THOM 10 | Spring / Summer 2018

ThomArts

Volume 6 | issue 1

SPRING/SUMMER 2018


Volume 6 | Issue 1

Spring/Summer 2018

Publisher

Thomasville Center for the Arts

Editor

Michele Arwood

CREATIVE Director

Haile McCollum

Managing Editor

Margret Brinson

MARKETING Director

Jenny Dell

Account ExecutiveS

Anna Day

Joanne Thomas

COPY EDITOR

Emmy Táncsics

GRAPHIC DESIGNER

Lindsey Strippoli

Photographers

Genevieve de Manio

Abby Mims Faircloth

Joseph Hasbrouk

Shelly Lang

Sandrine Lee

Juan Pont Lezica

Jim McGuire

Alicia Osborne

Ronnie p0p

Daniel Shippey

5

Writers

Michele Arwood

Stephanie Burt

Andrea Goto

Annie B. Jones

thomasvillearts.org

600 E. Washington St., Thomasville, GA

229.226.0588

27


contents

Spring/Summer 2018

5 10 Ascending Artists

Through the Lens of Ronnie p0p

27 A Mighty Fine Town

10 Ideas That Made a Difference

35 When We Were 10

35

41 THOM's GUIDE

97 Moving On Up

10 Musical Moments with

Charlie Robison & Verlon Thompson

103 Project X

105 Get Outta Town

10 Stops in 10 Hours

Between Thomasville and New Orleans

113 Featured Artist

97

Cover photo by

Angela Kiminas


Letter From

the Editor

l. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9.

As I count the issues of THOM stacked on my

table, I’m taken back five years, to when four

friends regularly met around another table with

no agenda but to talk about others’ ideas and our

visions for Thomasville. We wanted to create a

space for ideas to flourish without any specific

outcome in mind. We were just good friends

enjoying good, uninhibited conversations.

THOM was conceived around that table, and

with this printing we add number 10 to the

stack. We set out to tell the stories of the people

shaping the life of our city, because we believe

that any town’s strong future largely depends on

its thinkers, innovators, explorers and artists.

As we celebrate our 10th issue, our city is

experiencing a big shift—as all cities do. It’s

exhilarating and evolutionary. Our young

people are returning home to start businesses

and raise families; our most active citizens are

educating themselves about how to build a

stronger community; a generation that left an

indelible stamp on Thomasville is passing on;

and our conference tables are more diverse than

ever, thanks in part to the businesses that are

attracting people from all parts of the world. I’m

more certain today than I was five years ago that

the key to keeping our town’s successes coming

lies in the minds of the creative thinkers who

will guide us through this new era.

In honor of our 10th issue, we’re exploring the

Power of Ten. We hope you will celebrate with us

by having a conversation with someone about

any of the stories in this issue. Talk about the

marks our 10 ascending artists are making on

our city. Reminisce about yourself as a 10-yearold,

and consider whether the person you are

today resembles who you were then. Get up close

and personal and talk about a time when you

ventured away from home and how it changed

the way you saw the world. Share stories about

a period in Thomasville’s history that made our

city what it is today.

As we were wrapping up this issue, I was

fortunate to spend time with 10 of our city’s

greatest storytellers as they recalled moments in

the past that made a difference for Thomasville.

Each conversation lasted more than an hour,

but the magic invariably happened in the last 10

minutes, when the recorder was turned off.

We were just good friends enjoying good,

uninhibited conversations.

Michele Arwood

Executive Director

Thomasville Center

for the Arts

3


THOM

THOM | SPRING/SUMMER 2017

4


RON

N I E

P0P

I was born in the South

We lost my dad when I was two

Those events helped form the artist

On the pages in front of you

I was raised by women

Steel magnolias, Georgia peaches

So I act a little feminine

And rock strong, masculine features

I can dance

Born to entertain you

Grab a camera, click

I'm a supermodel, too

My passion is creation

I'm gonna share it with this nation

Even if I do it alone

I can be my validation

I don't need labels

I define myself

Because in my life

My perception beats everything else.

5


Concepted &

Photographed by

Ronnie p0p

I feel that my perspective, the

unique way I witness this world,

is the greatest gift I’m given.

But I only realized that gift once

I became aware of the fact my

perspective is one of many, and

everyone else’s has just as much

value. I strive to show the messy

and sometimes complex, dark

beauty in the world because

that’s how I see it. It’s not like

the stories we read when we

are kids; it’s not clear-cut and

clean. Beauty comes from a more

complicated, less friendly place

to get where it is. Be it through

dance, photography or music,

I constantly find myself more

enamored with the beauty I find

in art and the artists who create.

10 Ascending

through the Lens

of Ronnie p0p

6


I am...

a marriage of contradictions. I’d love to live a large, busy life, winning

hearts along the way with a mic and a smile. On the other hand, I can see

myself becoming a curmudgeonly hermit who sings to her houseplants

and hardly sees a soul. My life is balanced by the pendulum swing, and my

mind, stuck somewhere in between.

SAM ARWOOD

Singer and songwriter |

mars.on.the.earth

7


S A M

ARW

OOD

8


ALL

E N

CHE

NEY

9


I am...

a producer. A storyteller. A creative spirit wrapped in a logical mind, with

the former often trumping the latter. Happiest when I’m designing, writing

or building something, I strive to inspire and to create beauty and kindness

in everything I do. I believe life is measured most by what we put into the

world, not what we take from it, as well as how we treat others along the

way. I’m afraid not of failure but rather of not trying at all. Every day,

I wake up competing only with myself, because the strongest version of

me is the best I can give to the world.

ALLEN CHENEY

Partner, producer, development executive | Mountview Films

10


I am...

a teacher-emcee who travels the globe in search of the next

Shakespeare. I teach Shakespeare through hip-hop music as The Sonnet

Man. A grade-A misfit slash introverted performance artist. I’m also

an actor and playwright who composes plays in rhyme. “The jack of

all trades, / and I plan to ace them all. / The king in my own world / of

scribbling verses for my future queen. / Just playing the game with the

cards I was dealt.”

