When you live in San Francisco and people come to visit, they want you to take them to the Golden Gate Bridge. Every town, no matter how small, has it’s own Golden Gate Bridge, the place where you take people when they come from out of town. In the tiny town of Warm Springs, Georgia during the early morning hours of Wednesday, June 10, the Golden Gate Bridge burned down.
It was called the Bulloch House. And for the better part of a decade, it was my second home.
I was a single man living in rural midwest Georgia. I knew how to cook two things, cereal and hot dogs. Occasionally, as you might imagine, that got old. Several times a week, I went out looking for food. But it was more than just food that I was looking for. In some small way, I was looking for home. When I first walked in to the Bulloch House, I found what I was looking for.
I had a lot of meals there over the years. I ate with preachers there. I went there for lunch after church on Sunday afternoons with what seemed like everyone else in midwest Georgia. But mostly, I ate there with friends.
Chris and I talked about everything that was wrong in the world of music while we ate fried chicken.
While the country was still trying to figure out who would be our next president after the 2000 elections, Merv and I went over the worst case scenarios while eating mashed potatoes. The lady who wrote The Hunger Games must have been listening in on us.
Rob and I spent hours there trying to sell Kyle and Charlie on the excellence that is Georgia Bulldogs football while eating six layer chocolate cake. We were unsuccessful. But the cake was good.
Not everyone liked the Bulloch House as much as I did. As they saw it, there was no point in going out for food when Grandma and Mom had cooked something better at home with what Dad and Grandpa had grown in the garden. Maybe they had a point. But geography, Parkinson’s Disease and the grave made it impossible for me to get one of those home cooked meals that went straight from the garden to the table. That’s why I went to the next best thing.
My second home.
The Bulloch House.
It’s been almost ten years since I left midwest Georgia. My first place of residence after leaving was the big city of Louisville, Kentucky. It didn’t take long up there before I went on another search for food. I found a couple of restaurants that featured authentic southern cooking. But it wasn’t the same. The food was overpriced. It didn’t taste as good. And the people weren’t as nice. For the most part, authentic southern cooking in a big city is along the lines of fresh lobster Missouri. It’s just not possible.
Eventually, we made it back down south. One of the first trips that I went on with my friends from church was a long drive halfway across the state to eat at the Bulloch House. This time, instead of talking about sports and politics, I was sitting next to my wife, cutting up chicken for my two sons and sharing laughs with new friends.
Things have changed a lot since the days when I called the Bulloch House my kitchen. I don’t eat out that much anymore. As I see it, why go out when my wife can cook what I grew in the garden. I have become my grandparents. I don’t need a second home anymore.
But back then I did need a second home. And I’m happy to say that it was the Bulloch House. I sure am going to miss that old house.
It’s been said that you can’t go home again.
Now that the Bulloch House is gone, that’s never been more true.