Ever heard of Fort Valley, Georgia?
How about Byron, then.
They’re just small tiny towns smack dab in the middle of Georgia. Let’s go a little bigger. How about Warner Robins? Robins Air Force Base is there so some of you might have heard of it.
Ahh…most have heard of Macon, Georgia. Byron and Fort Valley are little towns about 15 minutes south of Macon in Peach County.
Though I only lived 1/3 of my growing up years in Georgia it is the place I consider home. There’s just something about the slower pace of life, the friendliness of the people, and the rich southern foods that draw you in.
There was somewhat of a culture shock moving from a fast paced city lively with Cuban beats to a very small town where the children all answered “Yes ma’am” or “No, sir.” All of my siblings and I got in trouble the first week of school because we didn’t answer the teacher with a sir or ma’am after we spoke to them. We just didn’t know!
Our first home was on Schley Street (pronounced sh-LIE) in Fort Valley. Built in the middle of an old pecan orchard, I didn’t appreciate all the free pecans until I moved away and had to pay $6 or $7 for one pound of pecans! We’d drive over them with our cars to crack the shells – a bunch at a time.
The neighborhood children called their friend’s parents by their first names but put a Mr. or Miss in front, Miss Dale or Mr. Gary. It was more respectful that way.
Before our first year was up we moved to Byron about 10 minutes northeast of Fort Valley. It was still in the same school district only now my mom drove us in. When we first moved to Fort Valley we thought the school district was HUGE. The first thing you see coming in on Hwy 49 is a parking lot full of yellow school buses. As it turned out it was not a big school district – just a Blue Bird factory where school buses were made.
Every year the Peach Festival is held around the beginning of June. There are concerts, a parade, the world’s largest peach cobbler, and peach ice cream. Oh, the ice cream!!! Heaven. There are other activities too – races, sporting games, music, dancing. I have a story to tell for another post about a volleyball tournament held during the Peach Festival. One year all of my siblings and I were in the community’s production of Fiddler on the Roof put on during the festival. That was a blast!
Back to our home in Byron. It was in the middle of the woods – perfect for exploring, tree swings, and rattlesnakes. One time the neighbor boys (the Woods, that was their name!) were over playing. We all went outside to get our bikes and right there next to them was a big ol’ rattlesnake. Rattlesnakes in Georgia are HUGE! Much bigger than the dinky 2-3 feet ones here in the west. Anyway, my brothers and the neighbor boys all ran for the shovels. They managed to cut off it’s head. And then what do you think they did?
Take it out to the brush and dispose of the body?
Those neighbor boys coiled it up and put it in the freezer as a surprise for their mama. ☺
We didn’t have all forrested land. There were some rolling hills in the back that were perfect for rolling go-carts. Just ask my brothers! There was also a creek where we were in constant battle with the beavers who built a dam and the cottonmouths (water moccasins snakes). Ick!
One of the neatest places to visit was just outside our property. My brothers found it one day on accident. It was an old slave cemetery. Many graves were not marked. Some were open (spooky and very sad). It was run down and looked like it hadn’t been taken care of in decades. If I remember right my brother took on the project to restore it somewhat. (This was after I left the house for college so the details are sketchy. Pere, did you do it as an Eagle Scout project?) One interesting thing was the names on the grave markers. There were families who lived just down the road with the same last names, who had lived there for generations. They had no idea their ancestors were buried nearby!