HomeWelcomeMy NovelsMy Faves

Friday, November 1, 2019

We're Not in Woodstock Anymore

The photo above (within the stark mountains of Morocco) references the line where Dorothy tells Toto when they arrive in Oz, "I've a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore." An unsettling, unfamiliar place is also the crux of the matter for the main character in my recently released novel, IN THE LAND OF COURAGE, third installment of the Woodstock series. Earlier, I wrote about the long writing process in my October 2016 post.

Of course, the story begins in Woodstock, our sheltering town that has become too easy to cling to for the struggling young man in the narrative.

IN THE LAND OF COURAGE is the contemporary tale of a young man once affectionately known as the bravest man in town. But a tragedy has transformed him. Now, he wrestles with fear, relinquishes his role as pastor and watches his wife drift from their defeated home. Friends and family try to resurrect the man they remember. Dominated by his direful imagination, he resists anyone trying to pry him from his familiar surroundings until a pledge he made returns to haunt his conscience. A struggling orphanage in Morocco is still waiting for his help. Hoping to regain his wife's confidence, he journeys to the ancient medina of Fez, a place of twisting streets, startling sights and mystifying ways. Nightmarish circumstances result. The obstacles he faces will require a man of super-charged faith. Problem is--he's running on empty.

I'm hoping you'll check out my newest offering at FoxTale Book Shoppe in Woodstock, Georgia, an establishment that kindly supports this local author. I wish you many uplifting, entertaining and informative hours of reading wherever you are.

Patti Brady is a member of Preservation Woodstock, and she is the author of the Woodstock novel series.

Monday, December 31, 2018

Prescience, She's Got It - Juanita Hughes

November 8 - Juanita Hughes Day in Woodstock

 An introduction - You haven't been in Woodstock long if you haven't heard of Juanita Hughes, latest recipient of the key to our city. She's a prescient lady where Woodstock is concerned. Early on, she realized the need to preserve our town story. For many years, she has been unraveling, recording and highlighting the earlier people and events of this place. Regularly, area schoolchildren learn of the former things from her, the changes in their environs and a way of life that has passed away. At Juanita's introduction, here in 1965, I think she must have foreseen hamlet-sized Woodstock transforming into the spread-out, bustling city it has become.

Preteen Juanita, looking to the future.
Developing her talents before marriage and motherhood. She later had several careers: bookkeeper to a medical practice, library employee, and docent at historic Dean's Store.

Saving History - When I think of an old photo I took in my childhood, I like to think I have a smidgen of Juanita's foresight to capture reality before it's lost. Living in west Miami of the 1950s, I used my Kodak Brownie camera to take a photo beyond my fence, across the canal, to the vast plant-and-tree shrouded land on the other side. That edge of the Everglades abounded with animals. We could hear the blubbery-sounding shwoosh of manatees exhaling as their nostrils rose from the canal water to take air; the cry of fox, raccoon and rare Florida panther; the calls of countless birds. Seminoles lived in their un-walled huts a few miles away. Then one morning, machinery scoured the landscape as the 1958 Palmetto Expressway came into being, obliterating the old view forever. I am thankful for that impromptu image on paper. 

High school graduation photo.

Her Backstory - Unknowingly, Juanita prepared herself for the role of town historian long before Woodstock gained regional importance. Although fun-loving and social, she has held to a work ethic inherited from her joyful mother and her more commanding grandmother. Her grandfather, a valued shipping clerk in Dalton's Crown Cotton Mills, was also a positive influence on Juanita's life. Earlier, after a divorce, her mother and three-year-old Juanita had come to live in his household where they remained for Juanita's growing-up years. The adults under that roof encouraged young Juanita to study, and they conversed freely with her about the topics of the day. 
         After her education at Dalton High School, Juanita continued to develop her vibrant mind by reading words that mattered. She mastered writing so well that The Cherokee Tribune has published her columns for decades. I once viewed a scrapbook that had belonged to her academic-minded father, a much older man that she hardly got to know. The collection contains fascinating notations, puzzles, cogent expressions, scientific drawings, newspaper articles and personal musings. This family relic reveals Juanita's strong genetic component for intellectual curiosity.

