A Sunday Drive, Saturday

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Lynn Horton is a freelance writer and editor who in another lifetime taught English and Creative Writing at McIntosh High School and later worked in the Starr’s Mill High School Media Center.

I saw a half page ad last week showing some lovely landscape, a pretty woman and an even prettier new car with the caption, “The Lost Art of the Sunday Drive.” Well, of course, I couldn’t help but be reminded of how terribly long it had been since Bill and I had purposefully climbed into our car with the intent of simply driving around the countryside with little or no plan and without even a destination. And because I just could not wait for Sunday to roll around, I talked Bill into just getting in the car and heading out for points unknown last Saturday.
Now, we lived in Fayette County for 32 years and knew pretty much all the towns between Peachtree City and Atlanta. We had explored Fairburn when there were two fine tea houses where I and my lady friends could go and pretend we were in England, visited friends in tiny Palmetto, watched Serenbe grow from a farmhouse, restaurant and inn into a New-Age “city” brimming over with electric cars and organic everything. We had been to Civil War reenactments in Jonesboro, watched malls rise and fall in south Fulton County, and seen the Renaissance Festival relocated. Why, we have watched excellent stage productions in tiny Tyrone that was just a jot in the road and now boasts a Japanese restaurant among other cosmopolitan attractions. We also saw one of the finest fifties-style eateries come and go; Box Car Cafe served some of the best food this side of Atlanta by the nicest folks this side of heaven!
Obviously, I could wander far along memory’s highway reminiscing about all the places long ago drives have taken us, but my point is that the places that were so familiar were all in one direction. When we moved to Senoia three and a half years ago, Coweta County was a virtual Never Neverland. We had Never done more than drive through Newnan on our way to Mississippi. I had Never known anyone who lived off Highway 16 or in Sharpsburg, and we had Never even heard of Harrelson, Woodbury, and Manchester.
Well, all that changed when we took our leisurely Sunday drive this past Saturday, and it was splendid!
We were prepared only with the general idea of driving out to visit a new acquaintance we had met when David Moreland had come to the Senoia Area Historical Museum a couple of times for our regular monthly programs. I “plugged in” the address of his shop, “The Post Office” on Main Street in Manchester, Georgia and my cellphone promptly gave me a map and driving directions. Forty-one minutes later, after devouring a pack of Nabs and a 32ounce Diet Coke, we pulled right up to the front of David’s antique emporium. WOW.
What was once the actual United States Post Office for the city and was commissioned by order of then President Franklin D. Roosevelt is now home to antiques and ephemera. Not far from Warm Springs, no money was spared on this elegant Art Deco building, as its basement was designed to be a “safe house” for the President in case of an enemy attack. The huge walk-in depository has a giant steel door with the Presidential Seal emblazoned on it. Very Cool.
Turns out David has a very interesting past himself as an actor and a storyteller. We listened for almost an hour as he regaled us with tales of his roles as a ghost at the famous Atlanta Oakland Cemetery, as the teller of Mark Twain’s “Jumping Frog” story, and of various wonderful experiences on and off stages around Georgia. He is pretty cool, too.
We left Manchester after I plundered the basement for some real “steals” (four fine china tea cups and saucers were among my finds), but not before I had taken a photo of the iconic “President’s” movie theatre, another gorgeous Art Deco building; I cannot wait to hear the story about this beauty!
Not all of the countryside down Highway 85 between Senoia and Woodbury and Manchester is pretty. There are some deserted, dilapidated homes and some ugly stands of scrub oaks as well as some clear-cut acres scattered with left-over scrawny pine trees. Concrete block buildings with the roofs caved in and gas stations either burned out or left to rust and rot are part of the roadside scenery, too. But even in late February, bunches of bright yellow daffodils and shrubs waving brave forsythia blossoms, brightened even the grimmest abandoned yards, peeking from among the piles of barn boards, reminders of a past when farming was the primary way of life and when maps came folded and were made of paper.
It was also a time when going for a ride Sunday afternoon was a ritual. Counting cows, singing show tunes and stopping for an icy Coca-Cola and a pack of Nabs…..Those were the days.

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