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Bearcat roams the Hill Country
March 23, 2005

            There I was on a January day in Georgetown.  It wasn't cold and blustery January style; it was warm, sunny, windy and stretching up toward 80 degrees.  But I wasn't in Georgetown, Georgia looking west toward Alabama across the Chattahoochee.

            Nope, I was in Texas, standing where Indians once camped on the banks of the San Gabriel River and looking out toward the lonely and rugged Texas hill country across the wind-torn path of the fabled Old Chisholm Trail.

            I had a meeting in Austin (about 45 miles away), and whenever I get that close I always head for one of my favorite Texas towns and some of my favorite in the world people--my pals Florence and Barry Gould.  (They've visited Bainbridge--and the feeling is mutual!) And I can't forget the dogs --  Blue, the Australian herder and Camo, the gorgeous leopard Catahoula, with whom I am in love.

            On that bright Monday morning, Florence took me to explore and enjoy downtown Georgetown.  Although the city is a = youngster compared to Bainbridge (it was established in 1848) and is considerably larger, with a population nudging 30,000, the two have lots in common.  They both are Main Street Cities.  Georgetown was the first Texas City to win the Great American Main Street Award for successful downtown revitalization. Sound familiar?  It should.  Clever shops selling antiques, gifts, clothing and, of course my favorite, books cluster around the square and down the surrounding streets.

            It's a great place to visit.  At my stop at the Visitor's Center, later in the week, charming hostesses Betty Ann Sensabaugh and Dolores Doering told me a little more about it.  The town was indeed a stop on the Old Chisholm Trial.  Later on, in 1878 when the railroad came, it grew into a thriving trade center.  The time to visit is in April, for Georgetown is the Red Poppy Capital of Texas.

            A homesick young soldier in the American Expeditionary Forces in Europe during World War I sent poppy seeds --  the red Flanders Fields variety --  home to his mother.  She planted them and she shared them.  Every April Georgetown blazes with their glowing, silken blooms.  Now they've been joined by numerous American poppy varieties and, naturally, the gorgeous Texas bluebonnets and Indian paintbrush.  No wonder they host the Red Poppy Festival at the end of April.

            Browsing those shops is a good way to perk up an appetite.  I knew it was going to be a good visit when I looked at the first two items on the menu at the Down the Alley Bistro.   Patricia's Delight followed by Flo's Fav!  It was meant to be.  The only problem was there wasn't enough time --  we had to head north to Austin.

            The next morning while Florence attended a committee meeting (Guess what!  Georgetown has a music festival.), I headed back for more exploring around the Square.  I spent way too much time in the Hill Country Book Store before I headed back to Treasures, one of my first stops.  I'd seen a salad dressing cruet that our resident salad chef was going to love.  Now it was time to buy.

            I told the friendly owner to use extra bubble wrap because it had to go a long way.

            "Where are you from?" she asked.

            I took the easy way out and said, "Near Tallahassee."  It saves giving the geography lesson.

            "Really," she responded, "I lived in a Havana for a while when I was small."

            "Actually, I'm from north of there.  Just across the state line in Bainbridge."

            Silence.  Her face froze in surprise.  More silence, for what seem like a long time.  Then she broke into a smile.

            "I went to Bainbridge High.  We're having a reunion.  Oh, it's so good to talk to someone from Bainbridge."  And talk we did for quite awhile.

            Who remembers Mikie (for Michele) Miller of the BHS class of '62?

            She remembers lots of you and called the names of Gene Miller, Kay Rollins and Charles Palmer.  Like so many Bainbridgers at that time, her dad Sam Miller worked for Southern Airways.  (Her mom was Neta.)  Southern Airways closed down, and the family moved to Tennessee shortly before Mikie graduated.  But that doesn't matter.

            "I'm definitely a member of the class of  '62," she declared.  Then she shared some favorite Bainbridge memories --  what else? Hamburgers at Bram's.  She remembers the French fries and cherry Pepsi.  "Nothing good for us."  Waterskiing on the Flint, great trips to Panama City Beach. 

            Then Mikie quickly added what she remembers --  and misses the very most!

            "Boiled peanuts!  I can't get boiled peanuts, and I do love them!"  No wonder she's planning on coming to the reunion during River Days this May.  She'll get the chance at plenty of those peanuts. (Please note, reunion committee.)

            Mikie brought me up to date on her life since the Bainbridge days.  After a stay in Tennessee, Southern Airways offered Sam a move to New Orleans, but he said, "No way," and they ended up, still with Southern, at Fort Wolters near Mineral Wells, Texas.  There they reunited with several families they had known in Bainbridge.  That's when Mikie became a Texas girl.  She graduated from St. Edward's University in Austin and then worked for many years for the Texas Department of Education.  But for the last several years, she and husband Charlie Barton have made their home in Georgetown and their joy and their work the delightful Treasures on the Square.

            If you are ever in Georgetown, drop by 112 West 8th and give the Bartons a "hello" from home.  If you want to drop Mikie a note, the zip code is 78626.

            Florence had welcomed me with a delightful and light Key Lime Jell-O pie.  And she shared the recipe.  I made some changes, substituting a chocolate cookie crust for her graham cracker one and exchanging oranges for lime.

Georgetown Jell-O Pie

1 package (4 servings) no-sugar Orange Jell-O

1/4 cup boiling water

2 cartons low-fat Mandarin Orange yoghurt

1 carton no-fat Cool Whip

1 prepared chocolate cookie pie crust

            Dissolve the Jell-O in boiling water, and then whip in the yoghurt.  When it is thoroughly mixed, fold in the Cool Whip and pour into the pie shell.  Refrigerate at least 2 hours or overnight.  Garnish with mandarin orange slices, or, if you are lucky, fresh Satsuma sections.

            If you'd like to know more about Georgetown, go to http://www.visitgeorgetown.com/. To learn more about the beautiful Catahoula dogs, visit www.catahoula.org/catahoula.html.

           


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