Monday, April 30, 2012

Memory Lane Down Memorial Drive.......

Cindy and I just returned from a three day visit with my mom, who resides in a retirement community in Stone Mountain, Georgia, a four hour drive from our home in Knoxville, Tennessee.

We always have a great time on our visits, which we plan every couple of months or so.  We have come to know many of her friends who live there, and we enjoy having drinks at the end of the day with them in the pub or sharing meals with them in one of the dining areas of the facility. 

We arrived last Thursday afternoon.  On Friday we squired my mom around town so she could shop for bed linens.  She will be 90 this November, but I must say she will tire out the hardiest of souls with her energy level.  By dinnertime Friday, we were exhausted!

Even so, my devious mind began plotting our Saturday entertainment.  Early Saturday morning, over our eye-opening cup o' joe in her apartment, I announced that we would be going on an excursion for the day and would be leaving at 9:00 AM.  But I did not tell Cindy or my mom what I had in mind.  It was fun to hear their repeated squeals of pleading, "OH!---please tell us where we are going!"

But nay---this was to be a surprise of the first order.

We loaded our cooler into the car, filled with iced-down refreshments to slake our thirst during the day and set sail from the Park Springs Retirement Center, headed west on US 78 to the Memorial Drive exit.  There, I steered westward toward the big city of Atlanta, some 17 miles distant.

Down Memorial Drive we traveled.  You should have heard the conversation in the car as my mom would exclaim on each landmark from her past.  Well, after all---she has lived in the Atlanta area since 1961, and of course has come to know the area very well.

But---she had not been down Memorial Drive in a few years and was excited to see the changes along the roadway.  We talked about old restaurants we used to frequent that are now defunct---most memorable was the all-you-can-eat, pig-out fried chicken/fish joint known as Rio Vista.  Now, Rio Vista was a legendary place.  I'm talkin' greasy, folks...which is one reason it was so darn good...especially to teenage boys and otherwise hungry locals.

Why, for about 6 bucks you could eat all you wanted of fried chicken, fish, french fries and grease-laden but delicious hush puppies.  This place was a godsend for moms of hungry teens because it was a way to fill their growling bellies while spending a pittance.  Of course, remember this was the early 1960s, so the vegan/health/green thingie was unknown at that time.

Then, we talked about the old shopping centers along Memorial Drive where we used to shop that were no longer there, replaced by other businesses as times changed.

Pretty soon, the skyline of Atlanta loomed just ahead of us, and again the ladies asked where we were going.

A long---several blocks in length---old brick and concrete wall appeared on the right side of the road.  When we came to its end, I turned right and parked.  We had arrived.  This was historic Oakland Cemetery, burial ground for Georgia's wealthy and famous and poor alike.

The Oakland Lion Symbolizes the Confederate Dead

Oakland Cemetery---named for the the many old, majestic oak trees that guard the dead throughout the property---was established in 1850 and is today the city's oldest landmark.  There is a slave section, a Jewish section, and a section for Civil War dead. 

Angels Abound

Many famous personages are entombed there---people like the great golfer, Bobby Jones; Margaret Mitchell, who authored "Gone With the Wind" ,and Maynard Jackson, first African-American Mayor of Atlanta.

Margaret Mitchell Wrote "Gone With The Wind"

Oakland cemetery is the final resting place of 26 Atlanta mayors, 7,000 Confederate soldiers, and other notable personalities too numerous to list here.  There are 70,000 graves on 48 acres.

Maynard Jackson Was The First African-American Mayor of Atlanta
The tombstones are varied and beautiful.  My mom left me in the dust as she navigated her "walker" around the curving lanes to view the enchanting stones and to view and smell the delicious aromas of flowering plants.  The day was magic.  The elevated trains of MARTA roared across the outskirts of the cemetery.  The mighty skyline of Atlanta loomed over us.  The golden dome of the state capitol glistened in the sunlight only five blocks to our west.  Groups of guided tours meandered past us.  A ceremony was taking place at the Confederate section honoring those fallen in that terrible war so many years ago.

The Great Golfer Bobby Jones

We had a marvelous tour of the old grounds, and our conversation on the way home centered on the beauty and the significance of Oakland.

The Confederate Section

When we arrived back at Park Springs, there was no time to rest.  After all, the big monthly trivia contest was beginning at 4:00, and we could not miss that!

Part of the Atlanta Skyline Looms

Now, you might think a trivia contest for folks in their 70s, 80s and 90s would be easy stuff.  But trust me, gentle reader---it is anything but.

First question:  what was the first toy ever advertised on television?

Second question:  What does the acronym LASER stand for?

You get the idea.  These folks are pretty damn smart.

Following trivia, my mom led us to the pub, where she held court and regaled her friends with tales of historic Oakland cemetery.


  1. I think I would love to meet your mom. What a fun day! I like how you said "the day was magic" You did good!

  2. Pleased you enjoyed your stay with your mother, I was interested who was buried in the cemetery, here in Bournemouth UK at our local cemetery The famous Mary Shelley, her husband Percy Byshee Shelley are buried

    Sigh of relief just finished the A to Z challenge.

  3. Who was most worn out? You, or your mom? It sounds like a great outing.

  4. Wow! Thanks for the tour! Very interesting to say the least.

  5. Oh,those memories of Memorial Drive. But you forgot the most important one to teens at that time. Jacks!! That drive in restuarant was the only hang out for Clarkston kids. (that and the beach house at Pine Lake) I met my husband of 51 years there. So many of my friends found their spouse there. I hope you will consider a visit in October and drop in at the class reunion.

  6. I can't believe you were 30 minutes from me! Maybe 40. And depending how you came you might have gone thru my town. Oh well. I'm glad you had such a fabulous time. 90 and still kicking is so wonderful. Glad you had a great time. sandie

  7. Oh how I love to wonder around cemeteries love these photos you have shared today and it sounds like you and your mum had a great day.....

  8. Your mum is doing well, and it's great that you both visit her. Many wouldn't. I like your tour.

  9. aquellos cementerios que olvidados tienen sus pies frios

  10. You are such a good son, husband.....and I know at the end of the day ....your two very special beautiful ladies were thrilled to have you in their lives....awesome shots and I do not know the answers to your test questions....jeez louise.....LOL

  11. It was such a wonderful day. It is amazing that you and I both share a love for old cememteries. I could have spent the entire day there roaming those beautiful grounds. I loved all the old plants and how refreshing it was that we could actually SMELL the roses. Today's roses that I have encountered have no scent. I wish whoever "they" is would stop messing with the roses and tomatoes! ;-)

  12. You made an old woman very very happy. You are good people. I'm glad you were able to show her such a good time. I hope you and Cindy have a great day. Blessings...MAry

  13. You are a good soul, man!
    Thank you for being there,

  14. sounds like a fun, eventful day....good for all of you!

  15. Entrei para fazer uma visita e adorei.
    Já estou a te seguir.