Tuesday, March 22, 2011
I traveled down to Atlanta to attend a signing even at the brand-new Peerless Book Store in Alpharetta, a northern suburb of the city. But one thing that I wanted to do was see the neighborhood where I lived when I was a boy. From the time I was eight years old until I was almost twelve we lived on Mead Road in Decatur, Georgia. It was an absolutely great place for a kid to grow up for much of the time we were there. True, the neighborhood degenerated into a war zone so fast that, looking back on those days, it seems almost impossible how far the place fell in so short a period. My parents tried to tough it out, but when the rocks came flying through the windows at night, it was time to go.
These days the community (called "Oakhurst") is now a Yuppie haven and the neighborhood is once again a safe and desirable place to raise a family. When we were there we lived directly beside the elementary school that I attended from the ages of eight to eleven. All I had to do was walk out the front door, stroll a few yards, and I was walking into Oakhurst Elementary School. Those were the days. After we moved away, the Boys Club of American bought our house and for a while it was just that: a Boys Club location. Then they sold it and it was torn down and is now a playground and part of the school.
But most of the other houses that I recall from my childhood are still there. Most of them have been renovated and are pretty expensive real estate now--$400K and up. It felt good to stand along the street and look down the way, recalling those days when I would stroll from street to street, looking for my pals, wandering around, sometimes playing in the parks, sometimes hunting for salamanders in the creeks, sometimes going to the local drugstore to see what new comics were out, or maybe strolling down to the hobby shop to see the new Matchbox cars.
It was a great place to be a kid.
The low building on the right was added after we moved away. Our house once stood just beyond the baseball diamond on the far right of the photo.
This is the view much as I would have seen it walking out the front of our house and looking down the street, deciding which of my pals I would go visit.
At the end of the street I would often walk down to this building which held two businesses: an auto repair shop and the local drug store. The drug store was totally cool. It had an old fashioned fountain and grill and LOTS of shelves of new comics. The owner-operator had several times won the Atlanta Soda Jerk competition for his skill at making shakes, malts, and sodas.
Many were the times I would walk through that door and buy the latest issue of STAR SPANGLED WAR STORIES and read about "The War that Time Forgot"!