Unlike New Year’s, Thanksgiving is a time to take stock of life, with a view toward — not a critical assessment of unmet goals — but a grateful acknowledgement of blessings unexpected and often unmerited.
In our second-hand Buick station wagon pulling a U-Haul trailer, my family and I in a dark driving rain the first week in January 1977 stopped and looked both ways at the four-way stop that was the deserted junction of Ga. highways 54 and 74.
The only thing in sight was a meat-packing plant atop a hill on the southwest corner of the intersection — a spot now inhabited by The Avenue.
We slept on blankets on the floor in our rented house in Wynnmeade subdivision that first night and unloaded the trailer the next morning as the temperature fell below freezing and stayed there for the next month. It was the longest below-freezing period in the South that I had ever experienced, and it has not been exceeded in Fayette since.
Lake Peachtree froze over, and despite warnings from the tiny police force, whole families ice-skated outdoors for the first time in their lives.
I’m thankful we got to see that and thankful that it has never been that cold for that long again.
My two girls and two boys all went together to Peachtree City Elementary School and played on weekends at Riley Field, where there were no crowds. They rode bicycles on what we called the bike trail that began next to our house on Abbey Road, crossed the leisurely two-lane Hwy. 74, and pedaled down the most beautiful parkway I had ever seen to get to Aberdeen Village and Hudson’s Supermarket, a drug store with a soda fountain and — across the bike bridge to Willowbend — the only fast food place in Peachtree City, fried chicken at Pak-A-Chik.
To get there, they biked past Bob Huddleston’s cows in his pasture, kept separate from his pigs down at the curve next to the railroad tracks. They put pennies on the tracks and showed me their art.
My kids called it the bubble city, back in the ’70s and early ’80s. Facebook had not been dreamed of, and everybody had land lines. I have the same phone number I had in ’77, and we used that land line to call in takeout at Partner’s II Pizza, which landed in PTC the same time I did. To this day, all of us can dial Partner’s number from memory baked into our brains. I still have not tasted better pizza in these United States.
On one of their excursions to the fields next to bike path, my oldest daughter fell out of an oak tree owned by Floy Farr and Joel Cowan and cracked her hip bone. I waited for the volunteer EMTs to arrive and evaluate Laura, who was cheerful and uncomplaining. One of the EMTs to care for my daughter was Sallie Satterthwaite, who years later wrote piercingly beautiful prose in columns I edited for three local newspapers. Sallie just this year moved to Virginia to be with her daughter. My daughter went on to become a family practice physician.
My kids are older now than I was then, but when they visit Peachtree City, they expect to eat at Partner’s.
I got into newspapering working for “This Week in Peachtree City” in 1982, just after the fine little tabloid was sold and combined with the Fayetteville paper. I moved over to become editor of the jointly owned “The Fayette County News,” then later for “The Fayette Sun.”
After a hiatus in direct marketing, we started “The Fayette Citizen” with some “Sun” veterans, in the “Sun’s” recently vacated offices on North Glynn Street in Fayetteville. We’ve been here ever since, covering Peachtree City and Fayette County, the good, the bad and the ugly.
I’m thankful for all of the above and especially that my wife Joyce works with me to produce The Citizen products. To paraphrase a sports cliche: “Fayette County has been very good to me.”
So as I prepare to observe my 41st Thanksgiving in my adopted city in my adopted county, I am grateful for this place and its people.
I give thanks that a lot of people still want to read what we write beneath the Times Bold logo of “The Citizen.” I thank you for sticking with us, all these years.
I spent my first 19 years in a town on a river bluff, and for years I thought of that place as my home.
I’ve reconsidered. I live within a mile of where I first moved 41 years ago. I guess at some point, no matter where you are from, you have to call where you are “home.”
I am thankful to be here. I thank God that I am home. Happy Thanksgiving to us all.
[Cal Beverly is editor and publisher of The Citizen.]