Published Saturday, January 26, 2013

Guest Column: Newnan a long time ago

Guest Column by Norma Haynes

Special to The Newnan Times-Herald

The other day I decided to ride out Jefferson Street (which has been changed to Bullsboro Drive) by the cemetery and tried to drive slowly, which was virtually impossible since the speed limit has increased decidedly since I lived on that street many years ago.

Car horns blew and scolding looks were given me, so I pulled over into the cemetery and just sat for a minute or two, remembering.

Jefferson Street ended at the bridge in front of the funeral home. From there it became a two-lane, dirt road winding through peach orchards and farm land. Houses lined Jefferson Street, and one of those was where I was born. It was a quiet street, just two lanes and not much traffic.

My home was on the land where the Bank of Coweta now stands, and the cemetery was always there, and not long after my family moved into our home, the church was built. There were homes all along on both sides of Jefferson Street, with each having big yards and most had vegetable gardens in the back.

Where the Pizza Hut is located now was the most beautiful big house with massive columns and a winding drive which stopped in front of a large porch. Several family members shared this wonderful home, and I spent many hours playing on that front porch and under the giant shade trees that covered the front yard.

It broke my heart when this irreplaceable house was torn down. I remember playing outside until way after dark, and as I sat in my car remembering, I started thinking how sad it is that today I don’t see children playing in the yards anymore.

Riding around the town or walking in the neighborhoods, I rarely see children out having fun playing some made-up game. I guess technology has taken the place of imagination these days.

But when I lived on Jefferson Street, we couldn’t wait to get outside every day after school and during the summer time. We rode brooms and mops, pretending they were horses. We pushed our dolls in wicker doll carriages and “cooked” berries and leaves on our play stoves. We played Kick the Can, Marbles, Hop-Scotch, Red Rover, Red Rover and other fun games together. All those of us in the neighborhood got together to play outside.

The railroad bridge where Jefferson Street ended was a big old wooden bridge (as were all of the bridges in the 1940s and 1950s). When you rode over the bridge in a car, it made a loud noise as the boards groaned with the weight of the car. Trains went under that bridge just about every hour. When I was a little girl, every day I got the thrill of riding with my Daddy down to the bridge to watch the train go under. He would come home from the barber shop at dinner time (which was high noon), eat and then put me in the car, and we would go watch for the train.

Going across the bridge and on out Jefferson Street on the two-lane road, we would pass peach orchards and forests and fields. There were farm houses scattered around, and I well remember the peach shed out farther where Herring Road is now. Back then, if we went to the Peach Shed it was way out in the country. I think the building still stands. As we got older, some of us were fortunate enough to get a job in the Peach Shed sorting the peaches and helping pack them. Picking peaches was a real job as well. It saddens me to know that we no longer have the beautiful peach orchards that were such trademarks for our county.

Jefferson Street now evolves into Bullsboro Drive and Bullsboro into Highway 34. All kinds of commercial and industrial businesses make up the acreage where once stood the old homes, farm houses and peach orchards. Newnan and Coweta County continue to grow and expand. It is still an adventure to drive out that way, but it is certainly a different kind of adventure nowadays.

I am thankful we have the opportunity to shop in all these new stores, and I just hope that we can continue to preserve the specialness of Newnan and Coweta County because we do live in a wonderful place. Although many, many changes have come while I have lived here all my life, some good and some not so good, I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else in this world.

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