The Funniest Woman in Georgia

Cracker1

Fans of storyteller-humorist Lauretta Hannon know her as the Cracker Queen. We’re calling her the funniest woman in Georgia. She published a new memoir this year and counts NPR’s All Things Considered a friend. Now, Lauretta’s traveling the South telling her tales about the best BLT she’s ever had, why women need to calm down, and how bugs can cure Georgia’s woes. And lucky for us, Lauretta's kindly sent us an excerpt. Read on.

 

MAMA AND THE CHAIN GANG

By Lauretta Hannon

 

There wasn’t much to do in Warner Robins in the early 1970s but ride around. So that’s what Mama and I did.

During my preschool days, we tooled around in the butter-colored Cadillac, which was stocked with vodka and orange juice. I sat on the armrest in the front seat, biting at the air rushing from the vents. This was before child seats and air bags, but I had the ultimate protection: the Mama Arm of Steel. At the slightest tap of the brake, her arm would nail me against the seat.

Our greatest adventures involved chain gangs, crews of convicts working by the road. We never slipped any­one a shank in a homemade cake or provided a getaway car, but what we did do was just as thrilling.

When we’d happen upon these crews, we’d rush to the nearest convenience store and buy cartons of ciga­rettes for ’em. We might have been broke, but Mama was never cheap. She bought the best brands: Marlboros, Kents, and Winstons.

My job was to break up the cartons so that we could hurl the packs out the window. Timing was crucial, as the men had to snatch the cigarettes before the boss man, and his shotgun, could intervene. Not once did we ride by without doing something: Our mission was too important, and way too fun.

The excitement never faded. We didn’t know when or where we’d come upon a chain gang, so it was always a surprise and a call to action—regardless of where we were going or what our plans might have been.

Mama would floor it once we were sure contact had been made. I’d leap over the front seat and press my face against the back window. I loved watching the prisoners smile and hoist the packs high above their heads as we fled in a cloud of red dust. Sometimes one of the men cried, but I knew he wasn’t sad.

As a four-year-old, I saw the radical happiness I had caused. For the first time, I became aware of my own power—and it felt damn good.

I savored the view long into the distance. Once they were out of sight, I’d stretch across the backseat and pic­ture them in my head—the men in stripes, with their wide grins and salty tears.

 

 

We chatted with Lauretta and (between laughs) jotted down a few of our questions and her hilarious answers. This gal is a trip.

 

What three words best describe you?

Exuberant, funny, human-chihuahua.

Who is your favorite person?

My dog Boots.

Who's the funniest person alive?

Mama. She posts original sayings on her fridge. My favorite: "Money isn't everything, but it sure quiets the nerves."

Why do you love living where you do?

Because that's where my man is. I also have a great front porch.

What about men drives you crazy?

Everything about men drives me crazy – in a good way. I had a fantastic relationship with my Daddy.

If you had a superpower, what would it be?

I'd rid the world of polyester, bad jazz, and cornbread made with sugar.

What is your perfect meal?

This sounds like a death row inmate's last request: homemade potato chips from the old Crystal Beer Parlor in Savannah; a BLT from Nu-Way in Macon; and sweet tea and lemon icebox pie from the Silver Skillet in Atlanta.

What's your strangest childhood memory?

It's a tie between buying boiled peanuts from a leper and meeting my Uncle Buddy on the chain gang.

What about men drives you crazy?

Everything about men drives me crazy–in a good way. I had a fantastic relationship with my Daddy.

What about women drives you crazy?

Our obsessions with things that don't matter.

Does humor ever get you out of trouble?

Always. A sense of humor saves me every time.

What would you change about your home state?

More lightning bugs, less Atlanta.

What's next?

A darkly comic novel set in the place that fuels my imagination most: Middle Georgia.

 

BUY THE BOOK HERE.

