AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF)– You’ve known him for decades through his “Ramblin’ Rhodes” music column in the Augusta Chronicle. You’ve read his articles in Augusta Magazine and national country and bluegrass journals.

He is the publications editor of the Morris Communications Company and has been publications manager of the National Barrel Horse Association and Augusta Futurity.

Don Rhodes has written several books about the history and legend-making stories and characters of Georgia-Carolina. His latest book, North Augusta, the Western Gateway of South Carolina, is available at the Arts & Heritage Center gift shop in the North Augusta Municipal Building, and at The Book Tavern on Broad Street in downtown Augusta.

Rhodes has written about Ty Cobb, James Brown, and “legendary locals” in the books below:

Entertainment in Augusta and the CSRA
Ty Cobb Safe at Home
Say It Loud: My Memories of James Brown, Soul Brother No. 1
Mysteries and Legends of Georgia
Icons of Georgia: 50 Views of the Peach State
Legendary Locals of Augusta GA
GA Myths and Legends

Here’s an excerpt from our conversation:

Jennie: The book that I wanna talk about right now is “North Augusta: the Western Gateway of South Carolina.” And this book is filled with so many neat little stories, historical accounts, present-day accounts. People that you’ve all heard of, things you’ve never heard of. I mean, who knew North Augusta had so many neat little stories?

Don: That’s what Bill Kirby wrote in his review, “Who Knew”? But I had been… You know, I came up to write for the “Augusta Herald” as a police reporter. I became a polical reporter. I covered city politics under “Pop” Newman’s administration, and into Ed McIntyre’s, for about 12 years. And then I became the entertainment editor of the “Chronicling Herald” for six years. And I helped create the “Applause” entertainment section. And in six years, I twice won the Greater Augusta Arts Council’s Media Person of the Year award, and then won it again later on. But I’ve heard, kept hearing, these stories in North Augusta, every now and then. And then, about 12 years ago, I got on the Board of Directors of the North Augusta Arts and Heritage Center. And I started working with exhibits. And so, I finally, I just decided that it’d be nice if they were put in some sort of book, or something, you know, preserved. And so, a guy at my health club, Jonathan Cook, you may have had him, he’s an actor and playwright. He’d got the Porter Fleming Foundation award to do a play. So I thought, “Well, I have never applied for any grant before in my life.” And then I decided, “Well, you know, maybe I could go that route.” So I put in for it, got the grant. And the only stipulation was I give credit to the Porter Fleming Foundation.

Jennie: Right.

Don: And that was easy, because Berry Fleming was, you may know, was a very prominent Augusta author. His most famous book was “Colonel Effingham’s Raid”, which was about the political party that controlled Augusta for several years. And so, Berry Fleming created this foundation, in honor of his father, Porter Fleming. And so, anyway, I was the last person to interview Barry Fleming before he died, so…

Jennie: Well, this is just a tidbit of what you’ll find in Don’s book. I can’t let this segment end without mentioning that you talk about our dear friend, Flo Carter. You talk about Sharon Jones, so many neat little stories, and these are short chapters, and it’s just fun, little accounts, of the neat details, and the neat characters, that have made North Augusta what it is.

Don: My favorite is the one of Billie Burke, who’s the Good Witch of the North in “The Wizard of Oz”, that she played golf, at the Hampton Terrace Hotel in North Augusta. And she loved golf so much, that when her train car, next stop, went to Macon. And what she did was, she got in touch with her husband, who was Flo Ziegfeld, of “Ziegfeld Follies”, and she got him to reroute her train car from Macon, back to North Augusta, before she went to Atlanta, so she could play more golf. Who would’ve thought, they’d go into the North to play golf?

Jennie: You also talk about “Chris” Sizemore, who was played by Joanne Woodward in “Three Faces of Eve”.

Don: Right, the only Oscar she ever got. But most people don’t know that her father was a Richmond Academy graduate, and that her grandfather was a doctor in North Augusta, who served on the North Augusta school board. In fact, her uncle was one of the first Assistant Scout Master in North Augusta.

Jennie: So I wish we had about two hours, that we could talk, and share all of your stories. This has been great having you here today.