Devon Glover

Writer-artist; The Sonnet Man | SonnetMan.com

11


D E

V

ON

GL

OV

ER

12


KAT

HER

INE

HUNT

13


I am...

not there yet, but it’s a process. I started painting as a teenager and then

moved into makeup artistry after high school. I was pulled away from

my craft as life filled my time with other things (children, bachelor’s

degree in criminology from FSU, master’s degree in rehabilitation

counseling). Now, through getting back to my art, I’ve realized that

creativity is a large facet of my personality that needs to be exercised

and expressed, otherwise the stifled energy churns and creates anxiety.

So you could say I’ve come back to my art in an attempt to be more

balanced and healthy.

KATHERINE HUNT

Makeup artist |

brushesb4bros

14


I am...

a wildflower. Nature and creativity come together to provide a spiritual

home for me. This peaceful place is where I find and reconnect with

parts of myself that I have lost along the journey of my life. This place is

where I feel close to people I’ve loved and lost. This place refuels my soul!

Therefore I have made it my career. I am delicate but resilient, untamed

but reliable, and mostly wild.

SARA ANDERS

Owner and designer, Wildflower Interiors

Etsy.com/shop/WildflowerInteriors |

Wildflower Interiors

15


SA

R A

AN

DE

R S

16


KEN

YA

CA

RT

ER

17


I am...

a beautiful spirit embraced by a phenomenal soul. I am a survivor who

has overcome many obstacles. My days start off with me knowing I can

win any battle as long as I keep God first. I am a chainbreaker. I am a

woman who knows the power she possesses. I am Kenya.

KENYA CARTER

Designer, Courtney’s Couture

courtneyscouture.myshopify.com |

debonairestatusboutique

18


I am...

an endless funnel. Perceiving and producing. Inspired by the thought of

inspiration. I am what is labeled eclectic. I consume from all and push

out for all. I am a star on the brink of explosion; I am alive in the fourth

dimension, growing taller, wider and deeper over the span of my lifetime.

MC-KLAY

Rapper | @MC-KlayOfficial | mcclay.caulley

19


MC-

KL

AY

20


JA

K I

PR

ES

HA

21


I am...

passion. I am a dreamer. I am a woman who is full of life and energy.

I create things that come to me in my dreams or as visions throughout

the day. I am bold in my creations and unafraid. I am fierce in all

my ways of expression and unapologetic about it. I am magic that

transcends all my designs, which are created to touch the hearts of all

who see them. I am a rebellious spirit that flows with the wind. My style

cannot be defined. It simply is who I was created to be. I am the strength

that came from being misunderstood, looked at strangely, being judged

because of lack of understanding. I am true, true to myself and to all I

aspire to be.

JAKI PRESHA

Founder and creator, Jaki Jeans |

Tru2MeJaki

22


I am...

a singer, songwriter and guitarist who’s trying to connect with people

and figure out my own place in the world through a mix of folk, rock and

soul. That’s also the most pretentious thing I’ve ever said about myself.

I’m just a musician, man. I’m Blade Geer.

Blade Geer

Musician | bladegeer.com |

bladegeer

23


BL

A

D E

GE

ER

24


SAR

A H

DA

VIS

25


I am...

a ceramicist. Using wheel-throwing and hand-building techniques, I

make functional wares for the home and body. I am inspired by the

colors and textures of the Earth, and these two things play a large

role in my work. Making with clay, I feel a deep connection to the

Earth and the environment. I use a variety of clays to replicate the

colors and soils of the Earth as they commonly appear in natural

habitats. The layers of various colors depict the colors and natural

beauty of layered strata in rocks. Much like the layers of the Earth, no

two pieces are exactly the same.

sARAH DAVIS

Ceramicist | Skdceramics.com |

skdceramics

26


a mighty

Everyone has a story

to tell. Especially when

you ask them what

made Thomasville what

it is today. Meet 10

of our city’s greatest

storytellers, who told us

about ideas they believe

made a difference. I

learned so much from

my time with them,

but there’s one thing I’ll

never forget: This is one

fine city, and behind it are

some fine people.

fine town

27


As told to

Michele Arwood

Photography courtesy of

The Thomasville

History Center

TOM BERRY

The decision by our

city, in 1908, to accept a

contribution from R.H.

Neel and other citizens to

buy the dynamo generator

was a turning point for

Thomasville. I believe

it cost the city $32,000 and they

paid 10 percent of that. Originally

it only provided for centralized

water pumping and street lighting

downtown but grew to a utilities

department that equipped

Thomasville to become financially

independent. It provided for a

revenue stream that allowed us

to have control over our economic

development. It helped attract

manufacturing, retail and small

business, and that diversity is what

makes our economy successful.

Today it means we reap more than

$9 million each year in dividends

that support our police, fire and

public works departments. It

also gives us the flexibility to say

to industry and other business,

“We can do things to get you here

and keep you here.”

But it’s what followed the

development of our utility

company that makes Thomasville

special. The progress with our

utilities provided opportunities for

businesses and large landowners.

They moved their families here and

created a leadership base critical to

the advancement of our city. They

were businesspeople who were

certainly interested in growing their

businesses, but they were unique

because they tied their interests to

the community’s. They knew that

if the community succeeded, they

would succeed. They were willing to

share their resources to make our

community work, and that base of

leadership is still here today.

28


RICK IVEY

A few individuals

and moments in time

stand out, but since I

can’t talk about them

all, I’ll talk about one.

Back in the mid-

1930s, a group came up with

the idea for a community

concert series. Thankfully,

several of them, including

Emily Searcy and Doris and

Osco Hughes, were a bit more

than the average music lovers

and had strong connections in

the upper echelons of music.

