Who wore it better: Doc Holliday or Little Richard?

When John Henry “Doc” Holliday left his home town of Griffin, Georgia, in 1873, little did he know that, while he would be participating in probably the most famous gunfight in history, the Allman Brothers would be singing about a stretch of highway that connects his birthplace with that of Richard Wayne “Little Richard” Penniman, the Founding Father of Rock ‘n’ Roll—Macon, Georgia, to be exact. Or, that many years later, Hollywood would arrive in both locales in search of backdrops for films depicting the decline and fall of middle America.


“Ramblin’ Man”

My father was a gambler down in Georgia,
And he wound up on the wrong end of a gun.
And I was born in the back seat of a Greyhound bus
Rollin’ down highway 41.

The Netflix film Hillbilly Elegy, based on the book by J.D. Vance, was filmed partly in Macon, doubling as the actual setting for the book—Middletown, Ohio. Locations geographically distant, but having traveled the same hard path over the years, enough so to attract the attention of film location scouts. *Disclaimer: One of my kids can be seen as a background actor in one of the school house scenes.

“Tutti Frutti”

I got a girl, named Sue,
She knows just what to do
I got a girl, named Sue,
She knows just what to do
I rock to the east, She rock to the west, but
She’s the girl
That I love the best.

Griffin serves as the stand-in for the fictional town of Harburgh, Pennsylvania, in the 2018 film A Dark Place (Steel Country). Like Macon, Griffin provides the movie setting for a steel town that has seen better days.

“I enjoyed about as much of this as I could stand.” — Doc Holliday, 1877

The images below were taken on a recent Saturday morning excursion to Griffin and Macon, which are separated by about a 45-minute drive but are connected in their current conditions. The pictures are not meant to highlight any shortcomings of either town, but to illustrate the stark beauty of an ‘anywhere’ USA that has seen better days. Hopefully, you will see one of these images and think ‘I know that building or street,’ whether it’s in Indiana, or Oregon, or Maine, or wherever you may live. Take a look around to find the Hillbilly Elegy in your area. The areas that were once thriving, but people just up and walked away from at some point. Well, I guess Doc and Little Richard did that too, didn’t they?





















Note: Both Griffin and Macon are making comebacks of sorts, especially the downtown areas, with assistance from the recent boom in the Georgia film industry.
The images were taken with a Pixel 4 Android phone and edited with Photoshop Express, Snapseed, and Pixlr.

Photos and commentary by Frank Humphrey, who lives in the Atlanta area and works as Japanese-to-English translator in the financial field, and sometimes drives around and takes pictures.