Monday, August 24, 2009

Brer Rabbit and friends

If you grew up listening to the tales of Brer Rabbit, Brer Fox, Brer Bear and their cohorts that Uncle Remus told to the Little Boy, you'll want to travel to the Uncle Remus Museum in Eatonton, GA, a pleasant and easy drive north from Macon.

If you've never heard anything of Uncle Remus except that Harris' books of his tales are considered politically incorrect, you ought to stop and pick up a book to decide for yourself.

Personally, I'd hate to think of these richly evocative tales of African folklore being lost to posterity, which they probably would have been without Harris popularizing them. The dialect, which many find offensive and demeaning, is one of our few links to the language and ingenuity of generations of involuntary American immigrants.

The small museum, made from three slave cabins, is in Turner Park right in the center of this pretty town which was the birthplace of Joel Chandler Harris. The park was part of the original home place of Joseph Sidney Turner, the "Little Boy".

Harris chronicled the folklore of African slaves at Turnwold Plantation where, at the age of 13, he was hired as printer's devil for the plantation newspaper, "The Countryman."

The Civil War and General Sherman's army ended Harris' job, but he went on to an illustrious career as a journalist.

The museum features artifacts from Harris' life, Civil War era Southern life, the development of the Uncle Remus tales, the Disney movie about them ("Song of the South") and 12 charming vignettes from the tales carved by Frank Schnell.

It won't delay your trip by much and you can arrive in Atlanta in time for a late lunch.

Tip: Or, you can cut over to I-75 and stop at Buckner's on Bucksnort (!) Road in Jackson, a stomach-filling tradition for 29 years. The barn shaped and sized eatery is open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursdays, 11-9 Friday and Saturdays and 11-7 on Sundays. You'll be seated at one of the large round tables for a family-style, all-you-care-to-eat meal of downhome Southern style cooking.
Each table is centered with a lazy susan on which are piled bowl after bowl of delicious fried chicken, green beans, fresh beans or peas and coleslaw, rolls and cornbread plus a so-so peach cobbler. These are augmented, depending on the day and season, by BBQ pork, roast beef or ham, potatoes in various styles, Brunswick Stew or stewed tomatoes, cream style corn or boiled cabbage. The cost is $13.95 for adults, $12.95 for "60-year-old recycled teens," $3 for youngsters ages 3-8. The experience is memorable.
Museum and eatery are both totally level.


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