Their idea developed into the

Thomasville Entertainment

Foundation, which aimed

to bring world-renowned

artists to perform in this

community. The very first

offering was an amazing one,

considering this was a small

town in south Georgia: Agnes

Davis, a renowned soprano

from the Metropolitan Opera

who had recently performed

29

as America’s gift at the

Jubilee Celebration of

King George V and Queen

Mary in London. That first

TEF concert, held in what

we now call the MacIntyre

Park auditorium, was on

January 18, 1937, and the

rest is history.

The discussion among

a handful of music lovers

changed this community

forever and fostered

a love and appreciation

of the arts that is second

to none. It prepared the

soil and laid the roots for

the development of the

Thomasville Center for

the Arts, the Thomasville

Music & Drama Troupe,

Thomasville On Stage &

Co. and the South Georgia

Ballet, among others.

VANN MIDDLETON

When I think

about what makes

Thomasville unique,

I think of a time

when a young man

from New York

[City] came here

and established

Chinquapin

Plantation. His name was

Jack Archbold, and he

was the son of one of the

leaders of Standard Oil,

John D. Archbold. During

his years in Thomasville,

he became an involved

citizen and an avid hunter.

He was a quiet guy, and he

loved to bird hunt. Around

1920 he had an attack of

acute appendicitis and had

emergency surgery at the

Thomasville City Hospital.

Legend has it he already

planned to build a hospital

in New York as tribute to

his father, but following


his surgery he thought a

new hospital could make a

difference in our small city.

He was a businessman,

though, and knew he

couldn’t be the only one

to support it. There had

to be community buy-in;

so in 1923 he created the

Archbold Corporation,

an entity, composed of

shareholders, that would

own and support the

not-for-profit hospital.

Jack ended up spending

almost $1 million of his

own money to build, staff

and equip the very finest

hospital in the South, which

opened to great fanfare in

1925. Our community takes

pride in Archbold Hospital,

and because of that we are

able to recruit top-notch

physicians. He was quite

the visionary.

DON SIMMS

I remember a

time around the

end of the Second

World War. Europe

was devastated,

and people were

starving. President

Eisenhower made an appeal

to the United States to adopt

ravaged communities in

Europe. Will Watt was

mayor of Thomasville

at the time and organized

our community to send

a planeload of food to

northern Germany.

That effort led Will to develop

a program that has had

tremendous impact all over

the world. He believed the

way you convert enemies is

to make them your friends,

so in 1946 he developed

the Georgia Rotary Student

Program to bring students

together from countries

across the globe to promote

peace. Thomasville fully

embraced that program,

and I believe we now bring

almost 60 students to

Georgia each year. When

you hear the testimonials of

these young people, you hear

profound impact.

I have a quote by Plato on

my desk: “What is honored

in a country is what will

be cultivated there.” Will

was part of a generation

of people who honored

the spirit of friendship

and giving, and their work

created a lasting culture in

Thomasville. Will epitomized

that spirit. It was like it was

a sense of duty for him and

others. It’s an important part

of who we are today.

30


Nathaniel Abrams

Ben Corbett

was a retired

college professor

who owned a

shop down in

the Bottom on

Jackson Street.

I met him when

I came home after

college. He took a

shine to me, and we would

talk about great writers and

literature. Listening to him

was like sitting at the foot

of a scholar. He was honest

and forward-thinking.

And he was trusted. Over

time he connected us

to people in town. One

night this led to us riding

along with the police to

learn more about their

work. As happenstance

would have it, there was a

shooting. When we arrived

at the scene, a crowd

had gathered. Allegedly

a woman had

been shot in the

leg by an officer.

We traveled

with her to the

hospital, where

we learned from

an X-ray that the

bullet was fired

from a 25-caliber

weapon. The

police didn’t

carry that type

of weapon, so

Ben and some

other men went

back to Jackson

Street to talk with the

community. Because

they were devoted to

building bridges, people

listened. It was a “Let’s

work together to make

this better” spirit with

our police department.

The officers, people like

Augustus Flowers and

Jack Bell, were legends

in our community. They

kept us on course and

encouraged progress.

I think the work the men

of that era did to build

relationships created

an environment where

violence was never

an option. We didn’t

experience what other

communities did during

turbulent times. Very

quietly, without frontpage

fanfare, the leaders

in our community made

it happen.

THERESA BROWN

Thomasville has always

had wide-reaching

connections, probably

starting with the resort

era of the late 19th

century. We often refer

to the “long arm” of

Thomasville because of

the many relationships

with people all around the world.

I think this has created a unique

lifestyle and appreciation for

hospitality here which is rare for

such a small town.

The women of Thomasville have

carried forth a sense of gracious

living by warmly welcoming

people and caring for our

community. It’s “Y’all come” in an

elegant way. I remember as a little

girl getting to go to Elva Scott’s big

house on Myrtle Drive when her

daughter married, and they had

an elegant reception on the lawn

with champagne flowing. I also

remember she and Josie Neel were

31


among a group who were

invited to decorate the

White House for Jimmy

Carter’s inauguration.

Each was preassigned

a room, and Elva chose

the oval-shaped Blue

Room. She took an entire

blue wardrobe with her,

and on the night of the

inaugural ball she wore a

long blue knit dress with

a fox collar on the jacket.

I covered the last of the

five receptions the day

after the inauguration,

the Peanut Brigade

Reception for Georgians, for the

Times-Enterprise to photograph

the Thomasvillians under the

Presidential Seal shaking hands

with the Carters.

My mother, Ames Watkins

Kindred, entertained the

Washington press when they

came with President Eisenhower

six times in the 1950s. Her college

roommate was the women’s

editor of the Washington Evening

Star, and she [Lee Walsh] told

all, “Ames will take care of you”!

Friends like Connie Jones and

Mercer Watt gathered camellias

predawn for them to take back

home. Those were gracious times

in our history, and it set the

standard for who we are today.

It also set the pace for

volunteering in our community.

Yes, they [the Thomasville

women] were entertaining, but

they were really doing things and

making the town better.

