by Michaela Beck
Coweta County happened to me in 1993. I arrived out of the blue; I did not know a thing about the South. Everything here was so new to me, like a snow shower in Congo.
In fact, I came with my German companion who was supposed to work for a German company in Newnan. We were given an information sheet telling us where to find our housing; it said the best for Europeans is Peachtree City.
My first impression of PTC was: No character, no charm, no established cultural and historical values there.
My first impression of Newnan: All of the above was here, with humble yet distinct pride at every corner, embraced in this lovely countryside of Coweta County. We rented an apartment in Newnan.
When my companion had to transfer jobs from Newnan to Detroit, I said, “I am staying in Georgia.” He said, “You don’t even understand what these Southerners are saying.” I replied, “But I can breathe here better.”
He left, I stayed.
Somebody told me with a note of irony, “Coweta County? Newnan? Where the hell is that? Oh yeah, you got to have a lunch bag and a loaded shotgun when you go there.”
That did not put a stop to my wish to stay right here. And I did just that. I bought a small acreage in Coweta County, about eight miles east of downtown Newnan, a very rural setting in the 1990s, remember?
I’ve decided that I had to have this piece of land because of the two incredibly beautiful, huge Southern white oaks on it—so old that they must have remembered the times of the Civil War. What an irreplaceable point of real history. With the local builder Mark Kemp, I built a true copy of a Mississippi plantation cottage on my land.
The Newnan-Times Herald learned about me somehow, invited me for an interview and published a first-page article about the bloody newcomer to town.
One day, I parked my car at the Piggly Wiggly. A guy approached me and said, “Ma’am, I saw your picture in the Herald. You know, we are cowboys here, all country folks. Honor meeting you ma’am. We need more like you here. It’s like the world is coming to us.”
He offered me a handshake and a smile.
As of today, I’m still living in my Southern white house. I am deeply rooted in Coweta County. I understand everything these Southerners are saying, ’cause I’m one of them.