Growing roots

Published 11:01 pm Monday, January 20, 2014

Tony and Jackie Harrison have made their homes in Banks.

Tony and Jackie Harrison have made their homes in Banks.

Florida brothers find their little slice of paradise in Banks

The Harrison brothers believe everyone deserves a place where he feels at peace. It took the brothers about 50 years and a number of tries, but they feel as if they have finally found a place they can call home in Banks, Ala.

Tony Harrison, 74, and Jackie Harrison, 72, are originally from Crestview, Fla., but they have spent the past decade or so living around Banks. “We love it here,” Tony said. “I wish we had found it 40 years ago. Out here, you can do whatever you want to do. You can hunt, fish—whatever. It’s just good country living.”

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The Harrison brothers took a round about way of coming to Pike County. Tony spent 21 years in the Air Force where he was stationed in Texas, South Carolina, Vietnam, Louisiana, Illinois, Delaware, Japan and Mississippi. Jackie was a little more grounded. He spent 30 years working for the Department of Transportation in Florida. “After I retired from the Florida DOT, I bought some chicken houses in Opp,” Jackie said. “I invited my brother to come work the houses for a week when I was out of town, and he decided he didn’t like doing that very much. I eventually sold out and moved to Red Level. Then, I got tired of there and moved down here to Banks.”

That was in 2000. Jackie’s brother Tony joined him in 2005. “I had bought the land I live on now in 2002,” Tony said. “We didn’t move down here until 2005 when Katrina hit the Gulf Coast. We were in Biloxi, then. We lost everything we had. We took it as a sign that it was time to move here.”

Even though Tony has lived all around the country, he says no place compares to his home in Banks. “I would never want to live anywhere else,” Tony said. “This is where we’re going to put down our roots. Of all the places I lived, only Dover, Del., comes close. The weather is too nice down here. I never want to live through a winter up north again.”

Now that they’re retired, the brothers find ways to occupy their time. “We do whatever projects our women want done,” Jackie said. “There’s always hunting and fishing to be done. We never hunted deer until we came up here. We’ve killed four does and two bucks this year. I should have been out hunting this morning. It hasn’t been a great year for hunting. It’s just been bitterly cold.”

Tony has been married to his wife Carla Jo for 53 years. The couple has two daughters who live in Mississippi. Jackie has been married to his wife Jeannie for 51 years and has two sons who live in Florida. They hope their children will move on to their land after they pass. “I have a son who says he’s going to move up on the land when he retires,” Jackie said. “But, that’s 10 to 15 years away. We just think this is the best place to live. Folks take care of each other out here. We have a great church family at Shiloh Baptist Church. We have the best preacher you’ll ever hear in our little country church.”

Tony agreed with his brother. “My wife loves it here,” Tony said. “We live in a wonderful neighborhood. You may hear a gunshot every now and then, but, otherwise, it’s all quiet. There’s never any fussing or arguing. I’m going to be right here unless the good Lord changes my mind.”