Saturday, September 01, 2007

The Summers in Lawrenceville Georgia

What a beautiful day it is today.

It is the first day of September, but you would not know it by stepping out on our back deck.

The sky is pure blue. The sun is working its way across the morning sky. Soon it will be above the pool and we can go swimming.

But September is here.

On Tuesday, Alannah will start first grade at her new school. On Wednesday, Ashley-Rae will start Senior Kindergarten.

Both are anxious. Both are excited and apprehensive. Both are absolutely normal.

I remember being a kid, and the last few days of summer were left to those last three days that made up the Labor Day weekend. The fact that it was a three day weekend meant nothing to me as I had just had nearly 3 months off for summer holidays. And I counted down the minutes – those precious final minutes – until school would once again commence.

I didn’t hate school. I just really loved summer.

Baseball, swimming, and gathering up the friends in the neighborhood for pick up games of basketball, football, and baseball.

I really loved summer best when we lived in Georgia. We lived in a suburb of Atlanta between two rural towns of Lilburn and Lawrenceville. Around the corner and down the hill was our community club – Plantation Swim and Racquet club. It had a great pool, and two tennis courts. We would hang out at that pool all day with all our buds in the neighborhood. My brother Paul learned to play tennis there and rose to the top five in the state – on those very courts.

Back then, my best friends were Robby Irby, Steve Stillwell and his brother Ken. John Bartles and the LaFlevbre brothers lived further down on one side. And further down the other side of our house lived Bill Huseby, Stuart Franklin, and Mark Lane.

Directly across from our house was the Tomblins. And next door to them were the Livesays.

On the street behind us – behind my house – lived Donna Rice. A year younger than me – she was the first girl I ever had a crush on.

All the friends we had then seemed to be athletes. Very good athletes. At one time, we had four starting players for our high school basketball team in our neighborhood. And the pick up basketball games were really great.

These are the guys I drank my first beer with. And yes – smoked my first cigarette with – but it didn’t stick back then. It stunk actually. I didn’t start smoking until University.

One of the Livesay’s was Ken. He wound up going to Auburn on a football scholarship in my senior year of high school. He was a legend at our school. And I wish I knew how he made out at Clemson.

Even though Ken never hung out in our little circle of friends, we all looked up to him. His little sister Amy was in our circle of friends. And she was – and most likely still is – one of the nicest human beings you could meet.

Summer was pretty sacred to me. It is funny now to realize those most special summers there with those friends only counted up to five. It seemed like so many more.

I often wonder what happened to some of my friends. Some I have seen on our high school alumni website. Bill Huseby runs a car dealership, Tracey Tomblin has married and raised a nice family. Donna Rice married some very lucky fellow and they own a restaurant somewhere around the Greater Atlanta Area. John Bartles works for one of the school boards in the area.

But I have seen no sign of Robby Irby. And Robby was my best friend of those days.

Last year I downloaded the Google Earth program. I spent many winter weekend mornings using Google Earth to find the homes of all the people that we know and love. If you click on the Satellite view, it actually shows you the satellite photographs from as low as about 500 feet.

View Larger Map

When I found my old neighborhood in Lawrenceville, I zoomed in real close – and I went visiting. I first found our house on Plantation Court. I went around the corner and down the hill to the club. They had added two more tennis courts – and after thirty years – the swimming pool was still there. Nothing had changed – except there were two more tennis courts. I went back up the street and visited the Bartles', the Stillwell's, the Irby’s, and over to the Tomblin's and the Huseby's. Up to the Lanes’s and the Franklin's.

All the while I was looking for any sign that they might still be there. But there was no such sign. “It was 30 years ago you know” I said to myself. “Do you think they will still be there being 13-16 years old still?

Maybe some twilight-zone effect? No … don’t be silly”.

I like to call my daughters over to the computer sometimes. And I take them for a walk through my old neighborhood. I show them the house Paul and I lived in. I walk them down to the club to the pool. And I show them all the great driveways where we played basketball, and the backyards we played football in.

And I tell them all about my friends. And they sit in listen. I can see them imagining us playing in those yards. And I tell them some of our funny stories – but only those that you can tell five and six year old girls.

Do you miss your friends, Daddy?” asked Alannah.

Yes, I guess I do honey”.

Why don’t you call them?” asked Ashley-Rae.

I guess we out grew each other I thought to myself without answering. But I sure did love those guys back then.

I think I’ll load up Google Earth and take another walk through the old neighborhood.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Was your brother Paul Brill by any chance? We were good friends at Berkmar if it was....would love to know how he's doing?

Lyle Henson

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