The future - Juanita, a young octogenarian, is in good health. Years of faith and humor and regular exercise are probably the reasons for her hardiness. Woodstock continues to be her passion. Thank goodness. She constantly gifts us by chronicling, compiling and preserving the tale of Woodstock. She will insist that the organization Preservation Woodstock, formerly The Centennial Commission, has been the overriding vehicle and that's true. But our archives are full because of her. We possess several Woodstock history books due to her urging and support. Landmarks have been historically interpreted and marked with signage. Intriguing questions about olden times in South Cherokee County have been answered. Serendipitous discoveries have been made. Most important, Woodstock citizens appreciate their locale more dearly. As though holding a treasured old photo, they can visualize layers of times past that are now gone forever.

May constantly changing Woodstock blossom ever more beautifully, just as Juanita does each year.

Patti Brady's new Woodstock novel, In the Land of Courage, will arrive in late 2019.

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Extending Her Paintbrush, With a Nervous Gulp

Woodstock's New Mural
Imagine painting larger-than-life scenes, perched on a scaffold, at times nearly thirty feet above bone-breaking cement, and vehicles, below, zooming past. Imagine scrambling down that intricate, metal bracing when an unexpected lightning storm lashes the sky or when the heat is so intense you feel dizzy enough to careen right off your birds-eye-view platform. Imagine you've got little children longing for their mama to make it back home, again, to feed them dinner and play with them in the backyard.

Annalysa Kimball, our Woodstock mural artist must have dealt with such issues. She prevailed. We commend her steady reach and her bravery. Oh, I forgot to mention her greatest risk--she had to please 30,000 people with her creation. She succeeded wildly. An overabundance of creativity put her over the top. Preparation aided her. Annalysa spent countless hours drawing ideas from local citizens and getting to know the heartbeat of the city.

The artist skillfully pulled black-and-white images from Woodstock's past to mingle them with present-day scenes. One of my favorites is Lewis Carpenter whose knuckleball pitches for the Atlanta Crackers of the 1940s made his town proud. Another portrayal that makes me smile is the 1913 photo of Magnolia Thomas, beloved teacher for her community. The image has been tweaked to show her watchful eyes turned to supervise modern-day children at play. 
Representing Preservation Woodstock, I was one of a dozen committee members that evaluated applications and artwork to select the artist. I noticed three things that set her style apart: a strong ability to paint the animated human form (Woodstock is all about the people), a bit of humor sneaking into her compositions and, most importantly, life-affirming, vibrant joy. I am so happy with the outcome. Stop by the mural on the side of the pharmacy at Mill Street and Main. You'll absolutely love it, too!

At sidewalk level, townsfolk who had come to view progress, earlier, found themselves and their real dog in the painting.

Of course, everyone's favorite Woodstock history resource found herself captured, too. Annalysa spent many hours, consulting with Juanita Hughes.

The Dean Brothers in the 1910 photo of their soda fountain stare curiously at our current day selves. A modern woman reaches into the past to take a 'selfie'. At the bottom, there is some question as to who is in the mural and who is real.

Lots of Woodstock folk came out to celebrate their new mural.
Patti Brady is a member of Preservation Woodstock, and she is the author of the contemporary Woodstock novels: The Heart of a Child and The Power of Her Smile.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Change and Ambivalence

Central Woodstock, circa 1945. The occasional auto travelling the dirt surface of Main Street and Arnold Mill Road must have kicked up plenty of dust that blew through the doorways of those old storefronts. The road we now call Towne Lake Parkway stretched only a quarter-mile long. A brief portion is seen in the photo. The road cut through to Bells Ferry in the mid-'80s. Then, a handsome subdivision filled the land on yesteryear's favorite, rabbit-hunting terrain referred to as The Thousand-Acre Wood.
The problem: I'm ambivalent about change. The words shaky, chaotic, impermanent all come to mind in reference to change. No one really likes alteration of their world. Understandably, natives and long-time residents of Woodstock have the hardest struggle. But when they look around at the positive transformation and growth of their city, smiles ironically show on their faces. Many of our late-arriving populace remain unaware how different the locale looked forty and, even, thirty years ago before the modern-day, homesteading trend took hold. The changes have hit faster than laser light and have us nervously wondering where all this is leading. Yes, humans have trouble with change, and the subject recurs as a minor theme in my Woodstock novels.

