This past summer I drove several times from downtown Atlanta south to Luthersville, GA to drop/pickup my kid at a Girl Scout camp just a mile outside of that sleepy little Georgia town.
The drive took about an hour or so, down I-85 south a’ways. Along the entire car ride, I followed an existing rail line. One that ran almost to the very backdoor of the pretty 270-acres of camp in the heart of red clay Georgia – a part of the state I like to call “Tara World” as it’s the general area, give or take 50 miles or so, where Margaret Mitchell located Scarlett’s famous childhood crib, Tara.
I imagined a gorgeous Twelve Oaks plantation nearby as I drove along. Dumb-ass county bucks haulin’ ass over the pretty, verdant Georgia fields along the way on their magnificent horses. (“Peggy’s Mind Poison” I also like to say.)
Actually, I kinda lie. I wasn’t imagining any such thing on my last pass through Luthersville, GA. Rather, I was fuming. Filled with angry, ugly thoughts in my mind about Governor Sonny Perdue and the entire dumb-ass Georgia Legislature.
Failed me in my gas-guzzling rides back and forth to Luthersville that could have been so easily traversed by rail in a traffic-less 40-minutes or so. If only there had been a commuter train to take us back and forth from the city to that sweet little place.
The if-onlys sure are piling up when it comes to commuter rail and Georgia.
Poor Luthersville. It looked so sad last summer. Depressed. On its last good leg, with maybe one convenience store, a bank and a Dollar General still open.
Luthersville was still struggling to put up a good front though, like some aging, penniless aunty and her brave display of near-moldy Chanel Red lipstick at a far-younger family member’s wedding she’d been politely invited to because, after all, she “is still family.”
Oh how I love to diverge! Getting to the point here, you could tell how pretty and vibrant Luthersville may have once been. How pretty and quaint and fun to be around it could still be. In the way Madison, Georgia is now.
And there sat that rail line. Running right beside Luthersville. Running all alongside that dying, pretty little town. Running all the way back to the wild and go-go ATL. All throughout the state, come to think about it.
That rail line, devoid of anything remotely like a commuter train car, was taunting that little sad town like a bad-boy date that’s not really ever going to happen the way you think it should, with a “real” evening out at a nice place with table clothes and cocktails and, say, Iron and Wine with Wilco at The Fabulous Fox afterwards.
No, you’d be lucky to get a pitiful little text back out of a town like Luthersville now. The entire State of Georgia has failed it. Left it stranded high and dry to die alone without commuter rail and all the things commuter rail might bring to a Luthersville, Georgia: young people and new business, and access to the city and commerce and cool new shoppes and restaurants and maybe even a startup or two, and… well, you get the point of how Luthersville could be. If it had commuter rail.
One building in Luthersville that was still open for business in the summer of 2009 was the local indie bank. It had something resembling a life. Cars were parked out front. A few. Maybe. One person walking in that I could see.
But as Georgia’s 25th bank failed Friday, I thought about that sad little bank in sad little Luthersville. I wonder if it too is on the growing Failed Banks of Georgia list?
Since we’re now leading the nation in failed banks, I’m too depressed about our state’s failures, one of the most glaring being our continued lack of commuter rail, to go look and see. I just don’t want to know. Too many would-haves, should-haves to count.
I simply cannot take another reminder of how deeply the lack of vision and foresight and understanding, by the legislative powers-that-be in Georgia regarding transportation for a sustainable and vibrant future, have failed all of us struggling now to make a go of it in our beloved, red clay, beautiful, once-flourishing, now commuter rail-free Georgia.