September 1, 1995

An Attic Full of Old Friends

Filed under: Family — schroder @ 3:00 pm

A few weeks ago, my mother decided it was time to clean out the attic. She knew the only way to do this was in two steps: 1.) schedule a crew to take everything away and, 2.) invite her sons and daughters to dinner the night before to take what they wanted under pressure of a deadline.

One sister found a pellet gun that had been given to her son one Christmas. It had been “lost” in the attic a daly later when it was determined he was too young for it. One brother found an old .22 rifle “borrowed” from his camp days. We also discovered my late dad’s shotgun. And all this time, I thought we were that rare Southern family without guns!

My mother uncovered some silver bowls she thought had been stolen long ago. Another brother claimed some rarely used luggage and some college-era souvenirs. I found a box full of old newspapers I had collected in 1976 in my fanatical following of Jimmy Carter’s presidential campaign. I can’t quite remember why I kept all the papers. Mabe I thought they would be of use to a future Jimmy Carter museum. Maybe I thought I’d write a book about Jimmy and the media. Perhaps I thought they’d help me remember that heady summer when my friend, Charles, his brother, Mitch, and I cruised down to Plains and then wormed our way through the Big Apple at the Democratic convention. We didn’t have credentials, tickets or even a hotel room. We crashed on their dad’s hotel room floor and made ourselves at home in New York.

We snuck into a $1,000-a-person reception on top of the World Trade Center and a private cocktail party at a seven-story brownstone owned by one of the Democratic Rockefeller widows. We slipped away to her fourth-floor squash court to have a private party.

Finally, we slipped into the convention for Jimmy’s acceptance speech. Afterwards, we took a cab back to the hotel, paid the fare and stepped toward the sidewalk. A limousine pulled up in front of us, blocking our path. Suddenly the right back door opened and out popped Jimmy. We tried to be casual as we shook his hand and told him that we particularly enjoyed the evening’s remarks and wished him well in November.

Back in my mother’s attic, it was time to go home. As we turned to leave my brother pulled back one last blanket and there found the trunk that I had taken to camp in 1969 and quickly hidden in the attic when I returned. The top was adorned with photographs clipped from my counselor’s Playboy magazine. I had not seen these beautiful (clothed) women in more than 25 years, yet somehow I recognized them instantly as old friends whom I and my seven cabin-mates stared at every night for our long weeks in those long hot Carolina nights.

I’d like to think that in 25 years, someone will uncover a pile of old Atlanta 30306’s and remember an intown community of great restaurants, coffee houses, galleries, bars, shops, salons, homes and – most of all – people. An eclectic mix of creative caring people scattered over the hills east of Piedmont Park and west of Emory University. A postage stamp of a place we chronicle each month in a zip code and a newspaper named Atlanta 30306.

Or they could save a lot of trouble and just give me a call. I’m sure I’ll have them in my attic.

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