Memories floated around me while we were on our hiatus in Athens, Ga., escaping the wrath of Hurricane Matthew.
We spent three days exploring the university (of Georgia, of course), all of my old haunts and checking out all of the new additions to town. Athens has grown by leaps and bounds, due mainly, I suspect, because of the university. The traffic is horrendous - so many cars ... so few parking spots. Parking seems to be a dilemma everywhere.
Barbeque joints are all over the place. Second in line is Mexican food followed by pizza, all of which one would think would be inexpensive spots to catch a quick bite. Students nowadays must be well-heeled because there was no restaurant we ate in that was what we considered to be reasonable.
We drove by my grandparents’ house where we grew up on Milledge Circle and I felt a pang of sadness. My family had friends of all ages and our house was never empty of laughter and music. There was a Steinway baby grand in the living room that was in constant use, especially on weekends. My grandfather’s best friend, Duncan Burnet ,would come over almost every Sunday with his violin. My mother played the piano and Mr. Burnet his violin for several hours while we children took it all for granted that this was the way one lived. Later in the afternoon other people would drift in to enjoy drinks and very lively conversation.
George and Mary Stoney - they met while George was a student at Oxford where Mary's father was a professor - often came over to visit. George went on to become a very famous documentary movie producer and director and eventually made his home in New York. He produced a very famous documentary in the early 1950s about the role of midwives in rural Albany, Ga., titled “All My Babies: A Midwifes Own Story.”
It is very interesting and has been shown around the world and can be found on Amazon . George died not long ago at the age of 96, and the New York Times printed his very amazing obituary in which I learned a lot about him I never knew. Of course when we knew him we were young and just thought of him as Mary’s husband.
Another constant at these soirees was Garland Smith. Garland was a retired librarian who had lived in Greenwich Village when she was young. She had hair dyed bright orange, wore a black beret at all times and after a bit of sherry spoke “pigeon French” to us. Of course to be polite, we pretended to understand her. She had taken up painting later in life and had become quite good at doing portraits of people and pets to make a bit of spending money. She seemed very exotic and worldly although she was quite tiny and thin. My father called her a “wisp”that could be blown away in the wind.
Nora Nixon was another guest who lived down the street and could often be found curled up in my grandfather’s wing chair in front of the fireplace. Nora had an amazing imagination and she loved making up tall tales that kept us entertained for an hour or so. Nora's mother and father had been wonderful friends to my family, so we felt as though she was a member of ours. Once in a while, when the moon was full, she would put us all in her car and we would drive out to a pond. Nora always had a pail with her which we would fill with water and then try to catch the moon in the pail. It always worked and I should have taken my granddaughters down to Bluffton’s Oyster Factory Park to show them the trick. I will next full moon for sure.
All of these special people were much older than we were, but that never stopped us from being enchanted with them.
My father had a pickup truck and some days he would invite all that could fit in the back for a ride to the river where we would have a picnic. We were never bored or if we were, we would hop on our bicycles and head for adventure. No one ever asked where we were off to. W were as free as the wind.
But enough of this. I must resume my picking up of yard debris.
I think I know why people cut down all of the trees in their yards. Not that I want to but at times like this it is certainly a temptation.
Babbie Guscio is the social columnist for The Bluffton Packet. She can be reached at The Store on Calhoun Street or at firstname.lastname@example.org.