Thursday, June 17, 2021

Throwback Thursday: Our House in Lilburn

Most of the pictures I choose for these musings have me in them, and often other members of my family as well, but this is just a house. Well, since my family and I may have been at home when this was taken, we might be, in the broadest sense, "in" this picture, but you sure can't see us.

But you can see the house, obviously. This is the house I grew up in, our house on Johns Way in Lilburn. We moved there in 1972, when the house was brand new and I was five, and I lived there until 1991, about a year after I graduated from college. Mom and Dad lived there until 1995, and when they told me they were putting it on the market I was incredulous: Sell my childhood home and live somewhere else?! Now I'm glad they moved — the neighborhood was sort of falling apart, I realize now — but at the time I was dead set against it. They moved anyway, of course.

I can date this picture to 1984 or 1985 based on the cars in the carport. The dark blue car on the left was Dad's Cadillac; it was originally a company car when Dad worked for CompuShop, but he later bought it. The car beside that was our 1978 Chevrolet Monte Carlo, which became my car after...well, I'll get to that in a minute; at this point it was still Mom's car. The white car beside it was a 1984 Toyota Corolla, which I bought—or really, Dad bought for me—after I totaled my beloved 1977 Toyota Corolla in April of 1984. Sometime after this picture was taken, or I think it must have been after this picture was taken, I wrecked that white Corolla on my way to work one morning for Maid in Georgia. It wasn't totaled—that is, the insurance company said it could be fixed, and was not a "total loss," but by that point anyone's confidence in me as a safe driver should have been. Within a few months, I was driving the Monte Carlo. I'm not sure what became of the white Corolla, but Dad eventually got a Toyota Celica. I don't remember what Mom drove then, my first couple of years of college.

The house was then a dark green with light green trim; it's still there, still owned (I'm pretty sure) by the family that bought it in 1995, but it's not green anymore. I drive by it every once in a while—okay, not "every once in a while," but every chance I get, anytime I'm in or anywhere near Lilburn. It was a great house to grow up in, and the neighborhood was great too. It was the kind of neighborhood where the ten-year-old me could take off on his bike after school and be gone for a couple of hours, sometimes playing with the other kids in the neighborhood (Kenny Moss, Steve Brooks, and others whose names I don't now remember), sometimes just riding around the neighborhood (it was a big circle, so I didn't have to go anywhere near a main road) or on the trails behind the neighborhood, through the woods. (Those woods have long since been turned into other subdivisions, but when I was a kid, Gwinnett County wasn't nearly as developed as it is now.) I don't think kids do that anymore—go out riding their bikes or playing in the neighborhood for hours, I mean—but that's more about the fears of parents and society today than about the current desires of kids.

But by the time this picture was taken, I was seventeen or eighteen, and my bike riding and playing in the neighborhood days were long gone. But I lived here for another six or seven years after this picture was taken, and it was, as I've said already, a great house to live in. Someday I'll write more about it.

Sunday, June 13, 2021

Elyse Gets Glasses!

Her braces will be off soon, so she will look even more different

Today joined the rest of us in wearing glasses!

Don't they look good on her?

Thursday, June 10, 2021

Throwback Thursday: Me, Jeff, and Dad in Granny's Living Room

This picture is a study in green--the green of the built-in drawers on the left side of the frame, the green of the linoleum floor, the green of my dad's striped shirt and solid tie, the green of my brother's pants. There are also some pronounced reds--my shirt, Jeff's shirt (striped though it is), and the Consolidated Freightways toy truck in the bottom right corner of the frame.

And I doubt you would know that that is a Consolidated Freightways toy truck without me telling you, and I probably wouldn't know either, except we have some other pictures from the same time--probably the same day, actually--that show it better. My grandfather worked for Consolidated Freightways, which is why Jeff got specifically a Consolidated Freightways toy truck for his birthday, and not just any old toy truck.

Like so many of the important pictures from my childhood, this was taken at my grandparents' house in Tucker. This was 1973, after (or possibly the day of) Jeff's birthday. I think that Mattel Preschool toy train (the "Motor Putt-Putt Railroad," Google tells me it was called), the brown tracks of which (all you can see of the train set in the picture) Dad is bending over to look at, was another of Jeff's birthday presents that year. Jeff was into trucks and trains when he was a little kid. I definitely remember playing with that train. (I also remember the train in Pa's attic, which I've also written about, but I definitely remember this train, with the plastic brown oval track.)