Jamie Oglesby

I want to tell you

a story about

the Explorers

Boy Scout Post

306. Most people

don’t know much

about it. Clyde

Anderson was a

railroad detective

with the Seaboard Coastline

and the local scoutmaster

in the ’70s. He would open

our meetings with the

Pledge of Allegiance and go

over the logistics for where

we were going: when to be

there, who was riding with

who. He would let us run

wild in the woods and took

us coon hunting, deep-sea

fishing and camping. He

taught us to repair our boat

motors, clean deer and

respect firearms. Maybe

the best things he taught

us were also the simplest:

Be resourceful, mind your

manners,

care for your

things, clean

up your

mess, care

about others

and your

environment.

And he taught

us how to

survive in the

woods if we

were left on

our own. So

many kids

today spend

all of their

free time on computers

and phones, and I often

wonder if they could

survive in times of crisis.

Over time, I believe,

about 240 high school

boys went through the

program. If you think

about it, that’s a lot

for a small town like

Thomasville. He [Clyde]

unified and taught a

generation of guys who

today are raising the

young men who will care

for our city tomorrow.

People like to talk about

the big, obvious things

that make Thomasville

what it is. I think little

things, like what Clyde

did, are what really holds

our community together.

32


Fran Milberg

I came to

Thomasville in

1970, when my

husband, Rob, took

his first job. I really

didn’t want to

come here.

I was a graduate

of the University

of Miami and an outspoken

Yankee through and

through. Over time our

beautiful downtown

became an important part

of my daily life. I believed

our downtown was critical

to the viability of our city,

so I channeled my energy

into working with others

to develop and promote

it. That was an important

time in our history. We

were one of the first Main

Street programs in the

country, and it shows. I give

Tom Berry, our former city

manager, a lot of credit for

where we are today. He

is such a visionary. While

he was working through

the city to provide grants

for the storefronts,

Marguerite Williams was

preserving our buildings

and the Downtown

Development Authority

was funding major

projects. Our downtown

began to thrive because

of the right mix of

people: people with

money to invest, people

with ideas and people

who were willing to

speak up. I think it’s

important to remember

that we are a living,

growing community and

over time things change.

The power is in each

person building on the

work of those who came

before them. Look at how

far we have come.

My grandfather

King Dennis

Hadley worked

at Pebble Hill

Plantation for

57 years. We

were one of

the first black

families who

worked there

but chose to live

in the city.

I remember a time around

1970 when I was home

from college and we went

to a Christmas event at

Pebble Hill. Our family

was very musical, so we

made up the choir. We

were singing when all

of the sudden the doors

swung open and we heard

“All rise.” There at the

door stood Mr. Parker

[Poe] and Miss Pansy.

Now remember, I had just

come home from college,

'

AndRE Hadley Marria

33


where we were marching

and fighting for things to

be right. So when that door

opened I was thinking to

myself, “I am not standing

up.” My aunt gave me

a hard nudge and told

me to “stand up for your

grandfather.” I did, but I

didn’t want to. At the end

of the program everyone

gathered around Miss Pansy

as she gave out envelopes.

Inside was a five-dollar bill.

I was insulted by the money

and threw it on the ground.

As we left her presence I

retrieved it. Thank God my

grandfather didn’t see any

of that. My aunt proceeded

to give me a history lesson.

“I need you to understand

one thing. Miss Pansy

has been very kind to our

family. She sent many of

your aunts and uncles to

college. Remember when

you would ride out to

their house on Sundays

with your grandparents?

They never left without an

envelope, and inside that

envelope was the money

that paid for their college.”

I’ve often wondered how

many others she sent to

school. Our generation

heard the stories and

learned that despite racial

difference, people really do

care about you. I think that

has made a difference in

Thomasville.

ANDY JONES

When our city schools

first integrated,

we learned a lot

about what makes

Thomasville special.

I was one of the black

teachers who moved

from Susie Dunlap School to

teach at East Side [High School].

I was a seventh-grade science

teacher at the time, and we

knew how important it was

for us to do this right. Our

school leadership wanted to

be the best system in the state,

and they were determined to

bring the teachers together in

a positive way. The first year

went over so well, and that was

because of the character of the

people involved.

I loved my job, and I was around

others who did. We teased each

other. We talked with each

other. In our faculty meetings

we focused on how we could

make this

thing work.

We had all

worked for

the city

schools, and

we knew

our mission

and what

standards

to follow.

I worked for

the system

for 12 years,

and I don’t

remember any

major racial scuffles. After

a couple of years we had

a few walkouts, but there

wasn’t any long-term

impact. We were very

clear with parents about

the consequences if their

students walked out. The

parents bought into it

because we knew them

and we were all working

together to make it work.

Other communities were

watching us. Teachers

from other school systems

would call us and ask

how we were doing it.

It worked because of

the vision of the school

board, the leaders in our

community, the teachers

in the system and the

parents working together.

And because we really

cared for the kids.

34


WHEN

WE

WERE

10

Written by

Annie B. Jones

Photographed by

Abby Mims Faircloth

35


36


Is who we are as

children a mark of who

we will one day become?

BEN

“Give me a child until he is seven, and I will

show you the man.” It’s a Jesuit saying, the

subject of a popular British documentary film

series and enduring fodder for teachers, social

scientists and religious leaders.

Its premise elicits a simple question: Is who

we are as children an indication of who we will

one day become?

AVERY

CLAIRE

When I was 10 years old, I wore Fila tennis

shoes, just like basketball star Grant Hill. At

four feet three inches tall, I was certain I had a

future in the newly formed WNBA. I subscribed

to American Girl magazine, worked with my

mom to plan a summer camp for neighborhood

kids and, on a family vacation, visited Sea

World and cried in front of the manatee exhibit.

On our return home I promptly wrote President

Bill Clinton asking for his help in saving the

endangered manatees.