A little history: After the Indian Territory opened in 1838, settlers came to this area after participating in the land lottery. The area remained a hamlet of farmers until 1897 when townsfolk established the city. Woodstock, north of Marietta and Atlanta, was the little cousin who always tagged along, watching the big boys. The face of Woodstock stayed the same--no blemishes but those undeveloped, commonplace features were often overlooked. Then, things changed in the '70s. The transformation started about the time Dukes of Hazard revealed small-town, Southern life as having savvy and humorous sophistication all its own. Country music grew in popularity. Those songs spoke of the simple pleasures of real, human interaction between neighbors, not the brusqueness of strangers making their way in a rat race. Simultaneously, the value of nature also came to the forefront in human thinking. This city, already blessed with abundant greenery, increased its magnetism instantly and easily. The rolling hills, former pasture and farmland sparked the imaginations of home builders. Commerce moved in. Biking/walking trails appeared. Parks popped up all over. Now the notability of this town has spread, and carloads of people move here from far away. Who saw it coming?

Two wonderful changes, among a half dozen, occurred this year.

Woodstock Amphitheater arrives - I am standing on the right side of the stage, using my cell phone to get this picture that actually requires a wide-angle lens.  Our new place for outdoor entertainment provides glorious nights under the stars. Local leadership along with supportive citizenry work together to create the vibrant quality of life that defines our town.

 A place to catch sunsets - Rootstock and Vine has renovated and outfitted the old post office, the one from the days when people were required to pick up their mail. The establishment offers wine, tapas, and desserts. Rather than destroy a building with a meaningful past, the proprietors added the windows and a second story for refreshing views of city park and the historic district.

A way around the conundrum: Once in a while, you may be ambivalent about change, like me. So try this exercise. Imagine Woodstock folks of the 1800s, strolling around town through the power of a time warp. Can you see the men, smelling like the dirt caking their boots, their arms scorched by the sun, and their backs permanently bent as though they still leaned over their plow? And the women, thin as a stalk of wheat from too much work, self-consciously fingering their aprons with hands red and roughened from scrubbing lye-treated clothes on a washboard?  After these commendable people got over their shock at technology, wouldn't they be pleased by our enhancement of the city's beauty, by our respect for area past, and by our appreciation of local, God-given nature. I think so. Although the changes keep coming, and swift progress causes some of us palpitations, let's enjoy every minute in our town.

May you always love this place like I do.

Patti Brady is a member of Preservation Woodstock, and she is author of the Woodstock novels.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

The Wood in Woodstock

A magnificent specimen saved by builders at the John Wieland Development on South Main Street, formerly a horse farm.
There's nothing like a little snow to highlight the beauty of God's sculptures--the trees in our city. And we have ample. Leaves are glorious, but we often disregard those behemoth trunks and mighty wooden arms when thousands of waving, green flags compete for our attention. Last week, however, we couldn't miss those natural frameworks standing resplendent in the snowfall, gifting us with their striking beauty without our having to do the least little thing to promote it. Naturally, this started me thinking about our trees and, more specifically, the role they have played in area history.

Woodstock, Our Name

No one knows for sure how the city came to have its moniker. Some have speculated the name comes from the Sir Walter Scott novel written in 1826 and very popular at the time. Contradicting that supposition is the historical information in Georgia's Woodstock: A Centennial Tribute. It mentions a postcard sent to a Dr. Samuel Glenn in Woodstock, Georgia, postmarked 1809. This implies there was a settlement, even then, although probably tiny. So that knocks out the novel theory. Others suggest the wood-burning locomotives gave the city its name. But the railroad did not come through until 1879, and an official post office existed in 1833. Here is my guess: the plenitude of trees promised an endless supply for the pioneering people who, so inspired, easily came up with the perfect theme for this place.

