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JENKINS: Goodbye, water towers: Excess lives here no more

Photo by Howard Reed

Photo by Howard Reed

As we say our final farewells to the Gwinnett Eyesores -- I mean, water towers -- it seems fitting to revisit, once again, the motto that they have proudly displayed lo, these many years.

With Gwinnett, like the rest of Georgia, in the throes of a debilitating recession, is it possible that cosmic forces are at work here? That, as the towers crumble, so too passes the famous slogan "Success Lives Here" -- along with all the hubris it represents?

I don't know about that. But, along with a new place to store water -- and a new place to find that water, although that's another issue -- it may be time for a new county motto.

I actually broached this subject several years ago, long before it had crossed anyone's mind that those two towers might not still be there for Charlton Heston to stumble across at the end of "Planet of the Apes."

"Success Lives Here," I argued at the time, not only seemed shopworn but was never entirely accurate anyway. I guess "Success Lives Here But Works in Buckhead" was too long to paint on the towers.

Sensing a need to replace the motto, even then, I offered two suggestions of my own: "Gwinnett County: Ours is Bigger" and "Excess Lives Here." Neither met with much enthusiasm. So I opened up the floor to readers, who responded in a big way.

First I heard from those who clearly believe the most important quality a motto can have is rhyme. From this group I received such suggestions as "Diggin' Deep and Buildin'em Steep" -- an obvious reference to rampant urbanization -- and the ever enigmatic, thought-provoking "Gwinnett: Best Bet and Yet. ..."

Then there were the clever plays on words, like "Gwin and Bear It" and "Success Loves Beer," proving once again that readers of this column are among the most sensitive and intelligent people in the county.

But most suggestions were issue-oriented, such as these that address the growing diversity of our county: "Multicultural and Don't Even Know It" and "100,000 Illegal Immigrants Can't Be Wrong." I decided not to print several others because they might be offensive to certain minority groups, such as white men.

Other writers took issue with our miserable attempts at mass transit ("Come and Ride the Busses! No One Else Does") and the once-frenetic pace of "development" ("Come and Watch the Trees Fall").

One reader even seemed to confuse us with Cobb County, suggesting that we adopt "Evolution Ends Here." Of course, there's always the chance he was not referring to the scientific theory but was rather making an unkind observation regarding his fellow Gwinnettians.

In any case, I was impressed with all the suggestions. With the old motto soon to be dust, I hope our county fathers will consider adopting one of them. After all, many of them love beer, too.

Rob Jenkins is associate professor of English at Georgia Perimeter College. E-mail him at rjenkinsgdp@yahoo.com.