 

 

 

 

COMMENTS

  1. Michelle Yarwood

    Looking forward to reading your book

    October 6, 2009 at 10:24 am
  2. Darla M. McCorkle

    Lauretta visited our B&B in Jefferson, TX this past year and I almost peed my pants when I heard she was coming! I loved talking to her about her book over breakfast! She is such a funny lady and she brings out the best stories about her southern mama, which makes you appreciate your southern mama a little more. Can’t wait to see her again at Beauty and the Book’s 10th Anniversary Girlfriend Weekend! Got her room all ready for her..don’t know about that cornbread without sugar though…maybe I can just make her some sweet tea!
    Darla

    October 5, 2009 at 7:39 pm
  3. RonW

    Low-retta, I guess you’re the first person I can call a true CQ without gettin a dirty look :-) Missin’ ya bunches. You keep up the great work!

    October 5, 2009 at 6:07 pm
  4. Fran

    Enjoyed the article, she is one of the funniest people I have ever known.We would love to read more.
    Robert says so too.
    She made my birthday one to remember complete with my very own crown, I’m her lady -in-waiting. But she never told me what I’m waiting on?
    Love you, keep ‘em laughing.

    October 5, 2009 at 3:36 pm
  5. Jane Bailey

    Everything good that can be said about Lauretta has already been said, but I want to ditto it all. I knew Lauretta when she was a student at UGA. I worked next door to her. It was pure joy to always see Lauretta, her smile, and talk to her. She was and is like a giant sunflower that exudes pure country goodness and beauty! Love you much, Lauretta, and look forward to seeing you in Athens next month. And, I must say that with Southern Living covering Lauretta and her book proves Southern Living’s class as a southern magazine.

    October 5, 2009 at 9:51 am
  6. Lori McAllister

    The QC came to our local library in Cartersville, GA through Georgia Public Radio. We all LOVED her show and can’t wait for her to come back! She brings out the best in everyone as she talks about all her crazy experiences….it makes you look back on your own life and realize there’s a little bit of QC in us all!

    October 4, 2009 at 10:39 am
  7. Melissa Powell

    I too loved Lauretta’s book, love that my girl has made it to pages of Southern Living, and love that she’s soon to give us another book to enjoy! Darkly comic? Are you sure you’re not writing my memoir?? Love ya Lo-retta!

    October 1, 2009 at 10:24 am
  8. Debbie H

    Bless your heart! You’re a very good story teller and I do truly believe we must be related because I thought I was the only one with crazy family stories…LOL! I bought each of my sisters one of your books so they could enjoy it, too. Keep on writing, girlfriend!

    October 1, 2009 at 9:36 am
  9. Debbie H

    Bless your heart! I know we must truly be related because I thought I was the only one with family stories like that! Thanks for sharing them. I gave each of my sisters a copy of your book so they could enjoy your stories, too. Keep writing!

    September 30, 2009 at 11:44 am
  10. APT

    The book cracked me up. I found myself laughing and crying at the same time. Lauretta is a real southern treasure.

    September 30, 2009 at 4:58 am
  11. betty gwen barlow

    loved the book! my fav parts are from the first page to the last..and all the inbetween pages too! she pulls no punches and its life lived in real time..not gwtw tara time..rather red clay and pine tree hardscrabble life..
    hope to go to see her in zebulon in nov

    September 29, 2009 at 9:09 pm
  12. Becky Voyles

    What a gal! I met Lauretta about a year ago on a tour of homes in Powder Springs. We bonded right then and there!
    I loved your book and had a blast at the book signing in Powder Springs. My October issue of Southern Living finally arrived Saturday. The interview was great, just left me wanting more. Can’t wait for your next book. Congratulations to you and thank you for being such an inspiration.