At 10 years of age, I was confident and secure,

never wavering in my beliefs, never unsure

about what I might one day be. Insecurities and

uncertainties came later, but for those magical

middle years I was safe, and I could dream and

play and slowly practice the art of becoming.

At 32, I am not an environmental scientist

or a point guard for the WNBA. But the

characteristics that produced those convictions

remain. My 10-year-old self, I am certain, would

recognize the woman I am now.

37

DODIE

If who we are when we are young shows us

who we ultimately become, I wonder: Can our

communities’ children give us a glimpse of our

cities’ futures?


Could the 10-year-olds of today’s Thomasville

hold the secrets of our future?

Freckle-faced and bespectacled Ben Watt

strides into The Bookshelf as if he owned the

place, asking if we can please talk in private;

he has plenty to say, but he wants to make

sure it can be shared away from the prying

eyes of customers (and, I suspect, his mother).

Once settled into my office, with the

microphone switched on, Ben begins to share

his thoughts on local government, school

extracurricular activities and popular middlegrade

novelist Rick Riordan. “Even if my

parents say ‘Go to bed,’ I sometimes bring a

flashlight into my bed and keep on reading,”

says this young man after my own heart.

EVA

Ben is a curious, inquisitive, well-read

fifth grader, but he is not unusual. Every

10-year-old I interviewed was well-informed,

thoughtful and future oriented.

Our children, it turns out, are paying

attention. And they have many ideas for how

our cities and communities might run a little

better.

“I really like designing things,” Ben says as

we chat about the businesses he’d love to

see Thomasville bring to its downtown. “If

somebody asked me to design a building, they

wouldn’t regret it. I’d probably be a really good

architect.”

This is the kind of confidence, the kind of

swagger, I wish I could bottle and distribute

to every insecure adult I know. Think of all

the things we could get done politically and

culturally with this can-do attitude, this

absolute self-assuredness.

I see the same fierce tenacity in Avery

Claire Bentley, a quiet nine-year-old with

entrepreneurial aspirations.

DESMOND

Could the

10-year-olds

of today’s

Thomasville

hold the

secrets of our

future?

38


“It’s not really a business; it’s a building,” she

explains, detailing her plans to transform an empty

storefront on Remington Avenue. The corner store,

she says, is the perfect spot to sell the jewelry she

creates. She wore one of her creations, a pretty

pink bracelet, to our interview and, like any good

businesswoman, promptly presented me with one

of my own.

Both Avery Claire and her friend Eva Nicholson

mentioned creative afternoons spent sewing with

Emily McKenna at You’re Maker and interactive art

classes with Brookwood instructor Lindsey Bailey.

While Avery Claire focuses on making jewelry,

Eva likes to dabble in all the arts: creating slime,

painting, acting in local productions.

“I want to be a judge on America’s Got Talent,” Eva

says without hesitation. “My life has prepared me. I

always tell people my opinion on everything.”

In fact, from the moment Eva sits down to chat

about life in Thomasville, she really does have an

opinion on everything. I tell her we’ll be talking

about the future of our city, and she smiles in eager

anticipation.

“Oh, gosh,” she says, taking a deep breath. “I’ve

thought about this a lot.”

And in case you are wondering, Eva really has

thought about this. Every kid I talked to has.

Nothing gets past these 10-year-olds. They notice

when businesses downtown close, when city

councilmen lose races and when buildings get

smashed into the ground. They notice because

Thomasville is their city too.

“I love to walk downtown,” says Dodie Basford,

a fourth grader at Jerger Elementary. “I’d say it’s

the prettiest downtown in the world; it’s just the

most beautiful place to live.” Dodie’s a Bookshelf

regular and an evangelist for Grassroots Coffee,

and she’s not alone among the 10-year-olds in her

39


appreciation of Thomasville’s cobblestoned streets,

massive oak trees and historic downtown.

These kids are active citizens of Thomasville, and

their hopes and dreams for our city’s future matter

deeply. What’s perhaps most surprising of all, at

least to this grown-up? Their plans for our town are

entirely doable.

“I hope people find some of the abandoned places

in our town and give them stores and make them

beautiful,” Dodie says. “We can always make things

even better.”

That’s something a lot of the kids expressed. While

adults always seem content with the way things are,

these fourth and fifth graders seem concerned that

Thomasville will get stuck.

“I hope in the future Thomasville still has its

downtown stores, but I hope we can grow and add

even more,” says Desmond Diggs, a fifth grader at

“We can always make

things even better.”

Harper Elementary School. “Once you live here you

really don’t want to leave.”

Thomasville is a city filled with historic landmarks

and artistic movers and shakers and possessing a

vibrant retail district. It turns out that the same

things adults love about our town are what kids love

about us too.

These kids are all avid readers, and the fictional

worlds they love invite us into what one student

described as “unlimited possibilities.” I like to think

that’s what these 10-year-olds see in Thomasville,

and after spending a few hours under their spell, I

think they can make those possibilities a reality in

our town. I’m rooting for them.

40


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victoriaparkthomasville.com


MOVING

ON UP

Written by

Andrea Goto

Photographed by

L3 Management & Jim McGuire

When I ask Verlon Thompson and Charlie Robison to recall

the 10 moments that most influenced their music careers,

they shower me with mentions of well-known people, places

and events. Collectively, it’s clear, they’ve made many fruitful

stops—including Thomasville to perform for Due South—on their

journeys to stardom.

The two country musicians have never stopped reaching for the

next thing—which hasn’t necessarily been a bigger label or a

fatter wallet, but rather something that got them a rung closer

to creative fulfillment, and control. Charlie and Verlon would

have you believe they’ve succeeded mainly through a series of

serendipitous steps to the top.

97


VERLON THOMPSON

Mama’s Boy. Every life begins with a mother, and in

some cases so does a career. When Verlon’s mother

got him a record player for Christmas one year, he

got lost in listening to her albums, by artists like

Loretta Lynn and Merle Haggard. Eventually, he

learned to play along on her beat-up guitar.