Wood, The Town Resource

In the beginning days, the land was thickly covered with trees and crisscrossed by Indian footpaths. This necessitated clearing trees to make roads and fields for planting. The resulting wood surplus came in handy for building log structures and keeping those simple homes warm. Along Little River, mills sprang up, and certainly a saw mill took a prime spot. A century later, wood was still in great demand. A building on Mill Street housed a planing mill run by a steam engine in 1928. Lewis Poor contributed this memory for the Centennial Tribute book: "My brothers and I always dreaded days that we had to 'offbear.' There was no vacuum system and shavings flew like a snow storm. The tin roofing over the planer was well dented due to pine knots being thrown out as the lumber came through. By the time we finished planning a load, we would be standing on four feet of shavings."

Trees make Woodstock a special place, a sheltered place, a strong place. I could not live anywhere else. By the way, I think it's no accident that trees point upward, lifting our heads from our concerns and raising our eyes to the sky.

Patti Brady is a member of Preservation Woodstock, Inc.
She is author of the Woodstock novels: The Heart of a Child and The Power of Her Smile

Monday, October 17, 2016

They Give Me a Reason

Rose Creek Library readers and me.

Readers are the reason I write. From necessity, composing novels is an isolating, alone-in-your-room mission. Years pass while doing research and working out a story line. The task requires reaching the hidden, creative corners of the mind. Enthusiasm may be blunted by doubt. Interruption always occurs. In addition to these difficulties, there are no guarantees that a writer's labors will satisfy anyone. The strategy of this wordsmith involves penning stories that, first, please her. When others are captivated by the characters and narratives, that is my greatest reward.

This summer I met with a book club at Rose Creek Library in Woodstock's Town Lake area. Amy Bailey is the smart gal guiding library activities there. The group was encouraging, humorous, bright-eyed and friendly. They gave me the boost I would be needing. A week or two later, I discovered a health challenge. During problems in my life, faith in the finished work of my Redeemer has made me an overcomer. I know it is the same for many of you. So prevail on!

When able, I've been plugging at the keyboard, finishing the next part of the Woodstock series. I'm liking the results and think readers will, too. There is still work to be done, but I'll give you a hint of what is to come in In the Land of Courage. Characters from the two previous novels return and make themselves known in this new story, set in Woodstock of 2009. That year, changes good and bad materialized. We locals know it all. So much for truth, now on to fiction. Brian Barton, a young man introduced briefly before, is featured in this latest novel. Standouts, Hank, Elizabeth and their son, Manuel Averill, bear on the outcomes. Mid-life lovebirds, Marissa and William Dash exert their warm-hearted influence but inadvertently  provide the occasional kerfuffle.

Established in 789 A.D., Fez, Morocco entices visitors to enter. One of the gates, along the 13th century walls, leads to the mysteries of the medina
Shutterstock - Miqel
The narrative takes Brian, once affectionately known as champion of Woodstock, from his safe haven. Recently robbed of his courage, he's plummeting. He's given up the pastorate and his cherished wife seems to be drifting away. When he's least prepared, a promise made years earlier returns to haunt him. An orphanage for girls in North Africa calls. All eyes are on Brian. His nagging conscience and the sudden opportunity to regain his wife's confidence compel him to travel to Morocco where he will navigate twisting streets in the ancient city of Fez, a place where nightmares roam freely. For Brian, his experience will be like staggering, blindfolded and shaking, along the heights of the city walls. Will that metaphorical precipice cause his final tumble? Only the story knows.

The unexpected awaits at the end of smothering alleys in a city as old as time.
Shutterstock - Adwo
I will keep you apprised of the goings on regarding In the Land of Courage. May your days be filled with rewarding books that make you put aside your concerns, books that inform, entertain, and uplift you.

Patti Brady is a member of Preservation Woodstock. She is also the author of the Woodstock series: The Heart of a Child and The Power of Her Smile.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

The Inevitable Question

iStock.com/Michael Turner (reenactors)

Today in Georgia: June 11 is the day, 152 years ago, that added a short but interesting event to the chronicle of our south Cherokee County history. 

Involved in the occasional Woodstock project, I constantly meet new residents. Often, they are from anyplace but the South. Michigan, California, Indiana, New York, Ohio and even England come to mind. I enjoy chatting with newcomers, learning their story. When they discover my interest in local history, a gleam of interest sparks in their eye and the inevitable question arises: "What happened in Woodstock, during the Civil War?"

iStock.com/     (A Confederate reenactor)

First I stammer a little, wishing I could relate a big Gone-With-the-Wind-type report. But I smile and press on with the more simple truth. Back then, Woodstock was a small hamlet dotted with farms and further anchored by a few cotton plantations with slaves. Those plantation homes, like Doctor McAfee's, resembled something much more rustic than the antebellum mansions usually pictured in our minds. McAfee's fields consisted of 400 acres along the old Alabama Road, named Highway 92 in current times. 

