On a lark – almost entirely because we’d never been there before – Stephen and I spent the past weekend in Rome, Georgia. Now, I’m already way ahead of you.
Though I have not held a copy of Esquire magazine in probably decades, light research this morning reveals that the magazine is still publishing their annual ‘Dubious Achievement Awards’ issue. If you’re not familiar with the awards, they are titled ad hoc, sendup fashion, to suit whatever dubiousness is being spotlighted.
From a late Sixties collection, I recall two awards, one called ’Oxymoron I’, and the other, ’Oxymoron II’. The first award went to ‘Athens, Georgia’. (We live in Athens, Georgia.) The second, to ‘Rome, Georgia’. I should mention that they spared Oxford, Mississippi, I suppose out of respect for native William Faulkner.
As a Georgia native, I used to be very touchy about standard-issue media portrayals of the South. For years, I was essentially a goodwill ambassador for Dixie, my mantra: ‘It’s not really like that’. So naturally, those Athens/Rome bits got under my skin.
Though I cannot tell you when my Road-to-Damascus moment occurred, I finally realized that it was exactly like that. Now snarky references roll right off my back. Hold forth, if you are so inclined, I will not mind.
Rome, Georgia is situated on seven hills (!) in the north-west of the state. Like so many small cities whose textile industries sailed off to Asia late last century, Rome is still in the process of reimagining itself. Home to Berry College (click), founded in 1902, Berry’s original Gothic Revival campus (Henry Ford wrote the check for the buildings in the Twenties) could be mistaken for Hogwarts.
Anyway, our hotel was lovely, we ate well, we strolled — and out on one stroll, spotted a familiar statue, installed in front of City Hall. A gift to the city, as it turns out, from Benito Mussolini in 1929. What can one say.
When we happened upon City Hall Saturday evening, a children’s dance recital was forming up in the auditorium inside the building. (Look closely.)
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Also, vide this photo Stephen snapped of me this weekend. Obviously the camera loves me, even while blowing a raspberry. That means… oh, never mind.
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