What’s the Frequency, Kenneth? Verlon’s mother’s

brother, Uncle Kenneth, was an early hero. His

uncle could play any song and learn it immediately.

Kenneth Ferrier landed a TV spot on the local

network out of Oklahoma City, and on Saturday

afternoons Verlon would find himself mesmerized

by his uncle playing music on the TV. “I thought,

I want to do that,” he says.

Little Big Band. When Verlon was a teenager, he

took up with a foursome of family friends whose

ages ranged from eight to 14, and together they

formed the band Little Oakies. Their first real gig

was opening for singer-songwriter Mel Tillis at the

Civic Center Auditorium in Ardmore, Oklahoma, in

1971. “That launched me.”

Tuned In. On leave from military service, which

Verlon had opted for because he felt “panicked”

about his future, he rode shotgun with a Marine

buddy on a trip through the Florida Everglades.

98


VERLON

THOMPSON

99


His friend had a collection of eight-track tapes

that was “as long as the back seat of his car.”

Jackson Browne’s “For Everyman” suddenly caught

Verlon off guard. “I asked my friend to stop the

car so I could just sit and listen for a while,” he

says. “I heard something that night in the middle

of the swamp coming out of that eight-track

player that sounded so new and different. It

wasn’t country and it wasn’t rock. It was this guy

talking about his emotions and just baring his

heart and soul. And I thought, I want to do it like

that.”

Go West, Young Man. Another buddy in the

service, Jack Riggan, heard Verlon play one night.

Jack eventually became one of Verlon’s best

friends and took on the unofficial role of his

manager. When Jack got out of the service, he

headed to Colorado and immediately saw the

locale’s potential for Verlon. “Jack said, ‘Man, you

need to come out here and play these ski towns

where people have money; you could play every

night!’” And that’s just what Verlon did.

Nashville Ho! Verlon’s Colorado bandmate Harry

Wilkinson tried his luck in Nashville and

eventually joined

up with a national artist. Like Jack, Harry saw

Verlon’s promise. “He said, ‘Verlon, did you know

they pay people in Nashville to just sit in a room

and write songs?’” Within two weeks and with

only $200 to his name, Verlon loaded up a U-Haul

and set off for Music City, where he would launch

his songwriting career.

Legend of Loretta. Verlon was working for a

landscape company and playing on Nashville’s

Music Row, trying to get in the door. The first door

that opened was Loretta Lynn’s. At 28, Verlon was

hired as a songwriter for her company. But after a

year of watching his songs get passed over for her

own, Verlon realized he was little more than a tax

write-off. He and Loretta parted ways on good terms,

and prominent songwriter Waylon Holyfield was

waiting in the wings. “The next thing I know,” Verlon

says, “my songs were out there getting recorded by

Kenny Rogers, Barbara Mandrell, Randy Travis.”

This Guy. The next level was Guy Clarke. In 1998 the

artist invited Verlon to make the album Old Friends

with him and join him on the road. Up to that point

Verlon had assumed that success meant having

a bus, a band and a video. “I was kind of feeling

empty about all that, and thanks to Guy, I figured it

out.” The big record deal would send him to play 20

minutes on a show, then rush off and talk to a disc

jockey, then go off to another show for another 20

minutes; Verlon felt he never really connected with

anybody. But with Guy “it was just the two of us

and two guitars, and we’d play these small listening

rooms where people were huddled right up around

you and wanted to hear every word you said. You’d

leave feeling like a million bucks. He changed my

entire view of the music business.”

Loving Life. While on tour with Guy, Verlon noticed

a familiar face coming to the shows—a national

television news reporter. “Demetria [Kalodimos]

was cute as the dickens,” Verlon says. “I thought it

was so cool she was a Guy Clark fan.” Then one day

Guy came into his dressing room and said, “Verlon,

Demetria likes you—so go on out there and talk to

her!” Nine years later Demetria became Verlon’s

wife.

Real Talk. Verlon cites Demetria’s faith in him as the

thing that kept him on the road when he thought

he should pack it in. He lovingly refers to her as his

inspiration. Together the couple produce Barnegie

Hall, a television series that’s equal parts interview

and musical entertainment. There Verlon sits down

with his industry friends and talks about the craft

of songwriting. Of course, they always pick up

their instruments and play. Because if Verlon has

learned anything over the years, it’s that you keep

on playing.

verlonthompson.com

100


CHARLIE

ROBISON

101


First-timers. Charlie first hit it big when he and

his younger brother, Bruce, landed a paid gig

playing at a dance at Bandera Middle School, in

Texas, in the early 1980s. Having attracted an

audience of about 100 and with $125 in their

pockets, the teenagers were hooked, and hungry

for more.

Shotgun Willie. The Memorial Day weekend

rodeo in Bandera attracted big names to its stage,

stars like Bob Wells and Hank Williams. So it was

no surprise when in 1969 Willie Nelson relocated

from Nashville to Bandera and became a regular

at the legendary honky-tonk venue Floore’s

Country Store. “My parents and grandparents, we

all loaded up in the car, and from the time I was

five years old, we’d go hear Willie,” Charlie says.

Decisions, Decisions. An All-State in football,

basketball and baseball, Charlie easily made the

transition to scholarship athlete at Texas State.

And while Charlie’s music isn’t about athletics, it

kind of is. “I got injured many, many, many times,”

says Charlie, who’s now nearing 20 knee surgeries.

The decision to choose music over professional

sports ended up being a painless one.

Austin Bound. Charlie moved to pre-hipster

Austin after college and was immediately scooped

up by the most popular band in the city, Two

Hoots and a Holler. (Charlie can’t even say the

name without laughing.) “We had lines three

blocks long,” Charlie says. “I was just a rock star.”

Well, sort of.

