Rick Millians

Rick Millians

We were in west Georgia the other day, visiting some places I had not been to in a long time.

Places such as FDR's Little White House in Warm Springs and Callaway Gardens in Pine Mountain.

I couldn't help but think about the last time I was in that area, which was way back in 1976. I was working for the Macon Telegraph and News and went to Callaway Gardens to cover a made-for-TV event called "Superstars." Big-name athletes competed in events that were not their main sport. (Like Joe Frazier swimming.) Several shows were taped there.

I did a story on Bruce Jenner, who had just won the decathlon at the Summer Olympics in Montreal. He was ready to cash in on his newfound fame. 

His then-wife, Chrystie, hovered nearby as Bruce did interviews, signed autographs and basked in the attention. She was the one who worked to pay the bills while Bruce trained for the Olympics. 

I could have never guessed that Bruce would one day dump Chrystie, wind up married to a Kardashian; become the stepfather of Kim, Kourtney and Khloe; and father Kylie and Kendall Jenner. 

And, of course, become Caitlyn Jenner.

But moving on up the road a little bit toward Newnan, where we lived before moving to Milledgeville when I was in the third grade, is the bustling town of Moreland, population less than 500. 

Moreland and its townspeople — real or imagined — were made famous by the late humor columnist Lewis Grizzard. And little did I know — until I saw the sign (I had to turn around and go back to make sure I read it right) — that Moreland had a Lewis Grizzard Museum.

Grizzard was not born in Moreland, but grew up there, less than an hour south of Atlanta. According to the website roadtrippers.com, the museum features his high school memorabilia, Atlanta newspaper columns, photographs and clothing. Dudley and Elaine Stamps help maintain the museum. Admission is $1. 

Alas, the Grizzard museum was closed when we were there, so we did the next best thing. We drove on into Newnan and ate at Grizzard's favorite barbecue place — Sprayberry's. 

Their T-shirts say: "Pig-Out at Sprayberry's Bar-B-Q, family owned and operated since 1926."

So I paid homage to Grizzard by ordering Sprayberry's "Lewis Grizzard Special," a pulled pork sandwich, Brunswick stew and onion rings.

Grizzard has always been one of my favorite writers. How can you not like a guy who loved the Georgia Bulldogs as much as he loved to make fun of Georgia Tech?

Here's a look at some of my other favorite writers:

Frank Deford: The king of the long-form stories for many years in Sports Illustrated magazine, he wrote many unforgettable profiles on athletes and coaches such as Jimmy Connors, Bobby Knight and Bear Bryant. Deford, unfortunately, is deceased.

Norman Chad: He's probably best known for being the color commentator on ESPN's "World Series of Poker" telecasts every summer. On that, he's a one-joke pony: Why his first three wives left him. But he also writes, “The Couch Slouch,” a syndicated sports humor column.

Rick Reilly: Another former Sports Illustrated writer. I played basketball with him when he was in Cincinnati to do a profile of Reds owner Marge Schott. I took a fake and wound up with a sprained ankle. He also wrote one of the best articles I have ever read about Pete Rose. 

Maria Semple: Funny, funny, funny. Her comedy novel "Where'd You Go, Bernadette" was hilarious. But I still have not seen the movie.

John Grisham: David vs. Goliath in the courtroom, and David almost always wins. What's not to like about that? And some of his books made pretty good movies, such as "The Firm" and "The Pelican Brief."

Pat Conroy: He was the master of describing South Carolina's lowcountry. "The Great Santini," "Lords of Discipline," and "Prince of Tides" are classics. 

Rick Bragg: In addition to writing books about the South, he writes a back-page column for Southern Living Magazine that's usually about his momma, food or dogs. Three winners if you ask me.

Rick Millians, a 1970 Baldwin High graduate, was an award-winning sports editor at newspapers in Georgia, Ohio and South Carolina before retiring to Milledgeville. He can be reached at rdmillians@aol.com.

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