Opinion Columns & Blogs

Middle Georgia makers of memories

wmarshall@macon.com

We all have memories. Some good, some bad. Mine are mostly good, and I hope that yours are, too. If you are an older Middle Georgian, you might remember some of these things. They are gone, but not forgotten by me and many others.

Pastime and Arcade Theaters in Sandersville: When visiting rural Washington County, we (my Walker grandparents and I) used to go to Sandersville, probably on Saturdays. They would let me go to the movies. I have wonderful memories of the exciting times in both “picture shows” probably watching cowboy movies. I’ll bet there are folks in Sandersville who don’t know about the Arcade Theater.

The Stone Arch over U.S. 41: Going north, on the top of the arch, it read “Houston County” and going south, “Dooly County.” It was on the Houston-Dooly County line. They, probably Georgia Department of Transportation, took it down in the late ‘50s or early ‘60s. I miss it! What happened to it? Is it still an arch or is it in a landfill or part of a paved road? Does anyone know?

Bad Boys’ school in Milledgeville: That’s what Daddy called it, as in, “Larry, if you don’t behave you’ll end up in the bad boys’ school” as we rode by it on our way to my grandparents’ home in Washington County. Now, they probably call such facilities something like “Georgia Rehabilitation and Instructional Facility For Mistreated and Troubled Youth.” But I understood “bad boys’ school” and silently vowed to never end up there. I didn’t.

Lake Henry: The lake is still there, just a few miles south of Roberta on U.S. 341. But what I’m remembering is the frame wooden building on the hill overlooking the lake that the young folks, when I came along, called “Lake Henry.” When I hear the song “Hernando’s Hideaway” with the words, “I know a dark secluded place ...,” I always think of that building where there used to be dancing and romancing. Lots of you Middle Georgians went there and have memories. I never went, but wish I had.

The long, narrow, serpentine bridge over the Ocmulgee River at Hawkinsville: I got my learner’s permit in 1957, and I drove over this bridge shortly thereafter. I met another vehicle on this bridge and was frightened, but I obviously made it. Roger Lawson from Hawkinsville became Georgia’s DOT commissioner and replaced it with two bridges (one for south-bound and one for north-bound traffic). Like the arch over the road at the Houston-Dooly line, I wish they had kept the bridge (not for vehicles, but for fishing and walking), but it’s gone forever. I understand they will put two new bridges in soon. Like the present bridges, they ought to name both for Roger Lawson.

Teen Town at the National Guard Armory in Perry: Someone, I assume the schools, used to sponsor dances (Saturday nights?) for the teenagers in Perry. It was the first dancing I remember doing. I also remember how exciting it was. Unlike Lake Henry, we did not have bands, but we did have records and record players. And, unlike Lake Henry, I was allowed to and did go.

Macon City Auditorium – Dances and rock ‘n’ roll shows: Thousands of Middle Georgians remember. Some of the all-time greats in rock ‘n’ roll entertained at the Macon City Auditorium. It was a segregated audience with whites in the balcony and blacks dancing on the floor. The blacks had lots more fun than whites. Also, I played basketball in the auditorium for Perry High School against Lanier. These are great memories, and like I say, thousands of Middle Georgia youngsters, now grown and old, say “Yes!”

Perry’s Tastee Freeze: This could be about Locke’s or the Dairy Queen in Perry, or Fincher’s or Nu-way Weiners in Macon or many other places in Middle Georgia. But, for today, it’s the Tastee Freeze in Perry. One reason: The building that the Tastee Freeze was in is still there, just west of Interstate 75 on U.S. 341 going toward Fort Valley, and those of you who remember can tell it was once a Tastee Freeze. By the way, it is now Grillmaster, home to some of the best barbecue in Georgia, and run by Brad Stanley, one of the nicest people in Georgia.

That’s it for this week and I haven’t even written about Swampland Opry House in Toomsboro, shooting doves on a blistering cold morning on Congressman Carl Vinson’s place in Milledgeville, eating fish on the Ocmulgee River at Oaky Woods with Keelan, storied and historical Houston Lake, the pimento plant at Haddock, the Fort Valley-Perry basketball rivalry, and many other great places and events that made memories. If I don’t forget them, I might write about these and others in the future.

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: lwalker@whgmlaw.com.

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