Monday, August 18, 2014

The journey of a thousand miles

... began with a single step.


My family is celebrating a milestone this week. It's an anniversary of sorts, and if all goes well, I'm planning to include you in the celebration. It's an anniversary forty years in the making.

40 years...

That would take us back to  1974. 

... the year Hammerin' Hank broke Babe Ruth's home run record.

and Patty Hearst was kidnapped by the Symbionese Liberation Army. 

 Post- it notes were invented that year too.

And some missing White House tapes contributed to the resignation
of an American president.

Things that make you go hmmmm... 

The speed limit across the nation was lowered to this glacial speed in 1974, too.

Just in time for my parents to pick up stakes 
and take the family on a journey of a thousand miles,
all the way from our home in the Berkshire Mountains of Massachusetts
 to a land flowing with biscuits and honey.

It was a one way adventure.

Yes folks, forty years ago today, my parents packed up the wood paneled station wagon, hitched up the trusty travel trailer, loaded up  four kids and two cats, and headed out to our new home in Georgia.   

It took us three and a half days to make that thousand mile journey.  Sure, we could have done it faster, much, much faster in fact.  In the years that followed, we managed to whittle it down to about 22 hours, 21 if nobody drank coffee. 

Like that was going to happen in our family... 

That trip was longer for a variety of reasons.

For one thing, we were at the mercy of the moving company.  North American Van Lines wasn't scheduled to deliver all the house schtuff  until  August 20th, and Mom and Dad wanted it to arrive before we did.

Chaos control, I imagine.

I did mention the four kids and two cats, right?
And that one of the kids was blond and... me?

Then, of course, there was the other reason for the snail's pace, the one that in retrospect was probably the real one.

Those four kids weren't exactly thrilled about the move, 

Especially this one. She was scared.

I'm pretty sure the cats weren't too happy, either. Somewhere around Virginia, Muffy  tried to make a run for it. She would've made it, too, had Dad not caught her by the scruff of the neck.  I laid aside all plans of my own escape after that and deployed the pout option instead.

It didn't work. Dad just kept driving. Somewhere around South Carolina, I finally decided that we were, indeed, moving to Georgia.

And that we did.

In the heat of the afternoon on August 21st, we finally arrived.  We stopped off at Dad's office, where the secretary offered us a Co-Cola and told us how she had once been crowned Miss Savannah.

I thought she talked kinda  funny.
I'm pretty sure she thought we talked funny, too.

Then we headed to see the new house.  True to plan, all that harvest gold and avocado green schtuff  had arrived and was waiting in its proper rooms. We had about ten minutes to tour the place before we were sent unpacking.

By suppertime, we were completely finished because that's the way the Duchess rolls. We didn't have any food in the house so we celebrated our first night in Georgia with a meal at the Tastee Freez.


Let's make that one a yee haw instead.

And that, folks, is how Debbie became a Georgia Peach. Not that it happened overnight, of course.  This is the south, after all.  Things move along at a nice, slow drawl around here.  We take our time.  Eventually, though, I not only liked this place but  truly loved it,  and every bit of southern fried Dixie that went along with it, from grits to gravy.

It is home. 

And now, it has been home for forty years. 

40 years....

Don't you think it's time I learned to make sweet tea?

Yeah, I think so too. 

Where were you in '74?


Denise at Forest Manor said...

Hi Debbie,

Congrats on 40 years being a Southerner!! :-D I know we're not perfect, but I love the south and am proud to be southern. I don't understand the "swamp yankee" part though -- I thought you lived in the mountains in MA(?) I'm sure I just missed something here, which wouldn't be anything new for me. ;)

Where was I in 1974? Well to tell you the truth, I'm pretty sure we had recently moved back to N.C. from Georgia, believe it or not. We lived in Marietta, GA, briefly (six months) when I was in junior high, now referred to as middle school. :) I didn't want to move away from North Carolina either; our house didn't sell during the time we were away, so we just moved right back into it. Yay! My dad tried a new job in Marietta that didn't work out, so he was offered his previous job back, and we returned to N.C. That six months was the only time we haven't lived in North Carolina.

I enjoyed your story -- glad you decided to stay! Enjoy your week, my friend!!



Gayle said...

Personally, I'd much rather live in the south than in Massachusetts, and I bet you feel the same way every winter. :-) In August of 1974, I was working my first job after high school, I believe.

Creations By Cindy said...