What I'd forgotten, but which this picture reminds me of, is that house's laundry room door's flowery pattern--was that perhaps contact paper covering the door? I can't quite remember it well enough to say for sure. But man, just seeing that door reminds me of the smell of that laundry room--humidity and clean clothes and the warmth of a gas dryer. (If it wasn't actually a gas dryer in there, don't correct me; just let me go on thinking that.) That laundry room was a veritable treasure trove of stuff--mostly tools and old magazines and newspapers, actually--and I loved going through it in the late seventies. At least I think I did; I would sure love to be able to visit it--as it was then, of course--now.

And that television set, on that rolling cart! As far as I know, that was the same TV on which Granny and I would watch "Wheel of Fortune" together--the Chuck Woolery "Wheel of Fortune"; it was that long ago--and on which I'm pretty sure I saw "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" one Christmas in the early or mid seventies.

What you can't see in this picture is my mother standing or sitting behind me, taking the picture, and my grandmother sitting beside her, but I know they were there, and I'm glad my mom took so many pictures like this when we were growing up. They mean a lot to me now.

Sunday, June 6, 2021

Remembering Kevin

Two years ago today my friend Kevin went home to be with the Lord.

If he were still with us, Kevin would be 60 now -- twice the age he was in this picture (which, yes, was taken thirty years ago). As we see him here, Kevin was young and (relatively) newly married; he was still a couple of years away from becoming a parent for the first time, nearly a decade away from completing his Ph.D., almost a dozen years from starting his career in academia, twenty-five years away from publishing his book (Cognitive Psychology of Religion, of which he was justly proud). I'm glad to revisit this picture of him from when I had known him only a year or so, happy to know he would someday achieve all of those things. But it also breaks my heart a little to see him so young, so long ago.

Thursday, June 3, 2021

Throwback Thursday: Jeff and Me in Front of Nanny Risby’s House

Jeff and me, 1974 or so, wearing matching outfits, in front of my great-grandmother's house in Tucker, in the same neighborhood as my grandmother's house (which shows up in several of my TBT musings).

We called my great-grandmother "Nanny Risby," which strikes me now as a funny thing to call someone, but at the time I accepted it as just what we called her, her title. I realized eventually that Risby was her name--Risby Taylor--but I'm not sure why she was specifically "Nanny" Risby. Nanny Risby was my grandmother's mother. My grandfather died in 1978, but Nanny Risby lived until 1979, when I was twelve. It occurs to me now that it was strange that my grandmother lost her husband but her mother was still living.

Nanny Risby is not in this picture, of course, just Jeff and me--and the house. I remember going to that house often when I was young. It was very small by today’s standards, and though I went there many times in the 1970's I'm not sure if I ever saw the bedrooms. I don’t remember the bathroom, either. Here's what I do remember: Nanny Risby always had Nutter Butters on hand, and there was a big cement water fountain out back that she would turn on for us kids. My cousin Sharon told me once (when we were well into our adulthoods) that Nanny Risby was "a mean old woman," and she probably was, but mostly I remember that her mind was going and she forgot things and had stubbornly set but (so I thought) wrong ideas--such as believing that her television could only pick up one station. (I'm pretty sure I could tune it to any of the three that were available then, though I don't remember ever watching TV at her house, except one time we were then when it was time for her "story.") Back then we would have said that she was getting "senile"; maybe she had what we now call Alzheimer's disease, I don’t know; in the seventies I don't think that was something many people had heard of.

The other thing I remember is that Nanny Risby had a boarder, Blanche, who I assumed was somehow related to us. It was only fairly recently that my mother told me that Blanche was just someone who rented a room from Nanny Risby, and wasn't related to us at all.

Monday, May 31, 2021

Another Visit to Zoo Atlanta

Since it was Memorial Day today and Anna didn't have to go to work, we went to Zoo Atlanta. It was only our second outing as a family since the Coronavirus pandemic began a little over a year ago, and also the first time Anna's been to the zoo in a couple of years. (I've been twice in the last eighteen months--once with Jessica and Elyse shortly before the pandemic was declared, and once with Elyse during the pandemic--we both wore our masks then, of course.)

Since Anna and I are both fully vaccinated and most of the zoo is outdoors, we didn't wear our masks except when we went to one of the indoor exhibits, like the amphibian/reptile house. (The zoo's rules call for all visitors to wear masks in all of the indoor exhibits, even those visitors who are fully vaccinated. That's probably a good idea, since it may be the only way to convince certain people who aren't fully vaccinated to wear masks when they ought to be.)

