Our own Thai story


I know it’s going to be a stretch for you folks who have moved into the county in the last 40 years, but until 1970, the address of most people was either Route 1, Route 2, or Route 3. Otherwise you got your mail at the post office in Fayetteville which is what I had to do when I moved here in 1967. I was given post office number 495 which I had for 53 years and finally gave it up a couple weeks ago, but that’s another story.

Route 2 was the responsibility of Fayette County native, Bill Mitchell. He covered it on Monday through Friday which was all he was allowed to do. So Route 2 on Saturdays was covered by his wife, Irene Mitchell. One Saturday I rode the whole route with her, but yes, that’s another story.

The recent news story on the Thailand soccer players stuck in a cave, reminded me of Fayette County’s connection to Thailand.

Irene Mitchell was managing the Star Restaurant back in the 1960s. Years later we knew it as Melear’s Restaurant. One day a car full of foreign Army officers in training down at Fort Benning near Columbus stopped in for lunch. They were in training exercises at Fort Benning. When they came out to their car, it wouldn’t start. Not wanting to be AWOL, Bill Mitchell hauled them to the nearest but stop, probably Jonesboro or Riverdale, to catch a bus to Columbus. Bill had a mechanic come and fix the car. I don’t know how or exactly when one of them came back to get the car, but he later became a general in Thailand, where he was from.

I knew him, his wife and children in the early 1970s when I wrote a number of articles about them. This was before computers and I have no copies of them and I will end up misspelling their names, just hope they never find out. We knew him as General Paithoon Ingkatanuwat.

He became a good friend of the Mitchell’s and decided that as each of his four children became old enough to enter high school, they would be sent to Fayette County, Georgia. The children were Vorvit, Maitree, Peggy and Kit.  All four graduated from Fayette County High School. Vorvit returned to Thailand right after graduation.

Maitree graduated in 1967.  Peggy was next and was the homecoming queen.  Kit was the place kicker for our football team in 1971 and graduated in 1972.

Obviously Peggy and Kit had long names we couldn’t pronounce and we were allowed to shorten them. Maitree is the only one still living in the United States.

One Christmas the general and his wife were visiting and I interviewed them for an article in the paper. I asked General Paithoon Ingkatanuwat if he would write “Happy New Year” in Thai script and he did  so. I placed it at the end of my article.

I am grateful to at least a dozen folks who shared their remembrances with me. Thank you one and all. It is indeed a small world.