As we head out, across the eastern part of the county I grew up in, I play a mental game with myself. If,
by some economic reason, my sleepy town of 3,000 had grown to 1,000,000, what would it look like and
what should it look like from a city planner’s point of view? In this part of the county, with its rolling hills
and dense forests, I see large parks with lots of low impact recreation.
Our first stop, as we cross South Mississippi, is in Hattiesburg at the City Grill, a New Orleans style
restaurant I would recommend to travelers. It’s owned by Robert St John, a respected Mississippi
restaurateur and food writer. It’s located just off the interstate on Hardy Ave and is next to a Starbucks.
On across and down to the Gulf Coast, we go through Mobile into the Florida Panhandle. We stop for
early supper at the Red Bay Grocery, a delightful little restaurant and store in the middle of nowhere.
It has been made slightly famous via a documentary short film by Merrill Livingston, Mel’s daughter, a
SCAD educated filmmaker. It’s the story of a small community coming together to save the store and
their way of life. The store is now actually owned by the 50 or so community inhabitants. The film is
excellent and we’re all very proud of Merrill.
We get to Apalach about sundown and even though we had dinner in Red Bay, I can’t resist going to
Papa Joe’s for a couple o’ dozen raw Apalachicola Bay oysters, the best in the world. At Papa Joe’s,
if you sit at the bar, the oysters are $6.95 a dozen and a dozen is more likely to have 16 than 12. As the
bartender shucks my oysters and hands them to me he says, “You know, I never was too good at ‘rithme