Woodstock men volunteered their service to the Confederacy and left their homes and families, and the war was a somewhere-else-fight until 1864. Union forces left Tennessee and began their campaign for Atlanta. Armed and ready contingents entrenched at Kennesaw Mountain where a great battle of bombardment and gunfire would take place on June 27. Daily, patrols zigzagged over the Cobb and Cherokee line. Tension added to the rising summer heat. Woodstock folk, who hadn't skedaddled south, must have simmered with anxiety as they waited to learn if they would see action.

iStock.com (Reenactor prepared for trouble)
Indeed, a clash erupted at a spot you probably know well: the junction of Highway 92 and Canton Road (Woodstock's Main Street). Doctor McAfee's home and grounds, central point of the skirmish, fell to ruin long ago. Today, a Sherwin Williams store has taken the spot. 

Drivers move along, unaware a 19th century conflict ranged over the spot.

Most of what I share, below, comes from a well-researched article, "Skirmish at McAfee's Crossroads," by Gerald Flinchum in the book, Cherokee County Voices From the Civil War.

Union Brigadier General Kenner Garrard had been working the area to the west, posting some of his men at Big Shanty in Kennesaw and, northward, at the Tyson Farm headquarters, positioned between Wade Green Road and Bells Ferry Road, on the old Alabama Road (Hwy 92).
iStock.com (A reenactor at encampment)
On the morning of June 11, Gen. Garrard sent the 1st Cavalry Brigade, under Colonel Robert H.G. Minty, eastward, over that same road, with the goal of crossing Noonday Creek near Woodstock and routing out the Confederates as the Union force proceeded to Roswell. A brigade comprises 500 to 1,000 men. Garrard strategically sent another brigade from Kennesaw, up the Big Shanty Road all the way to Woodstock where they were to attack the Confederate flank. After studying Garrard's map, I think the Big Shanty Road they traveled is present-day Cherokee Street to Shiloh Road to Shallowford Road to Jamerson Road to Hames Road that exits onto Highway 92 (My unsubstantiated guess!)

iStock.com (Union reenactors)

Near the crossroads of old Alabama Road (Hwy 92) and Canton Road (Main Street, Woodstock) breastworks protected the Rebel cavalry, who outnumbered their opposition and prepared to hold off the Union advance. 

iStock.com (Reenactors portray Confederate cavalrymen)

At first, the Union cavalry tangled with pickets, the rough line of guards meant to give warning to the main force. The fighting must have been brief but fierce. Mid-morning, Minty's men drove off the pickets at McAfee's. 


Then the real engagement began with charges and counter-charges. Fighting went into the afternoon. A lot of scrambling must have ensued. The Union forces had taken a line of breastworks but could not advance. Later, Minty discovers a large contingent of Confederates situated a quarter mile south on the Canton Road, and he orders the federal brigades to fall back.

Some Confederate prisoners had been taken. Sources vary, but it is believed only two or three were killed on each side.  I speculate that dismounted troops hid behind thick tree trunks. Fences, the high breastworks, and Doctor McAfee's framework house probably protected others. Although, General Garrard did not make the headway he wished that day, he was not held off long. He learned the Confederates were moving eastward. The Union sought a advantageous spot to cross the Chattahoochee. Roswell possessed a covered bridge.  Garrard followed on their heels and, 24 days later, entered Roswell. Rebels had burned the river crossing. Garrard found the three large mills in recent operation. Workers cranked out wool and cotton cloth, rope and canvas, supplying the Confederate army. The 4oo women who operated the machinery had not fled. General William T. Sherman called it treasonous and ordered Garrard to immediately send the workers and their children on foot to Marietta and then, by train to the North to find work there.
Unidentified girl in mourning dress, holding framed photograph of her father as a cavalryman with sword and Hardee hat. (image ID ppmsca26863) -- Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, Washington, D.C.

