Georgia's forgotten towns
by Kristal Dixon
kdixon@cherokeetribune.com
November 12, 2009 01:00 AM | 2858 views | 2 2 comments | 11 11 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Etowah High School junior and author, Andy Kite, 16, son of Al and Susan Kite of Towne Lake, holds the book, ‘Vanishing Towns of Rural Georgia,’ which he wrote this summer. Andy visited small towns in Georgia to explore their history, conduct interviews and take photographs to create the book. The book is on sale for $20 at Amazon.com and indigopublishing.com.<br>Photo by Samantha Wilson
Etowah High School junior and author, Andy Kite, 16, son of Al and Susan Kite of Towne Lake, holds the book, ‘Vanishing Towns of Rural Georgia,’ which he wrote this summer. Andy visited small towns in Georgia to explore their history, conduct interviews and take photographs to create the book. The book is on sale for $20 at Amazon.com and indigopublishing.com.
Photo by Samantha Wilson
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For as long as he can remember, Andy Kite of Towne Lake has been fascinated by small, rural towns.

And over the summer, the Etowah High School junior spent his vacation documenting the decline of several rural Georgia communities and writing a book, "Vanishing Towns of Rural Georgia."

In the book, he profiles the towns of Sharon, Norristown, Kite, DeSoto, Omaha, Cohutta, Auraria, Culloden, Chauncey, Elko, Buckhead, Penfield, Newton and Boneville.

The book is for sale at Amazon.com and at Indigo Publishing (indigopublishing.com) for $20.

Each town is profiled with information about its history, anecdotes and photos of what the town looks like today.

Andy, the 16-year-old son of Al and Susan Kite, interviewed local residents and asked them questions about what the town used to be like.

He said he began thinking about writing the book when he could not find a summer job.

"At first, it didn't look too realistic in my mind," he said.

In May, he began doing research about which towns he would like to feature. He said he chose the 14 towns because they may have been thriving centers of commerce at one time. He also looked at buildings to see if they appeared to have been abandoned over a period.

"It took up my whole summer and then some," he said.

The Kites said they were supportive of their son's decision to write the book.

"It sounded like fun," Mrs. Kite said.

Since Andy only had his learner's permit to drive at the time, his father accompanied him on the trips.

To get the information they needed, Kite said Andy visited local libraries in each town for research. In some cities, information was hard to come by, so he communicated with local historical societies.

"He did all this stuff on his own," Kite said.

Andy took pictures, did interviews and compiled the photos and information for the book.

While interviewing people, Andy said he heard a recurring theme.

The towns once thrived during agricultural prosperity. However, because of the Great Depression, the urbanization of America and the boll weevil's destruction of cotton supplies across the Southeast, "many of these towns died out," Andy said.

Older people also spoke about the towns' histories with nostalgia and referred to the "good times" before the days of big-box retailers and mega supermarkets put mom-and-pop stores out of business.

The Kites said Andy's love of small rural towns came from visiting his grandparents, who lived in small towns in south Georgia.

"He just grew up around it," Mrs. Kite said.

Along with publishing a book, Kite is a busy student. Along with classes at Etowah, he's also joint-enrolled at Kennesaw State University.

He's on Etowah's student advisory board and is a member of the Model U.N. team, the academic bowl club, the mountain bike club and the Beta Club.

He would like to pursue his undergraduate degree in either political science or journalism and plans to eventually go to law school.

Andy said he hopes his book gives people a new perspective on some of Georgia's vanishing small towns.

"While they may vanish physically, they'll still be there in my book," he said.
Comments
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Stacy Groce
|
January 25, 2010
Way to go Andy! We will definitely need to purchase copy of this book.
Donna Maley
|
November 15, 2009
What an amazing young man! To have that kind of vision and curosity and to carry the project to compleltion speaks volumns about his maturity, not too mention his mental abilities. Way to go, Mr. Kite.
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