Here are some things I miss. They are gone forever and won’t ever come back, but the remembrance of them brings back happy memories. I hope this column rekindles, for you, some things in your life that made you happy. Good memories do that, you know.
Grandma Walker’s peach pies. Man were they good! Lots of peaches and cooked just right, but, probably most importantly, loaded with sugar. Grandma believed in using lots of sugar — in the iced tea and on the sweet potatoes and in those great peach pies. And, she was just as sweet as the pies.
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Granny Gray’s sweet slaw and hot tamale pies. She had lived in California, where my Granddaddy Gray was a cameraman at Universal Studios. Then they homesteaded near Tombstone, Arizona when Pancho Villa was raiding across the border between Mexico and the United States. So, she cooked a little differently, and we ate things not generally eaten in the South, like dates. I enjoyed her excellent cooking, which, like I say, was different. And, she was mighty sweet, too.
Roy Rogers. We need some Roy “Rogerses” today. Maybe in the Congress of the United States, or even in the White House. Let’s see: RR was kind — would shoot the gun out of the bad guy’s hand without even hurting him. He always told the truth. Now, that’s passé, isn’t it? Right always won out when he was involved. He and his wife, Dale Evans (pretty modern, they didn’t even have the same last names) always worked together for good; and, he was a great example for young people. I wish we had more great examples like Roy and Dale in public life today. Where are you, Roy, when we need you? And, with that, you could expect him to come riding out of the hills on Trigger.
Presidents Harry Truman and Dwight Eisenhower. Truman was the “every man” president — maybe our least likely president. He was straightforward and without pretense. He called it like he saw it. He would make a tough decision when he had to. He wasn’t college educated, but he had loads of common sense. He had been a farmer and a haberdasher (went bankrupt doing this). He had known bad times and dealt with hard times when he was president. He was a Democrat.
President Eisenhower operated on the premise that if it wasn’t broke, don’t try to fix it, or as “they” say, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” The country did good while he occupied the White House. United States Sen. Herman Talmadge, a Democrat, when asked by me who was the best president he served with, said, “Eisenhower.” Ike was a Republican, and a mighty good one at that.
I miss Ponce De Leon Park and the Atlanta Crackers. And, the old Southern League with the Crackers, New Orleans Pelicans, Birmingham Barons, Chattanooga Lookouts, etc. And, yes, I went to Ponce De Leon Park when I was just a young boy. Was it as wonderful as I remember it? Probably not, but it is in my mind. To me, it symbolized life when it wasn’t so complicated.
I miss Teen Town at the National Guard Armory in Perry and the rock n’ roll shows at the Macon City Auditorium in Macon. I miss the “Atlanta Fabulous Tams” and Conway Twitty at Plez Harden’s barn. Was it Sumter or Lee County or neither? Regardless, it was music when you could tell what the singers were singing. Shag, Motown, beach music, real country and even a little bluegrass. “Our music.” Lots of you know what I’m talking about. And, you miss it too, don’t you?
I miss dirt roads, especially after a cooling summer rain. And going barefooted and making toady frog houses with your feet in the red Georgia clay. And wearing nothing but some little short white underwear and a little pair of shorts just big enough to cover the underwear. Yep, that’s all: underwear and shorts. And, looking for maypops in the dirt ditches. And maypop fights or making maypop pigs. Simple times, great memories.
I miss Papa, my Walker grandfather. And watching him hitch-up the mules and plow the fields. And see him squat on the little stool and hand-milk the cow and about halfway through telling me to stand close as he squeezed warm milk from the cow all over my face with a little into my mouth.
Mainly, though, I just miss Papa. He must have made me 50 sling shots and told me the names of a hundred birds and walked a thousand miles plowing his mules. And, I haven’t even mentioned killing hogs, making syrup, going to the mill to get slabs to burn in the stove and cutting holes in oranges for sucking.
I’m out of room, but I’m not out of memories. I’ve mentioned all of this and have written nothing about Grandma making lye soap in the wash pot and then making hominy in the same pot. Or the Pastime and Arcade Theaters in Sandersville. Or Perry High School basketball in the old gym that burned. Or fishing with Yellowlegs out of Cedar Key, Florida. I could go on and on, but perhaps next time.
Regardless, I hope some of my happy memories brought back some of your happy memories to you.
Larry Walker is a practicing attorney in Perry. He served 32 years in the Georgia General Assembly and presently serves on the University System of Georgia Board of Regents. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.