that Charlotte and Barney know from church and the lobby hosts a wonderful painting by the couple’s son. Who knows how many undiscovered treasures the small towns of America contain?

While the boys were watching the movie Charlotte and I took a stroll around the courthouse square. The layout is particularly striking and the town does a nice job of keeping things looking tidy around the edges in spite of the fact that small business of yesteryear are struggling to stay afloat.

The courthouse itself presents an identical façade from every direction, so there is no backside.

I think it’s a charming old building in an age when most county business can be conducted from a laptop.

Its crowning clock testifies to the fact that time marches on, past the days of such grand architectural detail in small towns.

Enormous flags were rippling in the breeze on each face of the building. At first I was annoyed that I couldn’t get a picture of the bare columns, but upon reflection I’m quite content with the photos as they are. A city that hangs such flags proclaims hope in the ongoing triumph of all that is good and glorious in America and I applaud.

Several monuments adorn the surrounding lawns. There is one dedicated to fallen men of each war to touch this place.

This one reminds me that I am in the Deep South, and makes me so thankful for the flags of fifty stars snapping in the background. As an outsider I cringe a bit at the rebel flag, especially when it’s displayed behind a gun rack in a pickup truck, but I marvel and rejoice that patriotism for our United States runs so deeply in a region where secessionism once ruled and that a monument like this can stand in peace after the outcome of such a brutal war. Only in America.

Amidst the other war monuments, one finds a unique artifact. Here is the inscription:

I patted a hand against this iron ball and found myself a bit in awe of the explosive power it must have taken to hurl such an object through the air. When I asked Charlotte for more details about how it came to sit on the Upson County Courthouse square she simply shrugged. I was hoping for a romantic local legend.

But, there it is.

And, time marches on.

As I retraced my steps from Georgia to Virginia on the next leg of my summer wanderings I stopped to photograph two other small-town courthouses that I passed on my way back to the interstate. These are the ones that just happened to be along my path, and I submit them to you now as evidence that Georgia really does have a corner on this particular brand of rural grandeur.

This is the Monroe County Courthouse in Forsyth, Georgia – simply gorgeous.

Can you picture the architect’s sketches of this clock tower? Maybe his daughter was looking over his shoulder, imagining herself on that balcony?

And, here you have the Jasper County Courthouse in Monticello, Georgia where there isn’t much of a square but the building is still impressive.

And, last but not least there was one more in Eatonton, the Putnam County Courthouse that I saw on the way in but missed on the way out thanks to a GPS which has no appreciation for scenic detours. Here is the photo from the Magistrate Court’s website though. I’m sure they won’t mind the positive publicity.

Now, I rest my case on courthouses and offer a hearty thanks to my mother and father in-law for the spot of tranquility in my summer travels!

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