Do you talk southern now? LOL! 40 years, wow! Well, I must say...I cannot imagine how you must have felt though moving that far away from what you knew as home but so glad that it has become your home and you love it. I bet you did think that "Miss Savannah" talked funny. But then again I sometime have southerner's tell this southerner how funny I talk! LOL! Have a great day. Hugs and blessings, Cindy

Decor To Adore said...

Debbie I think this is one of my most favorite posts that you have ever written. Too bad we didn't know one another when I lived in Warner Robins.

In 1974....hmmm I was 6 and living in N. Calif. :)

Vee said...

I was in Oklahoma. And, like Muffy, I was planning a run for it nearly every minute. ☺

This was a fun post. I don't suppose that there's much of New England left after that long away, but I'd like to think that the best parts of New England remain...whatever they might be.

Gosh, your mum is efficient! That's amazing!

Lynn@Happier Than a Pig in Mud said...

I was living in Philly, maybe even on vaca down the shore... Don't know if it was 74 or 75 but I won the radio I currently have at the office on the boardwalk! One of the guys told me today I should take it to the Antique Road Show-s'up wit dat??? Glad you grew to like it there:@)

Denise said...

Well, you know where I was...I was with you making the very same 1000 mile journey. I was awfully scared, too, but thankfully had that wonderful twin brother of mine to help carve my way. I had forgotten that we ate at Tastee Freeze that first night. I also remember that I kept getting lost every time I came down the stairs. Trying to find the kitchen and ended up in the bathroom EVERY time.

Like you, I truly love living here. However, since a married a southern boy, I learned to make him some sweet tea about 32 years ago. I will have to teach you some time in the next 40 years!

Great post. I enjoyed traveling down memory lane with you!

Kathryn Ross said...

That was the summer before my sophomore year of high school. Let's not dwell on all the geekiness that was my life in the 1970's. Theatre geek. Art school geek. Writing stories geek. Yeah - things haven't changed much for me these past 40 years, I guess. Except now Jesus is at the foundation of all my geek and I'm good with that. About 15 years after you hit Georgia, I found myself transplanted in Charleston, SC for four tough years as a little Yankee girl trying to hold it together while her Navy submarine officer was pretty much out to sea. Bit of a culture shock, that. Hurricane Hugo greeted me within 6 months of my arrival. Glad there were plenty of touristy things to keep me going. Guess I was homesick for quaint New England. Would have loved you as a neighbor, milady.

Merlesworld said...

That was a long time ago.

Merlesworld said...

That was a long time ago.

Barbara F. said...

College, working part time in the city. Got my first pair of soft contac lenses. Turned 20.

Dayle Allen Shockley @ A Collection of Days said...

I'm proud to be a born and bred Southern woman and you definitely belong here, my friend. What a journey!

What was I doing in 1974? Oh ... OH! Let's leave it at that.

Yellow Rose Arbor said...

Well, you sure had me fooled. I would have never dreamed you had a drop of "Yankee" blood in you! You adapted really well! LOL! Without that move you would have never met Sir Lotsa Hair!

In 1974 I was - Painting! LOL! I made my southern trek from the "north," North Alabama, that is! We moved to FL from Huntsville in 1966! I've always loved FL too! I also had two little girls and a poodle dog (and a DH.) My girls were 12 and 7 that year. In addition to painting, I was a seamstress, cook, housekeeper, Girl Scout leader, a teacher's aide, carpooling everywhere, ETC, ETC!! Our house was decorated in avocado and gold and country calicos and ginghams!

Enjoying hearing your story!


Mrs.Rabe said...

I think the Duchess and I would be good friends! I like to get settled quickly too!

In 1974 I was 11 years old and living in a little town in the middle of the of Los Angeles County in California. We lived in our house from 1967, having moved from a house down the street, until my parents sold that house and moved to PA in 1998. They came here because this is where we settled.


Mevely317 said...

Gosh, but you make me smile so big, Debbie! 1974?
Already divorced and living in West Texas, waiting for 'Mr. Right' to come along ... totally on the Wrong Track, but too in love with life to know better.

What I wouldn't give to live in the 'real' South near my son and his family. Definitely, my heart's in Dixie!

Sharon said...

The cutest photo of Debbie, circa 1974! Honestly, adorable!!

Congrats on 40 years of being a Georgia peach. I have actually been a California poppy for 57 years, and a Southern California gal for 52. (Does that make me southern like you?!)