Here are some of the pictures I took today--starting with the walk from the car; we had to park quite a ways away--of the animals and the people we saw:

Anna and Elyse walking towards Grant Park

This was in a yard near where we parked

I'm not sure what they were looking at, but it wasn't the lion below, even though the proximity of the photographs kind of implies that

I'm not sure what they were looking at, but it wasn't the ostrich below, even though...oh, you know what I mean

Wasn't this guy in The NeverEnding Story?

I don't have a picture of myself to include here, but this is a pretty good approximation

I hope Jessica doesn't mind my posting this picture

Thursday, May 27, 2021

Throwback Thursday: Jeff and Me in Our House in 1976 (blog post 750)

Jeff and me, back around 1976, in the house where we grew up in Lilburn, GA. I'm not sure why we were dressed up (and this is what counted as "dressed up" for us back then, by the way; not tuxedos, obviously, or even ties, but pants that weren't jeans and shoes that weren't sneakers). It might have been around Easter, but our Easter outfits tended to be brighter and more pastel-ish.

Whatever the occasion for the outfits and the picture, I love seeing this little slice of our house from way back then--the wall without the chair rail and paneling that my mom added years later, and which I tend to think of as having always been part of the house; that brown carpet that was there when we moved in, but which Mom replaced (in the living room, at least) with multi-colored, elaborately patterned carpeting that hid spilled chocolate milk and muddy footprints; that hanging candle sconce-like thingy on the wall behind us; the corner of the living room, just on the right side of the frame, which didn't yet have a desk in it.

It was my home for another fifteen years after this picture was taken and it changed quite a bit in that decade-and-a-half; this is not how I see the house in my mind when I think back on it (which I do often). But I'm happy to have these reminders that things weren't always as I remember them.

(For whatever it's worth, the Blogger control panel tells me that this is the 750th post I've created on this blog.)

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Elyse is Moving On Up

 Today was the "Moving Up" ceremony for the fifth graders at Elyse's school. It's a sort of graduation to recognize that they are moving up from elementary school to middle school.

Here's Elyse receiving her...actually, I don't know what is in that red folder, but whatever it is, this is Elyse receiving it from her teacher:

Congratulations, Elyse!

The Story Shop IV
Monroe, GA
March 23, 2019

"Read instead" the blank TV says, which is a sentiment I can get behind, but I also have to admit that I watch a lot of television.

Saturday, May 22, 2021

Oakland Cemetery with Jessica

 Today Jessica and I went to the historic Oakland Cemetery to take some pictures. Here are some of the ones I made:

Friday, May 21, 2021

Lawrenceville, GA

Lawrenceville, GA
September 27, 2002

I used to live in Lawrenceville, and I spent a lot of time making photographs in the downtown area in the early 2000's. It was, and still is, a great place to wander around with a camera.

I really wish I still had the original color versions of these, but at the time I was really committed to black and white, and hard drive/external drive storage was nowhere near as readily available and inexpensive as it is today, so I used to delete the originals once I was happy with my edits.

Thursday, May 20, 2021

Throwback Thursday: Christmas 1971

You know how sometimes kids have more fun playing with the box than with whatever came in the box? Santa too knows this, and for Christmas in 1971, the box WAS the present. And what a great present it was! Looking back at it now, I see it as a fort, and a castle, and a spaceship, and a haunted house, and whatever else a four-year-old-boy wanted it to be. I remember it with great fondness—though to be honest, I’m not sure I did much spaceshipping or haunted-housing in it; I remember crawling around it and through it a lot, though. Most of the other presents I got as a child I remember largely because I've seen them in pictures, but this cardboard playhouse (or whatever exactly it should be called) I remembered well before I happened upon this picture. I don't think I've ever received a better present. (A few equally good, perhaps, such as my first electric guitar a decade later, but none truly better.) I don't know what became of it, though; I have no idea whether that elaborate and wonderful cardboard structure held up for a week or a year. It was probably gone, or at least all played out, by the Christmas of 1972.

Wednesday, May 19, 2021

Washington, GA

Washington, GA
March 31, 2003

* * * * *

I don't get to do this as often as I would like anymore, but years ago I would grab my camera, hop in the car, and go for meandering drives down the back roads of Georgia, stopping often to take pictures of whatever interested me along the way.

For as long as my archive of pictures and my interest and motivation hold out, a couple of times each week I'll be posting some of my favorites of the images I made back then.

