The Town the Google Killed

There once was a humble little town called Lakanawaka.

A patient place. Never needed a stoplight. People just knew when it was their turn to go and didn’t mind stopping for an extra second if it looked like a neighbor was in a hurry.

A pleasant place. Six businesses lined Main Street in Lakanawaka: The First City Bank, Eckstal’s Grocery, The Rexall Pharmacy, Mick’s Auto-Garage, Loulla’s Beauty Salon, and Hank’s Television Repair. Old Hank’s been fixing TV’s since the fifties and he’s not gonna stop just because can replace them for less money than it takes to fix. A television wasn’t meant to be disposable, according to Old Hank. He’s got a large inventory of tubes and lots of time on his hands now that everything’s gone digital. But he’s hopeful. Things could turn. People could start yearning for a classic, snowy picture like they still buy vinyl albums.

A peaceful place. The little town believed in greenspace before Teddy Roosevelt learned to walk. There’s a park right downtown with tables where old men have been playing checkers for decades. They’ll stop to wave at you when you drive through – all but Horace Wakely. That old buzzard waits for the cars to pass so that he can fix the board as soon as you distract his opponent. Everybody knows he does it, but they figure it’s okay for Horace to win a game or two. He’s had it pretty tough since the war and all.

A safe place. Greenley Hardware has sawdust on its uneven wooden floor, a man who will cut glass while you wait, and a huge surplus of door hardware because people don’t need locks or deadbolts. In fact, the biggest crime wave in history was caused by a hole in Alvie Reed’s fence that let his goats parade around town eating everything that wasn’t covered.

It’s a nice town. Or was a nice town.

Lakanawaka, Alabama had the misfortune to be situated between the rest of the country and one of its most pristine beaches. Recently written up as a top-five destination in Sun & Screen Magazine, this beach was previously private and unspoiled by man. Easy to get to, you can take I-75 to I-10 west. Or you could hop on I-85 and then take a scenic route on Alabama 331.


But Google had a different idea. It all started when a crazy multi-colored car drove through town.


Clyde Mosely was sitting on his porch when it cruised past and he swore it had an eye on top of it. Fearing an alien attack, he fetched his shotgun and went back to rocking. His gun was no match for the invasion of beachgoers that soon hit. They’re rally cry:


When summer came, vans, cars, and trucks were pushing through Lakanawaka. With their luggage racks’ full, they looked like metal turtles, but they drove like hares because there wasn’t one impediment to slow them down.

The next town over, Lincolnton, was actually a more direct route. But they had a roundabout with city hall in the middle and nobody likes roundabouts. The citizens of Lakanawaka cursed themselves for that fateful day in 1957 when they voted 19-4 to keep the streets clear. Back then, they laughed at their neighbors having to slow down to get through town. Little did they know that sixty years later, those fifteen aye’s combined with one Google eye would doom their little town to destruction.

It was a nice town until the traffic drove everyone away. It was the kind of place that took you back to a day to when being off the beaten path meant something. But the beaten path has a heavy foot when it decides to reroute.

10 thoughts on “The Town the Google Killed

  1. My brother, who is in the navy, was stationed in Panama City for years. So long, in fact, that he married a girl from Mobile. They talk funny down there, whenever she pronounces the word, “Mobile”, it sounds like a question. But I digress. Every winter when it became too cold, dark and unbearable in Minnesota, I packed up the family for a couple of weeks on the beaches of the panhandle – and oh, those little southern towns were such a delight to drive through…

    1. They are great, but going by the wayside. Most of the quant town squares seem to be drying up. No one wants to stop at the cafe’s or antique shops, they just want to get to the beach. I admit, I plow through too.

      1. we have one here, about a block from the chain version of one. i always go to the old, little one when i have a question or need an odd part. they always know the answer.

  2. These aren’t really on the way to a beach, but if you still want to see a small town atmosphere, try Tignall and Washington, GA. Tignall has one traffic light in the middle of town. They did put a Dollar General near the light a few years ago. You can even get a burger at the Come Back Cafe! If you want small town with a town square that still has neat stores, swing by Washington, GA. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed! Be sure to stop in the refurbished Fitzpatrick Hotel that’s on the square, too! My husband’s dad grew up in Tignall and their family home is outside of Washington. Great area at a slower pace than the rush of Snellville, GA! We go “to the country” to sit and rock on the back porch with a refreshing breeze blowing through. If the wind blows a certain direction, you do get a whiff of the neighbors’ cows in the pastures across the street and next door. We prefer that aroma to car exhaust any day! 🙂 Your writing is always thought provoking, entertaining, or moving – sometimes all 3 in one post, Mark!

    1. If I’m headed to Augusta, I’m going to have to stop in those towns. They sound nice, although Tignall might be getting uppity with the Dollar General. Thanks for the advice and compliment on my writing.

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