Yet Another Journal

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» Saturday, October 06, 2007
Traveling in Time
Today we drove east to a little town named "Social Circle" to attend their Friendship Festival. I've heard about Social Circle for years from several friends of mine; every so often they drive out there (it's a little over an hour's drive from us) to eat at a restaurant, the Blue Willow Inn, which serves authentic Southern country food and has been written up in travel guidebooks and restaurant guides.

We never did see it, however. We parked at the Methodist Church and walked up to the old storefronts where the craft portion of the festival was being held. These storefronts comprise one block and are original to the town. Today they are antique stores and other little shops, but we had fun imagining what the others must have been: probably, since this has always been a rural area, a feed-and-seed store and a harness shop, and then also a shoe store, maybe a millinery or haberdashery, clothing store, pharmacy.

But there is one store that is exactly where it has been for the past 87 years, the General Store. It opened in 1920 and is still family owned; I had wanted to see it since a story about it appeared in the newspaper a few months ago, sadly announcing that the store may not make another year. (Story here.)

You walk in and are immediately transported back in time. The tall shelves on the left that climb to the ceiling, the wood and glass display cases, the worn wooden floor, the chipped, scratched and battered counters. The place smells old, like a museum piece. In the rear are bins that may have held nails. The ceiling appears to be about 15 feet high and the rolling ladder used to access those lofty shelves appears to be original—and there is still merchandise on the shelves to be reached. Another stair on the opposite side goes up to a platformed area. Under this platform sat a wooden display case for J.P. Coats thread; the top opened and then drawers below. The dry goods store from which I bought my gym suits in junior high had similar antique thread cases. Wide, wooden-framed doors at the side could be opened in the summer to air the facility. You could walk the aisles and imagine the people who'd walked through over the years: dirt-poor farmers, flappers, housewives clutching lists of provisions, soldiers coming home from World War II, kids clutching a precious penny for a Tootsie Roll. The walls saw tin Coca-Cola ads, placards for revivals and church suppers, instructions for rationing coupons, notices of sales and dress goods just in.

Here's a photo of the store from, I think, a few years ago. It looked considerably worn at the heels today. Check out those display counters! I remember ones like those in a tiny little department store named Bunn's that used to be on Cranston Street.

Missed a chance to get a doughboy (fried dough). They were out. Haven't had one since we went to Iggy's after Mom's death.

We did pop in several of the antique shops. We found one place just full of dolls. You could take the stock in 100 Toys'R'Us stores and not have as many dolls as this place did. They were piled up to the ceiling: baby dolls, walking dolls, dolls of all colors and nationalities. There was one doll that was being carried by a woman that was about the size of a toddler and so realistic looking I had to stare a second time. I will wager most of these dolls are bought by adults. Do little girls even play with dolls anymore, except for Barbie and Bratz?

I turned a corner and found a small collection of Pocket Dragons. Normally, I only buy one a year, at DragonCon, but I spied a tiny one, sleeping in a flower blossom. Exquisite. Then I saw another, larger one piloting an airplane, complete in goggles and WWI aviator scarf. James' SCA name was "Dragonweyr," so it seemed an appropriate gift!

Social Circle is about fourteen miles east of Conyers, so after we had visited the booths and stores, we drove back to Conyers. We haven't been there in a year and in the meantime they had mowed down an enormous stand of trees and planted yet another shopping center. Coupons supplied some Christmas craft items at Michael's and at Hobby Lobby, then we visited the monastery. Of course we stopped a few minutes to pay our respects at the church. The interior is so lovely, with the stained glass panels on each aisle done in blues and purples. This lends a cool, ethereal look to the church proper. The stained glass in the altar area, however, is done in yellows and oranges, like the fire of God. Your eyes are drawn irresistibly to the bright light.

We had a funny encounter coming out of the sanctuary. There was a Japanese retreat group just finishing their session and they were taking a group photo on the stairs. The gentleman taking the photo asked me if I would take it so he could get into the picture. I had a bit of a bobble with the cameras as I didn't press down on the shutter button long enough the first time, but all was finally taken nicely.

By then James' blood sugar was beginning to flag, so we tried Smokey Bones for the first time. He had pulled pork and brisket of beef, but I stuck with the pulled pork. It was quite good, so moist and flavorful it didn't need barbecue sauce. The baked potato and the apples were quite good as well. I definitely would recommend the place.

Incidentally, the weather was pretty good today. It was overcast most of the time we were in Social Circle, with a slight breeze. The sun broke through a couple of times, but it was soon extinguished. Unfortunately it cleared up while we were in Conyers, so we had to use the A/C in the car for a while, but we drove there and back with open windows. Yesss!

We stopped at Hallmark on the way home to take advantage of the weekend specials, then returned home.

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