... to Albany!!
We recently returned to Albany for the January Blackbeard's Gathering and having a few extra minutes, we decided to visit old homes and old places ... sometimes that's a good idea ... sometimes its not!!! Can you go back home?
We first dropped by Morningside to visit Helen Long Cordell (who taught me to type!); but soon to be 97, she was out gallivanting around!!! Disappointed ... but delighted!
We left there and drove through Tommy's old Albany Herald route, and he told me stories of people who lived "there" along the route. One of those people was the old Albany Cardinals manager and pitcher, Chief Sheldon Bender! Tommy was amazed at how the area had changed, and how pitiful it looked. But I was strangely content to watch him reliving a job that helped so many young boys in Albany, and eventually helped put Tommy through GA Tech!
We decided to drive by and see what the Arctic Bear corner was up to, and on the way we passed the old sports field where Tommy played in his youth, and also my two boys, Jim and Chuck Calhoun while we were living in Albany 1958 - 1970. I was unable to watch most of their games, but my father, Luell Smith, who had dreamed of having a son (and instead had 3 girls), was at every game!
Then on to the Arctic Bear property ... hmmmmm looks mighty different! ... the place sure has changed!!! We drove down the side alley (dear gussie ... Albany and its alleys!!!) and saw this junk yard ... if the weather had not been so dismal, we would have stopped and peered into the place to see if any old treasures from Arctic Bear days was there!
Then we started out across the old bridge, and took the "high road", wondering where the "low road" was. Ironically, we had heard Seaborne Currie's name mentioned on the radio on the way down, and remembered such fun days with his sister, Charlotte ('55, now deceased), as we passed the Radium area where they lived.
Quite frankly, I refused to look at Radium OR take pictures ... I doubt if I can ever look again - no matter what wonders they create. Albany did not take the source of Radium (the springs) ... but it took her heart (the Casino and Pavilion). We drove on out by the Radium Country Club and golf course. I remembered many fun "spend the nights" at the Vansant's, and Mary Dale ('56) and I would spend hours by the pool at the club. It was not easy being in a bathing suit next to "Miss Perfect Figure"!!!!
We left there to drive by the first place we lived in Albany when we moved there right after Thanksgiving in 1948. The Magnolia Apartments were due east of Radium (forget the name of the road). I remember being impressed that Louise Whiting of the Albany Herald came out to take pictures of the new family in town ... the Smith's. Have always wondered how that came about. We lived there only 6 months or so. It was a long way to get the children to McIntosh, Mamie Brosnan and St. Teresa's Kindergarten.
On the way back to visit our next home, we passed the old grocery store on the "high road" where I purchased grape drink and cookies (having saved my allowance) for the "Beauty Contest" I "produced"! Yes ... I started directing at an early age! I think that was Barbara Smith's ('55) family grocery.
Horne Wilson, Inc. was a branch of an Atlanta company, and sold wholesale heating and plumbing. It had an old pull rope elevator, and we loved to go down to the office and play "office" and ride on the elevator! I remember taking my two younger sisters, Sharon (58) and Tina (61) up to the top floor that first December ('48) and finding three bikes. Two shiny smaller bikes and one re-painted red regular size. I didn't exactly understand why I was chosen to receive the re-painted bike ... but my parents REALLY couldn't believe that I had ruined Santa Claus forever for my sisters.
The next year we moved to Dolly Madison Apartments on 3rd Avenue ... kitty-cornered from Ronnie Keel ('56) and Buzzy Lamb ('54). We lived in the bottom floor corner. We bought our first "second" car for Mother - an old stick-in-the-floor Hudson ... I remember the old musty smell of that car to this day! Next door was another friend, Linda Jones ('56) and we spent hours playing paper dolls in an upstairs room! I had my first crush on Walter Strom ('54) ... the first of many in Albany!
We lived there until our new home was built. So we continued our trip down third and around the infamous Hilsman LIME SINK!!! Now, I remember when they tried to fill that thing ... ... and I remember when something ominous happened!!! The tale is told that there were boys swimming the night it morphed from a lake into a black hole!!! Who were those boys? (See Hilsman Park Limesink)
Just before the junction of Third and Dawson Road, we turned right, off Third, to go one block to Orchard Drive. We moved into our beautiful new home in 1951 (I think), and those pine trees were no more than 2 feet high. The pecan trees were already full grown - they were once part of an orchard! The one I always climbed, to a place where I spent time reading, was gone. That house was "home" to my family for 39 years. A well-known developer who came on bad times bought it after Mother died, and Daddy, who had suffered a stroke, decided to move to a retirement center in Cordele. After both the new owners died, a young couple bought it. Sadly, all the beautiful wild azaleas and roses Daddy planted and attended, plus all the beautiful shrubs and regular azaleas that Mother planted were neglected and died.
Edgar Campbell ('56) knocked on that front door many a time during 1954 and 1955, and when he would bring me home just in the nick of time, Daddy was standing behind the door! Ironically, his son and grandson moved into that house a few years ago!!! Last I heard, it is on the market again.
Hill Top Grocery ... anyone remember that little store? My parents, were extremely strict with me EXCEPT when Daddy taught me to drive when I was 11. So it was amazing, and I'm sure for their convenience, that they started asking me to "run over to Hill Top and pick up a few things" when I was 14!!! That never made sense to me - they wouldn't let me date until I was 16 ... why would they let me drive at 14?!!!
On the way back to Blackbeard's Gathering, Tommy pointed out the home where Nancy Castleberry's ('57) family lived, and I shot that picture with Nancy's daughter, Lynn Garrison (82) Johnson in mind ...
And then it was time to go to Blackbeard's and visit with dear friends from Albany High!!!
One thing for sure ... you can always go home to old friends!!!