Hundreds enjoy Rocky Hill reunion

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Mary Salaam and several of her children enjoy the Rocky Hill reunion Saturday at Lynch Park. Pictured are, left to right, Debra Powell, Mary Hines, Robert Hines, Sallam, and Diane Hines. Also pictured is Sandra Tinch Johnson. 


Hundreds turned out Saturday for the inaugural Rocky Hill community reunion.

Many stayed all day – and even past 6 p.m., the official end to what it’s hoped will become an annual event.

“It feels good to be here,” said Jennifer Snelling.

“We’d like to thank everyone responsible for putting this function together,” said Mary Hines, who grew up in Newnan’s Rocky Hill neighborhood and now lives in Stone Mountain. “I’m looking forward to next year.”

The reunion was held at Willie Lynch Park on Wesley Street from noon to 6 p.m. There was lots of food, as well as music and fellowship. Some local organizations set up informational booths along Wesley Street.

“People keep coming,” said Clarence “C-Bo” Bohannon, one of the organizers of the event, at 2 p.m. Rocky Hill is a west Newnan neighborhood that runs roughly from the edge of downtown Newnan to Belk Road, and from Fair Street to Rowe Street.

Mary Salaam grew up on Spring Street, and moved to Decatur in 1980. “I’m so happy they got together to do it,” she said. She saw people she hasn’t seen in 30 or 40 years, and their children and grandchildren she had never seen. Usually, when Salaam comes back to Newnan, it’s because someone has died.

“It’s wonderful to come to something when you’re not coming to somebody’s funeral,” she said. She’ll be back for the next reunion, and will be bringing her grandchildren and great-grandchildren along with her.

“This is so nice,” she said .

Sandra Tinch Johnson came all the way from Richmond, Virginia for the reunion.

“I’m just having a blast,” she said. She tries to make it to Coweta once a year, usually on Thanksgiving. But at the reunion she got to see friends, classmates and neighbors she hasn't seen since moving away 30 years ago.

“I’m glad to see this community come together,” said Sheila A. She got a chance to see old friends and “everybody was nice and friendly and courteous.”

“We’re greeting each other with love. We’re bringing love and happiness and joy into the community. And we’re enjoying each other,” said Johnnie Mae Allen. “You can feel the love. It’s in the atmosphere.”

“I’d like to thank God,” said Conry Jackson, who did face painting. “We can all come together as a family, and bring back the good times as we flow into the new times.”

All ages turned out for the event.

“It’s nice to see how you can bridge the young and the old,” said Robert Hines, Salaam’s son. “They’re always saying the youth is lost. They’re not lost. It’s up to us to bring them together.”

Sisters Shameka, Cynithia, and Cierra Swindle live on the east side of Newnan, but their parents grew up in Rocky Hill. “It’s a positive event for the community, and I’m glad to be a part of it,” said Shameka.

Josephine Bailey and Vera Herring were reminiscing about their childhood in Rocky Hill. They could see the swimming pool from their homes, but as children, they weren’t allowed to swim there. It was whites only, and so was the park. When they’d walk by, the white children were often splash them.

Later, they roller skated in the park, which featured a skating rink.

“There’s so much to be told about Rocky Hill,” said Bailey. “There are so many people who grew up in Rocky Hill who don’t really know a lot about it.”

Bailey was born in 1936 and remembered when the “streets were mud and the hill was rocky.”

Rocks left over from the blasting of the hill at West Washington can still be seen today around the intersection of West Washington and Boone Drive.

Bailey talked about her teacher and principal, Annella Johnson. Johnson still taught classes at Ruth Hill Elementary School while she was principal. Johnson lived on West Washington Street and would walk with her students to school every morning. “I give her credit for a lot of us today, who are still here,” Bailey said.

Betty Sutton Richardson, who chaired the food committee, praised the organizing committee and supporters of the neighborhood reunion. “We had a real great committee that put this program on,” she said about how well the team worked together, adding that word will be coming on planning for the next Rocky Hill Reunion event.



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