Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Growing up in Hawkinsville

Having been born in the world’s greatest nation, the greatest state within the United States, and especially the small town of Hawkinsville during the 1940s and 1950s has placed me amongst the most fortunate of people on this planet.
I was born in 1938 on the tail end of the Great Depression to two hard-working textile workers with very little education and practically no wealth. Mother and Daddy probably had trouble rubbing two dimes together for the most part. They had already had six children, one of whom had died within four days of being born. My mother was thirty-eight and my father was forty-four on the cold December Saturday—the last day of the year—making me wonder if they were not the happiest couple to bring a baby into the world. They could not even count me as a tax blessing because they didn’t have deductions back then.
Why then do I consider myself so fortunate? Many reasons come to mind. Mother was a great cook, and Daddy led the singing at the small Riverside Baptist Church each Sunday. I was exposed to the Bible and all of those great prophets and servants of our Heavenly Father from my earliest days in America.
I received an e-mail the other day which summed up what we had and probably why we were fortunate to grow up in the city by the muddy river. The e-mail was sent to me by George Slappey, a friend who grew up here. Most people will remember him as the son of George Slappey, Sr. who had a slogan in his dry cleaning business stating “Be Happy with Slappey.”
His e-mail went in part like this, “A little house with three bedrooms, one bathroom and one car on the street.
A mower that you had to push to make the grass look neat. That is unless you had a dirt yard that was swept with a huge brush—grass was pulled out of the ground and disposed of. In the kitchen on the wall we only had one phone,
and no need for recording things, someone was always home.
We only had one TV set, and maybe two channels. With luck we had one with something worth viewing. For snacks we had potato chips that tasted like a chip. If you wanted flavor there was Lipton's onion dip. Store-bought snacks were rare because my mother liked to cook.
Get a baseball game together with all the friends you knew, and have real action playing ball, and no video games.
Remember when the doctor used to be the family friend, and didn't need insurance? The way that he took care of you or what he had to do was because he took an oath and strived to do his best.
Remember going to the store and shopping casually, and when you went to pay for it you used your own money, or charged it until Saturday? There was nothing that you had to swipe or punch in some amount, and the cashier person had to really count? The milkman used to go from door to door—that was me—and it was just a few cents more than going to the store. There was a time when mailed letters came right to your door—twice a day—walking without a lot of junk mail ads sent out by every store. The mailman knew each house by name.
There was a time when just one glance was all that it would take, for you to know the kind of car, the model and the make. They were streamlined, white walls, fins, and really had some style. Oh, the simple life we lived still seems like so much fun. To explain the game, just kick the can and run. Why did boys put baseball cards between bicycle spokes, and for a nickel, red machines had little bottled Cokes?
That life seemed so much easier, and slower in some ways, but time moves on, and so do we, and nothing stays the same, but I sure love to reminisce and walk down memory lane. Ahh, thanks, George for those classic memories, and we really did live them in growing up in Hawkinsville.
Some of the pictures which accompany this feature article will remind many of us of our childhood. Lee Jordan who was born in Hawkinsville and went on to find fame in the entertainment business is shown pulling his small wagon like most lucky little boys. In another picture, Lee is shown with Ginger his pet dog. Who among us did not have a pet dog?
Alas, there is a picture of our own Lee Jordan interviewing President Dwight D. Eisenhower. How about that sports fans?
Very few if any of us who grew up in the 1940s and 1950s would have special memories of attending the picture show every time we could put together a quarter for admission and snacks.
In one picture, Bobby Mullis, a friend from my childhood is shown with two of his daughters who attended a celebration when Bobby retired from a part-time driving job for Eldercare Pharmacy.
Bobby, who is several years older than me, nevertheless took up a lot of time with me as a small boy on the mill village—teaching me games such as pretend cowboys, superheroes and hitting and throwing baseballs, something he was great at doing. Today, he resides in a local assisted care home, the victim of a stroke or two. He still enjoys life and his family.
There is a great picture of a group of young boys who enjoyed growing up in Hawkinsville. They were a Junior High team at HHS and it is fun to look at the picture of them. Tom Watson Dykes was the coach and he still resides with Mrs. Dykes in Cochran. Curtis Browning grew up to play quarterback for the Red Devils and threw a lot of touchdown passes to Jimmy Eaton who turned out to be a surgeon of some note near Atlanta. Ramsey Grinstead, Ben Lee, Jack Abernathy, and Guy Plowden are all deceased. Nicky Cabero still resides with his wife Linda, a forty year veteran as the organist of the First Methodist Church in Hawkinsville.
Robert Ingram lives on Lake Blackshear with his wife, Helen; Bobby Joe Goode is one of the two survivors of the three children of Neede and Velma Goode. Bobby Joe and his wife are from Vidalia. Dub and Judy Rewis, retired educators live in Warner Robins. Ellis and Helen Smith live in Hilton Head, SC, and Billy and Janice Crenshaw live in Palatka, FL. Bobby Grinstead lives in Louisiana.
The little boy swinging on the tire swing—something many of us did in our youth is my grandson, Joshua Morris. We try to introduce our grand’s to some of the memories we had as children.
In the memories of George Slappey, he pointed out that nothing stays the same and time keeps moving on. In one picture taken just after the beginning of the Twentieth Century, my ancestors are shown at the home of my grandfather William R. Barlow with his wife, Prezzie Wynne Barlow and her mother, Mary Furney Wynne as families looked in the year, 1904. Transportation was horse and buggy. In a contrast, included in the article is a picture of a typical 1960s family shown as passengers in a convertible, the typical transportation of the day.
I’ve said it before and I’ll continue saying it all of my life. I (we) had the best time and place to grow up in the entire world.


Carla said...

Over the years when I listened to the stories from you and my daddy, Billy, it's almost like I'm there. And in some ways I'm so envious and wished I could have lived in that era. The 50's!! WOW! I love to hear and read every single word about when the Crenshaw boys ran and played in the streets of the mill village , played on a baseball or football field, milked cows and delivered the milk, delivered furniture and dated the pretty girls of Hawkinsville, Georgia. I am so grateful to you both for sharing and bringing to life your adventures as children and adolescents. Please don't stop.
I love you Uncle Sam and daddy,
your niece,
Carla Elaine Crenshaw Adams
(Carlo Hansen, Kookie)

Shannon said...

I love these old stories too. I remember when we went to Hawkinsville and you showed me all the houses you lived in. We should do that again. I love you, Daddy!