Tiny Parrott emits charm and ambiance of the Old South

Published 5:35 pm Monday, May 16, 2016

By Leila Case


Parrott, a picturesque and quaint small town (population 140-ish) in adjoining Terrell County reflects the charm and ambiance of yesteryear.
I’ve resided in Sumter County 40-plus years, but regretfully my visits to Parrott are few mainly because I haven’t had a reason to venture there lately.
I had a purpose to be in Parrott earlier this week to attend funeral services for Ronnie Alston, brother of my good friend, Beth Alston. And I took the opportunity afterwards to leisurely drive around the old-timey town and look around. I’m so glad because what I saw was like stepping back in time to the late 1800’s and earlier.
Parott’s business district once bustled with activity when the town was a thriving agricultural community and cotton and other crops were the principal source of income. The historic buildings, stately homes, and charming cottages reflect the architecture of that era and today appear to have been well maintained.
As I slowly rode through the tree lined-streets, I fancied someone dressed in the style of that day would emerge from behind closed doors any minute and invite me in to “set a spell,” enjoy a cold, frosty glass of lemonade or iced tea served, of course, on a silver tray before getting on the road again.
Of course, all that was a figment of my imagination.
Only 26 miles from my house in Americus to the “city limits” of Parrott, according the GPS iPhone map, I never remember the route. I have always thought of Parrott as a little island all to itself. Thank goodness for GPS or I would still be lost.
That’s how I felt the first time I went and I was a T-R staff writer. The Carter for President Campaign was in its infancy and the candidate’s wife, Rosalynn Carter, was slated to speak at an event hosted by a group of Terrell County supporters. Rudy Hayes, then managing editor, assigned me to cover the story. “Where is Parrott?” I asked, to which he replied, “I can get you a ride with Anna Cheokas who is going.”  Turns out Anna didn’t know either. Nevertheless, we climbed into her big black Lincoln and consulted the roadmap (no GPS then) and as she drove I navigated.
Another newspaper assignment in the late 1970’s was when the western “The Long Riders” was filmed there, starring four sets of brothers: the Quaids, the Keaches, the Carradines, and the Guests that detailed the exploits of the Jesse James gang. A street in the business district was covered with dirt to add authenticity, movie extras were in 1890’s western costumes and I even met the Carradine brothers. (Another story).
Now that I have GPS I hope to return to Parrott soon because it beckons. I hope you’ll plan a Sunday afternoon drive there and catch its Old South charm, too. It’s certain you’ll be enchanted. Today Parrott is home to many accomplished artists including portraitist June Elizabeth Blackstock and her husband Franz and Bond Anderson and his wife, Meg Tilley Anderson.
Out and About: Smile and say hello to new residents Herschel Smith and his wife, Pam, who moved to Americus last weekend from Celebration, Florida. Herschel grew up here the son of Mary Ann Smith of Macon and the late Herschel Smith, brother of Judge Rucker Smith of Americus and Kay Smith Green of Macon. Herschel, a former U.S. Navy pilot, recently retired from Southwest Airlines and he and Pam decided to “come home.” They are temporarily living in a charming apartment in the Thornton-Wheatley Building downtown while their home is being built at Lake Collins. Welcome Smiths.
Meanwhile, congratulations to Eddie Krenson who graduated with the masters in architecture from Georgia Tech, Atlanta, and to Emilee Roland, who graduated from GSW with a bachelor of science in nursing and studying toward R.N. certification. She has accepted a position at the East Alabama Medical Center, Auburn, Alabama, working with patients of all ages in the psychiatric unit.
Elsewhere, Drs. John and Patty Fennessy and daughter, Reese, attended the Kentucky Derby last weekend at Churchill Downs in Louisville. Reese, who is becoming an equestrian herself, loved all the races, including the Kentucky Oaks on Friday, where everyone dons pink in honor of female organ cancer survivors, while Derby Day Saturday Reese personally wished the winning jockey of the first race of the day good luck in the paddock prior to the winning ride!
While they were Louisville, Sylvia and Donnie Roland hosted the second annual Kentucky Derby party at their home here to benefit Books for Sumter Children, an organization that works in conjunction with the Ferst Foundation to provide all children in Sumter County one book a month by mail from birth to age five. Attendees dressed in Derby attire – ladies wore beautiful hats and guys sported seersucker. Books for Sumter Children board members include Sylvia Roland (chair), Candy Riccardi (vice chair), Joyce Carreker (registrar), Karen Gatewood (secretary), Maggie McGruther (treasurer), Steve Stanfield, Jeannie Stanfield, Marilynn Coley, Johnny Shiver, Stephen Woodson, Jay Cliett, Anne Isbell, Fred Richmond, Brandi Mitchell, Janie Turner, Nicole Lee, Mary Alice Applegate and Patricia Hill. Books for Sumter Children host the annual Love of Literacy fundraiser.
To learn more about Books for Sumter, contact Roland at sylviacroland@gmail.com. Meanwhile, Sylvia doesn’t let the grass grow under her feet. She and her mother, Lela Pumphrey of Sapula, Oklahoma, are at their condo in Hurghada, Egypt, a tourist destination on the Red Sea. They will also tour Cairo.

Leila Sisson Case lives in Americus.