I was born in Atlanta in April of 1965 to two great parents (that I appreciate a whole lot more now than I did then). This is where I spent the first 10 or so years of my life. I lived in a community on the outskirts of the main city; our street was always quiet - not a lot of traffic. We had some good neighbors - there was an older couple that lived next door; another across the street (I remember this guy was a watch repairman at one time; he had a workshop in his backyard and helped me build a go-cart once - a wooden one that you could pull to the top of the street and ride downhill; that was pretty fun). There was an older lady down the street; I mowed her lawn occasionally.
I remember walking to school. It was sidewalk all the way, but it was still a pretty good trip. The neighborhood was kind of hilly, so there was a lot of walking uphill and downhill along the way. I actually vaguely remember my first day of school; my folks took me and stayed 'til around lunch (I was terrified at first, but after a while I was okay; it was just playing with wooden toys and clay most of the time, anyway).
While we lived in Atlanta my Dad worked at a bakery (the Colonial bakery, I think); he mostly worked during the day 'til late at night. I remember staying up late 'til he got home a lot (I'm still a "night owl" to this day). My Dad was always good with the home maintenance kind of stuff - he was an awfully good painter (I can remember "helping" him some) and always kept things in shape. When I was old enough to push the lawnmower I mowed (I remember holding my arms nearly straight-up pushing that thing); I think my Dad paid me either 50 cents or a dollar every time I cut the grass, and I managed to buy my own bike (sometime later) with this money; if I remember right, that bike cost somewhere around $100, so I had to have cut a lot of grass.
Anyway, sometime around the 4th grade my family moved back to my parents' home town, the metropolis of Pearson - talk about "culture shock". We had often visited the grandparents on holidays, but that didn't prepare me for actually living there. It wasn't all that bad, but it was a big change. I remember my first day at my new school, Atkinson County Elementary School; I was the new "city boy". I soon made friends, though, and got along okay.
I only had to finish out the rest of 4th grade, and after summer break it was on to junior high. While going to school in my new home town I had to ride the bus to school; at times this wasn't fun (as naturally my bus went through some rough sections of town), but I never had any real problems. Junior High was pretty fun; my best memory is attending basketball games (not that I cared anything at all about the sport - I just enjoyed watching the cheerleaders). I will say this about Atkinson County's school system, it always (at least while I attended) had some outstanding teachers; if you wanted to learn, the opportunity was definitely available.
Four years later it was time for the move to high school (good ol' ATCO High). Unlike a lot of kids, I really enjoyed school. My freshman year I was lucky enough to end up on the school newspaper staff (though I don't really remember how or why I was chosen). The newspaper staff was mostly made up of sophomores, juniors, and seniors, and they welcomed me (though I did get ribbed on a little). While in high school I joined a fair amount of clubs - my main reason being that this would allow me to have another picture in the yearbook (that's true). Yeah, high school was fun; I'd probably still be there if they would have let me stay. My only real regret (if there is one) about my time in high school is that I didn't pursue a few high school "crushes" - but hey, no one to blame on that one 'cept me - I just didn't have the guts. Come my senior year I did escort the Homecoming Queen though ("Thanks for the honor, Kimberly"); and somehow I was elected Senior Class President (don't know how or why, but "thanks" Class of '83), though I remember nearly resigning as it came time to give the graduation speech - that scared me. Anyway, I made it through it. Oh yeah, sometime during my junior and senior years (I think) I worked part-time at the "Treat Shop" in Pearson (it was either that or "croppin' 'bacco", which I probably couldn't have handled anyway). I remember some good times at the Treat Shop (you'd be amazed at the pranks you can come up with using nothing but food)...
After high school was over I was sort of lost. I made the decision to go to college, mostly because I had no idea what to do. For some reason the school stuff always came easy to me, so I figured "what the he'...". In retrospect my time would have been better spent going to tech school. I spent 3 years at South Georgia College and earned a 2-year degree (I kind of swapped majors along the line); then (still not knowing what to do) I attended Valdosta State College for 2 years. Long story short - I ended up with a bachelors degree in business administration (I think).
While attending VSC (in April of '87) I lost my Dad; this was a pretty rough time for me. Thankfully I had some really good friends around (I was amazed at the folks that offered support). This probably made for a major "detour" in my life - I was definitely drifting for some time afterward (probably still am, to be perfectly honest). As it turned out, I went to work with a friend close to my hometown (well, my 2nd hometown); spent around 2 years helping him get a business "off the ground" (Vickers Audio, Douglas). It was along this time that an old school buddy and myself decided to try our hand at self-employment by opening up a business of our own (Sound Decision, Alma); for me it was my main job, for my buddy a part-time thing. This actually went really good for about a year, then it slowed down, but we kept at it. About the end of the third year we were struggling, and decided to call it quits. Not willing to throw in the towel just yet, I made the decision to continue on in a town close to home (Sound Decision II, Douglas). This new venture went well, but I was tired of having constant debt hanging over my head, and so I gave it up (let's see, I think by this time it was around '94 or so).
I was luckily able to find a job in the same business I'd been involved in since finishing school by getting a job at Segraves Sound Center in Fitzgerald. During the first year-and-a-half or so I commuted back-and-forth from Pearson to Fitzgerald; the daily drive got old (really old) after a while, and so I moved to Fitzgerald (I think this was around Nov '96). My employment at Segraves was never meant to be a permanent job - I was planning on finding a more "traditional" (y'know, maybe office-type) job before long, but somehow this never happened - you just "get in a groove". I'm not complaining, though; it definitely wasn't the back-breaking kind of work a lot of folks have to deal with, and it paid the bills.
Days turn into weeks, and weeks turn into years. in July of 2006 I awoke one morning to a phone call from the nursing home (where my Mom was a resident) informing me that she had been taken to the hospital but that it was nothing to worry about; a little while later the hospital calls, requesting that I come as soon as possible. Apparently the problem had become serious. My mother died later that night - I definitely wasn't expecting this. These days I urge anyone who still has the joy of having their parents around to cherish them every day - and be sure to tell them whatever you might feel like you should tell them. There's plenty I would have liked to tell both my parents, but I never got around to it - and then I lost the chance.
Anyway, between the new Super Wal-Mart and a general slow-down in the economy, things got kinda tight at Segraves. I tried my hand at self-employment again (a small window tint shop) for a short while. These days I'm working at a local glass shop, still tinting automobile windows...
*to be continued...