The good old days

by | August 15, 2019 2:01 pm

Music fills my car as soon as I turn on the ignition. If I have passengers, I politely turn off—unless I want to share one of my favorites. I have developed a long playlist and rotate the albums when something new suits my fancy. One album will be there forever. Sometimes I listen to it repeatedly and realize that I missed some good times. It’s not Elvis, Hank Williams, or The Beetles. This is a Swainsboro classic, the music of the talented Phil Wilson and Sam’s Drive-In Band.

Sam’s Drive-In came onto the scene shortly after I decided to find my future in Atlanta. In my high school days, “The Lighthouse” on U.S. 1 was the place to go after a date. Burgers and fries were served in your car, a jukebox was inside, and there was always a gathering of teens. Treasured memories—but I did not have a “Rockin’ Rocket,” remote broadcast by WJAT, and I never knew “Troy B. or saw his new black shoes.”

My father impressed upon me the significance of “Living at the Crossroads,” the only place in the country where two coast-to-coast highways crossed. U.S. 1 and U.S. 80 bisected in the middle of our hometown. While I did not fully understand the significance of “Living at the Crossroads,” I did know where the four parts led. The red light just beyond the John C. Coleman Hotel determined your destination. If you entered Swainsboro by North Main Street, you had come from Wadley or Louisville, and continuing on to South Main would lead to Florida. A left turn took you to Savannah and a right turn took you to Dublin. That was the length of my travel knowledge. Interstates have now taken away some recognition of “Living at the Crossroads.”

Ware’s BBQ was not available in my time, but it sure is now. Hearing the song makes me eager to head home and get me some “Ware’s BBQ.” On my last visit with Nella Shepard Powell and Ann Shepard Calef, we spent several hours in the late evening on the porch of Coleman House—and guess what we chose for our dinner.

Record hops at the Nancy Auditorium were in the future, but we did have Saturday night square dances at 4-H Clubhouse. McKinney’s Pond was popular, but long before concerts by popular beach music groups.

My times in the ‘50s were the good old days when “gas was cheap and riding around was fun.” However, when I hear these tunes, I know I was born too soon.

Thanks to Phil Wilson and band members, we can go back in time.

Reach Shirley at sptwiss@gmail.com.

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