Saturday, February 25, 2012

Transition to Georgia

Life on Southside after 1975 grew routine. What to do? I went back to school. I tried to find something that interested me. It seemed as though nothing was happening. When I looked around the room at night it was full of friends but there was no conversation. Blah. I grew restless. One day I thought up the idea of a beach vacation with my friend Phil who was a quadriplegic. We came up with a plan to go to Panama City for a week. I had a friend with a house for rent, and he had two friends who agreed to drive him and stay there with us. I talked another friend into driving me to Auburn where we met up.

We did have a blast. We went to St Joe and stayed all day on the deserted seashore. We caught crabs and drank beer after beer. I was out on break so I had no other thoughts or worries. At the end of the week, Phil talked me into going to Macon to see it before going back to Birmingham. When I did I fell in love at first site.

The first night there we stayed on Orange Street in a house that was built in the early to mid 1800's. The ceilings were very high, and it had huge white columns on the front porch. It was much older and more elegant than anything I had seen in Birmingham. And there was a whole town full of places just like it.

Macon was truly magical and romantic. I felt something there that I had never felt. I felt the life of the city, the soul of the city, and the rhythm of the city. This new rhythm was very different from Birmingham. You can imagine the feel of Birmingham, with its history of firehoses and marches, the letter from the Birmingham jail, the bombings and intimidation. Macon was much more relaxed and very pretty in a European sort of way. It rose up on the bluff above the river, with little cobblestone side streets and carriage houses. Very quaint. The next night I rode out to Fort Valley in the countryside with one of Phil's friends named Lauren. The moon was full and we drove past the pecan tree orchards to her little house. I became enamored of everyone I met there. Somehow, I thought, I must live here.

Because Phil was a quad, he was getting money from Vocational Rehabilitation to go to law school at Mercer University. Since I had experience as a rehabilitation nurse, I qualified to be his attendant. He worked out an agreement with his Voc Rehab counselor to pay me a salary to take care of him. I worked out a transfer to Mercer to finish my bachelor's degree in my self designed major. At that point I had already been going to college for about 5 years, and had my RN plus the time I spent at Auburn and at UAB. I ended up having to go another 2 years to finish, but it was worth it. I was so poor I qualified for a Basic Educational Opportunity Grant. That's right kids, back then they gave you the money to go to school.

So I went back to Birmingham and finished the fall quarter, got everything in place, and moved to Macon in 1977 I think. At that point I had no income and no vehicle (having sold my truck to use the money to live on).

Phil and I rented a Victorian gingerbread house on Arlington Avenue. The house was next door to Paragon- the booking agency that booked all the Capricorn recording artists. Down the street was the house that Wet Willie lived in previously. The Allman Brothers Big House was a few blocks away on Vineville Avenue.

We used to go the the H and H to eat soul food. The H and H is home to owner Mama Louise who used to cook for the Allman Brothers. The H and H is still there, and you can see the painting of Dwayne Allman playing his guitar in heaven on the wall. The H and H is on Cotton Avenue where the Capricorn Recording studio was located. I was sorry to have missed all the action. Everybody had some connection to the Brothers and Sisters.

Phil did go to law school, and I went to Mercer. I loved Mercer. The faculty was liberal even though the student body was not, but I was a little older, and so had a different group of friends through Phil and through some of the faculty.

There was so much going on there, and I was introduced to all the things that have made a big difference in my life and how I live my life. With that, I will close for now, savoring the lovely memories of sweet Macon life.

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