By Whitley Clifton | March 12, 2020 2:00 pm
Last Updated: March 11, 2020 at 4:43 pm
After that title, I must include the rest of the rhyme, “To market to market, to buy a fat pig, then home again, home again, jiggity jig.” Do you remember?
For two days in late January, I was able to accomplish what I had longed to do. I walked around the square again, and each step was filled with memories. My son, Jeffery Lewis, and his wife, Carolyn, accompanied me on this sentimental journey. My three children never knew their grandparents or spent time in Swainsboro—and it was time they did.
They learned why I have always told them about my hometown with pride and treasured memories, and that their grandparents were rather “cool.”
Our tour began by walking completely “around the square,” starting on the corner where the stately building that once was home to The Citizens Bank stands and has not lost its prominence as the cornerstone of the square.
We continued our stroll as I named most of the former stores and included a story about each delightful occupant. It would be a long journey.
Our evening home was The Edenfield House. This required a slow trip down Church Street past my home at 231, grammar and high school, along with my tales of who “used to” live in most of the homes.
When checking into the inn, I was asked if I had been there before. My reply, “The last time I visited the Edenfields, Senator H.C. and Mrs. May Belle lived here.” Actually, my last visit is preserved on the pages of The Spotlight of 1953 when the Edenfields allowed photographs of our senior superlatives to be taken in their home.
The evening of January 23, my family and I were honored to be guests of the Emanuel County Historical Society, which was the goal of the trip and another lifetime treasure for me. Meeting in the “new” 4-H clubhouse brought memories of Saturday night square dances, Mr. Earl Varner and the original clubhouse, a converted army barracks.
Starting with a “covered dish” supper which was just like my favorites from family reunions and church suppers.
Missy and George Elder, Mary Ann Smith, and all members of the society are dedicated to giving us the priceless gift of preserving our heritage. We do have quite a heritage.
The evening ended by me giving a little talk, “Growing Up Swainsboro.” You might have guessed this—but I do love to talk, especially about how it “used to be.” My conclusion was that I was blessed to spend my childhood in in the place I did, at the time I did, and among people who “took up time with me.”
Revered southern novelist Thomas Wolfe titled his most famous book “You Can’t Go Home Again.” Wrong, Mr. Wolfe. I did just that. In two busy days, I felt I was home again. Seeing Emanuel County in the rearview mirror is a sad view. I pledge I will go home again.
On the drive back to South Carolina, my son gave me a comment to remember. “Mom, I am glad I had this chance to learn about your childhood, and I agree that my grandparents were cool.” Write to Shirley at firstname.lastname@example.org.