Walden: To my newest newcomer, welcome home

July 18, 2014 

It didn’t take much to rock my world in an instant. On June 28, at 2:17 p.m., I was cradling one of Macon’s newcomers in my arms and fell into the deepest trance I’ll ever know when my newborn son’s eyes locked with mine.

Welcome home, Jameson Walden Weatherford. You’re going to do just fine here.

For a long time now, I’ve dreamed of how we’ll share our hometown with you. I’ve watched the children splash in the waterfalls and streams of Washington Park on a Second Sunday and wondered of the glee you’ll feel when the running water washes over your toes -- all while live music plays and your community surrounds you like one big picnic blanket. I hope you’ll grow to ask me over and over, is it Second Sunday yet?

Your daddy is already eager to promenade you around Tattnall Square Park, where you will enjoy nature, concerts and events in the backyard of our College Hill neighborhood. Without a doubt, as you grow to know the landscape of Tattnall, you’ll also quickly learn the magic of the Mercer University Bears.

Construction has begun on the in-ground slide that will coast down Coleman Hill. I imagine the outdoor lunches we’ll have looking over the steeples of our city and the cupola of the Hay House before we scoot down toward downtown, where we’ll wander the sidewalks, and I’ll tell you stories about folks named Otis, Little Richard and Pearly Brown.

See son, we’re calling you Walden, a nod toward your Macon roots that run deep. They are roots that are intertwined with an amazing story of American music sprung from this city stranger than any fairy tale.

Your great-uncle Phil was knee-deep in it. And he took our family with him, changing their course from newspaper routes and men’s clothing sales to managing artists like Otis Redding, Sam and Dave, Percy Sledge, the Allman Brothers Band and Lynyrd Skynyrd all right here in your hometown.

But if there is anything I want you to take from this, it’s that it wasn’t about the gold records and the royalties. All of this began during a time when the South forced black and white people apart. Through music and the friendships that were formed, your family helped break barriers that I want you to never take for granted.

And that’s not all, sweet son. There is a poet and a musician in your blood. Your mother’s mother is a Lanier, and we can trace those roots to your great ancestor Sidney. Just down the road from your home, we’ll walk the brick roads of High Street, and I’ll show you the cottage where the true founding father of the Southern music movement was born. I hope you’ll love the words we’ll discover, and the amazing history we’ll uncover as we trace the footsteps of Macon’s famous sons and daughters.

And then there are the lyrics. May Macon’s songs be your lullabies. May your babbles be your own “wop bop a loo bop.” May you know the wind in your hair as we roll down U.S. 41 with church bells ringing everywhere. May you try a little tenderness with all that you touch. And finally, my son, may you be a simple kind of man. May you be something you love and understand.

Welcome to Macon, Walden. I know you’ll love it here.

Jessica Walden is the director of communications for the College Hill Alliance and co-owner of Rock Candy Tours. Contact her at rockcandytours@gmail.com.

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