On a slow news day 16 summers ago, I saddled my pony and rode off on an adventure.
Actually, I drove my Toyota. I traversed the city, capturing slices of life in familiar and unfamiliar places.
I made my observations through a random lens. If someone was walking a dog or flying a flag, I wrote it down. If I noticed a woman hurrying to take her groceries into the house before the ice cream melted, I made a note of it.
It was a meandering travel diary, a compilation of serendipitous snapshots. I called it “Postcards from a Summer Day.’’
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Over the years, the column became somewhat of a summer tradition. People would call or write when it was published. Did I happen to catch them watering their flowers in Bloomfield or shopping at a thrift store in Warner Robins?
I would laugh and tell them there was no way to be sure. But they always should be on their best behavior because you never know when you might show up in a newspaper story.
Last week, on the 19th day of summer, I set sail on another incognito expedition. I played the proverbial fly on the wall, the gnat on the front bumper.
I roamed for 11 hours in eight Middle Georgia cities. I skipped across the countryside for 177 miles, my tires never touching the interstate. Of course, that meant enduring the agony of approximately 204 stoplights — most of them in Warner Robins.
I cruised downtown streets, discovered tucked-away neighborhoods and crept through parking lots. I got out and walked around, too. You can’t expect to see everything from an air-conditioned car.
Here are my postcards. Hand-delivered.
A couple of women chatting on the front porch of a home on Main Street in Byron. … A truck kicking up dust along a dirt road near Barrington Dairy in Macon County, the largest dairy farm in Georgia … A group of college students playing a game of Ultimate Frisbee at Tattnall Square Park in Macon. … The self-proclaimed “Vegetable Man” thumping watermelons at his produce stand on Leverette Road in Warner Robins. …
Two elderly men seeking shade under a tree near the public library in Marshallville. … A man and woman sharing a cup of collard soup and famous “little biscuits’’ on the porch at The Swanson in Perry. … A woman pushing a shopping cart along the sidewalk on West Church Street in Fort Valley. … A young man walking a cat on a leash at Macon’s Washington Park. (Yes, a cat. I turned the car around to make sure.) …
Dozens of Canada geese near the entrance to the Eagle Springs community in Centerville. (I don’t think it’s 95 degrees back home in Ontario.) … A pair of lifeguards keeping watch over children playing on floats and tossing beach balls in the pool at the South Bibb Recreation Center on Houston Road in Macon. … Large floor fans and ceiling fans working overtime as folks enjoyed the peach ice cream at Farmer Brown’s market north of Montezema. … A mother at her 5-year-old daughter’s birthday party, carrying the cake out the door while being followed by a group of children wearing “Let’s Paw-ty” T-shirts at Pin Strikes on Sheraton Drive in Macon. …
A man wearing a Gatsby newsboy style hat, settling into a comfortable chair in the back corner of Books-A-Million in Warner Robins. … A couple of playful boys bouncing on a trampoline in a backyard on South Beechwood Drive in Macon. … A nostalgic tire swing in a yard on Charles Avenue in Perry. … A multi-tasking young man pushing a stroller, pulling a dog on a leash and listening to music on his headphones along Buford Avenue in Macon. …
A Georgia Bulldog sign on the door of a house on Clemson Drive in Warner Robins. (Gosh, I can’t wait for college football season.) … A young girl in a sundress running from the playground to her mother, who was sitting at a picnic table at Amerson River Park in Macon. ... A man wiping his beard with a napkin at Troy’s Snack Shack, a legendary lunch spot on Cherry Street in downtown Montezuma. … At another Cherry Street restaurant up the road in Macon, a crowd of dinner patrons enjoying the ambiance of sidewalk dining beneath strands of elegant white lights at Parish. …
A young man riding his bicycle along the sidewalks of downtown Fort Valley. ... Three youngsters splashing in a small pool in the front yard of a house in Payne City, an old mill village in Macon. … A child wearing a Minnie Mouse shirt trying to keep up with her mother, who was buying “stuff for the beach” at the Ollie’s Bargain Outlet in Houston Plaza in Warner Robins. … A woman pulling weeds in her yard on Burton Avenue in Macon. … Another lady watering a fern on her front porch on U.S. 41 on the outskirts of Perry. … A young man with a pleasant smile — despite the scorching heat — bringing in the shopping carts from the parking lot at the Food Depot on Northside Drive. …
Three women and two young ladies scurrying across busy Vineville Avenue at the crosswalk on their way to Jim Shaw’s Seafood. … A garbage truck climbing the steep hill on Belaire Drive and turning the corner onto Biltmore Terrace in Warner Robins. … A father and his daughter shopping for fishing supplies on the aisle next to the giant freshwater aquarium at Bass Pro Shop in Macon. … A woman taking family photos with her cellphone at the Chicken Salad Chick on Watson Boulevard near Centerville. …
Skateboarders at Macon’s Central City Park, providing a contrasting backdrop to the youngsters on nearby fields playing baseball and running sprints at a youth football camp. … A woman gathering the letters from her mailbox as the carrier made his rounds on Westwood Drive in Warner Robins. … A young man lifting a dog out of the back of a truck, then letting his happy pup loose through the gates of the dog park on Chestnut Street in Macon.
It makes me happy to send you these postcards.
Wish you could have been there.
Maybe you were.
Ed Grisamore teaches journalism at Stratford Academy in Macon and is the author of nine books. His column appears on Sundays in The Telegraph.