HAHIRA, Ga. – Don’t mess with Hahira.
When Rob Jenkins recently wrote an article for The Gwinnett Daily Post titled, “Hahira, home of the sandwich Nazis (but not Buck Belue),” it caused some hot-headed responses from the proud little Lowndes County town.
The Gwinnett Daily Post noted at the bottom of the post that:
Rob Jenkins is a local writer and college professor. The views expressed here are his own. You can email Rob at firstname.lastname@example.org.Gwinnett Daily Post, “JENKINS: Hahira, home of the sandwich Nazis (but not Buck Belue)
And Jenkins got quite a few emails, not to mention comments galore, and plenty of shares of his piece. Jenkins, whose son married a girl from Hahira, wrote about his visit to Hahira, pointing out that his previous belief that Buck Belue was from there was not true among other sarcastic razzes, including there not actually being a train depot there:
The reception was held at the “train depot,” which turned out to be a brand new construction, because apparently Hahira never actually had a station. Trains, as I almost learned the hard way, just blow right through Hahira. They don’t care if you’re crossing the tracks on your way to the sandwich shop, which incidentally is about the only restaurant in town.The Gwinnett Daily Post, “JENKINS: Hahira, home of the sandwich Nazi (but now Buck Belue)
Born and bred Hahirans like author Robert Spearman, had plenty to say to Jenkins.
In a January 5, 2020 email to Jenkins’ January 4 post, Spearman wrote:
Dear Mr. Jenkins,
It never really surprises me to see an article from you folks north of Macon disparaging our little town. We have been the brunt of you “big city” folk’s jokes way too often and way too long. Ordinarily, I would just pass off these Lewis Grizzard wannabe articles with a shake of the head and a sneer of disgust but this time, sir, you have crossed the line with your foolish comments and inaccuracies.
Let me begin by saying I know your type. I know because I was the co-publisher and editor of a local digital magazine for two years. We welcomed submissions from local folks. Most were never paid for their articles and seeing their story published along with their name was payment enough. I suspect that the Gwinnett Daily Post doesn’t pay you anything for your drivel and you are satisfied with just seeing your glorious name in print as another Lewis Grizzard wannabe.
And if they do pay you, perhaps this article was written as a tax write-off or as a way to pay for the rehearsal dinner.
I see from your bio that you are a college professor. I would hope that you do not teach history since it requires facts and accuracy which this article sorely lacked. I could just end my email with that…it is fraught with inaccuracies and you need to find out where, but I suspect that your laziness would not take the time to check out any of your errors. So, please allow me the time to go point-by-point in dissecting your story.
First, Buck Belue. You’re right, most Hahirans don’t know Buck and could care less about his fame. Buck played for Valdosta High School and the high school students in Hahira attend Lowndes County High School. Valdosta High and Lowndes High, both state champion football teams, are crosstown rivals. We could care less about Buck Belue since he played for the “other” team. I live abroad so I don’t know how much Buck refers to Hahira on his radio show. I hope he is more gracious about our small town than you were with your article.That being said, a simple Wikipedia search prior to writing your article would have revealed that there are quite a few “famous” people from Hahira:
Althea Garrison, city councilor, Boston, Massachusetts
Mark and Dean Mathis, singers of the song “Bread and Butter” (these guys are my cousins by the way.)
Lizz Wright, jazz singer and composer
And these are just a few. Also among our lot are authors, poets, and artists. Sadly, none of us in this latter group have made it to the pages of Wikipedia. Perhaps I should update Wikipedia to reflect our contributions to the arts but I digress.
Now, on to the first inaccuracy. “Hahira never had a train station.” Yes, we did. From the late 1800s until around 1980 Hahira did, in fact, have a station. Ms. Emily Davenport, Hahira’s Main Street Director, can fill you in on the specific dates or perhaps take you to the historical society to allow you to get your facts in order. Although, I doubt facts were not important when you wrote this story…instead you were fishing to get a chuckle from the faux social elites in Lilburn, Norcross, Lawrenceville, and Snellville (“Where Everybody is Somebody”).
