Wish me luck.
For the first time this Thanksgiving, like many other people, Ill be frying a turkey. Theres a lot of pressure to this task, and we dont plan to have a backup turkey in case I screw it up.
My biggest fear is what happened to a friend of mine last Thanksgiving: she knocked over her cooker last year while pulling the turkey from the pot, pouring boiling oil all over her feet. Ouch.
After all the eating, not much time will pass before we look toward Christ-mas. Long ago dethroned as the busiest shopping day of the year, the day after Thanksgiving is still legendary for long lines and ridiculous deals. I must confess: Im usually one of those nincompoops, out at 5 a.m., standing in line for the $3 toaster some department store uses as its come-on.
Finding interesting, unusual gifts is a challenge. Finding gifts that have a Columbia County stamp on them is even tougher. Ive tracked down a few things local residents can buy with pride and give with the assurance that theyll be appreciated - not just because the gifts are local, but because they are good stuff:
Topping the list are blankets from Strictly Country on Washington Road in Evans. Sold in two different background colors, the blankets feature scenes of Columbia County historical landmarks. Shirley Ligon at the store says a limited number of blankets are available at $45 each.
Items that feature the likeness of Harlems native son Oliver Hardy are available at Kays Pharmacy on Main Street. The items are mostly inexpensive trinkets such as keychains and magnets, and make great stocking-stuffers. Marcie Morris says the store usually has gift sets of pecans packaged at Harlems Tracy-Luckey across the street from the store; but this year the companys products have been late, so other brands are available for now.
Want something with a local name on it? Good luck. The best bet are T-shirts, sweatshirts and caps sold, of all places, at Bi-Lo. (The store on Furys Ferry has shirts with the name Martinez emblazoned on them.)
Books are always a good bet:
Hot off the press, the new narrative history of Columbia County is now available from the Historical Society for $25. There will be an autograph party soon, but in the meantime anyone in the office of Probate Court Judge (and Historical Society President) Pat Hardaway can provide information, at 541-1254.
One of the best books Ive ever read is Reactionary by retired 1st Sgt. Lloyd Pate of Grovetown. The book is a gritty saga of Pates time as a prisoner of war in Korea, and would make a great gift for those interested in military history - or for anyone who likes an inspiring work. Its a bargain, too; for just $15, Pate will sign and mail a copy. Call him at 556-9413 for details.
The Chief Centurion is a work of historical fiction by Patrick Rivette, a retired colonel and JROTC teacher at Evans High School. The book is available in hardcover or paperback online at www.xlibris.com, and takes about three weeks for delivery.
The Columbia County version of the Images of America series is packed with historical photos of our county. A lot is left out, and some of the captions are faulty; but altogether its a great peak into our past. The books are available at Strictly Country and Kays, and at The News-Times offices.
Also available at The News-Times is Quick Cooking with Karin Calloway, The Augusta Chronicles food writer. Yeah, she writes for the other paper, but Karin is a Columbia County resident.
And last but not least, for the person who has everything: memberships.
The Columbia County Historical Society is always looking for members. Its a bargain at $10 for individuals, $25 for families or $100 for lifetime. Just send a check to P.O. Box 203, Appling, Ga., 30802, and theyll sign you up.
Friends of Columbia County Libraries offers varying categories of memberships - and the membership card is good for a 10 percent discount at Books-a-Million. Just in time for Christmas shopping! For more information, call Friends president Russ Holloman at 863-0448.
At the top of my own wish list is a jersey from the Columbia County Fireballs wheelchair basketball team, who won yet another state championship this past weekend. These kids are awesome athletes - and their jerseys rock.
If all else fails in your gift search, stop by after Thanksgiving. I may have a used turkey fryer for sale.
(Barry L. Paschal is opinions editor of The Columbia County News-Times. E-mail comments to barrypaschal@ yahoo.com.)
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