Today, I'm glad our newcomers from the North don't ask me to explain the antebellum mindset of that long ago time! I could not justify such thinking, although born and raised in the South. Weighing the arguments of economic impact and states rights, one still wonders how southerners didn't see the wrong of separating from the Union, the evil of slavery and the great folly their decision would become. 

Closing, I should mention anomalies existed on both sides. A New York Tribune article and one from the Philadelphia paper, The Patriot and the Union, protested the treatment of the Roswell women and their children. Few people realize that some southern plantations and their slaves were owned by northern businessmen. Roswell King, originally from Connecticut, established the town of Roswell and used his slaves to build his impressive mill complex. Pierce Butler of the Hampton Plantation on the Georgia coast near Darien, came from Philadelphia. In contrast, during the Confederacy, a number of Cherokee County people opposed slavery and supported the Union. They did so quietly. Some suffered physically and materially for their sympathies. Cherokee County Voices From the Civil War tells all about the subject, the good and the bad.    (The aforementioned book was produced by the Cherokee County Historical Society and Cherokee County Civil War Sesquicentennial Committee)

Patti Brady is a member of Preservation Woodstock. She is also author of the contemporary Woodstock novels: The Heart of a Child and The Power of Her Smile.

Friday, March 18, 2016

True Grit in Old Woodstock

Woodstock's  John W. Edwards and Amanda Chandler Edwards, at their home on Arnold Mill Road, circa 1894.

The woman, Amanda Chandler Edwards, in the photo appears too tired to gaze into the camera. Perhaps her fatigue that day resulted from overwork and the emotional ups and downs she suffered for a stretch of years. Nevertheless, she persevered.

As a young woman, Amanda's husband died, leaving her with two little boys and heartbreak enough to fill her teacup with tears, I imagine. At the time, the  small family lived just south of the county line, near Trickum Road. The demands of an 80-acre farm required Amanda's wisdom and a lot of her energy. With her remaining strength, she taught school, sold eggs and butter and reared her fatherless sons. Her challenges mounted. One day, Walter, her six-year-old son, played with other children near a well and fell down the 60-foot drop. Claude, older brother by two years, relates in his memoir that the area was sparsely populated, then, but miraculously a local man happened to walk down the road. He brought the boy to safety. (In the photo, that's Claude on the left and Walter on the right, three years after the incident). Amanda must have sprouted a few gray hairs, on that near-disaster day. Time passed. After seven years of wearing out herself with responsibilities, her life took a turn for the better.

So you must be wondering about that man in the photo, the one displaying an empty sleeve. John Edwards, a Woodstock man, lost his arm in the Civil War, during the battle for Atlanta. After the war, he didn't waste time bemoaning his loss at a time when earning a living was physically challenging. Although right-handed, he taught himself to record data with his left. Capable with numbers, obviously trustworthy, he was elected tax collector three times. His 1906 obituary describes him as a "Christian gentleman" and "broad in his views, yet strong in his convictions and generous to a fault." 

John (56) and Amanda (39) married in 1894 and produced a baby girl, Eva (in photo). The couple sold Amanda's farm and bought another on Arnold Mill Road. Claude and Walter grew up to be fine young men. Eva also flourished and married. Claude taught school, established a store with a partner and served as mayor of Woodstock at one time. Walter preferred to work the farm. Claude married in 1910. His wife died a few weeks after childbirth due to complications. 

Amanda, nearing her sixties and alone again--John Edwards passed away several years earlier--stepped in to help raise the baby, Maye, until Claude later remarried. The child grew up and became a teacher and popular pianist in Cherokee County. Years later, Maye described her grandmother as a devoted Christian who even managed to read her Bible while she churned butter. 

Amanda lived to be 93. It's evident where she got her true grit.

Monday, December 14, 2015

140 Christmases . . . and Counting!

Photo by permission of Georgia Archives--Vanishing Georgia Collection 
Christmas began with the greatest miracle of all, Immanuel, "God with us," and everything those words signify. Since that long ago time, unexpected and unmerited wonders happen regularly. Some miracles are certainly more important than others, but don't discount the less obvious but awe-inspiring elements scattered throughout the background of your world.

