Sunday, January 15, 2012

Yankees in Georgia Part One

Even after nearly 81/2 years of living here in Georgia we still hear, "You're not from around here, where are you from?"  And we always tell them that's a long story.  In fact it's a story that  begins back in the 1960's.  Shortly after we were married Mac was drafted into the Army, this being the time of the Vietnam War and after finishing Basic Training he was sent to Ft. Gordon in Augusta, Georgia for advanced training at the Signal School.  He was going to be there long enough (nearly 9 months as it turned out) to make it possible for me to join him so I did.
In those days people like us didn't fly, not even to cross the continent from California to Georgia, I took the train, for 3 days!  It was an introduction to the segregated South for me.  In California there had always been integration,  it had never occurred to me that it might be different elsewhere.  But during a layover in New Orleans I got off the train and went in search of tastier, cheaper food, smelled some heavenly fried chicken and went in the restaurant and ordered, looked around and realized I was the only white person in the place.  That's when I started noticing whites only signs.  How foolish I thought, ate my tasty chicken and hopped back on the train.
When Mac picked me up at the train station he took me to our new home, a 60 foot long, 8 foot wide trailer.  It was a whole new world to me living in a trailer park.  Most of the people living there were young, married G.I.s like us, so we helped each other out, but it was definitely a different way of life.
Army pay was so LOW!  At first we didn't even  have a car, then we got one, but couldn't afford insurance for it so we couldn't take it on Post, we had to sneak it on when we wanted to go grocery shopping.
One of the strangest sights I saw while living there was a chain-gang, prisoners cleaning out ditches, dressed in black and white striped outfits, and even the chain-gangs were segregated!
We had no air conditioning, not even a fan most of the time, no tv,  no phone, not much of anything except each other.
A group of us decided to go to the drive-in movies one weekend and I went to a phone booth to call the theatre and find out what was on, it took 3 calls before I could understand the heavy Southern accent!
Oh were we young, and I dyed my hair black back then!  That's our trailer on the left
At the end Mac got orders to Korea and I took the bus home to California, neither of us were sorry to be leaving Georgia, it never occurred to us we might return some day.  That's part two.

6 comments:

  1. Janet,
    I enjoyed reading this. As non-southerners we are always asked on first meeting what brought us to KY! I fairly often have to ask the 'natives' to repeat things while I try to work through their 'accent' and make an appropriate response.
    BTW: Yours is one of the blogs I'm having trouble commenting on. Those more clever than I have suggested that bloggers with embedded comments [such as yours] need to go into the settings and choose the comment box or whole page option.
    It would be nice if blogger worked this stuff out before they spring changes on the general blogging public.

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  2. What an interesting post about your early married life and it's great to see the photos of you both when you were young. Bet you have lots more interesting stories about being an Army wife. Accents are the same the world over, I have real trouble with the accents from some areas of the UK - Geordies in particular. I love to listen to them talking but it takes a while for me to get my ear in enough to actually understand what they're saying:)

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  3. Hey, Janet--the comments are working! I'm glad somebody knows enough about this stuff to get us through.

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  4. I used to work in a callcentre and had real difficutly sometimes understanding some accents.

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  5. How fun to hear a bit of your story. Thanks so much - looking forward to the next installment.

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  6. Looking forward to part 2, SP

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