So it is the fall of 1979 and I am a junior medical student at The Medical College of Georgia in Augusta. I am to be married to my current wife in December of the same year. Because of this I had to scramble to have a place to live for the three months of that fall quarter (did not make sense to sign on to something for a year- I only needed three months). So some friends of mine who lived in a very nice home in which they divided rent by about five agreed to let me live in the living room for three months. I may have had a mattress, I did not have a bed or a bathroom and as I write this I really don’t remember where or how I bathed, ate or slept and went to medical school and did the pre marriage stuff that folks do. I literally lived out of a closet and I don’t remember it being a hardship at all. The junior year of medical school is the first year you don’t study for tests all the time; it is the so called “clinical years ” of medical school and the time in the course of wanting to be a doctor that all students pine to be in.
My fiancee had a job as an art teacher in the urban lower income of town which is a whole “nother” story but, her parents had purchased her a home near downtown Augusta. I forget the address but the street was Ellis. Ellis street was an interesting street. It paralleled J.C. Calhoun freeway which was a road that connected Washington road to downtown Augusta. If you are going to Augusta from Atlanta you would go by I-20 and then exit onto Washington Road go right, pass the Augusta National Golf Course hit Calhoun turn right on 15 th street and you are looking at the V.A. Hospital and Talmadge Memorial home of The Medical College of Georgia. Just as Washington Road changes to Calhoun is where Ellis is. What is interesting about Ellis is that if you go up that street from where we lived it was quaint old low income home and a block from Lake Almstead. Literally one block down the other way you where in the ghetto. I remember there was a house about five down from us that had bright colored plywood structures in the shape of tunnels that led to the door of the house. We however never felt that we were not safe and loved being able to walk to Lake Almstead with children in tow. I rode my bike nightly and my route included going around Lake Almstead and to this day have pleasant memories of that. I’d listen to songs on cassette than my wife’s brother would make me. Buster was a freshman at Georgia Tech and was up to date with the “post modern” music of the time. It was around Lake Almstead that I first heard and then heard a hundred times with joy Elvis Costello’s “Radio.”
So the picture. Karen’s parents bought the house for $30,000. It was a thousand square feet, two bedrooms, one bathroom, a floor gas heater, and a covering that had been constructed over the drive way near the house that served to be a “garage.” I loved the house. Having lived in dorm all through college, my first year of medical school, and then sharing a house with two other students my second year and then of course the living room, having a real house was something else for me. I loved it all from, cutting the grass, painting, making a garden and all the other stuff. Down from the driveway if you went down beyond that to the backyard was an old garage. I grew up with my grandmother and her house had a wooden enclosed garage behind it. So it must have been in the fifties that people’s garage was behind the house something foreign to us now. I absolutely love my garage. It represented a place I could go and do stuff and keep stuff. No door, dirt floor but mine. So take a good look at the stuff in the picture:
- My wife and my first dog Fancy-I gave her to Karen before we were married and she gave me a sleeping bag ( I still have it). Fancy was hit by a car about 5 years after this picture following (unbeknownst to me) me while I was doing my daily bike ride in Martinez, Ga. It killed me as had I not been listening to music with my earphones and noticed she had followed me the accident would not have happened. To a degree and the memory of finding her on the main road outside of our neighborhood bothers me to this day.
- The socks I have on are compliments of LaGrange High School and were the ones I wore during Football games.
- The shoes…Converse Allstars and probably a discarded pair of one of my older brothers.
- The radio…back in the day that is what you had was a single speaker radio and a few stations. Listened to Georgia beat Auburn on the day that Larry Munson said the now famous phrase, ” It’s raining sugar,” by beating Auburn in the last seconds of the game and Georgia earned a berth to the Sugar Bowl.
- The bike in the back is one that my wife bought before we married and I rode around Lake Almstead in Augusta nightly listening to Elvis Costello and the song ” Radio” and other post modern songs on a cassette that her brother made for me. He was cutting edge music then as he was a freshman at Georgia Tech and was in touch with all the new stuff. The song that changed it all for me? “We love you” by the Psychedelic Furs. (The Psychedelic Furs – We Love You). I was never the same after that song…then came XTC, Midnight Oil, The The, The La’s, B-52s, and the three CD’s I bought each Wednesday at lunch at the music store from the top ten list of College Albums in the Rolling Stontes Magazine.
- There is a wooden dip exercise thing that Karen’s father made. I religiously did 20-30 dips a day in the garage. It is in the back left part of the picture.
- The glasses I am wearing-this is a whole “nother story” but these I had gotten as a freshman in college and didn’t have money or inclination to update. The size at the time was not stylish…it was that the larger the lenses the less thick they were in the middle. As my eyes are essentially blind every time I got glasses the optician would recommend large frames to “hide” my coca cola lenses.
- The weight bench was my brother Cooper’s and I remember he bought it in Columbus, Ga when we lived there in 1966. He took it to Symrna when we moved there and he used it to aid him playing football and pitching for Wills High and then after my parents divorced took it to Lagrange, Ga and put in the basement of my grandmother’s house where we lived while he went to college at Southern Union and then The University of Georgia. I used it in the basement of 103 N. Lewis St. in LaGrange, Ga and then took it to Augusta when I was in medical school. So Columbus to Smyrna to LaGrange to Augusta. Then as I recall Cooper came to Augusta to see our first born son Clay and noticed that I had the bench and told me he, ” wanted it back.” So now I guess it is with him back in LaGrange.
- The weights stacked behind the bench are those cheap weights that are pinkish red plastic wrapped cement of the various sizes.
- The thing in front of the bench is a leg press to help rehabilitate my ravaged knees which are the product of three knee injuries from three sports and three surgeries.
- The vice in in background for holding tomato stakes to cut with a saw.
- The wheelbarrow and shovel were bought at a K-mart on Gordon highway for my garden which was right in front of the garage. Bad soil and hard because it had been packed by cars going to the garage back in the day when you did that.
- The shelves in the back are K-mart brand and the kind you put together and are flemsy metal and the kind you buy in a box at K-mart. We went to K-mart every Saturday and a habit I continued at Walmart to this day….I love it.
- You don’t see all the fish I bought at K-mart for the silly fish tank that became overcome with algae despite countless algae sucker fish that were suppossed to prevent it and became regular “floaters” in the tank. In time the kit and kabootal were taken to the street for the city of Augusta to deal with.
- Oh yea….don’t judge me by the little weights seen on the bench, that is for reverse curls over and behind you head, that’s not for “the large amount” I was using for bench pressing!
- In the back that you can’t see is a boxing bag….you that move that Rocky could do where he’d keep a rhythm going hiting it with the front of the fist and the the side of the fist and then alternating it with both hands in a rapid fashion…..oh yea I learned to do that in the garage too.
- The shirt….an Izod and I adored them and that is all I asked for for every birthday and Christmas. I’d steal them from friends of my brothers who visited from college. I had joined Sigma Nu fraternity at North Georgia College in 1973 and had one on after pledging (It was thread bear and had hole all about) and an older fraternity brother came up to me and said, ” You are a Sigma Nu now and you should stop wearing clothes that look like that.” I keep wearing them. Like Gant shirts or London Fog jackets of my older brother’s generation…to me an Izod was absolutely the bomb. I only had three and there was no way in hell I’d stop wearing them.
- The shorts are cut off green army issue fatiques I had when I was a cadet at North Ga College in Dahlonega, Ga.
A thousand words is indeed worth a picture! And it is soooooooo much simpler and happy for me now…………….not.