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From The Back Nine

As my family was preparing to celebrate the 70th birthday of my Aunt Linda a few weeks ago, special childhood memories rushed back. Memories of Georgia and the yearly trips my family took from Virginia to visit my mother's and father's families in Rockmart and Cedartown were still fresh on my mind.

When I was thinking about Aunt Linda and all the good times, I was really excited about getting together with family and friends to reminiscence about those days. We wanted to make her birthday a special one because she has always been there for all of us.

A surprise party was held at a restaurant in Douglasville, and a good time was had by all. Linda's son Jay has always been the entertainer, and her daughter Donna is seen always rolling her eyes when he gets the crowd going. Being the older one, she has been putting up with this for years. Jay has absolutely nailed an imitation of my late father.

The trips to Georgia were not the most enjoyable thing I have ever done, at least the ride down. Being the youngest of three, my "space" consisted mainly of the floorboard long before seat belts were a requirement. Just as I was getting to sleep, my dad would tell my brother to look at that hot rod right there. Of course, I would jump up and there would be no sign of it and they would laugh. I always fell for that and, of course, pulled this prank on my son many times.

My father was a stickler for time, so Mom always made sandwiches and packed a cooler. The only time for restroom breaks was when the gas gauge was nearing empty. After 9-10 hours, we would roll into Rockmart and visit my grandmother in the four-room village house she lived in. Two of my aunts also lived in the village. Some of the best food ever cooked was consumed on the front porch of those houses over the years.

We always traveled the 13 miles from Rockmart to Cedartown to stay with Aunt Phoye. I am not sure, but I think it had something to do with central heat and air. Phoye's house was the gathering place on my dad's side. She had a huge yard on Girard Avenue not far from town and close to the city pool, a place where we spent plenty of time.

Phoye was killed in an accident in 1982 by an legally blind elderly man. That was one of the sad periods of my early life, and Cedartown has not been the same since.

On this trip to wish her younger sister happy birthday as with every single other trip I have made, I always make the time to ride by her house. It's almost like I can see us all running around the yard.

My father had two of the greatest sisters I think a person could have. At his funeral Linda said "every sister should have a brother like Ralph Rainwater. I'll take it a step further. Every nephew should have an aunt like Linda Hutchins.''

Web posted on Thursday, April 22, 2010

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