Your comment about the new train depot, which you referred to as “ersatz”, is a nice venue for Hahira and we are proud of it. We were all upset that the railroad tore down our beloved station in the 1980s so this is a nice remembrance of that building and offers the citizenry a place to hold things like weddings, wedding receptions, class reunions, etc.
As you know “ersatz” carries with it a very negative conotation — it implies that something is inferior. Perhaps you should have shared that with your new daughter-in-law after your apparent disgust with the venue.Yes, the trains do run through Hahira, and they run fast. I’m sorry that you almost got hit on your way to the sandwich shop. Hahira has these things called “crossing arms” which lower when the train gets close to town. It is a warning to both cars and pedestrians that a train is coming. I’m guessing this technology has not made its way to Lawrenceville and perhaps you did not know that the flashing red lights and the lowered crossing arms were an indicator to you that a train was coming. Maybe we need to put together some type of advisory to circulate to you faux elites in the Atlanta area about this new technology and how to be on the lookout for it.
Maybe it will help to save lives.
Inaccuracy number two: “which incidentally is about the only restaurant in town.” A savvy writer and traveler would have done their due diligence by a short visit to the TripAdvisor website and would have learned that Hahira has a total of eight restaurants plus one, “Country Love”, which is not on TripAdvisor yet but is open on the weekends and offers some of the best soul food in South Georgia. It’s too bad that you chose a national franchise restaurant, staffed by minimum wage “artists”, upon which to base your criticism of our town.
Well, enough of my rambling. I hope you post a follow-up retraction, which I doubt is forthcoming. It would be just too much for a hillbilly from Ringgold to admit their mistake. Maybe a reread of “The 9 Virtues of Exceptional Leaders” is in order. Always remember, Google, TripAdvisor, and Wikipedia are your friends.Robert SpearmanPS – To the editor of the Gwinnett Daily Post, I cannot believe that you allowed a story with so many errors to be published. I guess you get to hide behind the blanket statement of “The views expressed here are his own.” Cop-out. By the way, your Internet “paywall” is not working. Two clicks and I could see the whole article.Robert Spearman’s Facebook post regarding email to Mr. Jenkins
Spearman received much support from fellow Hahirans and other Lowndes County citizens. Spearman followed up his vitriolic email with a Facebook post pm January 7 saying:
In my haste and anger yesterday I fear I lowered myself to the same level as the person I was attempting to chastise. In my email berating of Mr. Jenkins and The Gwinnett Daily Post, I referred to the employee at the sandwich shop as a minimum wage “artist.” I was wrong in doing this. Working with the public is not easy. It is commendable that this person is working in a probably thankless job. I was wrong to demean this person or employees at this shop by my thoughtlessly chosen words. I have eaten at that restaurant many times and have always had a pleasant experience. Thinking back to Mr. Jenkins’ article, and the other inaccuracies within, it may be doubtful that the incident actually ever happened. That is between him and God if it never happened and he fabricated it at the expense of a cheap laugh. Again, my most sincere apologies if I offended any person in any way.
Mr. Jenkins, my criticism of you still stands. In South Georgia we have three words for dealing with folks like you, “bless your heart.”Robert Spearman’s follow-up Facebook post
Moral of the story?
Watch what you say about Hahira.
NOTE: Robert Spearman will be a guest contributor/columnist for Valdosta Today soon. Check out his various published books he wrote about his life in Hahira and more here. Robert Spearman grew up in Hahira, Georgia, fifteen miles north of Valdosta. He attended Lowndes High School in Valdosta and Georgia Christian School in Dasher, Georgia. He has lived the past ten years in China and Southeast Asia and attended Beijing Normal University in Zhuhai, China. He is fluent in Mandarin Chinese and speaks enough Cantonese and Thai to “get him in trouble.” He is currently working on his second novel, “T. H. E. Knight”–a new series about a time traveling cowboy, detective and soldier of fortune–due to be released in late 2017.