I’ve always had a special place in my heart for older folks. I don’t know how that happened, it just did.
I grew up in an era when a lad could wander about the neighborhood without adult supervision. It was also an era when little old ladies always seemed to have a piece of cake or pie just ready for consumption.
The first neighbors I remember were Nora and George Arrington. Uncle George was a strong fellow and to the best of my memory worked at the old Atlantic Steel plant.
Sadly, he had a massive heart attack in an era before open-heart surgery and other treatments. He wasted away from a healthy man to a sickly shell in a short time. He spent most of his days napping.
Aunt Nora was a sweet, soft-spoken woman who was not quite 5-feet tall. She always seemed to have a just-baked cake or fresh pie when I would come calling.
I was so small I would get the step stool out of the pantry to have adequate height to reach the wonderful dessert she would put before me on the kitchen table. It was always accompanied by a 6 1/2 ounce bottle of Coca-Cola.
By the way, the iconic Coca-Cola bottle is celebrating its 100th birthday this year. The original bottle was colored “Georgia green” and bore the name of the city to which it was being shipped.
I was recently watching a cooking show hosted by country music star Tricia Yearwood. She was talking about how her Grandmother Yearwood always had a cake or some other sweet treat whenever they would visit.
There was something magically wonderful about enjoying a little homemade baked goods at the table of a neighbor.
I perfected this a few years later when we moved to Social Circle. Depending on the afternoon, I might make two or three stops at the homes of some of our little town’s best bakers. A couple of them had housekeepers who were the real geniuses behind a good cake or pie.
My mother would come home from work and was afraid I was starving from playing all afternoon.
Playing? I was perfecting my career as a social butterfly. I could drop in, enjoy a little cake and be on my way without interrupting the socialite’s soap opera viewing schedule.
Somewhere around my 10th birthday, I asked my mother to throw me a birthday party just for my cadre of old folks.
By golly, they all came and I learned something: Older folks aren’t on the same birthday present budget as kids. They all went to Morrow’s Five and Ten Cent Store and bought great presents.
Somewhere in the annals of The Walton Tribune is a story of the event from the Social Circle page, which was written by local postmaster Harry Adams. Since he was the postmaster, he wrote under a pen name: Mrs. Harry Adams. Everyone knew Martha Adams did not write the Social Circle page, but that’s what it said in print.
I hope somewhere in heaven the Adams are laughing about this with my parents.
I realize my girth and my toy box would have been much smaller, but oh, how I loved the older set.
One day, I hope there is a neighbor kid who will come over and share a slice of cake. It will conjure up a memory of a simpler, yet wonderful, time.
Harris Blackwood is a Gainesville resident whose columns appear on the Sunday Life page and on gainesvilletimes.com/harris.