November 6, 2012

Fried Green Tomatoes and Forrest Gump

By Doyne Phillips, Managing Editor

Since my childhood my family has vacationed along the Alabama coast. I was sharing with a local Mobile Bay native that I remember water skiing on the Fowl River when I was sixteen. Had I known it has alligators I may not have been so brave.

These days we are more enticed by our children and grandchildren toward the east shore of Mobile Bay, Baldwin County. Fair Hope, Point Clear and Fort Morgan are great southern historic spots to visit while the sugar sand beaches of Orange Beach and Gulf Shores draw the kids. The people, hospitality and food can’t be beat but we have one place we always return to and that is Magnolia Springs.

We were drawn to Magnolia Springs by a great restaurant Jesse’s and return to it each year for their Shrimp and Grits. One of these annual trips led to a great discovery. After finishing our meal we walked through the connecting bar, The Cold Hole, and into Jesse’s On the Side, where I noticed a bookshelf with some copies of Fannie Flagg’s A Redbird Christmas. I picked up a copy and found it had been signed by the author. I knew she had once lived in the area and was told her home is pointed out to visitors to the town. Later I found that Fannie had written A Redbird Christmas while in Magnolia Springs. Fannie’s Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café is by far her most famous work.
The home of Winston Groom, author of Forrest Gump, can also be pointed out. After seeing the town, visiting the people and being influenced by its culture you can see the “birthplace” of Forrest.
Winston and Fannie teamed up in 2008 to write the Forward and Introduction to A Painters Paradise which is a collection of waterfront paintings including the homes of the authors on Mobile Bay.

 Many authors use life experiences in their writing and some are fortunate enough to have a rich culture to draw from. If you have the opportunity to visit Magnolia Springs you will see the small town these famous authors go back to for their creativity. What you may find is it may not be much different from your own. And by the way, while you are there, stop in at Jesse’s, they have Fried Green Tomatoes on the menu.    

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