B. J. and I have been close friends and worked with Laurie Jo Upchurch for over twenty years. We keep in touch via e-mail, telephone, visiting, eating out etc. She and her faithful hubby Ken are great fun.
In an early morning telephone “Happy New Year!” communication with Laurie Jo on New Year’s Day, she informed us that the popular Tales of the Altamaha is going great guns for 2012. Lovely and talented Laurie Jo is the scriptwriter for the play that has risen to statewide recognition and draws charter bus loads of people annually from across the state. This year another busload is going from St. Simons Methodist Church.
It is indeed an honor to be the scriptwriter for such an awesome production as Tales of the Altamaha. Laurie is doing a remarkable job and the show gets better each year.
The author of the Tales of the Altamaha was Toombs County Attorney T. Ross Sharpe. “Colonel” Sharpe was much in demand far and near as a defense attorney. He was witty, handsome, relatively wealthy and well liked and in addition to being a skilled lawyer, he was an able writer. Across the years, his column Tales of the Altamaha was widely read and acclaimed. His daughter Luray, now deceased, who was married to a judge, saved the columns that have now been published in a book as well as the outstanding play, Tales of the Altamaha.
The Sharpe family grew up on the Altamaha River near the Marvin Yancey/Providence Communities in Toombs County. The gravesites of T. Ross Sharpe and his family are in Marvin Methodist Church Cemetery about ten miles from where I grew up. We lived ten miles from the Altamaha. Therefore, I know a few tales of the Altamaha that T. Ross overlooked.
My dad was friends with T. Ross and I knew him personally. He always referred to me as Sherwood Boyd’s boy. I don’t ever recall him calling me by my name.
Many of the Tales deal with humorous happenings of bygone days. But the Tales of the Altamaha is much more than a collection of funny stories. They portray folk life, folk love, social relations, economic development and the local history of the Altamaha land that Sharpe loved. The articles are written in the style of a storyteller and cover a time span of more than 150 years from the arrival of the pioneers to the advent of a nuclear power plant on the majestic river. The Tales offer an insight into the world first discovered by Pulitzer Prize winner and Baxley native Caroline Miller in her 1934 novel Lamb in His Bosom.
Following are some statements by the writer of the Tales: “The old-timers who lived along the Altamaha were the salt of the earth. They were pure granite in the face of adversity, emotional in sorrow, gracious in their homes, honest in their dealings…That their good works, loves, laughter and peculiarities may not be entirely lost to memory, and with the fond hope that some clippings of their history may find themselves in scrapbooks to be read seventy-five or a hundred years from now, the writer has in a feeble and inexperienced way recorded a few of his memories.” - T Ross Sharpe.
“…Unless you have stood beneath a moss-laden oak on the banks at sunrise and, looking east, seen a million water fairies dancing on the waters just as the night watchman of the heavens turned off the stars, you have missed one of the world’s most magically beautiful sights. Unless you have at sunset heard he thousand cries, shrieks, calls and sounds that come from the swamp, you have missed a symphony of nature…for those who love to live, love and remember forever the romance of the ages, give me the Indian love song river, the beautiful Altamaha.” - T. Ross Sharpe.
Go for it, Laurie and the cast of the Tales of the Altamaha-- keep it getting better every year.
Would love to get in touch with Mr Boyd and thank him for his article. I am the Director of Lyons Better Hometown, the organization that produces the Georgia folk-like play "Tales from the Altamaha." Would also like to know how many newspapers publish his column.