Saturday, February 26, 2011

Down On The Farm...

Blogs are funny things. I mean that as funny/interesting, as opposed to funny/strange. Well, on second thought both apply. The more I share stories about myself (personal experiences and the like), the more I reveal to myself...the more I remember. I'm sure there are some rooms in my mind that were locked long ago and will remain so. Other rooms I've jimmied the locks on. Some I've blown open.

My latest onslaught of forgotten memories was spawned by one of my recent posts, "Night Moon...". I mentioned some 'celestially' based memories from my youth that took place in the late '60's to early '70's. The location was an old farm house in the Atlanta Area. Norcross, to be exact. As I wrote my blog entry, I felt transported as I often do when I write. Flashes of the interior of that house. The horses we had. Our dog named 'Dawg'. After I had posted the entry to my blog, my mind started working on about that house. I heard from someone that it had been declared a historical site and was still there. I was in my early 30's when I heard that, so that was...well, I'll avoid dating myself and just say that it was awhile back...

The door to that particular period of my life has always been slightly ajar...I have always had access to a few vague memories from that time. It has made me extremely curious about finding out what I can about the house. If it is still there, what sort of records could I find on it? I've been in 'Mission' mode. Couldn't remember the name of the road it was on. That seemed to be the most important information to have if you were looking for a house, and I didn't have it. I wasn't even 100% sure that it was in Norcross, but I was reasonably sure. That's where I started. I Googled images for "historical landmark farm house, Norcross, GA" and whatever else I could think of. There were a number of pictures popping up, but nothing even close to what I was looking for, and definitely not the house in question. Then I switched over to the World Wide Web. From there it didn't take very long.

Nesbit Ferry Farm in Norcross, Georgia. There it was on a web site for an architectural firm. They had handled a renovation for the current owners (I assume the owners from that time are still in residence). The site also said that there was a 10-page spread about the renovation in Southern Homes Magazine. That had me excited until a little net surfing told me that the magazine is now defunct. Actually, it changed hands and changed names, format, etc. I plan to contact the newer version of the magazine to see if they might have an archive of the old magazine, if the architectural firm doesn't get back to me. I sent them an e-mail asking for the month and year of the particular Southern Homes issue. Haven't heard back thus far.

This is a 'before' shot they had on the site, and this is pretty much how I remember it. Obviously taken in the winter. On the right hand side of the photo you can see the low wall that goes around the big stone patio. The huge trees within it's borders were usually full of leaves...I remember my dad raking up the leaves during the Fall, and my brother and I jumping in the piles scattering them again. I wish there was more detail in the picture, meaning that it included the big dirt drive out front. It was somewhat circular and there was a big tree in the middle of it. I used to love to create little cities made up mostly of dirt roads that I would drive little toy cars around in.

At the back corner (patio side) is a sun room that I spent a lot of time in. I can remember my brother and I dancing around like goofs listening to my parents Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass album. (If you're unfamiliar with the sound, think theme song of 'The Dating Game'). I called my brother as part of my research to pick his brain for whatever memories he had, and he remembered watching the moon landing on our b&w TV in that same sun room.

There was a step up from the sun room into the dining room. That's where my evil older brother had me convinced that the sardines on the antipasto trays my mother made would bite me. Forget the fact that they had no heads...(I know, I have no idea either.)

My parents room was on the ground floor, right across from the stairs up to the second floor where the kids rooms were. There was a curve to the left at the bottom of the stairs, and then it was a straight shot up. I can remember a few times I fell down those stairs. (I actually had a number of mishaps at that house). When you reached the top, my room was to the right and my brother's to the left. (In the picture above, my room is the window above the porch kind of behind the tree to the left, and my brother's is the more visible window.) Some definite memories I have from that house are how creeped out I would get at night in my bedroom. There were a number of times I would wake up in a cold sweat, completely disoriented, and feeling like I wasn't alone in my room. I don't want that to sound like I was utterly convinced that the house was haunted. Yes, I have had some hauntings in my past (which I've written about in this blog), but I don't think that was one. It was an old house full of pops and groans, and my older brother enjoyed freaking me out. We have just shy of four years between us, so I was the annoying little sister. No telling what some of the antics he pulled trying to terrorize me were, but I guess it was his job in a way. Throughout history, older siblings have pranked younger siblings. Moving right along...

(Me on my swing set.)

