It’s out there somewhere.
In some ways I feel like Harrison Ford’s famous character Indiana Jones when he left his comfortable quarters as a college professor to don a fedora and fly overseas to find the Ark of the Covenant as depicted in the 1981 film “Raiders of the Lost Ark.” Along the way, Jones encountered booby traps, mercenaries, snakes and almost anything to keep him from finding the ancient relic that contains supernatural powers.
My quest is a little different. It’s doubtful my life will be on the line as it will require no weapons. I don’t think I will be faced with any enemies. My adventure begins with uncertainty.
You see, it all started a few weeks ago when I visited with my old friend Penny Lanxton. For years, Penny and his wife Johnnie lived in Carrollton, where they reared their two children Rodney and Heather. Penny was a long-time employee of Southwire and Johnnie served as the office administrator at Tabernacle Baptist Church. During our time together, we discussed memories from their days in Carrollton before moving to Roswell. Our conversation moved from sports at the Recreation Department to where-are-they-now old friend stories and how much our city has changed. However, Penny brought up a subject that stopped me in my tracks — fried chicken.
“Do you know who cooked the best fried chicken I’ve ever had?” Penny asked.
“No,” I answered. “But you have my full attention.”
“It was the fried chicken that used to be served on the menu at Sunset Hills Country Club during the 1970s,” he said. “It had a crust unlike any other I’ve ever eaten.”
It’s no secret I’ve had an open love affair with fried chicken for more than a half-century. The chefs of the west Georgia region have produced some stellar fried poultry through the years. I proudly salute those establishments I once frequently visited and are no longer with us, especially the bone-in breaded chicken breasts from Thomas’ Cafeteria, Lee’s Famous Recipe and Praises.
However, if one wants to eat fried chicken every day during the pandemic, all he has to do is seek the local lunch spots that still prepare it the old-fashioned way — homemade. Furthermore, if one can plan correctly, he or she can even eat it every day of the week.
For example, on Monday, order a two-piece snack at the window while socially distanced standing in line at Big Chic. Tuesday offers the fried chicken lunch special at the Maple Street Diner. On Wednesday, visit Jerry’s Country Kitchen to pair the crispy bird with some delicious vegetables. Thursday’s blackboard at Billy Bob’s BBQ features a delicious plate of fried chicken, and don’t forget to finish with a cup of sweet banana pudding. Friday travel to Bowdon to taste the best fried chicken in the Friendly City at the Southern Lady.
The next day involves crossing into Haralson County to munch on the fried chicken at Bilbos BBQ in Bremen.
Finally, nothing beats the church crowd and fried chicken at Crossroads in Tallapoosa for a perfect Sunday lunch.
There’s no doubt my last meal, if given the opportunity to choose, would include fried chicken (along with a plate of bacon and country ham). And if I could choose any recipe, like Penny I would choose the 1970s version from Sunset Hills.
When I was growing up, I begged my parents to join the country club — not because of golf, tennis or swimming — but so I could eat its fried chicken. My friend Chuck Hutchins would often invite me to go swimming in the summer months at Sunset Hills. It was always music to my ears when his mother Johnnye would pick me up and tell my mother, “Don’t worry about Joe being fed. I told Chuck to order them fried chicken when they get hungry.”
“I will make a commitment to you right now if it takes me to me dying breath,” I pledged to Penny. “I will do everything I can to find the old Sunset Hills fried chicken recipe.”
Now the quest has begun. My sources have given me a few leads they believe hold the key to see if the recipe is still out there. And I feel like Indiana Jones when his friend advised him: “For nearly 3,000 years man has been searching for the lost ark. It’s not something to be taken lightly. No one knows its secrets. It’s like nothing you’ve ever gone after before.”
“What are you trying to do, scare me?” Indiana Jones replied. “You sound like mother ... I’m going after a find of historical significance.”
So am I. Wish me well, my friends. If you have any leads or information to help me along this journey, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. NOTE: That’s an underscore not a dash between Joe and Garrett.
In the meantime, I know it’s out there somewhere. It’s time to set sail. Godspeed, everyone. I’m off to find the holy poultry grail.