    September 29, 2009 at 4:11 pm
  13. Chanel Hutt

    Lauretta is one incredible human being. She is not only hilarious and spunky but she is full of life and wisdom. I am totally honored by just being able to call her a friend! I mean that Lauretta, Love you doll,
    Chanel H

    September 29, 2009 at 12:34 pm
  14. Josi Squires

    WYDE-FM here in Birmingham, AL had the pleasure of interviewing Lauretta live on the Lee Davis Show. We had a great time with her and hope she writes another great book soon so we can bring her back to bham. Cracker Queen is the best book ever! Keep crankin them in Lauretta!

    September 29, 2009 at 11:21 am
  15. Margret Kendall

    I met Lauretta in Powder Town at Seven Springs along with a mutual friend, Laura. I loved her book and look forward to future books she will be writing. I could really relate to family craziness! I am now a Kick Ass friend!

    September 29, 2009 at 10:15 am
  16. Paige Perkins

    Great to see Southern Living celebrating great Southern women writers, and Lauretta is certainly that! Her book has become highly quotable around my house and can’t wait for her next book – you go girl!

    September 29, 2009 at 9:52 am
  17. Cori Sessions

    Lauretta is one of the most wonderful people I have ever met. She is a dear friend and will always hold a special place in my heart. No matter what is going on in your life Lauretta can make you laugh and feel better.

    September 29, 2009 at 9:46 am
  18. Patsy Orr

    I first knew Lauretta when she was a student at UGA. . she worked as an assistant to our PR folks. She was a hoot back then, I’m so very proud of her and the accomplishments she has made in her life.

    September 29, 2009 at 9:25 am
  19. Chauncey

    Lauretta had a book signing at the Borders that I work at and she was by far the liveliest and most entertaining author we have ever had.

    September 29, 2009 at 8:55 am
  20. Libby Leverett-Crew

    Hannon reminds us all that life is for living, that bumps along the way are part of a well rounded life, and that humor can get anyone through anything.

    September 29, 2009 at 8:26 am
  21. Sue Ayres

    I have the honor of knowing personally her Mom’s side of the family. They are a very special bunch of folks and I love all of them. I recognize each & everyone in the book and laughed as I remembered along with her some of the shenanigans that she describes in her book. Way to go, girl! We are proud of you and love you all.

    September 29, 2009 at 8:25 am
  22. wendy w way

    lola…way to spread the love! awesome! keep up the good work…btw, i have the same red blouse you are wearing in the above picture…life is a treasure:) would love to see you.

    September 29, 2009 at 8:21 am
  23. Anne Welch

    Am a member of the fan club – will meet her in April 2010 – yee haw! I’m Savannah born but raised in AL and am ever so a cracker queen myself!

    September 29, 2009 at 7:30 am
  24. Joyce Crowder

    Love her! I am not just saying that cause I am her contest winner and I am on her website! :) Great article for a great woman. I enjoyed meeting her. P.S. Retta, Crystal Beer is reopening, come have some chips!!

    September 29, 2009 at 12:01 am
  25. Dan Hannon

    I am very lucky to be related to ‘Retta. She’s one of my favorite people on earth, and now one of my favorite authors.

    September 28, 2009 at 10:21 pm
  26. Stephen Scarbrough

    Not only was the Cracker Queen hilarious, sad, witty, and sarcastic all at the same time…it was honest and raw and I could relate to so many of the experiences–good and bad. It actually inspired me to remember who I am and to live every day like a Cracker Queen. Ya’ll did know that men can be Cracker Queens, right?

    September 28, 2009 at 10:03 pm
  27. Lisa Golden

    I read her book, I met her. She is that funny! A Georgia treasure.

    September 28, 2009 at 10:00 pm
  28. Taylor Bruce

    Wow. This is quite a strong response for LH. I knew she had a strong following, but you guys and gals seem ready to parade down Peachtree. I love it.
    Since it seems ya’ll know Lauretta and her work, I have a small request. Tell us some more stories. If you have any Cracker Queen anecdotes, tidbits, knee-slappers, gags, capers, and anything else that will do her justice, share it here. Or if something from her memoir still makes you chuckle, share that.
    Thanks-

    September 28, 2009 at 9:30 pm
  29. Jessica Walden

    I started reading the Cracker Queen this past weekend, and I literally cried as I turned the pages of her life alongside her. Most of my tears were in downright admiration for her gut-churning, unwavering, angelic and devilish, somewhat-Gothic, honest-to-goodness Southern prose.