The barn is out of frame to the left of the house, as I remember. Don't know if it's still there or not. Behind the house is where the fenced in field was where we kept our two horses, Ginger and...I want to say 'Babe'. I mentioned earlier that I had some mishaps at that house. Two involved Ginger. One day I was sitting on a saddled Ginger while my mother led her around the back of the house along the flagstone walkway. Enter a snake. Snake spooks horse, horse rears up, little kid flips off back of horse and cracks head on flagstone. Can you say OUCH? (I'm sure there are a number of people who know me that are thinking, "So THAT'S what happened!") My other event happened with some small similarities. I was on the back of a saddled Ginger, one of the teenage boys that lived at the neighboring farm was over and leading Ginger under a tree. Little kid isn't paying attention, teenage boy doesn't alert her to low tree branches, little kid gets scraped off back of horse and lands on barbed wire fence. I got sliced up pretty badly under my arm. My mother tossed me into the car and whisked me off to the pediatrician's office (Dr. Johnson, I think his name was). Needless to say, I got a tetanus shot.

One thing my brother reminded me of was the nudist colony at the end of our street. It's a subdivision now (looked the house up on Google! Earth). Was kind of a running joke, as I remember. A nudist camp in the middle of some farms. Well, it was the time of Love-ins and Hippies. I'm going to use the nudists as a segue for one of my most vivid memories from that house. The movie shoot.

In those days my father produced commercials. He won some awards, too. (I was actually in a commercial for Sears' Winnie The Pooh Clothing. It was shot at the Atlanta Zoo, and I remember being horrified that I had to hold hands with a boy.) Anyway, I wasn't sure about any of the specifics on the film, but it was a, that's to's an E-Grade biker film. I did some researching on that, too, and found the movie by using some of the actor's names. It's called "J.C.", came out in 1972, and is a biker version of the return of Christ. A part of me is rather curious to see it. To see the house, etc. I did find some clips posted on YouTube. It looks absolutely horrid, but apparently is known to be a decent biker film from that particular era that is "unintentionally hilarious". I think the person who reviewed it must have been smoking dope...

The biker gang that follows 'JC' around in the film were actual bikers and their old ladies. I was fascinated by the choppers, and the characters riding them. Hey, I was eight years old. They were "cool". There were a couple of 'names' in the film. Joanna Woodward, who you might know as Tatum O-Neil's mother; Burr Debenning, a character actor you would probably recognize if you saw him; and Slim Pickens, only he wasn't riding a bomb this time. No, he was just 'in' a bomb this time. (I slay me sometimes...) The whole thing was exciting for a kid like me. Being in a more rural area there weren't a lot of neighboring kids to play with. All that activity was great. I have rather vivid vision based memories of talking to Joanna while she was getting her face touched up. The "old ladies" were very nice to me, and a couple of the biker 'dudes' let me sit on their bikes. (I would later learn that's kind of an honor. For a biker to let you sit on his 'hog'. True, I was a kid, but I thought that was the coolest thing.) The best 'visual' memory was from one of the breaks. I was walking by the front porch where Slim was sitting, and he called me up to talk to him. He called me "little lady". Again, I don't remember the specifics of our conversation, but I do remember him being one of the nicest people. A southern good ol' boy, just like you see in the movies. For the time the cast and crew were there, I tried to get as close as I could to the action without being in the way. I didn't want to get sent to my room. Yes, the film looks truly horrible, but I plan to try and hunt down a copy.

Gradually the doors are opening and the memories are being released. I hope I'm able to track down some more on the house, preferably some photos of it's interior. I know seeing some pictures of the various rooms and the layout will help release some more of my mental archives. From my exchange with my brother, it appears that I remember more from there than he does. Some time has passed, so maybe he's remembered more. I'll have to ask him.

This 'learning about history' deal is interesting stuff...especially when it's your own...


  1. It was a great old place. Glad it's still there.

  2. This is someone else who likes delving into the past, and following trails back to places once known, I really enjoyed reading this. Love all the pictures too.

  3. That house reminds me of the one where we lived in Colbert, Ga in the early nineties. It looks like a great place to grow up. Great story about the biker movie!

  4. love your blog and that picture of the swing is fantastic.

  5. @ Deborah: Thanks! It's interesting what we forget over the years. It's like the memories are just hanging out up there waiting to be tapped into.

    @ Nancy: Yeah, that was quite an event having a movie crew running around your house.

    @ Adriana: Thanks! Whenever I look at a picture of me from back then it's hard to believe that I was once that small.