My family and I moved to Douglas County from another part of Atlanta in January, 1974. We lived in a house off Bright Star Road for most of that year while our new house was being built in the south part of the county, near Fairplay and McWhorter. I wasn't born in Douglas County, but spent the important years of my childhood there, and will always call it home. Seeing all of the progress and building that has taken place since I moved there, I think back on what Douglas County looked like when I got there. Its sad to see so many of the places and people I remember gone.
When I first came to Douglasville, I-20 ended at Highway 5. There was nothing but woods except for the Exxon service station on one side of the overpass, and Ellis Men's Clothing on the other side. That was all. I remember hearing distant blasting behind our house as construction crews completed the extension of I-20 to Birmingham.
I went to Bill Arp Elementary School, on Highway 5. Its now an office building for the Board of Education. I went to South Douglas Elementary school, in Fairplay, from 3rd to 5th grade. It was an old building when I went, complete with creaky old wooden floors. I remember loud noises the radiators would make on those cold, frosty mornings. I also remember how hot it would get in Spring, when our teacher would call on the tallest boy in the class to open the windows for a cool breeze. The windows tilted in from the top. This building was torn down in the 1990s, with no visible trace.
I played Baseball in the 5th grade for a team called the Fairplay Twins. We had red and white uniforms, and played on a baseball field next to South Douglas Elementary. I see that this field is gone, replaced by a church of some kind. Some of my team mates were: Davey Deaton, Tommy Hendrix, David Hendrix, Wayne Parker, Von Webb. I remember walking up the road to baseball practice after school, picking up glass Coke and Pepsi bottles, and turning them in at the Gulf filling station across the road from South Douglas Elementary. I would get a cold Dr.Pepper and some bubble gum. There was a nice man who worked there named "Punkin", who would fill up your car, clean the windshield, and check your oil without you having to get out of your car. Punkin was the best, and he did it all with only one arm! Whatever happened to him?
As a weekly treat, my family would go every Friday evening to a restaurant called the Rock Inn Cafe, on Highway 78, near Villa Rica. They had the best food. For $5, we got a side salad, and all you can eat fried catfish and hushpuppies. The owner, Burnell Redding, would go around from table to table refilling your iced tea and making sure all of the food was perfect, and it always was. Its a shame to see this place has closed for good.
I remember the best barbecue in the county was to be found in Douglasville at Hudson's Hickory House, also on Highway 78. The food was fantastic. We would often have a whole ham smoked for Christmas. I still remember that smokey smell. I see that this has changed to some other business now.
I remember my Dad and I deer hunting on cold, frosty mornings near our home, and later having lunch at a place called the Snack Shack, at Highway 5 and 166. They had the best burgers in the county. If we got a deer, we used to hang it in a walk-in cooler they had across the road at the service station, for a week or so to age the meat. Next to that was a business called Bijingo Western Store, run by George Hembree, that sold western saddles, tack, and clothing. George was very friendly and kind to all. The Bijingo store is gone, and the Snack Shack has long since closed.
I used to go with friends to Dorset Shoals to the falls where you could slide down them into a pool of water. Dorset Shoals Road used to be a dirt and gravel road. I would ride the school bus home with Mrs. Helen Daniels driving down many dirt and gravel roads, where the red Georgia dust would hang in the air for what seemed like hours after passing.
It may not mean much to younger people, but even though businesses have closed and people have moved away, its important to remember the faces and names of those who lived and worked in our community.