Where was I in '74? Considerably older at 20, still living at home, and in my second year of junior college. Oh yeah, and driving one fast little Mercury Capri...


Lynn Richards said...

I truly thought you were born and raised in Georgia. You must be a true Southern girl at heart!
In '74, I was 12, very insecure and dying for a leather purse that had all kinds of flowers indented into it. Funny how now I love leather cuffs and have even made myself a couple and put my own flowers and words onto them!!!

Susan Nowell @ My Place to Yours said...

Debbie, you adapted so well to The South that I sometimes forget the Duchess didn't "get" to experience the heat of a S. Georgia summer while waiting on you your birth.

As for employing the "pout option", I'm afraid I was doing that too in 1974. Oh, the grief young teenage girls can give their poor parents! Forty years ago I was a city girl living in Austin, Texas – getting ready to begin 8th grade.

Miss Merry said...

1974- I graduated from high school and was working at Cedar Point amusement park in Sandusky, Ohio. We worked 12 hour days, slept when we weren't working (except when we "hung out" and were isolated from the real world. I saw a newspaper on a stand that said "Nixon Resigned". Shock - missed the whole episode with out a cell phone or the internet LOL - and what a wonderful time it was! Met my husband (married 38 years on Labor Day) and enjoyed the last few months before becoming a "grown up". With my fat, minimum wage pay checks - I bought a pair of shoes or sandals every week! Thanks for bringing back my memories!

kitty said...

Oh my, Debbie, that was a fun read! I never realized that you were from Massachusetts. I just always thought you were an original Georgia Peach!! I loved the part about the Duchess having everything unpacked by evening. Yes, women get things done!!!
Where was I in 1974? I had my second baby, with two more to come, and living in Columbus, Ohio. Life was good and busy!

corners of my life said...

What a great way to reminisce about your move south. In 1974 I had just graduated college and my dream was to move south. Instead, I got a job and have never lived than 50 miles from "home". I do wonder how life would have been different if I had been braver . . .

Kelley said...

In August 1974 I was 13 and probably at Payless Shoe Source buying my school shoes with babysitting money.

Loved this post! Happy There's-No-Place-Like-Home Day!

Our youngest is closing on their first home today. :-)


Miss Char said...

We'll slap me silly...I too had no idea you were a transplant. Your story is wonderfully fully of the comings and goings of an American family.

In 1974 I was awaiting the birth of our second child, our son Dustin. I spent much of my time while I waited watching our country proceed through a time of a peaceful change of power. My interest more intense than many others because of my limited ties to President Ford.

Lorrie said...

The Duchess and I think alike. Doesn't take long to unpack if everyone chips in.
In 1974 I graduated from high school and worked in an office that summer before heading off to college in September. 40 years ago? Can't be!

Tanna at The Brick Street Bungalow said...

In the late summer of '72 we moved from Mobile, Alabama to Loraine, Texas (one flashing red light... lots of cotton). I graduated from high school in the spring of '74... So, I was around for all those things... including the discomfort of a move. You are so Southern now, Debbie... couldn't beat it out of you with a stick (I know you've heard that phrase somewhere in the South. ;) ) We are better for your having joined us. blessings and hugs ~ tanna

Ann said...

Where was I in '74? Well, I can tell you were I wasn't...I wasn't in Ohio with my parents...funny...I was actually where I am now...attending college and dating someone my parents weren't too thrilled about....LOL!
At Christmas time of that year my parents pulled the financial plug and I beat them to dad's next assignment in CA. Met my husband 6 months married 4 months after that!

I'm glad you moved south...don't worry about not making sweet tea. Shoot...I don't even make iced tea and when I buy it, i buy UN-sweetened...AND I drink it "naked." (No lemon, no sweetener)

Cheers and congratulations!

Scribbler said...

I didn't know, would never have guessed. That's OK, you are Southern now.

In 1974 I got away from my abusive ex husband, and I took my six year old son to Charlotte. I got a job In retail management with The Limited.

A year later, we moved to Atlanta.

Elizabeth Dianne said...

I moved that year also--married just 9 years and with three little boys, my husband and I moved from Little Rock, AR to Tulsa, OK. I flew in to Tulsa having never seen the city before. We spent 30 wonderful years there but decided to head back home at retirement time. So glad we did--I especially love the south but more especially love Arkansas. I'm glad youse guys made it down this way.