    September 28, 2009 at 9:01 pm
  30. Audrena

    The Cracker Queen is too funny! I am so blessed to have her as my “Blue-Eyed Soul Sister”!!!

    September 28, 2009 at 9:01 pm
  31. B. Matt Hannon

    Another in the long tradition of Southern Writers.

    September 28, 2009 at 8:23 pm
  32. Dan Smith

    True, Lauretta is an extremely funny person, but she is also a very real person, and the exciting thing for me is that she is keeping the uniquely Southern voice alive with her writing.
    Go get ‘em CQ!

    September 28, 2009 at 7:48 pm
  33. Janie

    I can’t wait to meet Lauretta at the Crossroads Writers Conference presented by Macon State College in February! Having lived in Bonaire (next door to Warner Robins) all my life AND having taken piano lessons from her daddy..we will have much to talk about!

    September 28, 2009 at 7:22 pm
  34. Celia Rivenbark

    ‘Retta is the real deal. I’m proud to call her my friend and honorary “lil sister.” She has buckets of perspective, wit and charm. Ask her about the time we had smoothies at B-A-M.

    September 28, 2009 at 7:08 pm
  35. Diana Morrison

    L, Not that any of us didn’t already know that you are “the funniest woman in GA” has Southern Living lost their minds?…….. Don’t they know you are the funniest woman in the country? What were they thinking, georgia is way too small for CQ!

    September 28, 2009 at 6:55 pm
  36. Gina McNew

    I had the absolute privilege of interviewing Lauretta for a radio segment. Afterwards we shared a 2 hour plus lunch of which the entire time she kept me laughing. She is indeed the funniest woman in Ga. Her Cracker Queen book is an absolute delight! Lauretta is a wonderful storyteller and a true inspiration. She’s the type of person you meet once and remember a lifetime. I am a life long fan! Thank you SL for highlighting this Southern gem, cuz she sure ain’t a belle! :)

    September 28, 2009 at 6:46 pm
  37. Letty Shearer

    Lauretta is absolutely the funniest woman in Georgia. (And there are some funny women in Georgia.) Love her. Read her. Listen to her on NPR. She’s the best.

    September 28, 2009 at 6:46 pm
  38. Lucy McInnis

    Loved your answers! Your book was great. When are you comimg to Warner Robins for a book signing? Hope to see you soon, oh yea bring that old mother of yours with you! Lucy

    September 28, 2009 at 6:28 pm
  39. Gayle Ann Berg

    My book group absolutely loved her hilarious book! I’m excited to see that she’s writing a novel… can’t wait to read it!

    September 28, 2009 at 5:56 pm
  40. Renee Conner

    I will be meeting Miss Lauretta in April. I am sure its going to be quite an adventure. Can’t wait.

    September 28, 2009 at 5:32 pm
  41. Johnny Payne

    I meet Lauretta at a joint PR & Mktng meeting in Rome Ga.(2004) She was on the agenda and “my oh my” I am so gald she was. I was eager to gather/gleam any tips or informantion that I could use to get the word out about my college GAVTC. She has that tell it all kind of chrisma, wit, and charm that people of all ages need to see and hear first hand. Yes, and the tip that she left me with is that laughter is trully a gift from upstairs and that it needs to be shared with everyone.(be yourself) I wuld say she is the funniest women in the US not just Georgia. She is still my friend today and yes she would love to be your friend to even if you are on the wrong side of the tracks. The Georgia King, JLP

    September 28, 2009 at 5:22 pm

Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s