Big Brother. One month after he and Bruce signed

with an indie label and released their first record,

Charlie was called up by Warner Bros. At first a

dream come true, the partnership quickly lost its

luster when Charlie found himself writing songs

for the radio and doing demos. “Two years of my

life were completely gone,” he says. “I had all this

momentum going, and then I come home one

day to a message on my answering machine

that said ‘Just want to let you know it doesn’t

look like things are working out, so we’ll be

terminating the contract. Wish you a great life

and it was fun.’”

Off the Charts. Two years later Charlie settled

in comfortably with a smaller label at Columbia

Records and released Life of the Party, which

produced three of the most requested songs at the

biggest country station in Texas. “Barlight” was the

first to land on the Billboard charts.

No Limits. The longest-running music series in

television history, Austin City Limits, suddenly came

calling. “Playing City Limits in Texas is like you’ve

arrived.” And Charlie did arrive, by invitation, at City

Limits two more times.

Center Stage. Gruene Hall, Texas’s oldest dance hall,

is to country music what Pebble Beach is to golf.

From Little Richard and Jerry Lee Lewis to Garth

Brooks and Aaron Neville, hundreds of music icons

have graced the venue. Charlie couldn’t believe it

when he got his first weekend show and joined the

ranks of country royalty.

Making Bank. Packed venues and screaming fans

are great, but the more practical parts of celebrity

were not lost on Charlie. “The biggest thing ever was

being able to write checks in your checkbook and

not having to check your balance,” he says. When

he was offered a position as a judge on the show

Nashville Star, he was asked how much he wanted

to be compensated. “I did one of those things where

you write this ridiculous number down and slide it

across the table,” Charlie says. “When they said ‘We

have a deal,’ I was, like, damn!”

Reunion Tour. In addition to the money, what does

“making it” look like? You might say it looks like

Charlie and Bruce playing onstage together, as they

did back when they were teenagers. They started a

tour together in 2017 and are enjoying every note.

“We’d do it for free, because we’re having so much

fun,” Charlie says.

charlierobison.com

102


What happens when

you put your city’s

trailblazers to work

together on a secret

project? You get a sneak

peek at a big idea that

could be the X factor

in creating a more

vibrant future for

our community.

Our project came

together as the THOM

team began developing

this issue. Our goal: to

use one of the stories to

create a way to put the

collective Power of Ten

to work.

We imagined that if we

could get into the minds

of 10 local leaders, we

just might stumble on

a common thought

that, if harnessed and

developed, could be the

start of something big.

Without any specific

expectations, we asked

the group to tap into

their creative sides and

take photos of things

that represented their

concerns or ideas

for our city. In all we

received 46 unique and

compelling images.

And what did we find?

A common desire to

focus on shaping a

bright future for

our children.

Adrian Burns

Marguerite Neel Williams

Boys & Girls Clubs

Create safe, friendly, positive

environments for youth to

develop and reach their

full potential.

Mariam Mirabzadeh

Junior Service League of Thomasville

Promote education at home to

extend learning outlets to open

doors for our children.

Elijah Miranda

Vashti Center

Afford all children the same

opportunities to be educated

and advocated for and, just

as important, the chance to

discover their talents and gifts.

Angela Kiminas

Hands On Thomas County

Create ways to make our youth

feel part of our community, and

provide more outlets for them

to express themselves.

Nolah L. Shotwell

Thomasville–Thomas County

Habitat for Humanity

Provide an environment for high

academic achievement and

performance in the classroom.

Kenny Thompson

City of Thomasville Planning

Department

Encourage slowing down to

begin to experience, discern and

interpret the world that is right

before their eyes.

103


Greer Cox

YMCA of Thomasville

Strengthen our community

by teaching respect, responsibility,

caring and honesty.

Jack Hadley

Jack Hadley Black History Museum

Encourage parents to teach the

value of practicing your faith.

Krista Watkins

Thomasville Antiques Show

and Foundation

Inspire in kids a love of creating

and collecting.

Mary Lawrence Lang

Thomasville Landmarks

Teach our children the

importance of timeless wisdom.

What now? It’s

up to you and the

collective power of

our community. We

encourage you to

think about what

YOU will do to move

the project forward.

104


GET

OUTTA

TOWN

105


10 stops

in 10 hours

between

Thomasville

and New

Orleans

Written by

Stephanie Burt

It’s time for an adventure. Meander

your way across the Gulf Coast and eat

like someone who does it for a living

(me). The best part of my travels is

discovering new tastes and tables, so

here are 10 spots to discover on a

10-hour drive from Thomasville to

the Big Easy. And like a good road-trip

friend, I’ve included street addresses

and websites for easy planning,

because I don’t want you to miss a

bite! The road is calling. Get out there.

106


01 02

Tallahassee, Florida

Kool Beanz Cafe

921 Thomasville Road

koolbeanz.cafe

Apalachicola, Florida

Hole in the Wall

Oyster Bar

23 Avenue D

Casual, eclectic and creative, Kool Beanz

Cafe has been in business since 1996,

and chef Keith Baxter was one of the first

restaurateurs to buy from local farmers.

He’s still doing that today as well as

tending a restaurant garden, so at this

busy restaurant you’ll get hyperlocal food

prepared with global flavors.

If you want fresh oysters, come to the

source. Apalachicola harvests some of the

South’s best oysters, and Hole in the Wall

is the place to go to eat them. Behind its

little-green-cottage facade is a family-run

business with community tables and a bar,

fried baskets, fish dip and oysters, oysters,

oysters. They’re available roasted with

a variety of toppings, but I’d go raw to best

taste the ocean waves you hear lapping

a block away.

107


03

04

Inlet Beach, Florida

Amici 30A

Italian Kitchen

12805 U.S. Hwy 98 E, Suite R101

amici30a.com

Orange Beach, Alabama

Fisher’s Upstairs

at Orange Beach Marina

27075 Marina Road

Fishersobm.com/upstairs

One of the newest restaurants on 30A, Amici

is a hard-to-miss 2,600 square feet. Inside,

the atmosphere and the food, including a

softball-size meatball stuffed with marinara

and spaghetti, make a statement too. But

seating and menu options for the whole

family does not equal subpar meals. It’s the

opposite, because Manolack Vongsouvanh,

better known as Chef Lock, works hard to

tempt diners and holds court at the chef’s bar

for specialty tastings.

