Highway 80 is a stretch of road that ran at one time from California all through Georgia and was once part of the early auto trail known as the Dixie Overland Highway.
However, the entire segment west of Dallas, Texas, has been decommissioned in favor of various Interstate Highways and state highways. Currently, the highway’s western terminus is on the Dallas–Mesquite, Texas city line. The highway’s eastern terminus is in Tybee Island, Georgia, at the intersection of Butler Avenue, Inlet Avenue, and Tybrisa Street, near the Atlantic Ocean – just past Savannah.
My focus will be the stretch from Dallas to the other side of Macon, Georgia. I will tell the narrative of nine families going back to when they first came to America and more specifically when and how they got to Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama or Georgia.
We are introduced to Lonsom Raney, the patriarch of the Raney family. Lonsom Raney’s granddaddy came to this country from Scotland and brought his copper still with him. Successive generations of Raneys continue making and selling corn whiskey in the north Georgia mountains.
Vernon Raney was the great-great-grandson of Lonsom Raney and followed in his older ancester’s tradition of distilling moonshine. Vernon actually continued using the very same still that Lonsom’s granddaddy brought over from Scotland in the 18th century. However, Vernon improved on the recipe, aging the whiskey to a warm tobacco gold color.
Maggie Motts lived across the river from Vicksburg and often looked out her bedroom window and dreamed of a better life. She ends up marrying into a wealthy family, albeit money made from illegal activities. But Maggie fit right in.
Jake McLemore did not know that Lee, his son who was killed in Iraq, had fathered a son in 1996, shortly before enlisting in the army. But in 2006 Jake’s grandson, Hank, showed up with his mother needing a place to stay. This song is sung by Hank when is 22 just after Jake has passed away.
Sonny Tate was a country singer who had moderate success. He was a staple of the Louisiana Hayride, but appeared every now and then on the Grand Ol’ Opry stage. His son, Tully, was often with Sonny when he performed.
D.W. Washington served alongside Mike “Sarge” Broussard in a transportation unit in Vietnam and then after the war went to Vivian, Louisiana instead of back home to Detroit in order to keep working for Mike.
Tully Tate, son of country singer Sonny Tate, has his hands full with his wife, Eva Broussard. Eva just can’t stay at home with the kids and Tully before she runs off and Tully has to find her and bring her back.
Eva Broussard was a troubled girl from a very young age. Her parents worried about her spending long periods secluded in her room and not hearing a sound from behind her door.
They never knew about her intense love of books. Yes, they knew she liked to read, and would take her to the library as often as she asked. But they had no clear grasp of the kind of books she liked to read. For example, she read and re-read Truman Capote’s “In Cold Blood.” In fact, she kept the book hidden under her bed, never returning it to the library. She claimed that a boy threw the book out of the bus window while they were on the Red River bridge. She saved her baby-sitting money and paid the library what they said she owed.
You could say Eva was precocious, sexually mature for her age. She got herself pregnant before she was sixteen and decided to have the baby, a boy, whom she chose to name Colt.
Eva ran away when Colt was barely one year old, leaving the child to be raised by his grandparents, Mike and Ellen Broussard. But after Eva’s marriage to Tully Tate, she brought the boy to live with her in Mobile, Alabama.
Eva and Tully also had twin girls a few years later. Throughout these early years of her marriage, Eva would run off from time to time, forcing Tully to find her and bring her back, only to run off again a few weeks later.
Finally, Tully just gave up on her and let Eva go.