Tuesday, May 18, 2021


Horticulture and Gardening Books in the Gift Shop
State Botanical Garden of Georgia
Athens, GA
April 6, 2021

Friday, May 14, 2021

Two Views of U.S. 23 through Jackson

Two Views of U.S. 23 through Jackson
Jackson, GA
March 12, 2003

* * * * *

I don't get to do this as often as I would like anymore, but years ago I would grab my camera, hop in the car, and go for meandering drives down the back roads of Georgia, stopping often to take pictures of whatever interested me along the way.

For as long as my archive of pictures and my interest and motivation hold out, a couple of times each week I'll be posting some of my favorites of the images I made back then.

Thursday, May 13, 2021

Throwback Thursday: Scott and Me, 1982

This picture of my cousin Scott and me was taken in the den of my grandmother's house in Tucker in 1981 or 1982. Scott and I both went to Berkmar High School by then; I'm pretty sure this was taken when I was in ninth grade and he was in eleventh. We were still close at that point: I saw Scott every day at school, and we got together most weekends either at my house to play Wizardry on our Apple II or his house to "jam" (he played drums and I played guitar; I was na├»ve enough back then to think of what we did with our instruments in his garage as "jamming," but "making an unholy noise" is probably more accurate). This was some months, maybe even a whole year, before we formed our short-lived high school band, Voyager, with Roy Smith, whom we met in Coach Wilson's World History class. Roy played drums, I played guitar, and Scott played bass and keyboards and sang (but, because we didn't have a P.A. system, you couldn't actually hear him singing). Every song we played (except the few that we wrote) Scott or my guitar teacher Desi showed me how to play. I didn't realize this at the time, but I had—have—terrible ears and very little musical ability. If somebody showed me where to put my fingers I did okay, but my ability never really rose above that basic level of knowing where my fingers go. It still hasn't, and though I still noodle around on guitar every once in a while, I still can't really play anything that Scott or Desi didn't teach me.

Scott's shirt says "I Love Real People." He got it (if I remember correctly) at a taping of the TV show "Real People" when his family made an epic drive across the whole country, from Georgia to California, a few months earlier. My shirt says "Junkyard Dog" and features a drawing of a bulldog. I didn't get it at a taping of anything; it probably came from Treasure Island. Or maybe Richway. In any case, whether this shirt really had anything to do with the University of Georgia—a possible connection about which I was completely clueless at the time—I don't know, but people seeing me wearing it often assumed it did. They also incorrectly assumed I knew more (which is to say, anything) and cared more (which is to say, at all) about UGA and college football than I actually did.

Behind us on the wall of Granny's den were the family pictures that I think of as having always been there. The topmost picture on the left is my brother Jeff and me. That picture was taken just after my mother had to get my hair trimmed down to a crew cut after my cousin Catherine tried to give me a haircut in 1971, an incident I heard about all the time when I was growing up. As you can see, my hair eventually grew out.

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Blue Door and Green Door

Blue Door and Green Door
Lexington, GA
March 7, 2003

* * * * *

I don't get to do this as often as I would like anymore, but years ago I would grab my camera, hop in the car, and go for meandering drives down the back roads of Georgia, stopping often to take pictures of whatever interested me along the way.

For as long as my archive of pictures and my interest and motivation hold out, a couple of times each week I'll be posting some of my favorites of the images I made back then.

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Books at Betty's Country Store

Books at Betty's Country Store
Helen, GA
June 28, 2017

Unlike my pictures from the past few Tuesdays, this one is not actually a bookstore. Many small stores and gift shops have book sections, and I love looking through them and seeing the regional and local-interest books, and the self-published books of various quality from folks in the area. I also have a weak spot for any place that justifiably calls itself a "country store," and this one in Helen, GA, is a pretty darn good one. (They had both Brach's chocolate stars and Blenheim ginger ale, and that's enough to prompt me to call a place "pretty darn good.")

Saturday, May 8, 2021

Our cats, intrigued by stuff outside

Our cats, intrigued by stuff outside (probably birds and squirrels, but Hale-Bopp said she's pretty sure she saw a hippopotamusauras.)

Friday, May 7, 2021

Lexington, GA

NuGrape Soda and Green Door
Lexington, GA
March 7, 2003

* * * * *

I don't get to do this as often as I would like anymore, but years ago I would grab my camera, hop in the car, and go for meandering drives down the back roads of Georgia, stopping often to take pictures of whatever interested me along the way.

For as long as my archive of pictures and my interest and motivation hold out, a couple of times each week I'll be posting some of my favorites of the images I made back then.