I’ve been off the internet a coupl’a days, celebrating my birthday. The highlight was a trip back to my place of childhood, in Northeast Georgia.

The first place we visited was an aunt in Commerce, Georgia. A wonderful person, still living alone in her own home, so beautifully decorated, at age ninety. Up and about, taking care of herself, enjoying her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Still preparing her own meals, and baked me a scrumptious pound cake for my birthday.

As we drove into town and along the railroad tracks smack down the center of town, my son observed a sign which read, “Commerce, a Town on the Right Track.” So deja vu for me to see a furniture store, drug store, restaurant and several places of business along the railroad track, still in business, same as in the thirties and forties.

We stopped at Wal-Mart to pick up a bouquet of flowers and a disposable camera, and I was so impressed at how sparkling clean the store was and asked the clerk if it was a new store. She said no, it’s been here ten years and the third Wal-Mart in Georgia. A different feel than the one I go to locally, to buy water, which is not that sparkly clean.

Once in town, we had not remembered the street to turn on to my aunt’s house. My son whipped out his little phone, punched in the address and from outer space appeared a map and directions. I never dreamed, living in Tokyo in the fifties and watching Sputnik flying over as it circled the globe, that a time would come when the little town near where I grew up would be on a satellite in outer space.

We arrived at my aunt’s house and saw her beautifully landscaped front yard, she has won first prize more than once in the local contest, for her flowers and decor. So impressive, all she does at ninety years old. She raised 3 children by herself, and retired from a local manufacturing company. So inspirational listening to her alert mind and the stories she can recall.

Leaving her house we journeyed on to Madison County, to the homeplace where I grew up. We stopped in front of my paternal grandfather’s house, and my son made a video of the now-abandoned rundown house, as I described some of the events I recalled from my childhood visiting my grandparents, catching the school bus in front of their house everyday.

We then turned off the main highway down a side road to the place of my childhood, the first 15 years of my life. The entrance to the farm was blocked by a large iron gate, so we could not enter the area. As we approached, in my son’s fancy Mercedes convertible that does everything but sing Dixie, I thought what a difference a day makes, recalling those years of horse and buggy and A-model Fords, used for transportation back then.

The house and all the barns and buildings surrounding the main house had been torn down. Standing at the iron gate as we drove up was an elderly man and a young, nine year old boy. We parked, introduced ourselves and had the most delightful conversation with these two. The older gentleman knew all my family and the young boy told several stories of how he roamed the farm area where I grew up, seeing wild animals along the creek area, finding turtles and all sorts of wild life there. Listening to the young 9-year old was like reliving and experiencing my childhood in living color.

The older gentleman explained the farm had recently been re-sold to a company for a staggering price, for some development project. As we drove on further along the property lines, workman were already clearing and building roads into the densely forested area of the farm to make way for the development.

I was not surprised. Recalling my years growing up there, I had visualized that someday this beautiful farm area would oneday be a tourist attraction. I loved my childhood and the comfortable secure feeling growing up there, but lived in anticipation of the day I could leave and move to Atlanta, to experience all the things I read about in another world. A world of traveling, going to the movies and being in the movies, I could only imagine back then. But ultimately did travel, and appeared in the movies, on the radio and on TV. Of course television was unheard of back then. I lived vicariously through, newspapers, magazines, radio and history books and dreamed of another life.

On this day in the twenty-first century, I could only travel along the farm outer perimeter, in a Mercedes convertible and relive in my memory another era, long since past, and recall listening to a nine-year old boy, now roaming around the farm like I did. I felt Divinely blessed to find this very bright young man, got his address and plan on corresponding with him.

Such a warm and comfortable feeling of nostalgia returning to my childhood in my memory and imagination. Growing up imagining the places I would go and things I would do, living full circle now in my imagination, recalling those childhood days, returning to the area and meeting this boy standing there at the gate and entrance, to share with me his stories and the things he’s experiencing in his young life today.

He spoke of going to the same school that I attended, with one major difference – he has a computor in his classroom. And we plan on staying in touch via the internet.

Returning home that evening, my son and I sat in my backyard and he replayed the movies he made of the trip on his computor; the visit with my aunt and meeting the young boy at my homeplace farm. Plus visiting the homeplace of my maternal grandfather in Commerce which had been restored and has a family living in it.

One of the most pleasant birthdays I ever experienced. Looking forward and looking backwards and living in the moment. Feeling gratitude for having been born in this great and beautiful country, and for the exciting life I have lived. For the Freedom I have enjoyed. For the love of my children, grandchildren and friends. Now writing articles with a website, circling the globe 24-7.


email: annecleveland@bellsouth.net

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  1. Wonderful story. It makes me wish I had a hometown or something similar. Although, seeing a Walmart standing where I used to roam the woods is a very painful thing I have experienced. If I had a greater attachment to a place, the pain would be worse, I suppose.