AREA 75 square miles
NEAREST BIG CITY Montgomery, 30 miles south
WHAT TO EAT"My mom Eva Thomas's cooking. Everybody comes to her house," saysThomas. "Restaurants don't do well here. You work, you come home, you cook.Every day is like Sunday. You have two or three vegetables, two or three meats,cornbread. You eat right. [Eva, left] makes collard greens, smothered porkchops, baked chicken, meat loaf, strawberry cobbler. It's so good."
BEST FISHING"Lake Martin, one of the great bass areas," says Thomas of the huge,freshwater lake that has hosted ESPN's Bassmasters. "All the country peoplecome to town and fish. I've never been a good fisherman, though."
LOCAL HERO"For me it's my father, Adonis. He drives a school bus now. He was anelectrician when I was a kid. I'd go with him to wire houses, put in ceilingfans. He worked commercial properties, restaurants. He's always been a hardworker, the head of the household, the breadwinner."
MAJOR EMPLOYER"Russell Athletic," says Thomas of the clothing company that wasfounded nearby. "Everybody worked there. I worked there as a screen printerwhen I was a kid. I printed numbers on jerseys, the Philadelphia Eagles' winterworkout clothes. It made me think about playing in the NFL, and it was weird tosee how big those guys were."
LOCAL LEGEND"Al Williams, the barber. He's been the barber since he was in high school.He'd come to our house to cut our hair. Now he's become a preacher.... He justgot a church."
LOOKING BACK"High school is like a blur," says Thomas, 29, who led the Cougars'basketball team to the 1995 state title, as its top scorer and rebounder."That [title] was the first. Since then we've won it about three times. Yousee people you knew back then, and it tells you how much you've grown up. It'sstrange. But people treat me the same."