Chris Chamberlain, author of The Southern

Foodie: 100 Places to Eat in the South Before

You Die, sent me to Fisher’s, and as usual

he was right. James Beard–nominated chef

Bill Briand spent seven years with Emeril

Lagasse and nine with Donald Link while

working in the kitchens of Emeril’s, Herbsaint,

Cochon and Butcher, and now he brings that

expertise to this spot. The menu is simple and

approachable, looks beautiful when it lands on

the table or onyx bar and tastes even better.

It’s worth the splurge.

108


05 06

Mobile, Alabama

Southern National

360 Dauphin Street

southernational.com

Ocean Springs, Mississippi

Anthony’s Steak & Seafood

Under the Oaks

1217 Washington Avenue

coastseafood.com/anthonys

Chef Duane Nutter, formerly of the Atlanta

airport’s famous restaurant One Flew

South, has indeed flown south and opened

this beaut of a spot (designed by Atlanta’s

Smith Hanes Studio) in the port city. The

thyme-smoked pork belly is a fine example

of what’s good here; it’s a fresh take on a

familiar menu item, done expertly.

BONUS SIPS (Mobile is known for fun!): LoDa

Bier Garden & The Battle House Hotel bar

Avoid the casino buffets and instead go oldschool,

back to the 1960s and ’70s. Arrive early,

enjoy a cocktail, dine on rib eyes and very

cheesy baked potatoes, and watch the sunset

under live oaks with a water view. There’s

nothing modern about the meal—they have

squash casserole, after all—but it’s a one-of-akind

local experience with a steak done right.

Pass Christian, Mississippi: Take a walk

around this historic town to shop for treasures.

109


07

08

Covington, Louisiana

Abita Brewery

166 Barbee Road

abita.com

New Orleans, LOUISIANA

Angeline

1032 Chartres Street

angelinenola.com

One of New Orleans’s most famous brands,

Abita is actually brewed about 30 miles outside

the Crescent City, because it’s all about the

water of Abita Springs. Take a tour, learn

about the brew process, then sit for a sip in

the taproom to enjoy any of the 13 year-round

brews, a bevy of seasonals and special releases,

even sodas.

New Orleans is among the nation’s hottest

food cities, so where to begin? I suggest at

this comfortable neighborhood spot, where

some seriously good home cooking has

gone upscale in the deft hands of Chef Alex

Harrell. He’ll ease you into the Big Easy spirit

with crispy oysters, country-ham-wrapped

rabbit leg or some housemade pasta.

TAKE the bridge across Lake Pontchartrain.

110


09

10

New Orleans, LOUISIANA

French 75 Bar at Arnaud’s

813 Rue Bienville

arnaudsrestaurant.com

New Orleans, LOUISIANA

Hansen’s Sno-Bliz

4801 Tchoupitoulas Street

snobliz.com

You’ve arrived. There’s no better way to

toast your final destination than to visit the

most famous bartender in town, the dapper

Chris Hannah, who has crafted more

French 75s than anyone else in the world.

He’ll make you a concoction of champagne,

cognac and lemon to sip in this classic

dark-wood space, whose back bar dates

from the 1800s.

End your journey with a sweet finish, New

Orleans style. Sno-balls are a tradition here,

so visit this iconic stand, which was started

in 1939 by Ernest and Mary Hansen. Ernest

invented the first ice-shaving machine, and

Mary created her own flavored syrups. These

flavors are still homemade today, the “sno” is

still shaved off that old machine, and you can

take your treat for a stroll into the evening.

111


Enjoy the Ride!

Stephanie Burt is the host of The Southern Fork podcast and

a writer based in Charleston, South Carolina. Her bylines

regularly appear in that city’s Post and Courier, in Zagat and

Bake from Scratch and on the website Extra Crispy. She

researches heirloom ingredients, interviews passionate

people creating good food and, in the kitchen, perfects her

roast chicken recipe.

112


FEATURED Artist

Number-one mom to two beautiful boys who

know that her heart is devoted to them even when

her eye is on our design.

Second-to-none artist who crafts a beautiful story

through captivating layouts and the perfect choice of type.

Joined our team at issue three and

hasn’t fired us yet!

Organized, effective communicator who’s been

known to work until 4 a.m. to honor a deadline.

If you’re a dedicated

THOM follower, you know

it’s on this page in each

issue that we introduce

you to the talented artists

who share their gift for

storytelling through the

written word and a sharply

focused camera lens. Over

the past five years we’ve

featured almost 70 writers

and photographers, which

is pretty dang impressive

for a project designed to

promote the creative life

of a small town in rural

south Georgia.

What makes this an easy

ask for these sought-after

artists? Meet Lindsey

Strippoli, the design

powerhouse who works

alongside our creative

director, Haile McCollum,

to lay out the pages of

THOM. She hails from

Pennsylvania, but here are

10 reasons we call her one

of our own.

See issue five, page 85. Quite possibly the best story intro

for its witty concept and clever use of type. You can imagine

hearing the sounds of the streets of the Big Apple as you

lean in to get an up-close look at those much-loved boots.

Record number of times (sometimes up to six)

we’ve rewritten a story and she still didn’t fire us!

Rounds out our team of s even dedicated to promoting the

creative life of Thomasville to strengthen our economy.

Easygoing teammate of our creative director

for more than eight years. Together they

have made quite a mark on the business

landscape of our city.

Made her inaugural visit to Thomasville with the release of

THOM's ninth issue. On seeing a familiar face from a story

layout, she said it was like seeing the pages come to life.

Master of the ten key principles of great

visual design: line; shape; color; type;

space; balance, rhythm and contrast;

scale; grid and alignment; framing,

texture and pattern; and concept. This is

serious business, people!

113

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