One quiet marvel is practically in your backyard--the Dean house--which has been a part of Woodstock for 140 Christmases. Built in 1875, the brick home on Main Street across from City Chambers is often overlooked as hundreds of vehicles drive by it every day. The Dean house is the oldest remaining home in Woodstock and, maybe, for a half dozen miles around. The charming abode has withstood Reconstruction-era taxation, nearby fires, the fall of the cotton market, the Great Depression, area windstorms, the 2009 flood, and modern-day development.

For this article, I've digitally retouched the photo, formerly scratched and spotted. The Vanishing Georgia website enables you to study their collection through a digital feature designed to enlarge an image. I uncovered a few aspects not easily seen in the 5 by 7 tintype. I'm guessing this post-Civil War photo was taken in autumn. Mature leaves hold onto the trees, but the man in the foreground, grasping a sapling, is dressed for cool weather. He wears a nice hat and frock coat. He is dark skinned, and so are the two little girls on the front porch who hold what appear to be dolls. The highlighted fellow must have been important to the family to be so prominently situated. At the time, Woodstock was beginning a period of prosperity as a cotton trade center. A white woman sits in a rocker, and a young boy in overalls, perhaps her son, gazes from his chair beside her. An older lad is perched on the porch rail. Two horsemen, to the right, pose on their horses--the taller male is possibly the homeowner and the other rider, perhaps another son. Oh how I wish we knew the circumstances of this photo reflecting a time when Main Street offered only dirt to travel on.

A view of the Dean house December 2015
The first owner of this home, G.A. Merritt, a retired doctor-turned-farmer, sold the home to Dr. W.L. Dean who moved in with his bride in 1884. The beloved physician tended the sick and the dying within the Woodstock locale and farther, traveling to those who needed him. In 1906, illness claimed the doctor's life. His wife was left with six children to support. The oldest son, Linton, took up the responsibility. He turned the family's new but suddenly-defunct drugstore into a successful general store that sold necessary household items and patent medicines. Disaster averted. Another wonder to ponder happily.

Woodstock is a wonderful place at Christmastime. Area churches go all out, putting on nativity plays and creating inspiring music. This year, Thrive Chapel provided a temporary rink for ice skating, Shops and eateries decorate befitting the season.

I can't leave you and this post without sharing views of Woodstock waiting for another Christmas to arrive. Wishing you all things merry and bright!
Our trees may have lost their leaves but we have decorations to distract us.

Christine's Creations is always available to help us get ready for the season.

Ivy Manor adds cheer to Main Street.

Now that's a wreath!!

Believe it or not, this year Woodstock is ornamented with December roses. God's grace is never-ending.

Patti Brady is a member of Preservation Woodstock.
She is author of the contemporary Woodstock novel series: The Heart of a Child 
                                                                                                   The Power of Her Smile

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Carrying On a Tradition

The organization Preservation Woodstock has a mission to preserve the past and, an equally important goal, to retain the traditions of our city. One favorite tradition of Preservation Woodstock is the annual Christmas parade with Santa in attendance. Another cherished custom is the yearly visit by Woodstock Elementary students to the oldest store in town--1906 Dean's Store--still intact, and now functioning as the Visitors Center.

Woodstock Christmas Parade

Preservation Woodstock member, Juanita Hughes, talks with school children visiting 1906 Dean's Store

Recently, Preservation Woodstock has re-engaged in another tradition--our city mural. Hopefully, you, too, will participate. Explanation regarding that will come later. The first such mural, highlighting Woodstock history, will pass away with road expansion. Exactly when isn't certain, however, Woodstock is already preparing. With the help of the Downtown Development Authority, the Convention and Visitors Bureau and Katie Coulborn, Long-range Planner for our city, we will have a new, outdoor painting installed because Woodstock isn't Woodstock without a beloved mural.
Katie Coulborn Long-range Planner for the city and Brian Stockton of DDA discussing plans for the new mural.
Some of the stakeholders at the initial committee meeting in November.
Christopher Brazelton, Melissa Casteel, and Jason Scheidt

How many times have you traveled in your car from somewhere and arrived in Woodstock, your home, tired and hungry-grumpy, and you were stopped near the mural? As you waited for the red light to change, did your sight drift to that colorful pictorial on the wall? Were you transported to the past by those old-timey scenes? I bet your fatigue and hunger faded. Perhaps, you wondered at the struggles and triumphs portrayed. Maybe the former townsfolk up there, painted from photos, left you inspired by their achievements. Could be, your imagination took over and you began to spin a little story in your head. . . . Oops!! Green light. Get your car moving.
On a recent rainy afternoon, stopped at the traffic light, drivers are captivated by our Woodstock tradition, a mural.