Deborah Montgomery said...

My family is originally from New England too. Your picture from 1974 is very cute. Seems you settled into southern life very well. In 1974, I was a high school junior, and a bit of a rebel. :)

The Polka Dot Closet said...

How in the world can you remember the day of a move!! I so remember all of the Patty Hearst hoopla lol! I have not heard about that in years. I was living in Minnesota and never in my wildest dreams did I ever dream that i would be living farther south than you....I am so glad I am no longer a northern girl and I have no idea how to make sweet tea either!!


Cheryl @ TFD said...

One thing I have to say is that I can't believe how fast 40 years have flown by! I was still living in MO where I've always been. lol! I was a stay-at-home mom to my then 2 year old daughter.

I make my sweet tea the easy way. I put my sugar in a small saucepan, add about 2 cups water, then put in the tea bags and bring to a boil. Let it cool, then pour into pitcher of water and stir. For a gallon pitcher, I use 1 1/2 cups sugar and 6 regular size tea bags. Some use 2 cups, but 1 1/2 is plenty for me and I like sweet tea. But if I'm just using a 2 quart pitcher, then 1 cup of sugar to 3 tea bags.

Alycia Nichols said...

OMG, it HAS been 40 years since all of that happened! Amazing how time flies! I remember each and every thing, especially the whole Patty Hearst ordeal and President Nixon. Poor misguided President Nixon. Anyhooooo...I imagine it was in your best interest to not try to make a run for it. I'm sure the scruff of your neck was a lot less meaty and the pain would therefore be palpable. We never moved (my Mom still lives in the home I grew up in, although that home has morphed into something quite different from its original state in the last 54 years!), but I feel your pain. I didn't even like to go on vacation, much less pick up, pack up and move clear across the country. And to move from one cultural setting to another must have been excruciating at first! From the Land of Kennedy to the Land of Carter in 22 hours!

How on earth you guys unpacked in that short amount of time is beyond me! I guess things were much simpler and we didn't have as much "stuff" back then, though. To unpack all my dishes alone would take nothing short of a week! ;-)

I'm a dyed-in-the-wool Yankee, although I have my Southern ways thanks to my maternal great-Grandmother. I say things like "Bless my soul!" and "Honey, hush!" and "Hotter than a (fill in the blank)". I think that frying chicken in anything other than an iron skillet should be punishable by death. I believe that peaches and apples and all other kinds of fruit were made to be eaten with an envelope of flaky dough wrapped around them. I have the occasional "conniption fit" and I "retire" to my dressing room to "sit a spell" on my fainting couch. So, yes...there's a bit of Southern in me!

In 1974 I was a sophomore in high school, and so scrawny and bookish...quite pitiful, actually. It was a tough year in many ways, but somehow my parents managed not to kill me or send me off to that often-threatened school for wayward girls. (Although I'm not sure just how "wayward" I actually was...just more opinionated and, therefore, defiant of some of the house rules. Thank the good Lord for the nanny who saved my bacon! Yes, I was so impossible that I STILL had a nanny at age 15!) Even WAY back then I was a housewife in training, interested in rearranging furniture at the drop of a hat, always making endless lists, constantly in the kitchen testing recipes, and, of course, always trying to set pretty tables with whatever I could get my hands on!

Fun post! Y'all take care now, ya hear? :-)

Anonymous said...

Just want you to know that I cried all the way also. It was not an easy move for me either. I still miss the snow, the small towns where I traveled with their maple trees and white spires on the beautiful churches, the small dairy farms, the little county fairs, all my extended family, maple sugar and all the food I cannot find here. I will never get used to the hot summers or the gnats. However, I do like fried chicken and sweet tea. Grits, not so much!!
The Duchess

Laurie Ritchey said...

In 1974, I was starting to wish that my avocado green fridge would die! We had been married 5 years, and I was tired of it. I was back in my hometown after touring some of the U.S. with my military husband. He had been home from Viet Nam for about a year, and we had just had our first child. I love the way you write. I could just see that pouting little girl in the back seat. I'm glad it ended well. I suspect that had a lot to do with your attitude, cause I think, even back then, you knew how to make the best of the situation. laurie

Sharlotte said...

What a great story. I loved Georgia when we visited...everyone was so friendly.
We moved a couple of times when I was younger, but not near as far. I was born in Texas and haven't left.

Sharlotte said... junior high...


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