Now that our first mural is slated to be gone, what should happily fall into our lap, making a new mural possible? Funding, guidance and support, thanks to the Atlanta Regional Commission. The group sponsored a grant competition. . . . Can you believe it? Our city is one of only four winners, among many worthy entrants!

So what will the new mural be like? It will not be a copy of the current one, but a new rendition, something that speaks to us now. As Woodstock population grows, so does her vision and her future. Yes, because of you! And how relevant. The ARC theme for the mural is about the ample opportunities available for each of us to participate in our community and make history. . . . People are the greatest asset of any place. So be watching and listening. A public gathering is on the calendar for January 26, 2016. We want your input on this mural. Your opinions will be valued. Naturally. Woodstock citizen involvement is another great tradition worth keeping alive.
A blank canvas--the south wall of Woodstock Pharmacy and site of the new Woodstock mural.

Patti Brady is a member of Preservation Woodstock, and she is author of the contemporary, inspirational Woodstock novels:  The Heart of a Child and The Power of Her Smile

Monday, October 26, 2015

Woodstock Cotton and a Bad Bug

October makes me think of cotton harvest time. If there were a beauty pageant for botanical specimens, the cotton plant would win without a doubt. Cotton, the agricultural resource responsible for many of the clothes on our backs is the end product of lovely, pink-tinged, white blossoms. These flowers transform into spherical, luminous, green pods called bolls, which mature and open. The comely result is fluff--soft, white clouds that can rest in your hand.

Muddy Main Street in Woodstock and farmers bringing their cotton to town.
After slave emancipation, cotton cultivation actually increased in Woodstock, which became a trade center for the crop. Cotton grew well and proved profitable.  Once the railroad cut through in 1879, giant bales weighing around 500 pounds could be transported easily over greater distances. So in early Woodstock, cotton was the talk of the town. Imagine farmers and businessmen milling about Dean's Store, chewing tobacco and discussing cotton prices.
J.H. Johnston, cotton merchant, inspects cotton before determining a value.
The cotton gin was situated where Serenade subdivision stands today. Farmers with wagon loads of cotton paused in one long line down Main Street, waiting their turn. Local cotton merchants evaluated the cotton, and the bales were stored in warehouses before shipment to textile factories. Meanwhile, at the Rope Mill on Little River, savvy Woodstock business men turned low-grade cotton into strong plow lines and well rope. 

With the 1920s, several problems occurred: the effects of poor crop rotation, foreign competition, and a strange bug known as the boll weevil. The insect entered the U.S. through Mexico. From Texas, the devastation spread swiftly. Workers scrambled to pluck boll weevils at a penny per weevil. Although the boll weevil can fly, I like to imagine that the shrewd little insects hitched rides in boxcars traveling throughout the South but that is giving a mere exoskeleton with a trivial brain way too much credit.

The boll weevil is one ugly bug. dull-colored and round-bodied, the insect has a long, skinny snout like a blunt hypodermic needle with chewing mouth parts at the end Two weird little antennae and six hinged legs complete the picture. That pointy snout gnaws a small opening into the cotton boll where eggs are laid. Hatching larvae, safely protected within, feast on the cotton fibers. Emerging pupae become gorging adults. The resulting mess is anything but attractive. With the advent of the boll weevil science began a long battle, and the livelihood of many in and around Woodstock tumbled.

Blessed with innovative minds, Woodstock has economically reinvented itself several times over the decades, and the city continues to have a strong and prosperous future.

Visit the newly-installed kiosk put up by Woodstock Downtown Development Authority. Preservation Woodstock, Inc., contributed a poster about the historic cotton period in our town.
Main Street in Woodstock Georgia
Patti Brady is a member of Preservation Woodstock and she is author of the contemporary Woodstock fiction series: The Heart of a Child and The Power of Her Smile